Friday, July 27, 2018

Tonight (and every other night until the end of time) Scottish Labour are gonna whinge like it's Nine-teen-Se-ven-ty-Nine

It's always bemused me that there are two opinions about the SNP's history that seemingly nobody is allowed to express because the self-appointed experts have already long since decided that they are wrong.  Those opinions are:

1) That the SNP did the right thing by withdrawing from the Scottish Constitutional Convention after initial discussions.

2) That the SNP did the right thing by voting in favour of a motion of no confidence in the Callaghan government in 1979.

The first opinion is actually very easily defensible, and indeed in my view is probably correct.  Labour were refusing to even nominally allow independence to be considered by the Constitutional Convention as a valid possible outcome.  Therefore, by staying in the Convention, the SNP would have been endorsing an explicitly anti-independence endeavour.  That would have been a strategically foolish thing to do, because the constitutional proposals of all the main non-Tory parties would have become identical.  Why would anyone have bothered voting SNP when you could back exactly the same devolution policy by voting for a Labour government?  As it turned out, the SNP were electorally more successful in the 1990s than they were in the 1980s (their 32.6% share of the vote in the 1994 European election was at the time a new record high), which would tend to suggest that leaving the Convention and retaining their USP was extremely wise.  And of course devolution happened as quickly as it would have done if the SNP had been inside the Convention.  Indeed there's an argument that it happened more quickly, because external electoral pressure from the SNP helped keep Labour honest.

The 1979 question is more finely-balanced, because it's fair to say that neither the SNP nor Scotland gained anything by the decision to vote against Callaghan.  But here's the thing: it's not at all clear that anything would have been gained by not voting against Callaghan.  Which is probably why Tommy Sheppard said the unsayable a few days ago by noting that, even with the benefit of hindsight, he would have voted the same way if he had been an SNP MP in that position.  The Daily Record then provided a helpful reminder that they remain a completely unreformed Labour fanzine by leaping on that comment with the disgraceful headline "Senior SNP MP slammed for claims nationalists would vote for Thatcherism again".  Sheppard of course had said no such thing, because the SNP did not 'vote for Thatcherism' in 1979 or at any other time.  The vote against Callaghan was not a vote for a change of government, but was instead a vote for hastening a general election in which the British people could elect any government they liked.  The public could, for example, have significantly improved Callaghan's position by re-electing Labour with an outright majority.  If they had done so, would it have meant that the SNP had "voted for Callaghanism"?  No, it would still have meant that they voted for a slightly earlier election and for nothing else.

The subtext of Scottish Labour's decades-long whinge about the 1979 vote is that the SNP allowed the British people to overrule Scotland's wishes by installing Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister.  It's hard to know where to start with hypocrisy like that.  Suffice to say that Labour believe as a matter of principle that the British people should be able to overrule Scotland's choice of government, and the SNP categorically do not.  When Labour campaigned for a No vote in the independence referendum, they were shamelessly campaigning to allow the 1979 scenario to play itself out again and again and again and again into infinity.  If we had a media worth its salt, that point would be put to Labour every time the subject is raised.

But leaving Labour's nonsense aside, did the SNP make the right call in 1979?  Look at it this way.  For years, they had used their voting power within a hung parliament to attempt to bring about an elected Scottish Assembly.  They had done so by repeatedly backing the Labour government in confidence votes on the condition that devolution legislation would go ahead.  What actually happened is that dozens of Labour MPs sabotaged the Scotland Bill by inserting the 40% rule, and Callaghan let them get away with it by indicating he was not going to respect the majority Yes vote in the 1979 referendum.  (Contrary to popular belief, the Scotland Act 1978 did not say that a failure to reach the 40% threshold would automatically lead to repeal.  The Secretary of State was required to table a repeal order, but Callaghan could then have whipped Labour MPs to vote against it, which if done successfully would have meant devolution going ahead as planned.  He chose not to do that.)  The informal agreement between Labour and the SNP had therefore been broken, and it had been broken by Labour.  Were the SNP really supposed to react to that state of affairs by saying "oh it doesn't matter, we'll reward your broken promises and continue propping up your government in return for absolutely nothing?" 

