UK elections open thread

by Maria on May 6, 2016

After last year’s horror I can barely turn on the computer, let alone the radio or TV. Oh, we don’t have a telly. Anyway. Some titbits of info are still filtering through.

Scotland. Seriously? You lot are dead to me. OK, I can see that you are now just voting pro or anti Union, but it’s a rum day to see the Conservatives in second place. And yes, Blair and post-Blair Labour gave you the middle finger way back when, but let’s pin it on the guy who got the job last summer.

Wales. You do know UKIP is for English people? They don’t like you, either.

Norn. Irn. I don’t blame you. Not one bit. If I had to choose between SF and the DUP, I’d emigrate.

London. I get that Sadiq – the man the Conservatives changed from a dull, machine politician into a racy radical – is winning. But who-TAF are all those people voting for Goldsmith? Do they live on my street? Did I smile at them in the polling station? Or is it just the combined forces of Kensington, Wandsworth and Richmond who think it’s a good idea to vote for the shouting-like-a-mofo-at-your-dog-Linton-in-a-public-place-and-then-kicking-the-bejaysus-out-of-him-when-he-comes guy?

Dudley. I don’t know what to say to you.

The rest of England. Whatever. Carry on.

{ 196 comments }

1

Salem 05.06.16 at 9:08 am

There’s no shortage of English people in Wales, you know. And the ever-more-Welsh spiral between Labour and Plaid has long turned off those who don’t see Welshness as their all-consuming identity. It’s been pretty clear since the general election that UKIP were going to do well in these elections in Wales, and if anything I’m surprised they haven’t done better.

2

Phil 05.06.16 at 9:16 am

“Carry on” is about the size of it – the Labour vote’s held up much better than expected, but not well enough to shout about. The main story of the night is the BBC’s incredible levels of partisanship – more pronounced than anything I can remember since Tony King and Peter Kelner were doing their bit for the SDP, and more openly hostile than they were. I blogged recently about how bullying is something people do when they can’t get what they really want (i.e. for their victim to just shut up, or just not be there), and that’s exactly the position the Labour Right and ‘centre’ are in now – there’s no alternative, positive project for them to put their energies into, and Corbyn’s Labour just will not go away. And a good thing too. The trouble is, we’re left with an awful lot of bitterness and spite washing around in some unexpected places – e.g. the Graun and the New Statesman, as well as the BBC politics team (I suspect Kuenssberg thinks of herself as ‘centre-left’; I doubt she’d be as vicious if she were a Tory).

Interesting to hear Tom Watson telling people to lay off Corbyn – interesting, because I had hoped he would have been doing exactly that, in public or in private, more or less every day since last September. Better late than never, I suppose.

3

Ravi 05.06.16 at 9:30 am

Cheer up. It could always be worse (an American voter says nervously).

4

BenK 05.06.16 at 10:35 am

This is exactly the sort of attitude that is causing Trump to steamroll the vote.

I can hear the outrage now – “No, it is all those evil -isms that his supporters espouse!”

But it isn’t. Any -isms they had now they had last year and the year before. If we are to believe the social scientist spin, those -isms have been fading, so why Trump now?

It’s the increase in overt, blatant disrespect. Trump’s main message is ‘They disrespect you and tell you that you are to blame for everything bad in society! They say that everyone should participate and must be heard – except for you. That you are unfit to participate in your own communities. When you vote for something, they overturn it, when they negotiate something, they do it in secret and claim that these illegitimate international agreements force them to enact their domestic policies.”

This should sound familiar, because the more he says it, the more his opponents say things like “his supporters should have their heads examined” [that was Fox News] or “what he proposes is against international law.” They double down on the insults, the disrespect. The prognostication of doom if these voters have their voices heard. In short, they validate everything he says, and motivate his supporters.

So, does this give us a path forward? Not really. J. Haidt has shrewdly observed that it is less the size of the disagreement than its nature which causes the problem. Opponents in present society are not simply different, they are morally incompatible, and morally incomprehensible. Suggesting less rhetoric is tactical, but suggesting actual conciliation is repugnant (to everyone).

5

Maria 05.06.16 at 11:15 am

Yes, folks, it was little old me. Spot my smoking Arrogance Gun. There is some range on that thing. I fired it all the way from London.

