08 July 2008

The Tories are Coming, awooooogah!

Flicking through the early edition of today's Record (soft, strong and thoroughly absorbent - buy yours today!), I discovered the headline on the Leader column:

Hdhdhddd dhdhdhdhd

Now, this could be a template, or it could be someone falling asleep at their keyboard. But I think it's something more sinister. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the sound of key Labour backers' cybernetic implants being activated at HQ, turning anyone with a valid Labour membership card into members of the Labour Drone Army. I say this as some of the lines being uttered carry an air of programmability on the part of the speakers, as anyone thinking about them for a minute would realise the flaws in them.

So Margaret Curran says:

I'm in politics to stand up for the East End of Glasgow.

Well, she's been Baillieston MSP since 1999, and been an Executive Minister for a fair part of the time she's been at Holyrood. But with such an abysmal life expectancy in the area, and so many people without qualifications, she hasn't really been standing up for them all that well. And her actions as a Minister don't seem to have benfitted Glasgow East all that much. Or at all, for that matter. And the only reason she's standing up for them is because Gordon Brown begged her to stand, on the grounds that three other people weren't available. Oh, and wasn't she in the running for the Govan constituency in the run-up to the 1997 election? Is Govan in the East End? No. So Curran has provided us with more bullshit which can be countered just by looking at the figures showing the difficulties people in Glasgow East face. And the fact that if she'd had her way, she'd be saying "All I want is to stand up for Govan" now.

Then this from the Record:

In a By-Election that is crucial to Gordon Brown's future as Prime Minister, let's never forget that the alternative is David Cameron and the Tories.

Firstly, no one can deny that Tory policies did shaft Glasgow in the 1980s, but Labour have not managed to repair the damage and make things better. Can they really get any worse under a Tory Government?

Secondly, this By-Election won't put the Tories in power. It might end Brown's premiership but his replacement will be another Labour man. Trying to beat Glasgow with the Tory stick is trying to take the voters for fools.

Thirdly, Labour preach about how horrendous the Tories are, but when the likely situation arises where the UK ends up with a Tory Government based on the fact that England has voted Tory even though Scotland has voted agianst them by four to one, Labour's dogmatic obsession with the Union means that they're actually happy to see Scotland stuck with a Tory government it doesn't want than seeing more progressive forces taking an independent Scotland forward.

So when the next Tory Government comes along, expect Labour to be telling you why it's OK to be ruled by them - despite their policies being apparently so abhorrent at election time - rather than have an independent Scottish government doing the things that Labour claim to want to see happen.

But for now, Labour will play the "aren't the Tories nasty?" card, and to do so at such an early stage smacks of panic.


boxthejack said...

Not your usual balanced and incisive critique Will!

Glasgow East's troubles are the product of rapid urban migration and even more rapid deindustrialisation. The Tories quite rightly carry the can for some of this.

Labour have had some success, particularly in the areas of tackling child poverty, health (smoking and diet, though not alcohol and drugs)and inward investment. Glasgow Fort has helped.

Could an SNP MP do any better? I don't know. I do fear the SNP tend to approach social justice a little rhetorically ("Assuming we were independent...").

Meanwhile, Margaret Curran is by far the best chance Labour have of holding GE. She was widely respected in the not-for-profit sector when I worked in it, as someone who actually gave a shit, based largely on her time as Deputy Minister for Social Justice and Minister for Communities.

Bearing in mind the closeness of Jack's Labour to London, this is quite an achievement in itself.

Will said...

Well, as Kez pointed out, balance tends to go out the window at such times. On my side, they're Nasty Labour Drones, and on their side I'm one of the Evil SNP Lizard People. It's crap, but it's human nature.

To be honest, Labour do have some decent achievements - in particular the Minimum Wage, and extra payments for pensioners. But that's of little comfort in GE when there are so many who aren't getting any wage of any form, and when the average life expectancy is below retirement age. Labour have made things easier if you've got your foot on one rung of the ladder, but the Tories threw people in places like the East End off the ladder altogether, and Labour don't appear to have worked out how to get people back on.

We've heard of "Weren't the Tories nasty for putting you in this situation?" for 11 years now, but that doesn't get people out of that situation, and Glasgow East needs to hear something new from Labour, but I see no indication of what that something is going to be or who'll put it forward. Margaret Curran has very little time to set out an agenda but her first speech was an attack on John Mason, not an identification of either the problems people face or what she'll campaign for to make things better. Tamsin Dunwoody's approach was the same, and look what happened to her.

I have to be honest that whoever wins this By-Election, the impact that they'll have on the grand scheme will be minimal - they will be just one MP, after all - but the question will be how well they can put the Glasgow East case across. With Margaret Curran wasting time on lines coming close to "The SNP will eat your baby" and "Keep evil Tory scum out", she and her supporters are not getting off to an auspicious start.

Ted Harvey said...

boxthejack I really like your pithy reprise:

"Glasgow East's troubles are the product of rapid urban migration and even more rapid deindustrialisation."

Really concise and accurate observation; but a pity you ruin it with the downright parochially silly, "The Tories quite rightly carry the can for some of this".

