Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Labour Party’
The Problem of Patriotism and the Left
The Scotsman, December 7th 2013
This week Keith Vaz, chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, asked the ‘Guardian’ editor Alan Rusbridger, ‘Do you love your country?’.
This was in relation to the ‘Guardian’s’ publication of some of Edward Snowden’s leaked documents on the activities of the US-UK surveillance state. Rusbridger, clearly surprised by the question answered in the affirmative, ‘We are patriots. One of the things we are patriotic about is the nature of democracy and a free press’.
Patriotism, for all the uses and misuses of Dr. Johnson’s quote about it being ‘the last refuge of the scoundrel’, has proven a messy battleground. Many on the right in Britain view it unconditionally, while large parts of the left see it as reactionary and to be resisted. To add to this many on the right have used it down the years to smear and undermine the left.
Vaz has yet to explain his comments, but even elements of the right-wing press found them hard to defend. The ‘Daily Telegraph’s’ Dan Hodges called it a straightforward ‘definition of McCarthyism’; while the usually pugnaciously right-wing ‘Daily Mail’ Quentin Letts found it an uneasy, uncomfortable use of words. Read the rest of this entry »
The crisis of Britain’s institutions is one of the labour movement too
The Scotsman, November 23rd 2013
One of the defining characteristics of the Labour Party through the ages has been its moral dimension – its indignation at the inequities and injustices of a rotten, economically and socially divisive capitalist system.
It has critiqued this via its early socialist, radical and religious roots – more Methodist than Marx, more the Bible and ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist’ than ‘Das Capital’.
As politics and society have changed – the post-war consensus, Thatcher, New Labour – these strands have weakened but remained. There was a hope amongst some that post-Blair and Brown Labour would recover its core principles and purpose and make the case against an economic, social and political system which has clearly lost its way.
Events have proven to be a bit trickier than that. The crisis of British capitalism, its traditional establishment and the world of clubland and ‘gentlemanly capitalism’ are deep rooted. The forces of new capitalism and its brash elites in the City, hedge funds and outsourcers, has proven even more anti-social, selfish and brutal than the old one. Read the rest of this entry »
What is the point of Scotland’s Westminster Politicians?
The Scotsman, November 2nd 2013
Once upon a time Scottish politics meant one of two things: what your local council got up too, and Scottish MPs standing on College Green talking on BBC and STV about what often seemed far-flung issues.
The latter were our only articulation of national party politics. And while it now seems a long time ago it did produce a sort of effective politics and a range of ‘Big Beasts’ – from Tom Johnston and Willie Ross to George Younger, Malcolm Rifkind and Gordon Brown, to name but a few.
This was the age of what was called in polite circles, ‘the Scottish lobby’, but which also went privately by the names, ‘Scottish’ or ‘tartan mafia’. The romantic version of this is the folklore of ‘Red Clydeside’ and the 1922 general election when the city of Glasgow saw ten of its fifteen constituencies return Labour MPs for the first time. Upon their departure from St. Enoch railway station with crowds singing the ‘Red Flag’ they went south to change the Commons, but in the eyes of left-wing critics were more changed by parliament themselves. Read the rest of this entry »
What did devolution ever do for Easterhouse?
The Scotsman, October 5th 2013
Labour likes to think that ‘devolution’, like the NHS is its exclusive project. ‘We legislated for the Scottish Parliament’ you hear on occasion from numerous party spokespeople.
This is proprietorial, but there is also a Labour story which stresses that devolution is about changing Scotland, better governance and improving lives, differentiating it from the Tories and SNP.
However, Margaret Curran, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland in the last week made remarks at Labour conference which seem to raise questions about how the party sees the whole devolution project, and which warrant further investigation.
Curran said, ‘We need to ask ourselves some questions about (devolution). Has it made health better in Easterhouse?’ And she went on, ‘Has it made education better in Easterhouse? And there are a lot of question marks over that’. Read the rest of this entry »
Fighting Poverty is about more than the Bedroom Tax
The Scotsman, September 14th 2013
This week’s Scottish Government Budget for 2014-15 and 2015-16 saw battlelines drawn on who and how best to mitigate the worst effects of the bedroom tax.
Now in a week when the UN special rapporteur Raquel Rolnik weighed in against the measure, it has to be recognised that this is not the main challenge facing welfare in Scotland.
In terms of the UK government’s recent welfare policies, the new guidelines in relation to the Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) with their harsh regime of sanctions and withdrawing all JSA from a person for in the first place one week (with the ultimate sanction withdrawal for 156 weeks), have got next to no attention compared to the bedroom tax.
Political posturing and heated public discussions are all about this current, controversial policy. What is left silent by SNP, Labour and even some Lib Dem politicians is a wider, more informed set of contributions about what we do about hardship and social justice, including those in poverty and those who are the very well off. Read the rest of this entry »