Only yesterday morning as we sat in bed drinking our coffee and putting off getting up and going to work, Ed showed me several videos of grenade launchers. You can actually attach them to the rifles the American infantry use and they have a range of at least 200 feet. Obviously their range is not as far as my Arrogance Gun. The subject came up because I’d asked him what his weapon of choice would be for the coming zombie apocalypse, assuming he would stick with what he knows, the SA80. But no. Only an M4 will do. Our plan is to break into St James’ palace and spring some, as and when. They are sure to keep the good stuff there, even if it’s not standard issue. Then of course we got along to how the whole zombie thing is about fear of immigrants and poor people. So that probably cost us a few more Trump supporters. Damn that gun.

Now, you know what? I am going to decree (once again, actually, as the title of the OP was pretty clear on this) that this thread is about UK POLITICS.

The Internet is not exactly lacking in places to discuss US politics. So for one golden thread, one long, crazy day, we won’t be talking about Fox News, or Trump, or why people who dislike and would never vote for certain politicians – not least because they DON’T EVEN LIVE IN THAT COUNTRY – are nonetheless responsible for their popularity. Or they would if they could be. Or people like them would. Or that annoying guy in work. Or someone whose friend invitation Ben should never have accepted on Facebook.

We will be talking about, what was it again, oh yes, the elections that happened in the UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND yesterday. We will talk about England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. We might even wonder how this affects the Brexit referendum. We can just about talk about Ireland or France, as they are near enough to overhear us. There is a case for including the remaining territories, even though they didn’t vote. Falklands, I’m looking at you. But we will NOT BE TALKING ABOUT ANYONE’S THEORIES ON DONALD SODDING TRUMP.

I trust this is now adequately clear.

Ravi, you are a sweetheart and perfectly entitled to share your nerves.

6

kidneystones 05.06.16 at 11:23 am

First, Labour is doing far better than the pundits predicted. Support for Brexit outside of Scotland courses around the 50% mark which, combined with Labour’s dismal handling of the NHS in Walses, partially explains UKIP support.

@4 There’s much to agree with until the concluding paragraph. You make absolutely no mention of the economic stresses of compressed wages, outsourcing, a lack of borders (real and imagined) and the fact that the upper and middle-classes abhor the poor. That said, there are many areas of common ground, depending on the country and the demographics. I’m always astonished each time I visit England to here academics in Cambridge slag those in Leeds every bit as viciously as football fans. So, in that respect you’re right. But neither group is ready to abolish the flag, surrender the pound, or embrace (really embrace) a borderless Europe. People aren’t supposed to agree in a parliamentary democracy. Democracy permits and encourages peaceful disagreement, discourse, and the creation and destruction of political parties to give expression to differences. Beats the hell out of cross-burnings and the sacking of churches, imho. Trump and Sanders are not Satan incarnate or the second coming of Stalin and Hitler, anymore than Corbyn and Cameron are. It’s all going to shake itself out to produce another highly imperfect mess that will keep a great many people employed, getting on with life, getting educated, and raising their families in relative peace and security with both freedom of religion, and of the press.

God bless elections. Long may they thrive.

7

Placeholder 05.06.16 at 11:44 am

Well I would say “this is the exactly the kind of transatlantic arrogance that…” but I have to say a lot of the British received opinion on politics has been shaken up in a way it hasn’t for a long time. What else am I supposed to say.

“Scotland. Seriously? You lot are dead to me. OK, I can see that you are now just voting pro or anti Union, but it’s a rum day to see the Conservatives in second place.”

I think the British commentariat need to accept that Scotland is like Quebec now and we can predict its behavior about as well. They don’t want to leave but… they’re not happy about it? Maybe that’s what happens when you tell a people they COULD leave if they want but they would be POOR FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. It’s not a recipe for true loyalty. One of the reasons is Quebec, like Scotland recently, has engaged in massive wild swings the media just don’t seem to be able to keep up with. Layton today Trudeau tomorrow. But maybe that’s the real story – Scotland shouldn’t be united with a country that doesn’t understand it.

“And yes, Blair and post-Blair Labour gave you the middle finger way back when, but let’s pin it on the guy who got the job last summer.”
I mean, didn’t George Galloway said Scotland used to be so Unionist Glasgow Irish wouldn’t support Scotland if they were playing at home? It really looks like the mortal blow was struck not by people angry at Blair – they kicked the Tories out of every seat in 1997 and stayed loyal right up until 2015 – but it’s working class Glasgow base who, legend tells, only supported the unionist left because they felt that an independent Scotland would be run by the Orange Order. They seem to have left very abruptly over the #indyref and that alone. We may really be facing a national question of the type the UK unionists, liberal or otherwise, have always dreaded and don’t really seem to know how to deal with.

