Not Waving but Drowning

Over its five years and almost 1,000 posts, this blog has been critical of the Scottish Labour party. In part, this has been in lively debate with some of its members and its policies. The position taken here has always been that, like the Conservatives, the party reflects a substantial body of opinion in Scotland, deserves a voice to express that and has a serious role in holding to account whichever party has gleaned enough votes to form the Government of Scotland.

But much as the Conservatives marched themselves into electoral oblivion during the 1980s/90s and suffered catastrophic come-uppance in 1997, so Labour took the people’s enthusiastic endorsement in that year and spent the last two decades drinking pretty much the same Kool-aid of hubris. As journalist Molly Ivins observes about Texas men; ‘You can tell ’em; but you can’t tell ’em much”.

This came to mind after a minor falling out on Twitter with Duncan Hothersall, Duncan is one of the capable good guys still in Scottish Labour. As CLP Organiser in Edinburgh Southern, he pulls off political miracles even his opponents admire. Not only was his candidate the sole survivor among 41 MPs prior to last May but his was the only Labour candidate to win a seat from the otherwise triumphant SNP sweep of 59 constituency MSPs last week.

But when I had the temerity to suggest to Duncan that, as one of the few who clearly know what they were doing, thinking people like him might reconsider re-hashed socialist policies and ‘Labour values’ that defined his party through successive defeats, he took it that I was trying to silence him or, at the least, undermine his principles. However ineptly couched, my intent had been neither.

But if a stalwart of the party who clearly knows what they’re about is deaf to dialogue when the hale clamjamfrie teeters in the brink of oblivion, what chance does sincere-but-too-inexperienced Kezia, let alone the shattered remnants of her troops, stand in piecing together a viable future.

Though I oppose Labour for the manner in which it has taken Scotland for granted, plugged so many undeserving passengers into the ranks of those who should work to represent us and have put UK priorities ahead of Scottish ones, they do still matter. There is a constituency they could represent if they just stopped thinking they can tell the voters what to think and avoid righteous indignation when former fiefdoms are threatened. But their actions are starting to echo Sylvia Plath’s poem of hidden despair Not Waving But Drowning. If they obstinately refuse to hear the clarion call for change (as Duncan seems to) they will suffer the Tories’ two decades in the impotent wilderness. Or worse.

But some in the party ARE listening…and thinking. I came across this piece on Labour Uncut which should make eminent sense to loyal members It certainly made sense to me:

It is a shrewd evaluation of where they are and what brought them there and deserves better consideration. But, as I’m not a member, they’ll just have to work it out for themselves or contemplate further SNP hegemony with Tory as the dominant opposition. They can’t want that.


About davidsberry

Local ex-councillor, tour guide and database designer. Keen on wildlife, history, boats and music. Retired in 2017.
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