Labour Pains


By Derek Bateman
The agony of the real Labour voter…trapped in an odious campaign funded by a rich man’s club of Tory donors and yet impotent and unable to speak up. Month after month of humiliation as pro-Trident Jim Murphy champions their cause, the Clyde shipyard workers are turned into traitors, and bankers, aristocrats, landowners and millionaire bosses pay their bills. Meanwhile their real option of Devo Max is first removed from the ballot and then castrated by their own party as an act of expediency.

One by one, Labour men and women with the courage of their convictions appear in the media stepping over no man’s land to join the swelling ranks of the true progressives openly and proudly campaigning for no more welfare cuts, full employment rights, no redundancies, universal benefits, re-industrialisation and social justice.

Always the same question – what happened to their Labour Party? When the people take to the streets to demand change why is their side absent, devoid of mass support and instead shoulder-to-shoulder with the CBI, UKIP and the BNP? Why is their party working hand-in-glove with Tories and taking the unearned income from Tory donors?

Why would the British elite in their banks and country estates be so passionate about retaining a political system which punishes the workless, the female, the single parent and the disabled? How does it work out that the interests of the very people Labour despise are now aligned with those of the Scottish working class?

And of course, they aren’t. The reason the titled and the wealthy hold on to power and money is because the British state makes sure they are looked after first. And Labour has spawned its own nursery of wannabe Lords and Ladies who ride the golden coach into the ermine club and, without any democratic mandate, only allegiance to the source of patronage, scoff at the gullible voters they left behind.*

Just as Blair, Mandelson, Brown and Darling are comfortable with the corporate wealth dispensers and accumulate faster than greedy Tories, so their successors Miliband and Balls plead with southern voters to trust that they too will protect the middle earners and professionals first by retaining the Tory austerity budget. After all, who else can suffering Labour supporters turn to?

What disappoints and at times, disgusts me, is that I don’t believe more than a rump of Labour people truly believe in the party’s offer, either in the referendum or the British General Election but can’t find a voice to say so. I know they aren’t nationalists and don’t support Salmond, which is why the No campaign denigrates him – out of fear and respect – but are they hearing what they want to hear from their leadership?

They’d love to and kid themselves Miliband will deliver and will win the election but they know this is all a forlorn hope, the triumph of wishful thinking. If the lines were delivered by someone they trusted – a Dewar perhaps – they might feel assured but they know Johann was a mistake and so is Ed.

How can they stay silent when Scotland’s future is at stake, our belief in a fairer society is in the balance – look at Labour’s delight when UKIP won a Euro seat. That gave the game away. They welcome UKIP as a sign that Scots are just as avaricious, just as racist and selfish as Tory voters in the Thames Valley.

It was Margaret Curran’s moment of the campaign – a woman representing our poorest area with male death rates less than 60 years and who wants to end the Barnett formula which she admits keeps up public spending.

Do Labour folk support this? Are they proud of the death figures of the ‘greatest ever Union’ which retains welfare budgets in London? Will this referendum end with the silent majority – the Labour voters – sitting on their hands, mind and mouths shut? Do they really despise their own politicians so much that they would defer to an old Etonian banker’s son and let him decide their policies and speak for them?

Or are they just praying it was all over, the mucky affair ended with a No and we leave our future and our childrens’ in Westminster’s hands? Will they enjoy watching the champagne parties in the City, in the board rooms and the country houses of the No side’s campaign donors and supporters? Do they think the bankers will come round and thank them?

One day, and it may come soon, we will have to look in the mirror. If, as I suspect, Scotland votes Yes, how will a Labour voter feel knowing for the rest of their life that their fellow Scots took the bold step and changed our country? If there is a Yes, I bet you won’t find a No voter the day after, they will hide their shame by denying it.

If it’s a No, they will watch events unfold – from the budget cuts, the reversal of the advances of Holyrood and the return of a Tory-led government – in the knowledge that they did that. They will purposely have played their part in opening up their country to a generation of assaults beyond our control.

This is the time to speak up…for Scotland, social justice and self-respect. Silence is no longer an option.

*This is Your Britain, Labour.

Courtesy of Derek Bateman