“Wales. You do know UKIP is for English people? They don’t like you, either.”
I don’t know man. Safe Labour are for yonks, no far right prescence and UKIP parachute a slew of disgraced arrogant conservatives like Neil Hamilton and Mark Reckless. Carpet-bagger, you American’s say, yes?

“London. I get that Sadiq – the man the Conservatives changed from a dull, machine politician into a racy radical – is winning. But who-TAF are all those people voting for Goldsmith?”
I imagine they were hoping his alt-Tory, greenish, and reformist attitude (he supported recall votes for MPs) would make him look like a different Tory the way Boris had done through sheer whimsy. For his campaign to go FULL DOUGLAS HOGG was a shock. Richmond Park voted Lib Dem as recently 2010.

“The rest of England. Whatever. Carry on.”
Corbyn is rallying in the south of England and losing votes in the north.

“Norn. Irn. I don’t blame you. Not one bit. If I had to choose between SF and the DUP, I’d emigrate.”
Labour legalised the UVF on the 14th of this month 1974. In these terrible months they used that license to:
1. Collapse the Sunningdale agreement through the Ulster Workers Council strike.
2. Carry out the Dublin and Monagham bombings killing the most people of any atrocity of the Troubles (the Beeb says it’s the Omagh bombing – they are lying).
3. Abducted and murdered the Miami Showband at a fake check point in Army uniforms.
4. Kill Gerry Adam’s cousin when he was only seventeen years old and leave his body in a quarry and the word “POPE” in giant letters.
5. Current MLA member Billy Hutchinson shot two Catholics in a revenge attack.
All this before they were banned in October.

8

Phil 05.06.16 at 12:52 pm

Corbyn is rallying in the south of England and losing votes in the north.

Rallying – or even holding on – in the south of England is good, and completely unexpected. The result in Oldham West could be written off as a same-old Northern working-class safe seat. There are many things you can say about Hastings, but…

As for the UVF… no, never mind the UVF. But here’s something interesting:

“I have lost count of the number of occasions that I have had telephone calls late at night from Irish people who live in my constituency, who were expecting a son, a daughter, an uncle, an aunt or a father to come across to visit them from Dublin or from Belfast, but who find that they have not arrived. They ask me, ‘Do you know where they are?’ I have no idea where they are. We then start an amazing series of telephone calls to find out whether someone is being held under the [Prevention of Terrorism] Act. A Kafka-like mystery surrounds it and it is not clear whether that person is being held until lawyers make contact and eventually application is made for a writ of habeas corpus.” – Jeremy Corbyn MP, speaking in 1990

The Labour Right has always been security-minded – it’s something that New Labour inherited from the old Labour Right. (The maximum period of pre-charge arrest has been extended four times in the last 50 years – from 24 hours to two days, then to seven, then 14, then 28. Have a guess which party was in power on all four occasions.) I don’t think it’s anything sinister, just a general authoritarianism and bureaucratic small-mindedness which they share with people like May, unrelieved either by civil libertarianism or by the vague libertarian leanings of old-school Tories. Partly for that reason, there’s been a tendency to lean towards the Loyalist rather than the Republican side.

But that’s the Labour Right – and now, for the first time ever, the party’s led by active and consistent representatives of the party Left. Corbyn and McDonnell really are something new – and, it would appear, they’re not entirely repulsive to the voters, not even the good people of Crawley. And not only Tom Watson but Hilary Benn has told Corbyn’s enemies in the party to shut up and get behind him. All told, I feel considerably more hopeful now than I did 24 hours ago.

9

Chris Bertram 05.06.16 at 12:54 pm

AFAICS, UKIP in Wales is doing well compared to the last similar elections (when for the most part they didn’t stand) but their support doesn’t seem to have changed much since GE 2015. The valleys, Wrexham, all places where there’s not much hope and “blame the foreigner” is a knee-jerk reaction to that. One can only hope that having Mark Reckless and Neil Hamilton in the Welsh public eye will diminish the appeal of the kippers over time.