The rise and fall was overwhelmingly the consequence of long-term, structural and global trade and economic factors. Indeed it was part of the glorious delusion of Britain that its local politicians (especially Scottish Labour) fooled themselves and their people that they could do much to stop or reverse these factors instead of (difficult) adaptation.

We have at least moved on enough for even a serving Labour Government to now be pleading that it can do little about the unfolding economic downturn because it's due to global factors.

On Margaret Curran (is it true that she is so committed to the East End that she lives in a large house in a leafy part of the South-Side?) I too worked in the not-for-profit sector, in the East End in fact. My finding was that she was feared, maybe respected as a... ahem... 'sharp' political operator. But above all, it was her own advancement that motivated her - that was well-attested with the way she stepped on her erstwhile boss Jackie Baillie's political corpse on her way into Jack's Cabinet of the second-raters. She achieved nothing in her time there that was not already under way courtesy of Jackie or Wendy... she had a particularly unfortunate non-part in the loss of the cause for communities proposed third party objection rights under the Planning reforms.

On giving Labour credit for 'some' success, well that can be contested. If it were not for the Tories dumping the appalling municipal landlords and resourcing local housing associations (initially truly loathed by Labour Glasgow City Council)the housing turn-around in the East End would not have been achieved. Meantime. we find that the health record in Glasgow is the worse in the UK, that Glasgow education way under-performs. Meantime, inequality across society has and continues to increase, and that child poverty (which you commend)is once agian increasing after some degree of reduction that was a poor return on the eye-watering huge sums of tax payers' money thrown at it (a bit like what happened with that other 'success' under Labour, the NHS)

boxthejack said...

I've never been accused of being parochially silly in defence of Labour before!

Anyway Ted, I don't entirely buy your resignation in the face of global economic integration. It's so 1980s.

There is no doubt that greater intervention would have limited growth, but I believe that in a capitalist system where there is not perfect information or low barriers to market entry, government should do more than just let industries die. It's easier and cheaper to reskill 100 people per month for a few years than 10,000 in a year.

Therefore, I think the Tories do carry the can for some of this, and I do think Labour deserve some credit.

Anyway, that's perhaps for another thread.

Your points about Margaret Curran are interesting, but I don't think accusing her of single minded self advancement sticks. Remember, many thought she could have been Jack's successor if she wanted the job.

Shug Niggurath said...

I live in Inverclyde, an area which had much in common with Glasgow East (and Govan) during the 80's - high unemployment, lack of inward investment and what have you.

A hell of a lot of the problems these areas faced was due to the unions rather than the tories, aye sure Thatcher's policies were extreme, but the areas that suffered badly were the ones where people expected subsidised wages for thousands of people to be the norm.

My father, a dyed in the wool, council housed, union rep never really worked again - and we're talking lost his job in the early eighties when he was about 44 years old.

Growing up in that house, I never seen it the fault of the tories - and still don't. If Glasgow East is still suffering so badly 25 years after the high unemployment era of Thatcherism, that's got sod all to do with the tories, that's go much more to do with MP's, MSP's, MEP's and councillors who have spent that period claiming to represent them and instead looking out for only themselves.

Sheesh, the reason Scotland is so rabidly anti-tory isn't because the people are thick it's because the political class here have lied to them.

Best of luck to the SNP - there's a serious debate about independence to be had in this country, that debate is better served with honesty rather than smears.

Ted Harvey said...

boxthejack you said:

"I don't think accusing her of single minded self advancement sticks. Remember, many thought she could have been Jack's successor if she wanted the job".

Well leaving aside the fact that the basis for my observation was what I picked up in my time working in the East End (and in the non profit sector you referred to). But anyway, your statement above helps reinforce the observation.

Moreover... first she goes for the leadership of the Scottish Party then she goes for the East Glasgow seat after a nod from Gordon Brown et al. hardly the stuff of substance, sustainability and consistency is it?

Incidentally, I have not come across anyone of much stature who even thought of her as a potential successor to Jack McConnell until she 'let it be known' she was (maybe) a runner.

Moreover, her candidature for leadership, like the others, simply reflects the lack of calibre in the Scottish Labour Party in its present condition.

And anyway a cynical soul might opinion that maybe she fun oot that she hid nae or little chance in the leadership stakes against Westminster Labour MPs' favoured son? Which is maybe also the reason that Andy Kerr has decided not to go for it? (or has he?).

It's all so continually symptomatic of the frozen mindset of Labour that invariably prefers a 'fix' to an election.

And another by-the-by, you tilted at my supposed 'resignation to global economic integration' as so 1980s (your tilt is so '2000s' and redolent of that leftist strand that has neo-liberalism as a mantra :-)). I'm no proponent of 'resignation' and that's not what I contended ... I leave that to the likes of Blair and Gordon Brown.

boxthejack said...

Ted, I agree with your analysis of Labour's shambles, and I must say when I was cringing at Wendy's FMQ's performances there was no-one springing to mind as a solid alternative.

Still, I'm not entirely with you on Curran. I think she would be as good a contender as any for the job(s), despite the best efforts of the "Evil SNP Lizard" who hosts this discussion!

{I do like that epithet by the way Will. Good job!}

Will said...

BTJ... it's Lizard People. Like in David Icke's head. ;)