Thursday, 30 September 2021

Who needs enemies?


The Labour Party are keen, apparently, to win back some of their lost ground in Scotland, with many frequently claiming that they can never form a UK government again unless they do so. It’s not true, of course – the figures show that for every election (except autumn 1974) which has returned a majority Labour government, the party has also won a majority of seats in England. For Tory and Labour alike, the only requirement to form, or at least lead, a government in the UK is to beat the other party in England. Labour’s desperation to recover lost ground in Scotland is more a reflection of their acceptance that they’ve lost England than it is of any particular need for Scottish seats.

But let us suppose for a moment that their belief were true, and that winning back Scotland is indeed absolutely key to their success. What form of rational discussion in advance of the leader’s speech yesterday ever came up with the notion that the big promises to be not only highlighted in the speech, but also widely briefed in advance of it, should be England-only policies on issues such as health and education? It’s obvious that they continue to believe that they have some sort of divine right to Scottish votes, and that the SNP have somehow illegitimately stolen them, but are they really so divorced from the ground reality in Scotland that they think the answer is simply to bash an obviously-popular SNP government verbally and then talk about English policy as though it’s UK-wide? They seem to have learnt nothing at all from their perceived collaboration with the Tories in the ‘Better Together’ campaign in 2014, and are behaving in the same way as the Tories even now.

Perhaps in England, declaring themselves to be ‘patriots’ and wrapping themselves in the union flag looks like a strange, and probably doomed, attempt to compete for the English nationalist vote with the nationalists now running the Tory Party, but in Scotland (and in Wales also, albeit less so) it is more likely that it simply looks tone deaf to many. With ‘friends’ like these, the union hardly needs enemies. Another good day for the independence movement.


Anonymous said...

except autumn 1979??

John Dixon said...

Quite right! Typo duly corrected.