10

harry b 05.06.16 at 12:55 pm

I watched the BBC coverage till about 10 am (4 am UK time), and then again when I woke up. I’d like to exempt one of the BBC journalists from Phil’s (otherwise accurate) accusation — the remarkable Jeremy Vine, who, albeit at a talking speed that makes me worry for his health, repeatedly put the results in context. As a regular listener to his radio show I have sometimes suspected him of having left wing sympathies (he seem unreasonably knowledgeable about the history of the Labour Left, and was manifestly devastated — though professional — the day Tony Benn died), but the truth is that he is probably guilty of a much worse crime — being a serious journalist who wants to inform the public and is remarkably skilled at it. I think he’s working with Corbyn and Hardy to prove that not everyone called Jeremy is an arse (that’s a Jeremy Hardy joke, not mine).

Its not a surprise to anyone who has seen them in action that Ruth Davidson and Leanne Wood picked up seats. They are both charismatic, articulate, hard working, and just slightly off-center from what a regular politician is like (maybe that’s a way of saying that they are either sincere, or they fake it so well that it doesn’t matter). Their respective parties are lucky to have them as leaders.

The best bit of the evening for me was watching the interview with John Mann, just as it was starting to look as if his party might do much better than expected. He was apoplectic. Voters are so annoying when they won’t desert your party! I wondered about his history, looked him up on wikipedia, and saw that he was a central figure in the NOLS purges in the 1980s (can you imagine grown men and women dedicating their time to ensuring victory in elections for a student organisation??). He might need therapy. I assume these guys have a magical candidate to replace Corbyn with, but whom they are keeping secret.

Scotland. There’s a lot of talk about the Conservatives replacing Labour as the second party. Another way of seeing it might be that the SNP already replaced Labour, and now the Conservatives are replacing the SNP as the natural opposition. But Labour should never have taken the urban Scots for granted — they were never completely tribalist. Isn ‘t it possible that if Scotland had had the kind of electoral system it now has, throughout the 20th century, the Communists, rather than Labour, would have dominated urban Scotland? (Phil — if you tell me that’s ridiculous I’ll believe you; either way I’ll be interested in your thoughts). Granting devolution in Scotland always looked to me like a ticking time bomb for Labour (and maybe what was intended, for all I know).

11

Chris Bertram 05.06.16 at 1:13 pm

Yes Harry, I stood for the NOLS exec in about 1982 or 83 (probably the latter). Woolas and Mann were both candidates for “Clause 4”, the other factions were Militant and Socialist Students in NOLS (SSIN), an alliance of IMG and Socialist Organiser. These supposed Labour mainstream figures prided themselves on their reputation as “tankies”, ie apologists for Soviet interventions in Eastern Europe, and tended to spice their speeches with jokes about ice picks to wind up their Trotskyist opponents. We had a torrid time at hustings, because the C4 candidates and Militant all had advance sight of the questions, whereas we had to improvise on the spot. C4 dominated NOLS partly because of the fact that a very high proportion of delegates from Militant had their credentials deemed technically invalid by Walworth Road. However when someone in Militant unwisely claimed that the process was fixed, the Labour Party student official at the time sued them for libel, and won.

12

Peter K. 05.06.16 at 1:24 pm

So it sounds like there wasn’t a voter backlash against Corbyn as the Blairite rump had hoped there would be.

This is good news. But also sounds like UKIP is becoming the protest party which is bad news.

This was the first year I really followed BPL football closely and watched as many games as possible. Leicester City’s season was amazing! Congratulations!

13

harry b 05.06.16 at 1:30 pm

Are you suggesting that I should withdraw my comment. I actually had a conversation with someone who claimed to have been involved in fixing one of those elections (but later than yours — maybe 1984?). But some people just boast emptily. I went to secondary school with someone who was subsequently a central leader of that group (more behind the scenes than Mann and Woolas), and later became a notorious SPAD (but I am not going to name her because, to be only fair, I think she’s done her time, and I’ve been deeply impressed with her subsequent life choices).
The Clause Four wiki page is easily accessed by googling “operation icepick”.

14

Chris Bertram 05.06.16 at 2:14 pm

I’ve heard stories too Harry, but maybe edit a bit in dashboard?

15

Igor Belanov 05.06.16 at 2:30 pm

“Corbyn is rallying in the south of England and losing votes in the north.”

‘The North’ is a pretty big area to generalise about. In the Northern cities Labour support is very stable, probably more than it has ever been. Leeds fell to a Tory majority in the 1970s, Liverpool to the Liberals until 1983, most other Northern cities went Tory in 1968, even Sheffield. The problem has been weakening support in Scotland, to some extent Wales, and the massive commuter Tory vote in the South-East.

16

Pete 05.06.16 at 3:19 pm

“Scotland. Seriously? You lot are dead to me.”

