Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Then raise the scarlet standard high...

I have a new article at the International Business Times, pondering whether a post-election Labour-SNP deal would provide Britain with its most left-wing government since Attlee left office.  You can read it HERE.  (It's also on Yahoo HERE.)

In an attempt to 'research' the piece, I visited the Labour party website for the first time in ages, and I discovered that they apparently think the visiting public is a three-year old child.  This isn't progress, guys.

34 comments:

  1. It is if they used to think the public were entirely non-sentient, which seemed to be the case.

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  2. The trouble with entering into a coalition with the SNP is that it would greatly strengthen the latter and improve their standing in the eyes of the Scottish people. Even if the SNP do especially well at the next election, Labour would do well to keep them at arms length in the hope they crash and burn in the following election. Even if it meant a weak Labour minority government that collapsed quickly, and they could at least try to pin the blame on the SNP.

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    1. Kinda like the 1979 scenario.

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    2. Then they'd better be very careful. If Labour refuse point blank to deal with the SNP, and the Tories take power as a result, we could see the reverse of the 1979 legend taking hold - with Labour being blamed for 10 years of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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    3. Of course that's a possibility, but I would imagine that in the event of a Labour minority government collapsing, we'd be seeing a whole lot of headlines going along the lines of "SNP do deals with Westminster Tories" and "SNP instrumental in Labour government collapse". Once you bang that niggling little thought into the back of everyone's mind, it's going to be very difficult for them to forget it. Besides, Labour could always make it look like they tried their very to do a deal with the SNP (Even going as far as setting up negotiations that are designed to fail), but the latter were just too intransigent, god damn them!

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    4. How can there be headlines of "SNP do deals with Westminster Tories" unless the SNP do deals with Westminster Tories, which they won't?

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    5. The press can make it look like there was some sort of "Nudge nudge, wink wink" deal with the Tories in order to cause the collapse of a Labour minority government. Nothing really explicit, just lots and lots of little suggestions, at a constant flow. Make a lot of inferences that the SNP and the Tories having common cause to cut down a wonderful social democratic government in its prime. You don't need to go quite as far as accusing them of doing a formal deal.

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  3. Since Atlee? Probably not, but certainly the most left-wing since the mid-70s, if Labour delivers on their promises. I even get the feeling many of the Labour leadership are even more left-wing than their public statements would suggest, but are constrained by a very hostile media which will jump on any evidence that Lab is "bringing back socialism", "class warfare" etc.

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    1. Hmmm. Can't quite see Tristram Hunt and Rachel Reeves as closet Marxists somehow.

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  4. WeSaidNoToYesMen :-)December 10, 2014 at 8:30 PM

    No chance, dream on. Labour wouldn't touch the nats with a barge pole, they are already in talks to form a Labour/Tory coalition. This would at least enable them to pursue some of their policies that they would never be able to with the left-wing SNP as partners.

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    1. they are already in talks to form a Labour/Tory coalition.

      We're so lucky to have a poster like you who has the inside track. Lol.

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    2. I'm amazed at your inside knowledge! But even if it is true - which it surely isn't, because it would be so, so stupid - it would mean that Labour would lose Scotland for at least a generation. The betrayal of their working-class support would obliterate any foundations that they still have. What's more, the sight of Westminster parties ganging up to keep the SNP out would drive support for independence much higher, so that it would probably lead to Scotland leaving the union sooner rather than later.

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    3. I wouldn't dismiss a Tory-Labour 'Government of national unity'. They are under threat from the centre-left SNP in Scotland and the far right authoritarian UKIP in the shires. At the moment, Labour support most of the bills the Tories put forward. They are in coalition at council levels in Scotland, and had a formal coalition in the referendum campaign. A Westminster coalition would be a natural progression in response to a threat to the establishment.

      Wouldn't freeze out an SNP majority of MPs. If they stand on e.g. a devo max ticket that is. They'd have a lot of power there as they'd have a mandate to shift control of all but FA&D to Holyrood. With consent withdrawn for Westminster control here (by electing devo max politicians rather than unionists), a compromise would be required or the union ended.

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    4. In such a scenario, the SNP would then be the opposition....

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    5. Salmond the leader of the opposition? Even in his wildest dreams he couldn't imagine that happening.

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  5. Also, I thought the design of their website was pretty good. There's no point in having a website geared towards hardcore politics nerds, delving deep into the minutiae of every single policy and only being looked at by a couple of dozen people. If you want something that better keeps the attention of any ordinary people who might happen to come across it, you need to keep it brief, to the point and full of pretty pictures.

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    1. I had a look and couldn't find any mention of Scotland, at least nothing obvious. All seems to be largely about England. Explains why Labour sing Jerusalem ('England's green and pleasant land') at the end of their conferences now.

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    2. There is a separate Scottish Labour website. I think that the Labour UK site is correct to focus on the bread and butter issues that are just as relevant to people in Scotland as they are in the rest of the UK.

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    3. It (Branch office site) doesn't seem to have any manifesto stuff. So that takes me back to the English Labour site where most of the stuff is about what Ed will do for England (housing, NHS, education) of course. I'm not interested in that when I vote in 2015. Where's the section on what's proposed for Scotland (I can't see one) by English Labour? In the end Ed will be asking me to vote for him and his team in May.

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    4. I don't think that Labour would be too concerned with what issue that you are interested in. You're not going to vote for them anyway.

      A lot of the stuff to do with the funding of the NHS, education, etc is relevent as our block grant is pegged to wider UK levels of funding. Plus there's the end of the bedroom tax. OK, some of the stuff isn't directly applicable to Scotland but if there's one thing I've learned from this campaign it's that most people have absolutely no idea what powers are devolved and what aren't. So it's not a problem.

