By Bill Austin
The Blairite insider’s book 5 DAYS IN MAY (Biteback, London, 2013) arrived in the post this week. 185 pages later I’ve just put it down.
The Blairite is Baron Andrew Adonis, or The Lord Adonis as he’s known in the House of Lords, who as a Cabinet Minister of Blair and Brown is well placed to offer opinions and lessons learned on what today’s London Labour should take from their capitulation to the Tories after the UK 2010 coalition negotiations.
The Scots Dimension of today is not mentioned at all. He is currently a member of Miliband’s shadow cabinet.
The book is in two parts. The first, ‘5 Days in May’, are his own contemporaneous notes written as a key member of the Labour coalition negotiating team from polling day on Thursday 6 May until Tuesday 11 May 2010. The second is ‘The Coalition and Beyond’ which examines the first part in retrospect and what London Labour should focus on to win the UK General Election in 2015 and beyond.
As a brief reminder, the magic figure of 326 is the number of UK MP’s required for a Westminster parliamentary majority. In 2010, the Tories polled 306, Labour 258, Lib Dems 57 and the “others”, including SNP, 28.
Clearly, Lab + Lib Dem + others could’ve formed a new coalition government. For reasons the book makes clear London Labour blew the potential deal out of the water, led by Scottish Labour MP John Reid, and allowed the Tories to exploit the acquiescent Lib Dems. The “why?” will be explained below.
The effect on Scotland for London Labour was annihilation in the Scots 2011 election with a landslide victory for the parties of Scots political self-determination which has resulted in our Independence Referendum in 2014. The pro-independence YES parties are relishing the prospect of a YES vote as Johann Lamont’s Scottish Labour, incredibly from a Scots viewpoint, allies itself with UKIP and the Tories in the Better Together NO campaign.
The Scottish Lib Dem MP, Michael Moore, is the Tory Cabinet’s NO campaign frontman.
“5 DAYS IN MAY” clearly demonstrates the right wing move of the Lib Dems into the Tory camp. Equally clearly it explains John Reid’s opposition to any coalition with the Lib Dems as evidenced by his stereotypical rottweiler statements on BBC TV on the night of Monday 10 May and GMTV on the morning of Tuesday 11 May (p. 109-110). This is in direct contrast to the Labour pro-coalitionists, like Adonis, who stated;
“Labour should have fought with every sinew in 2010 to retain power. To give up power voluntarily, because you are tired of government and it is all too difficult, is a betrayal of the people you serve. In politics, exhaustion and attrition need to be overcome, not indulged.” (p.144). [BA bold/italics].
Self-evidentially, Adonis believes Labour betrayed Scotland.
The Lib Dems shied away from Reid and the likes of David Blunkett. The rest is history.
London Labour rolled over and allowed the Tories to inflict on Scotland austerity cuts, anti-European, anti-immigrant and anti-Scots draconian policies based on only one Tory MP in Scotland.
‘Democratic Deficit’ is a fig-leaf, pathetic phrase to cover what currently exists in Scotland. Unelected, unrepresentative Tory dictatorship in Scotland is more accurate in collusion with Labour and Lib Dems.
And the London Labour solution to the situation Scotland finds itself in? “One Nation Labour” (p.174-178.)
Adonis and the other Blairites focus on the Labour party’s electoral problems in southern England.
….. “because the concentrations of population and dynamic energy are in the south…Labour won barely any seats in southern England.
In 2010, out of 218 seats south of Birmingham excluding London, Labour won only ten. In the twenty-five counties of southern England, Labour won no seats at all in nineteen (Bucks., Cambs., Cornwall, Dorset, E. Sussex, Essex, Gloucs., Herefordshire, Herts., Kent, Norfolk, Northants, Somerset, Suffolk, Surrey, Warwick., West Sussex, Wilts. and Worcestershire)…..the challenge for Labour is to build substantially more support, without which it will not win seats in Southern England…..the Labour wipe-out in southern England…will take a dramatic shift in support and perception to reverse it. The Eastleigh by-election of February 2013, where Labour stuck at 10 per cent while UKIP surged to 28 percent and second place…..the necessity to become a party of southern England becomes still greater when the parliamentary boundaries are finally withdrawn for the election after 2015, when the balance of seats shift decisively south. Ed Miliband is therefore right to advance ‘One Nation Labour’ “
Adonis, Miliband and Lamont have clearly ignored the suicidal Scottish Labour policies detailed in Gerry Hassan’s book ‘The Strange Death of Labour in Scotland’ after their appalling performance in the 2011 Scots elections. Lamont’s Cuts Commission, yet again, is shown to be a Miliband inspired example of vote-winning in England’s southern shires. Lamont’s alliance with the Tories, UKIP and Lib Dems in the NO campaign is a clear sign to southern English voters that Labour are, in fact, the same.
Finally, in order to prove my opening remark that there is no Scots Dimension in London’s ‘One Nation Labour’, as described repeatedly in this book, is the absolute complacency that the Labour party continue to take Scots voters support for granted in favour of Labour Westminster MPs in order to make up the UK ‘numbers’ to the magic ‘326’ to win the 2015 UK election.
This arrogance to be based on a pro-southern English shires manifesto in order to out-Tory the Tories and UKIP. Plainly, their concept makes no allowance for the reasons and reality of Scotland’s pro-independence landslide in 2011.
If, God willing, there is a YES vote in our Referendum followed by our first Scots election for an independent parliament by 2016, why should there be any Scots MPs involved in the UK election in 2015 at all?