Well, that’s just lovely, isn’t it? Is that the new Labour strategy for winning Scotland back? Sometimes it feels like it has been. Scold the voters for not giving you the votes you obviously deserve. We can all see how well that worked out.

The Labour person on deck in Scotland singing “Abide With Me” while their ship sank was Kezia Dugdale. Corbyn was barely visible here, for good or ill. Kezia stood in my constituency, and lost it. No ground forces, as far as I can tell.

What is the point of Scottish Labour? The referendum and aftermath drove home to 45% of the population that Unionism is Toryism, and that “pooling and sharing” means scrabbling for scraps from the London table. Labour should have no-platformed the Conservatives during the indyref and run their own No campaign if they wanted to survive.

Meanwhile the SNP in Westminster have been doing at least a good a job of being the opposition as Labour have, with a refreshing absence of infighting. Labour councils in Scotland aren’t nearly so well liked. I don’t know how much the closure of a bunch of Edinburgh schools prior to the election due to construction issues blamed on the PFI contractors used by the council had an effect, but it certainly reminded a lot of people of one of the negative Blairite policies.

A strange advantage of the SNP is that, because all the media except the National are intrisically hostile to them, they’re not beholden to the news cycle. They’ve won a third term as Scottish government because they’ve generally got on with things competently and with a minimum of ideologically-driven throwing people under the bus. It’s almost got to the point where the media coverage is so incompetent that attacks work in their favour. Such as all the kerfuffle over Named Persons.

People who wanted to attack the SNP on competence should have brought up Police Scotland a lot more.

17

Phil 05.06.16 at 3:21 pm

Even Manchester had a year of Tory rule back in the 1970s. They changed the motto after that to make sure it wouldn’t happen again (modified local joke).

I’m not sure the Communists could ever have dominated Scotland, but given PR they certainly could have been a substantial third party – think the SSP at their height. What would have happened if they’d ever got substantial enough to hold the balance of power, I dread to think.

Re Woolas, I note without comment – in the hope of avoiding thread derailment – the involvement of Josh Woolas in this story. Apple, tree.

18

MPAVictoria 05.06.16 at 3:32 pm

You know I actually think Labour did pretty well considering how eager all the Blairites are to destroy Corbyn even if that means keeping the Tories in power.

/The fucking traitors.

19

Chris Bertram 05.06.16 at 3:33 pm

“Even Manchester had a year of Tory rule back in the 1970s.”

Up to the 60s, Liverpool had been a Tory city for a century

20

doug k 05.06.16 at 3:39 pm

thank you for the thread – I have utterly lost comprehension of UK politics, just as here in my adopted country the circenses leave me in a sort of dazed sad bewilderment.
Jeremy Corbyn is the only politician I follow (and retweet) on Twitter. It is not necessary to hope in order to persevere..

21

Pete 05.06.16 at 4:14 pm

@Phil I doubt there would have been a Communist party as a third power, the Scottish far left is even more fragmentary than usual. Even at this election we had Actual Communists For Stalin, RISE, Solidarity For Perjuror Sheridan, and TUSC.

22

djr 05.06.16 at 4:30 pm

Scotland. Seriously? You lot are dead to me.

From a less pro-Labour Party perspective, 70% vote for parties to the left of the Lib Dems. Scotland can choose between two different left-of-centre parties without needing to worry about a split vote letting the Tories in.

23

Dipper 05.06.16 at 4:35 pm

It is hard to see how Labour gets into power in Westminster from here, particularly given events in Scotland. Yes I know that Labour has had sufficient English and Welsh seats under Blair to form a majority, but that was before the appearance of the SNP as a major political force. It is very unlikely that Labour will be able to attract sufficient floating voters to elect them if there is the slightest suspicion that they will need SNP support to form a government given the near-uniform dislike of the SNP in England. That means Labour needs Scottish seats, and there doesn’t seem to be any way that will happen unless something changes dramatically.

Perhaps Labour needs to split into regional Labour Parties and fight the next election as a specific coalition of Welsh, Scottish, and English Labour parties?

24

Stephen 05.06.16 at 4:53 pm

Am I right in reading the OP as saying: London, centre of the universe, well done apart from all the Londoners (none of whom are known to Maria) who voted for someone Maria does not like.

NI, deep pity; understandable, but based on the belief that SF and DUP are the only alternatives. NI have multi-member STV constituencies of a sort much admired by many progressive people; they can vote for whoever they like; alas, parties Maria doesn’t like – me neither- come out on top. So much for the virtues of STV.

