Much has happened in the last ten days, not least the poll putting Labour and the SNP neck-and-neck to control Scotland’s Parliament after May 5th. But, for me, it’s the more mundane things that can slip by almost unnoticed that are often the most significant.
All parties protest love of what our US cousins call ‘motherhood and apple pie’. Nobody wants bad education or unsafe streets, so that makes it harder for voters to discern who will actually do some good and deserve their vote. Even though they voted against it, Labour claim to want the 50,000 apprentice places that the SNP put in their budget. How can they be sincere when they act like that? They ‘talk the talk‘ but can they ‘walk the walk‘?
Not according to today’s Hootsmon. In a piece based on a Save the Children study of childhood poverty, a table ranks council areas by percentage. Almost every council where Labour has dominated forever leads this shameful parade, starting with Glasgow, down through the Lanarkshires, Dundee, Clacks—all the Labour ‘heartlands’ are there.
It is one thing to claim special status. But to do so in the sixties, then to be in one-party control for the next 50 years, receiving hugely disproportionate shares of welfare, inward investment, social work, addiction treatment, euro funding, education support, vocational initiatives (not to mention massive third sector involvement)—and still wind up with one child in six in severe poverty is a record that should make the Labour party feel humbled.
Once, when the bosses were rapacious, the mines deadly and the hours worked inhuman, they may have spoken for ‘the working man‘. A hundred years on, they’ve lost their way and no longer deserve the trust that long-suffering, well intentioned supporters put in them.