07 July 2008

On U-turns and Bloc Votes

It seems that Margaret Curran is a cert for the Labour selection in Glasgow East, and it also seems that she'll be quite happy to serve a dual mandate if she wins. Of course, Labour have often criticised Alex Salmond for this (forgetting that George Foulkes already does it, of course) but rather than be accused of double standards, Labour have gone down a slightly Stalinist path.

As Richard Thomson has noted, articles slating the First Minister for serving in two parliaments have vanished. Except they haven't, as they're still kicking around on Google Cache. This is what happened to Gavin Yates's blog, if you remember. If things that you've put on your website now put you in an uncomfortable position, the Labour solution is just to delete the page and hope everything will be fine. Except it won't, as 1) people will remember what you've written, and 2) it's still out there somewhere. So Labour have demonstrated that they don't actualy get the Internet. They've also demonstrated that they wish to pretend that they never said something and hope they get away with it, displaying a level of contempt for the voters. Well, I hate to break it to them but if treating the voters like braindead idiots actually worked, Labour would still be in charge in Scotland.

And I was tickled by Clairwil's point:

I must say I'm at a loss as to why anyone is concerned about how she'll handle being an MP and an MSP at the same time. Doing bugger all for her constituents in two jobs can't be any harder than doing it in one.

However, that's not the most disturbing U-turn in Labour. One of the few things that Jack McConnell did was try to tackle sectarianism. But as Alwyn ap Huw notes, news of this hasn't spread to Wales Labour, or at least not to Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West, who is trying to exploit religious divisions in the community:

"Religion may be a factor with a Baptist SNP candidate and a Labour one with an Irish name."

And of course, there's a wider assumption in that sentence: he's assuming that Catholics, or at least anyone of Irish Catholic descent, will dutifully troop out en masse to vote Labour. That's actually more bigoted towards the Catholic community of Glasgow than anyone else: it suggests that Labour own them, that they can do anything, say anything, and the Catholics are theirs for life. They are forgetting that Catholics are in fact individuals with free will, able to make up their own minds and judge for themselves who's in a better position to represent them. Personally, I would suggest that if Flynn is an example of a Labour Party will to treat Catholics like sheeple, then maybe, just maybe, Labour is not the best party to speak on their behalf.

Labour, though, have a habit of this. Maybe it's a holdover from the old Trade Union bloc vote, that has turned into an assumption of how things work in wider society, but Labour seems to target particular groups (I'm thinking of my own group, the LGBT Community) and just assume that we'll march to the polling place and put our X in the Labour box without thinking. And as people like Terry Kelly prove, they view any member of the community who wants to think for themselves as an ungrateful, treacherous bastard. Well, the fact is that we don't live in a bubble where the only concern facing us is whether or not we can get married. Yes, any move towards equality is to be welcomed, and yes, things have got better since 1997. But we're still a part of the wider world.

So in my case, if I were still at school, I could get more advice and information about sexual health. But my school building would be owned by the bank and if I wanted to study in England, I'd have to pay through the nose and get into about £21,000 of debt to do so.

If I wanted to, I could serve in the military. But then I could get sent to the mess the USA and UK created in Iraq.

I could get a civil partnership with a hypothetical boyfriend. But we still wouldn't be able to set up a home together as house prices have spent the last few years overheating, putting a house beyond our hypothetical means, and now that prices are starting to come down, the much-vaunted insulation we appeared to have against global financial strife appears to have failed and the chances of our getting a mortgage would be remote.

Basically, the idea that different groups in society - for example women, Catholics, the Asian community, the LGBT community, the working class - are both completely unified and at the same time completely separate from the rest of the people is one that permeates throughtout Labour, as Paul Flynn has demonstrated in one throwaway sentence. They are very, very wrong, and sooner or later, they're going to learn it the hard way.


Ted Harvey said...

Yes, Flynn's blog posting dies rather betray the continuing Labour mindset, doesn't it. I was struck but the equally repugnant quoate around the sectarian line you quoted:

"But there is deep reassuring loyalty from the ‘Labour until I die’ folk of Glasgow. There are more of them in this constituency than anywhere else in Scotland".

Yup... it would seem like Labour believes it does indeed 'own' the good voters of the East End.

Will said...

Ted, given the appalling life expectancy in Glasgow East, Flynn may find his analysis chillingly accurate.

Anonymous said...

It took Curran about five seconds to be negative about the SNP after her selection.

These muppets have learned nothing from past defeats.

Surreptitious Evil said...

Free will versus predestination? I suppose it makes a better drinking argument than the doctrine of transubstantiation (I can't believe I've spelled that correctly :).

More seriously (than anything involving the appalling Flynn) - Glasgow East is one of the many block vote constituencies (like Henly is for the Tories) - I suppose we just have to be thankful that we don't have the same level of gerrymandering that exists for US Congressional districts.

Personally, I can only wish the SNP the best of luck against Curran, Alexander, and the red rosette machine. As there is bugger-all chance of the Tories doing anything more capable than (possibly) retaining their deposit.