Wales, don’t you realise that UKIP, despite their title (look at the first two initials) aren’t a Welsh party at all? How dare you vote for people Maria doesn’t like?

Scotland, Maria regards you as dead. You voted for people Maria doesn’t like.

Rest of England: please go away.

I may of course have misinterpreted the OP. If I didn’t I hope these views are not predominant in UK Labour, since I still hope for a decent UK government and general contempt for a large section of the population is not the way to get it.

25

novakant 05.06.16 at 5:12 pm

I have to say, though, that to my limited knowledge Kezia Dugdale has the best name in British politics – or maybe it’s Alf Dubs ?

26

novakant 05.06.16 at 5:18 pm

London, centre of the universe, well done apart from all the Londoners (none of whom are known to Maria) who voted for someone Maria does not like.

It’s not so much that Zach Goldsmith was particularly unlikable, but that his campaign was the lowest form of politics in recent memory – Trump excepted of course.

27

novakant 05.06.16 at 5:18 pm

sorry, it’s Zac

28

Stephen 05.06.16 at 6:11 pm

novakant@26: interested to see that you place Sinn Fein’s form of detonation-and-assassination politics above Trump’s. This being a UK thread, and all.

29

novakant 05.06.16 at 6:26 pm

Yeah, Stephen, that’s incredibly interesting!

30

Garrulous 05.06.16 at 6:42 pm

Novakant @25:

I quite like “Flick Drummond,” a newish Tory backbencher, especially because the name sounds like some kind of Boys Own name but is actually short for “Felicia.”

31

Stephen 05.06.16 at 6:51 pm

Novakant@29: come to that, you place Sinn Fein’s (or the PUP’s) record above Goldsmith’s who has not, AFAIK, murdered anybody. Yes, I do find that interesting, if only as an indication of your preferences.

32

Stephen 05.06.16 at 6:52 pm

Or, to be generous, your ignorance.

33

Ronan(rf) 05.06.16 at 7:02 pm

The answer to what is happening in the developed world, is given in this old John hewitt poem:

“We tried to answer, spoke of Arab, Jew,
Of Turk and Greek in Cyprus, Pakistan
And India; but no sense flickered through
That offered reason to a modern man
Why Europeans, Christians, working class
Should thresh and struggle in that old morass “

34

makedoanmend 05.06.16 at 7:45 pm

The entire article is but riseable. Invective measured with equal amounts of ego.

Scottish electoral results have context. Much.

What Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionist Party just sorta, like, kinda popped up from nowhere? And the people who live there deserve their fate, since, like, SF and the DUP made everything bad all by themselves.

And some sanctimonious comments that ensue about Sinn Fein just becomes self serving pap within ethos of the article. The Tories and their candidates haven’t harmed any one? Really? Ask those who committed suicide rather than slow decaying deaths due to austerity. Ask the peoples of the countries that Cameron and crew feel the need to bomb. Double standards much?

The story about the UK elections is that more about people who are coming to realise that the MSM is nothing more than propaganda and are ignoring the coordinated messaging; that their state is shrivelling into tyranny but are still willing to give a rather ordinary human being in Corbyn a shot agains the odds and grain of our current cultures. (It’s rather refreshing to have a political leader of any stripe whose not a PR bot or budding b-rated celeb.)

As for people who vote Tory. Some will have their economic reasons to do so. Some will be the equivalent of turkeys voting for Christmas to come early. However, it is better to try and understand their concerns and address those concerns rather than lambasting them.

35

Dipper 05.06.16 at 7:54 pm

Why no thread on Brexit? Just wondering.

36

Tom Slee 05.06.16 at 8:28 pm

I do not know what goes on inside Maria’s brain, but to the several commenters who are writing things like this:

“Well, that’s just lovely, isn’t it? Is that the new Labour strategy for winning Scotland back?”, or
“The entire article is but riseable. Invective measured with equal amounts of ego.”

You may want to look at the title of the post. The content itself is obviously an immediate reaction; a bit of venting as the numbers come in, as a lead-in to an OPEN THREAD. So ranting at it as an “article” or “strategy” when it’s obviously not intended to be either is, well, “riseable”.

37

js. 05.06.16 at 8:50 pm

Thanks, Maria. I’m curious about reactions and several of the comments are quite helpful. (Several aren’t, of course! But that’s only to be expected.)

