Monday, March 26, 2012

Hankering after a socialist alternative is incompatible with British nationalism, I'm afraid

Kevin McKenna in the Observer, arguing that Scottish Labour should combat the SNP by getting back to its socialist roots -

"Douglas Alexander, the shadow secretary for foreign and commonwealth affairs, seems to have sensed this. Already, in two recent speeches in Scotland, he has tried to light a torch for Labour in Scotland. He has conceded that the SNP's heart is probably in the right place in relation to social justice and inclusion. But that these ideas will always be of secondary importance to a party which is hellbent on destroying the United Kingdom. Even if the UK was an enlightened and socially diverse Xanadu where every institution was underpinned by social justice and private corporate greed was punished and reviled, the SNP would still claim that Scots were downtrodden and enslaved."

First of all, can anyone remember the last time the SNP claimed the Scots were "enslaved"? If the party really did hold such a belief, it would probably be organising an uprising, not running a democratically-elected devolved government and calmly preparing the ground to win a democratic referendum on independence. So a direct quote from the SNP leadership might be in order the next time Kevin feels moved to embark on such a flight of fancy.

As for the priorities that ensure a belief in social justice can only be of secondary importance, I'd suggest that we could start by looking at a boneheaded commitment to Scotland remaining within the United Kingdom regardless of circumstance. After all, why is it that the United Kingdom not only fails to be a "Xanadu" of social justice, but is always bound to fall further short of that ideal than an independent Scotland would? Because it's a state with an in-built centre-right majority. It's not merely that Tory governments are the norm in the UK (whereas they plainly wouldn't be in an independent Scotland), it's also the character of the supposedly 'progressive' interludes between the long spells of Tory rule. Is Kevin not capable of spotting the irony that it's Douglas Alexander making these arguments? A man who was part of a Labour government that only made it into power by tacking well to the right to appeal to voters in the south of England, thus ensuring that we've had wall-to-wall right-of-centre governments at Westminster for the last thirty-three years.

In a nutshell, my question to Kevin is this - how do you imagine that Scottish Labour will ever get back to its roots, without first ditching its own British nationalism to which the cause of social justice will always play second-fiddle? Haven't you noticed that many people who support independence do so precisely because they believe in social justice?

"The Labour movement is essentially internationalist in nature; it ought not to place child poverty in Scotland above child poverty in the rest of the world as the SNP seeks to do."

Tell me, Kevin - when did a Labour government ever place just as much importance on child poverty in Istanbul at it did on child poverty in London? Did the Attlee government do that? Nope. And why not? Because it was a British nationalist government, and its nationalism was no more or less morally objectionable than anything the SNP currently propose. This is such an obviously irrefutable point that it's hard to understand how McKenna and Alexander can keep churning out their high-minded nonsense with a straight face, and yet on they trundle.

"Next year the Scottish government will establish a new single police force for Scotland. This will be a sinister and deeply troubling development in modern Scotland. Effectively, we are creating a national militia under the command of a superannuated plod who is not elected, will have very little accountability and has a good attendance record at the local ludge."

He may or may not have a point there. I've never been able to work out what I think about a single police force - every time I ponder the idea I'm hopelessly distracted by the memory of Tavish Scott walking menacingly down a street, intoning the words "save our p'lice".


  1. Alas, after some brief signs of promise, McKenna is back into 'frothing' mode.

  2. GrassyKnollingtonMarch 26, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    It's simply about the no. of comments generated for Union Kev these days and consequently he writes any old flannel. Even he doesn't sound like he believes what he's writing any more.

  3. The word "socialist" has been let out of prison and is starting to pepper public statements by Scottish Labourites (last heard from Lewis MacDonald on Friday's "Big Debate"). Yes folks, when safely out of power, and from the people who brought you PFI, privatisation, cash for honours, illegal war at the behest of neo-con USA and the yawning and growing gap between rich and poor, we present - "socialism!" (crib sheets available for Labourites in-case any one asks what the word actually means).

  4. What is truly astonishing about McKenna is that he makes seriously anti-Tory remarks in his Observer Scotland column (see his comments about Paul McBride) while at the same time editing the Scottish Mail on Sunday. Question does Paul Dacre know that McKenna is vehemently anti-Tory? Or does he trim his views to suit the publication. Either way it does nor say a lot for journalistic integrity.