Wednesday 1 May 2013


A chance conversation earlier this evening with a UNISON Branch Secretary got me thinking - he revealed that today was his daughters 16th birthday, and so she was born the same day that Labour was elected or Tony Blair got his hands on the reins of power -  depending on your viewpoint

Indeed - the New Labour Project with its figurehead Tony Blair won in a landslide 16 years ago.  My thoughts today turn to the mess the Labour Party finds itself in now.

What was once a confident looking, positive party has been reduced to a small minded, vitriolic, inconsistent shambles.

In my time at the STUC Annual Congress when talking to delegates their real concern was the association with the Tories in the Better Together campaign.  A perfectly justified concern, given the many public pronouncements from Better Together come from a centre right political position - witness the huge publicity afforded comments from the CBI yesterday as a classic example. As one Labour activist commented privately " I didn't come into politics to wrap myself in the Union Jack and campaign alongside Tories ".

Add in a very public attack on the UNITE General Secretary from Ed Miliband and it's little wonder that many Trade Union activists are supporting Independence.

With the Westminster Labour front bench being led to the right by the Tory-led Government on the economy and welfare (and can we reclaim the language by using "Social Security" whenever possible ?) , the joy and relief on that morning in 1997 when the Tories had been ousted, seems generations away.

This week Labour have a difficult juggling act to pull off - attack the Tories in England to win council seats in the local elections (but not frighten the horses aka Daily Mail readers who might vote UKIP instead), but at the same time retain the base vote being hardest hit by public spending cuts, but not be tagged as Red Ed,  but keep the trade union funding and support (by verbally biting the hand that feeds you through the subscriptions of low paid workers - very odd, Ed) - and at the same time have your Scottish party members campaigning using materials funded by questionable sources and working Better Together alongside Tories ? Tricky..
Their desperation to secure a No vote in 2014 and the increasingly tribal, bitter nature of the attacks on all independence campaigners (and even against the thoughtful, not made their minds up, willing to have a decent debate people ) is entirely down to one clear dynamic - the survival of the Labour party as an electoral force is dependent on Scotland's votes and a cohort of MP's ( Cohort is the kind word) to boost the Labour numbers on the green benches in Westminster. Victory (or a negotiating mandate with any Libdems that are left after their ride into the valley of electoral death in 2015) is not a given - and without those Labour Scottish MP's  Miliband minor will never walk through the door of number 10.

16 years on, the conclusion can only sensibly be - don't let the survival of the "people's party" (largely populated by shiny clones who've never worked outside of the political career bubble)  be more important than a decent debate about Scotland's future and let's not have the largely self centered and biased worldview of the Labour tribe get in the way of the facts.

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