38

LFC 05.06.16 at 9:49 pm

Garrulous @30
I quite like [the name] “Flick Drummond,” a newish Tory backbencher, especially because the name sounds like some kind of Boys Own name but is actually short for “Felicia.”

Thoroughly enjoyed this comment. Thank you.

39

Frances 05.06.16 at 10:02 pm

And London has just elected a Muslim as mayor – against a dog whistle racist Tory campaign . Just sayin’

40

Strategist 05.06.16 at 10:28 pm

From a London perspective:

This city has struck a serious and important blow against Tory party central office strategists’ aim to encourage the racial & religious sectarianisation of politics in England.

There was a record turnout, and it appears that people have come out in large numbers to ensure that Lynton Crosby’s campaign tactics on behalf of Zac Goldsmith (who was either too venal or too stupid and weak to veto them) are slapped back down into the sewer they emerged from. Could have been the beautiful spring weather, but having turned out, they voted well.

But who-TAF are all those people voting for Goldsmith? Do they live on my street? Did I smile at them in the polling station? I often think that, especially after General Elections the Tories win, but the key thing today, is that the Tories have done very badly.

What is even more enjoyable is that the mad attempt by the Labour psycho-Blairites to ignite and then use a furore over anti-semitism as a means of sabotaging the election, thus justifying a coup against Corbyn has utterly, utterly failed. I’m very happy about that. What a bunch of schmucks.

41

BBA 05.07.16 at 12:48 am

Do these results mean that if the UK secedes from the EU, London will secede from the UK?

42

J-D 05.07.16 at 1:17 am

Placeholder @7

‘I think the British commentariat need to accept that Scotland is like Quebec now and we can predict its behavior about as well. They don’t want to leave but… they’re not happy about it? Maybe that’s what happens when you tell a people they COULD leave if they want but they would be POOR FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. It’s not a recipe for true loyalty. One of the reasons is Quebec, like Scotland recently, has engaged in massive wild swings the media just don’t seem to be able to keep up with. Layton today Trudeau tomorrow. But maybe that’s the real story – Scotland shouldn’t be united with a country that doesn’t understand it.’

It seems straightforward enough to me. Somewhere between 40% and 50% of Scottish voters want Scotland to become an independent country separate from the United Kingdom, and for that reason most of them vote for the SNP in elections for the UK Parliament and the Scottish Parliament; somewhere between 50% and 60% do not want Scotland to become an independent country separate from the United Kingdom, and in elections for the UK Parliament and the Scottish Parliament they vote for other reasons: some Labour; some Conservative; some for the LDP, UKIP, the Greens, or other parties; and perhaps some for the SNP. That fits with the election results and with the referendum result.

It doesn’t seem like a case of ‘they don’t want to leave but they’re not happy about it’; it seems like a case of ’50+% don’t want to leave, and perhaps the other 40+% aren’t happy about that’.

The swing in the non-SNP section of the vote, from Labour to the Conservatives, must have some explanation, but it doesn’t have to be an explanation connected with the independence issue.

43

eddie 05.07.16 at 2:31 am

LOL to read Stephen calling someone out for supposed lack of condemnation of irish terrorism while excusing goldsmiths support for palestine genocide.

44

eddie 05.07.16 at 2:35 am

“Why no thread on Brexit? Just wondering.” – Dipper

Just make stuff up. You seem to do just fine doing that about scotland.

45

MilitantlyAardvark 05.07.16 at 2:49 am

I’ve long thought that nothing would grind the SNP down like actually governing. In other words, now they’ve been around the block and voters can see that they don’t have a special Scottish sauce to make things better – and that they are much closer to Blair than they like to pretend – their vote will slowly deflate down to the point where they are just one of several options for Scotland, rather than an easy majority. I suspect that they’ve killed Labour in Scotland – and will end up effectively becoming Labour but with regional commitments. Sturgeon won’t dare call a referendum for the foreseeable future – and in ten years time it will be clear that independence is running a permanent second to devo max. In the even longer run, the SNP will end up as, effectively, permanent coalition partners to Labour, thus completing the circle and becoming the Scottish Labour party that dare not speak its name.

46

eddie 05.07.16 at 2:49 am

I have much agreement with J-D, tho I’d question their “Somewhere between 40% and 50% of Scottish voters want Scotland to become an independent country…”

Those numbers might have been more accurate a year or so ago, but now if you look at the actual voting numbers, before they get filtered thru the weird electoral system that’s designed to prevent single party dominance, that 50 – 60 % now want independence, tho they’re prepared to spread their support between SNP and greens.

