03 November 2007

Whither Labour?

Word reaches me that David Cairns, the man behind Des Browne at the Scotland Office, is to speak to Labour's youth Conference (poor man!), and will say that Labour will no longer argue that Scotland is financially incapable of running its own affairs. Given some of the recent figures published (and I refuse to get involved in these constant 'my statistics are bigger than your statistics' debates), its little wonder, but then, let's face it, for the last few years Labour were in the odd position of having to say that Scotland was unable to support itself, but at the same time having to defend their record in government. That it's taken an electoral defeat for them to realise that this doesn't work all that well shows that his calls for renewal are spot on: Labour are suffering from a 'reality defecit' with such contradictions.

Perhaps also, this will see an end to accusations that the present Scottish Government is obsessed with the constitution, at the expense of other issues: myths that Alex Salmond would initiate negotiations on independence with Westminster on Day 1 of the new administration proved baseless, and the Labour vision of border guards and a Berlin-style wall running from Gretna to Berwick has been shown to be nonsense. A&E units, higher education funding, transport projects, housing, local government finance, policing: these are the issues that have been at the top of the political agenda, not just the independence debate, which, let's face it, has been running at various levels of prominence since 1707.

So will this be taken up by the wider Labour hierarchy? Probably not, but if it were, what would replace it, if economics goes out the window? How long can their overly romantic attachment to the outdated idea of the multi-national state continue? With the USSR, Yugoslavia and Cazechoslovakia memories of history, with tensions between Flanders and Wallonia holding up the formation of a government in Belgium, with stronger assertions of nationhood in Catalonia and plans to discuss independence seriously in the Basque Country, how long can Unionism hold out against the tide of recent European history?

And if Labour concede that Scotland can financially survive on its own, what justification will they have for opposing a referendum on independence?

4 comments:

Clairwil said...

Well Terry Kelly will no doubt baffle on about anti-Englishness. As for the rest of them my money is on 'we're better together' with no evidence or explanation given to back it up.

Whatever happens I can't see them telling the truth on this issue.

Mountjoy said...

Well put. Labour has imploded in Scotland, and their policies have to be based on winning marginals in England. Not exactly a vote winner north of the Border.

agentmancuso said...

"what justification will they have for opposing a referendum on independence"

Perhaps the rather obvious one that Holyrood has no legal authority over constitutional matters.

Will said...

Well, the Civil Service clearly found a way around this, but even if that were a block, that's not an objection to the principle of a referendum being held.