Four decades on, Labour's answer to that question, and indeed the Labour-supporting media's answer to that question, is "yes".  I would suggest that's not remotely a realistic answer. 

*  *  *

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78 comments:

  1. Did Callaghan not say, in his memoirs, it wasn't the SNP that knocked the feet from under his government, but Labour internal divisions. In any case, were the numbers not such that, even if the 11 SNP members had abstained, or voted with Labour, they woud still have lost the vote of confidence, because of the Northern irish and Liberal votes?

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    1. No, the SNP had to actively vote in favour of the motion for it to be passed by a majority of 1. The more salient point, though, is that a lot of people think Callaghan was planning to hold an election in June anyway. It seems highly unlikely that a June election would have produced a dramatically different outcome to a May election. At the latest it had to be held by October - that was when the five-year term expired.

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    2. Just checked, I was wrong in my initial post. The SNP votes did matter, however, perhaps, the 13 Lib-Dems, having withdrawn from the Lib-Lab pact were more to blame for the defeat than the 11 SNP MPs, who ahd good reason to not back Labour after the 40% rule.

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    3. The SDLP (often described as Labour's sister party) also abstained in the vote. If they had not done so, the vote would have been tied and Callaghan would have won on the Speaker's casting vote. But strangely we never hear Labour say that the SDLP were "responsible for Thatcherism".

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    4. James it was not the SDLP it was Frank Maguire Independent nationalist MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone who abstained .In his memoirs Roy Hattersly claimed that Frank Maguire was flanked by two burly men when he turned up at the commons . According to Hattersly it was a deal Callaghan made with Ulster Unionists that upset Nationalist in the North of Ireland that led to them abstaining

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    5. You're incorrect, actually. Frank Maguire abstained (as he did on practically everything), but so did the SDLP. Gerry Fitt was the SDLP's sole MP at the time, and he made a speech from the Labour benches making clear he would have to abstain unless Callaghan got rid of Roy Mason as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

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  2. They have to try to coverup for losing 4 elections somehow, unfortunately with their low intelligence they chose to lie.

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  3. Socrates, You are correct in that Mr Callaghan did hold the Labour MPs who added the 40% rule amendment to the Scotland Act responsible for the subsequent chain of events. The SDLP MP turned up at Westminster with the intention of abstaining and was in the Chamber during the debate and remained there during the division. He could simply have stayed away, but wanted to make a point about his disappointment with the Labour Government.

    In any case, it was Mr Callaghan's view that it had been clear for some time that whenever the election was held, Mrs Thatcher was going to get a majority. He believed that the hegemony had shifted.

    However, the nuances of history has never troubled the Daily Ranger and its cynical hacks.

    I had a neighbour who was an NUJ official at the Record and his view was that the paper's support for Labour was cynically market driven. They recognised that since the mid 1950s, Labour was in the ascendant in Scotland and that the rest of the newspapers were various degrees of Tory, so there was a pretty big niche in the market. Add a strong dash of bluenoseism and the niche encompasses well over half of Lowland Scotland!

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  4. The SNP were right wing and voted to bring down the Labour Government. Callaghan was right wing. They were all happy to get Thatcher and end the bickering. They then pretended to hate Thatcher but she sorted the economy and the Jocko politicians are reeping the benefits.

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    1. Full frontal lobotamies have been unethical and illegal for a long time, GWC2 !! I suggest you contact a good lawyer and sue.

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    2. I don't get the analysis above. Callaghan was right wing so Labour were right wing. Does that make SNP left wing? And Thatcher, was she left wing too?

      I know Labour and Conservative are right wing nowadays and SNP left.

      But what were the views of Chicory Tip and Mollie Sugden in 1979?

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    3. Sounds like you dont get a lot of any thing dearie

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    4. Sling your hook, freak.

