Thursday, June 23, 2011

How exactly is Alex Salmond going to turn into David Owen?

Back to Labour Hame (already it's like slipping on an old jacket), and it's depressingly predictable to see John McTernan use Scottish Labour's obvious need to reinvent itself as an excuse to subtly peddle the hoary old myth that "The Only Possible Modernisation is Blairite Modernisation" -

"Again, Labour has been here before. The scale of the 1983 defeat, under the leadership of Michael Foot, drove Labour modernisation, first under Neil Kinnock, then John Smith and finally – and successfully – it was led by Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson.

At the core of that modernisation was the understanding that no seats were safe any more, the defection of the working classes and reform minded middle classes left Labour with no choice to build a new coalition. Except in Scotland, where the 1983 result was the beginning of a false dawn that has blighted Scottish Labour thinking ever since. Because it didn’t face the same reversal in its heartlands, and indeed from 1987 was winning seats from the Tories. During the following twenty years of electoral dominance in Scotland Labour never felt the pressure to modernise. Was it smugness or the lack of an existential challenge? A bit of both probably. Whatever, the pressure is on now.

Where do they start? With tone – and Tone."

Tom Harris is of course another true believer in this creed, going out of his way to "correct" Gordon Brewer a few weeks ago when he suggested that New Labour had never been much loved in Scotland. Yes, Tom, Labour racked up a huge vote in Scotland in 1997, but if you attribute that to the Blairite project rather than to an overwhelming longing to see the back of the Tories after eighteen years of despair, you're deluding yourself.

McTernan's Labour Hame piece concludes with a thoroughly baffling observation...

"The election may have been a sea-change, or a bubble. Alex Salmond may be Margaret Thatcher or David Owen. That is as much in Labour’s hands as it is in his. Who dares wins."

The difficulty there is that Salmond has already got two election victories under his belt - just one fewer than Margaret Thatcher, and indeed McTernan himself tellingly compares the 2011 landslide to Thatcher's second triumph in 1983. Precisely how, then, is McTernan proposing that Labour can still turn Salmond into the new David Owen? Presumably we should expect at some point in the near future that Salmond will leave the SNP, and form a new rival nationalist party, perhaps called the "Independence Party". It will swiftly go into an electoral pact with another party, let's say the Greens, but suffer two heavy electoral defeats. At that point the Greens will demand a merger, to which Salmond will react with fury, but be outvoted by his own party. He will then set up yet another new party called the "continuing Independence Party", but that will fold two years later after running out of money and being beaten by the Monster Raving Loony Party in a by-election.

Yes, it could happen, John. But I doubt it.


  1. I saw Mr MacTernan on Newsnight on Monday where he looked and sounded like an inside out can't get more past it than than that!

    As for Labour Hame...well if they want a shop window where they can publicly sit navel gaze and weep into they weak earl gray thats fine. I'm not going to make a habit of commenting on something where comments are habitually ignored or even worse not even put up at all. That to my way of thinking is the worst bad manners and just because Tom Harris did not get the shaddow job he gave up bloging for when the wrong M/band got the top job does nor excuse allowing his contributors to exercise a bad manners policy now that like Frank Sinatra and Kezia Dugdale he is back from blogging retirement.

  2. "the worst bad manners"

    Absolutely, Munguin, the "admin" openly boasted a week or so back that the default now was that comments from nationalists would be automatically "binned" unless he/she happened to approve of them. Which makes the regular "question to nationalists" slot (which always concludes with the admin closing comments and declaring the question "UNANSWERED") even more risible than it was to begin with.

  3. Hi James, slightly off topic but thought you'd be interested that a Newsnet poster (Angus Ogg) wrote to his MP Michael McCann and asked him to distance himself from Iain Davidson's neo fascist remarks.

    This is the reply he got,

    Dear Mr ####

    In a democracy everyone is entitled to their view.

    You possibly wouldn't like my view on the SNP either.

    Michael McCann MP

  4. The blog has now disappeared from the Republic’s blog roll and can, therefore, take an early record for what must be the shortest period any blog has spent there. I like to think I’m pretty fair minded and wont remove a blog just because a reader (even one of long standing) complains. But enough is enough!

    I’m sure it will not hurt Tom’s chances of getting his new baby up to the number one spot in the beauty contest that is the Total Politics blog thingy; after all soliciting for votes is positively encouraged as is voting for your own blog. So Tom can spend many a happy time in South Glasgow and or whichever London Borough he lives in trolling round the local libraries and internet cafes voting for his blog. Let’s face it as a Scottish MP he has little else to do, he can’t bear his constituents anyway, they probably can’t bear him either and don’t wont to hear why he was cheated out of being Shadow Scottish Secretary by that Anne whats-her-name anyway. The blog so far has been a really cheesy and down at heel continuation of the negative election campaign, a veritable shop window for a mutual weep-a-thon. If they cut out the Nat supporters, which let’s face it according to the recent Essex/Strathclyde report is just about everybody all that are left are the freaks, the cooks, the past its and the has beens and in Tom’s case that hasn’t quite been but still past it.

  5. Mr Salmond will be neither like Thatcher or David Owen in the future; he will be Alexander Salmond. Labour are still in shock - actually so am I. 53 FPTP seats ..... I remember the days when we had no parliamentary representation.

  6. Anon : I wonder if Michael McCann seriously thought Angus would keep that response to himself?!

    Munguin, if it's any consolation I don't think Labour Hame will do quite as well in the Total Politics vote as Tom Harris' own blog used to, mainly because it doesn't have a UK-wide appeal. I'd be surprised if Better Nation doesn't come out as the top Scottish blog this time - if the length of the comment sections are anything to go by, their audience levels seem have increased significantly in recent months.