I finally get it: Labour is Wile E. Coyote. In every cartoon, he’s so furiously engaged in the chase on his latest Acme gizmo it’s only when he’s out over the canyon floor far below that he realises the support he’s taken for granted is no longer there.
Labour’s inner circle is equally convinced of their cunning—not to mention their moral superiority. Given positive results over the last fifteen years, how could they doubt? This year’s Acme Rocket Sled was launched yesterday in Glasgow, touting “what matters” is jobs and youth employment.
Leave aside that their platform is mainly others’ ideas, against which they’ve voted for years. Their main plank is the Tory bogeyman, who is going to destroy the NHS and bring famine and pestilence to us all. That did work in 2003…but got them their head handed to them in 2007. They tried it again in 2010, when a 3% rise in their vote made them think it worked again. But even if not everyone has noticed it was Labour who dumped us in this recession, they have noticed how powerless Labour is now.
But Labour in Scotland has been in denial since 2007. And they think no-one noticed that they ran a local government/MP/MSP gravy train across the Central Belt for years until it was derailed then. They seriously think that just by grumping at what the SNP has done and holding tight, they will come back into their own again. But Old Labour reliability that underpinned New Labour excess in Scotland is disappearing under their feet. The old miners are no longer with us; their sons have bought their council house, got a job in financial services and moved on. Worse, the principled activists disappeared under Blair; payroll ‘activists’ working for MSPs are now few.
Stand on most doorsteps in East Lothian and ‘Labour’ is not a popular name, even in Tranent and Prestonpans. Labour support has been doing the ‘snaw aff a dyke’ routine for years. But if their activist does chap doors down Appin Drive or Brotherston Way, in the silence all they’ll hear is the faint ‘pop-pop’ of a rocket sled’s motor dying ten metres over the precipice leading to electoral oblivion.