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  5. Last month, during a crunch BREXIT vote, four Labour MPs voted to save the worst tory government in living memory. They prolonged the agony. No matter how hard the BBC and Daily Record try to ignore(or spin), this action won't be forgotten quickly by the people. Scotland will be independent long before that happens.:)

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    1. No they didn't. Nat si proper gander.

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    2. Evidence. Present your evidence.

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    3. Present your oopsadaisy to John Claude Junker, you tossa.

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    4. No. You provide evidence now.

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    5. Jean Claude definitely rammed some junker up GWC's natsis

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  6. Completely agree with what you have written, Callaghan in his memoirs wrote he was betrayed by his fellow Labour Mp’s not the SNP. IT WAS YET ANOTHER LABOUR MISREPRESENTATION PROMOTED BY A COMPLIANT MEDIA.

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    1. How could it be possible for the SNP to betray Labour! Two seperate parties with different agendas. However the SNP did know what was in store for the working classes and traditional industries if the Tories got power. The Tories did not pretend about that.

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    2. Where's your evidence?

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    3. The evidence is fom when Thatcher appointed Keith Joseph.

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    4. Then treated him to a bit of oopsadaisy. Ooh, pardon!

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    5. Serious question...did people really think Thatcher would go that far? Wasnt compromise assumed at the time? Many supported Reagan in USA assuming he wouldn't govern as far right. Certainly the air traffic controllers who supported him were shocked. I don't remember people thinking she would actually do a lot and I remember people assuming that " as a woman" she would not be that uncaring.

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    6. Frank von Furter treated GWC to a good pummelling of his oopsiedaisy.

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. The SNP's policy is and was Scottish independence. There would have been no Thatcher in an independent Scotland. Labour is and was a unionist party. It was Labour, not the the SNP, that delivered Scotland to Thatcher in 1979

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    1. Are you for real? What a pile of drivel. Mat sis love their Thatcher.

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    2. Evidence. Present your evidence.

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    3. Oi Dredge! Present your Drudge to A Nony Mouse. Squeek sqeueek.

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    4. No. You provide evidence now.

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    5. GWC was squeaking when the kraut possy piledrived his mat sis until it was well and truly thatchered.

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  9. The strategy of blaming the SNP for ushering in Thatcher led to the election of the feeble 50 in Scotland in 1979 GE. Labour have been trying to use this "success" ever since. Unfortunately for them, the truth behind their sabotage of the devolution referendum held earlier in the year has now become established fact. Labour's inability to confront their own duplicity over this event has rotted them from within. That they are still flogging this canard 40 years later, in a desperate effort to deflect from their own ineptitude, only goes to prove that they are unworthy to represent a modern Scotland.

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    1. That's a lot of blithering twaddle. With a lot of poncy words. None of that ever happened. But I did.

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    2. "But I did." You did what? Snivelled baseless gibberish yet again?

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    3. Anon, you are a Jocko wierdo, you impersonate then answer your impersonation.
      Carstairs for you Jocko.

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    4. And you can call in for a bit of oopsadaisy if we're next door to each other in there. Like the old days.

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    5. Always fun to observe the fetish freak bickering with itself.

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    6. Always fun to watch you trying to be funny and witty. Because yor not! In fact you spew out so much stupid crap I feel sorry for you. It's tragic

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    7. Not half as tragic as your desperate need for attention, which I note has spread to other sites.

      Seek professional help, fetish freak. Immediately.

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    8. Yor the one as needs help. Be cause you sound mentally degranged. You need to check in to a mental home.

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    9. "Mentally degranged"?
      What the fuck are you on, and why won't they increase your dosage?

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    10. What a rude nympho you are. The tongue of a navvy and the brain of a cat.

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    11. That's just how fetish freaks like you prefer it.
      Now fuck off back to the Dreary Heil, and don't make me humiliate you further.

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    12. Such a bitter little scatterpouch.

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    13. Aren't you just.
      Now fuck off and stop embarrassing yourself.

