The Party That Time Forgot

Some decent reads in our beloved Scottish Press this morning…the Herald redeeming itself with Ian Bell after my criticisms earlier this week. (Although quite what I learn about the new First Minister by reading where she buys her shoes and what colour her carpets are is beyond me).

But my Saturday morning entertainment was made complete with Brian Wilson’s latest homily in the Scotsman from his Hebridean croft. I gave up reading him during the campaign after concluding that there may be personal factors beyond journalism that informed his neurotic and splenetic outpourings and it was polite to look the other way.

Now, thinking it safe to return, I find him in customary dyspeptic mode, deflecting attention from the real story – the stunning success of post-referendum nationalist politics – in order to attack his own side. The comrades truly are revolting…

This is an object lesson in bilious propaganda and demonstrates better than Johann Lamont’s resignation fireworks why Labour is unfit to lead the working people of Scotland. The message, stripped down, is that they hate each other and will risk all in order to settle scores. Labour are happier running down each other than in running Scotland.

The headline alone is straight from the satirical handbook. Brian Wilson: Blast from the past hits Labour race. This is a reference to Unite’s Len McCluskey but applies so neatly to Wilson himself that you begin to wonder if this is a deliberate joke by mischievous sub editors.

Even the strapline is ripe with irony… ‘Being endorsed by a political dinosaur (like McCluskey) is something Jim Murphy can do without…’

Here is Labour cavorting in Jurassic Park with one tired old party fraud who sold out every socialist ideal he ever had berating another monster from the deep for bellowing his opinion about the Scottish leadership. Unreconstructed creatures from another age wrestling each other to the ground while all around them the landscape blossoms and a new age of enlightenment dawns.

The intended thrust of this piece of course is that a left-wing union leader has no business criticising a right-wing candidate like Jim Murphy because Brian wants Murphy to win. We can’t allow dialogue to intervene when personal promotion is at play – dialogue being exactly what should be happening long before broken-backed Labour start playing leadership personality politics.

Now if McCluskey had been endorsing Murphy instead of excoriating him, do you suppose the tribally prejudiced Wilson would complain? Indeed this morning’s Scotsman would have been treated to a ‘Wilson welcomes late conversion by McCluskey’ column on how the Labour family was pulling together.

The depth of Unionist hypocrisy also lives on here because of course we hear that (in times past): ‘…no London-based general secretary would have dreamt of treading on Scottish territory in this way’. Really? The leader of a UK union which funds Labour should butt out of the leadership race in Scotland because they’re based in London…?

I may have misunderstood the Better Together message but it seemed to me to imply we shouldn’t differentiate between England and Scotland and that we were one happy family with shared interests and pooling of resources and there were 800,000 Scots living in England who would become foreigners overnight and it was only narrow nationalists who wanted to separate and divide…

Yet here is arch-Unionist Wilson doing exactly that when it suits his own petty interests.

This most right-wing of former progressives who, I understand, brokered the £500,000 Ian Taylor (of Vitol) donation to Better Together – the single most morally repugnant act of a despicable campaign – declares airily this leadership contest should not be about ideology. Read that again…not about ideology – a political party lost in the wilderness, haemorrhaging votes, with no story to tell, dislocated from its core, trapped in age of austerity while families use food banks – and in the mind of millionaire Wilson this is no time for ideology.

On the contrary, this is the time for ideas, vision and reconnection starting with a brutal admission of what has gone wrong. Even this most basic of requirements is brushed aside with majestic contempt.

He calls to his aid the likes of Hugh Wyper and Mick McGahey (whom Labour disdained) to remind us of great trade unionists from the past who combined ‘principle with pragmatism, underpinned by loyalty to both class and movement’ as if today’s union leaders were made of lesser stuff.

But isn’t the truth that it is Labour itself that no longer has principle, loyalty and connection with the working people? Isn’t that exactly why they are struggling now – because self-seeking careerists like Wilson and his leader Blair abandoned every vestige of social solidarity to embrace the crudest of capitalism?

There are no principles left for Labour, only a wolverine hunger for winning – but to what end and to achieve what exactly? They can’t even tell us.

Wilson’s utter lack of self awareness and criticism exposes him as a deluded hypocrite, perfectly articulating everything that Labour now represents – Neanderthal argument and pointless self-promotion – a mere shell of a movement that is being deserting for a vibrant and meaningful alternative.

With this kind of naked disclosure – a sort of public post mortem in which we can all peer inside the cadaver – universities are rendered redundant. Why waste money on tuition fees at all in politics departments when all the explanations for failure are plucked out and offered to us for our perusal? I don’t believe Wilson knows what is happening in our country let alone inside his own party. He is writing of what he wants to believe is happening and has convinced himself is true rather than the utterly changed picture of modern Scotland.

It is too late for Labour to change in time for next year’s election or the Scottish one the year after. Their course is set and the idea that the spitting, hissing hatreds epitomised by Brian Wilson will dissipate is perhaps the biggest delusion of all.

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