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    5. By playing 'Jerusalem' as their new conference anthem, I don't think they care what any Scots voter is interested in.

      I wonder if Jim Murphy sang along. Genuinely.

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  6. There is no practical way Labour could form a coalition government at Westminster. SLAB wound be finished for ever if that ever happened (if they are not already that is). To be honest, there is really nothing between them, that has been the case for decades. They can never admit it, but there is only tribalism left now. There is no ideological or even significant differences between Labour and the Tories.

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  7. That was meant to be Labour could not form a coalition government with the Tories in the first sentence, and SLAB would in the second.

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  8. I can see a deal with Labour esp re re Trident which has to look increasingly unaffordable ?? Extra powers more difficult but who knows there might be an appetite for sensible federalism? The alternative of putting the Tories in power because the SNP are asking too much? I don't think they'd get away with that

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  9. I think Labour and Tories in coalition at Westminster is, at the moment, unthinkable from a UK point of view, but from a Scottish point of view, it will only take the SNP to win a majority of seats in 2015 to trigger the rapid coalescence of Lib Dem, Labour and Tory into a single Scottish Unionist Party.

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  10. If there is any kind of coalition or pact between the Tories and Labour after the general election, then it is likely that even more people will recognise the lack of any real choice at Westminster. Also, any refusal by Labour to do a deal with the SNP could make them appear anti-Scottish. The result should be a substantial drop in support for Labour with the SNP being the major beneficiary, together with an increase in support for independence.

    In that situation, the SNP might well turn the 2016 Holyrood election into a plebiscite on independence, and win by a substantial margin. Would they then give Westminster a choice between a negotiated, orderly transition to independence or a UDI? I hope they would.

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  11. I do wish you would stop referring to tory and labour as "centre right". This can only be true if you accept that the rightward drift in UK politics genuinely moves the "centre". And in one narrow sense that is true. However in terms of ideological, rather than demographic, considerations it is not true: and I do not think it is true in Scotland. These parties would certainly have been "far right" at any time from 1945 to 1979 and they are "far right" now. They wish to dismantle the role of the state and I do not believe that is what the majority of the people want, even in England. That is why they take the trouble to deny that is what they are doing, while doing it.

    This is not a trivial point because there is a strong narrative in the UK polity that the middle way is way of sanity and compromise and it carries a lot of persuasive value. Let us call them what they are: neoliberal ideologues who are as far removed from the centre as it is possible to be.

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    1. I agree. Pre-thatcher, you could correctly refer to the Tories as more 'centre-right' than extreme (economic) right (as they are now); the old 'one nation' Tories. Likewise for the lib dems pre orange book takeover under Clegg.

      New Labour, likewise, at least initially, you could have termed 'centre-right' (as opposed to left as old labour were). However, they've gone well beyond that now and their austerity focussed 2015 approach is most definitely strong right.

      Tories and Labour are of course strongly authoritarian too (dictatorial).

      http://www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010

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    2. "These parties would certainly have been "far right" at any time from 1945 to 1979 and they are "far right" now."

      Even in 1970, the term "far right" was reserved for the likes of the National Front, not for Keith Joseph.

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    3. If the "mainstream" (i.e. the ground that most elected politicians occupy) is in what used to be called the far right, surely that's now by definition the new centre? Few would dispute that UKIP are right of Labour and the Tories, so if the latter are far right, what are UKIP? You'd have no terms left to describe them.

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    4. "New Labour, likewise, at least initially, you could have termed 'centre-right' (as opposed to left as old labour were). However, they've gone well beyond that now and their austerity focussed 2015 approach is most definitely strong right."

      I don't vote Labour needless to say, but this is still a pretty wild exaggeration. If we are going to start talking about an SNP-Labour coalition (and I think we should personally) we're going to have to manage expectations a bit.

      I say that because I guarantee a few months into such a coalition the Lib Dems, SSP, Greens (whoever isn't involved) would be berating it for being right-wing and attacking the two parties for selling out their principles. Any kind of cut in public spending will be presented as austerity times ten.

      If Labour were actually a strong right party then pinning the SNP's electoral fortunes to their agenda would be complete madness. Needless to say, the fact we're even talking about it shows they're not on that level.

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  12. Apropos of nothing...

    SNP respondent down-weighting has reached a new high in Yougov since the referendum. Even with this, SNP share is still rising. Which of course means the higher the share the more the share is being repressed it seems. Wonder what it would be like if Yougov didn't down-weight so highly due to the kellner correction. More like MORI?

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    1. Do you think it's likely the SNP could have a lead higher than 20%?

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  13. "Will the UK's most left-wing government since Attlee be elected in 2015?"

    Maybe - and it will be just the same disaster as Hollande's Socialist Government in France has been.

    "If the SNP gets its way on every front, austerity will end"

    No it won't for the simple reason that when you have, as we do, a debt of £1.4 trillion, which is rising every second, you are not in charge. The people who have lent you that money and from whom you want to borrow in the future are the ones in charge.

    "the creeping privatisation of the National Health Service south of the border will be reversed"

    It is amazing how even a Scottish Nationalist can become a little Briton when it comes to the NHS. No recognition of the fact that many European countries, including some which are a lot more social democratic than ourselves, have elements of the private sector involved in their health systems without any adverse consequences.Although the words themeselves were not used, it is the mindset that leads to the parochial, and frankly embarassing view that the NHS is the 'envy of the world.'

    And of course for the hundreds who died in the Mid Staffs scandal, in the NHS under a Labour government, arguments about how wicked the private sector are may ring rather hollow.

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