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    14. Riddle me free. Friddle me rightly.

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  10. Labour's continued whine, now lasting nearly 40 years, must be some kind of record. Frankly it is embarrassing. The SNP worked with Callaghan because of the devolution referendum which was duly won. It was scuppered by Labour rebel MPs. They were solely to blame. The primary culprit then further twisted the knife by promptly leaving Labour to join the newly formed SDLP. It was Owen and his SDLP that led to 19 years of Tory rule. Labour were far too busy kicking lumps out of each other to put up a reasonable fight.

    I have also always wondered why the Liberals who were in a sodding pact with Labour but who ditched Labour and voted against them in that no confidence motion never take any flak.

    Finally, what would have changed between May and October? Callaghan if he had gone to the wire would have dissolved Parliament on return from summer recess in September and set a date in October. They only had May to the July recess of sitting in the house left.Thatcher took over in May and the unemployment numbers and the economy worsened. Labour might well have just got an even bigger drubbing if they had waited 4 months.

    What this sorry tale really tells us is that Labour cannot take responsibility for its MPs and its own internal strife...a problem they still have.

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    1. Owen and his Gangs of Snoots founded the SDP which eventually joined up with the Liberals to form the LibDems. The SDLP is a Northern Ireland nationalist partybwhich was closely allied to British Labour.

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    2. Garbage. Pile of jocko nat si crap

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    3. Present your evidence if you disagree, halfwit. You've been told often enough.

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    4. Listen to Anthea Know It All Turner. Brain of Britain. You don't tell me wot to do.

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    5. You'll take what you're told.
      That's how you prefer it, in your slavish devotion to the Union.

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    6. "You'll take what you're told." Could we have that in English? Interesting way to spell "your".

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    7. It exposes its pig ignorance again.
      I'm not dumbing my writing down to suit your semi-literacy, halfwit.

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    8. You sound like the puddly poop that invented boardom.

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    9. "Boardom"? What the fuck is "boardom"?
      Fucking halfwit.

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    10. It's how I feel reading your boaring tripe. Board. Board. Board.

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    11. It took you 29 hours to come up with that?
      You're even more fucking stupid than I thought.

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    12. Sling yor hook jocko nat si. I was having a life. Tit

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    13. Is that what you call your pathetic hate-filled existence, freak?
      Fuck right off and stop embarrassing yourself.

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    14. Friddle me free. Riddle me rightly

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  11. Went to see the excellent play ‘This House’ last year about the long collapse of the Callaghan Government 1974-1979. The SNP were barely mentioned, the whole plot was about the vicious infighting of the Labour government that led to its defeat. https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/this-house

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    1. Sounds like a great way to spend a night.

      If yor life is as dull as a plumber's nose.

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    2. And what would you prefer?
      Sitting on here well into the night, screaming with impotent rage?
      Of course you would - it's what you already do.

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    3. Don't be so silly. I go out a lot. I going dancing. I love dancing. I loose myself in my dance. Dance.

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    4. To this, no doubt:

      https://youtu.be/FG1NrQYXjLU

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    5. Teeeheeeheeeheee. You whiffy jocko kind of Alan Part Ridge.

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    6. Partridge is a Kipper, just like you'd be if you were a little more left-wing, fetish freak.
      Now away back to your Tommy Robinson appreciation site and stop fucking embarrassing yourself on here.

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    7. You r airhead bim bo. You r nit wit. You r silly sausage.

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    8. And you're a fetish freak with a taste for bratwurst and uniforms. Now fuck off back under whichever red white and blue rock you oozed from.

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    9. You seem a bit worked up. Tranquillisers might help. Do you have them in Jockistan?

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    10. Note that it fails to deny its unhealthy interest in bratwurst and uniforms.

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    11. The only thing that you are not filtered into is a good trip to the cooker hood with a lot of travelling.

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    12. You arse tit. Too busy having a pugwash in your cream puff villa to reply to me are you? Squeek sqeueek Mrs Bonny Mouse

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