The implosion of labour in scotland is largely due to the opposition voters coalescing on the most unionist party around. The ruth davidson party (they were careful to not have the word ‘conservative’ on any of their campaign literature) ran purely as a single issue, rerun of the referendum, and did rather badly compared to the actual ref result.

47

eddie 05.07.16 at 2:55 am

Can I just leave this here, as a resource to help avois so many deeply out-of-touch comments on scottish politics?

http://wingsoverscotland.com/why-labour-doesnt-need-scotland/

Now that labour in scotland are dead, it ought to give some measure of hope to those seeking their revival south of the border.

48

nick s 05.07.16 at 5:05 am

Zac Goldsmith seems not to have realised until this evening that he is the designated Tory scapegoat for all the sins and upfucks of the party over the past six months or so. I’m sure they’ll blame him for Universal Credit and the academy-all-the-schools proposal within a week or so. (All of which is really quite Old Testament of them, in keeping with the theme of recent weeks.) Never go full bigot, to re-coin a phrase.

49

J-D 05.07.16 at 7:14 am

eddie @46

There’s no way any of us can know for sure what the result would be if Scotland had a vote on independence now, but we know they did only two years ago and the majority of Scottish voters said ‘No’.

50

Maria 05.07.16 at 7:45 am

Thank you, tomslee. Precisely.

51

Stephen 05.07.16 at 8:21 am

Eddie

Some people hear voices in their heads uttering things that have never been said, some see words that have never been written. If you can show where I have been “excusing goldsmiths support for palestine genocide” I would be quite interested. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned Goldsmith in any context at all: nor Palestine either.

52

Stephen 05.07.16 at 8:23 am

To be more accurate, nor Palestine genocide either.

53

Dipper 05.07.16 at 8:25 am

eddie @ 44 – what are you on about?

I didn’t make anything up about Scotland. I specifically acknowledged that Labour had formed governments that did not rely on Scottish MPs. What I said was that voters in England voted according to their perceptions of the possible outcome of the election to make sure that SNP did not have a say in the government in Westminster.

The scale of the late swing to the Tories last year took everyone by surprise. The explanation that keeps coming back is the Scotland issue. Every analysis says the same (apart from the Labour analysis which said it was the evil press again). And just anecdotally, I don’t know how my mates in Hertfordshire vote, but I do know they all cannot stand the SNP.

This will keep coming back. If ever a general election is close, England will vote with the party that stands up to the SNP. If Labour does not address this it is unlikely they will get back.

And yes I know Ed Miliband said he definitely wouldn’t go into partnership with the SNP. But everyone looked at the polls and knew he would have to rely on them to get anything through.

54

Puss Wallgreen 05.07.16 at 9:23 am

Strange that there seems to be no reflection at all among the commentariat on the fact that the issue they chose to focus on monomanically for the week prior to the election, Labour’s alleged antisemitism, seems to have had no impact whatsoever on the results.

55

engels 05.07.16 at 9:39 am

“Strange that there seems to be no reflection at all among the commentariat on the fact that the issue they chose to focus on monomanically for the week prior to the election, Labour’s alleged antisemitism, seems to have had no impact whatsoever on the results.”

Evidently this time the orgy of bullshit muck-flinging from Blairites, Israel apologists and their friends in the liberal media was so intense and ludicrous it either convinced the public to take them less seriously, or to take anti-semitism less seriously. I very much hope it’s the former

56

Ecrasez l'Infame 05.07.16 at 9:41 am

AFAICS, UKIP in Wales is doing well compared to the last similar elections (when for the most part they didn’t stand) but their support doesn’t seem to have changed much since GE 2015. The valleys, Wrexham, all places where there’s not much hope and “blame the foreigner” is a knee-jerk reaction to that.

C’mon. Perhaps these people have come to a considered position? Maybe, for instance, it is in fact the fault of foreigners that a bunch of Eurocrats led by a Luxembourgish tax-cheat are allowing Communists Chinamen to dump the product of their botched 5-year plan into the steel markets? Maybe, that’s threatening a Welsh steel plant? Maybe, these people have actual reasons for thinking that some sort of supranational Coal and Steel Community isn’t in their interests? Perhaps it’s not just their hindbrains?

You’ve got this mad globalist commitment to the totally incompatible ideas that (1) decisions need to be made by internationalists, above the level of the nation-state, and (2) foreigners aren’t to blame for anything, and people need to stop criticising them. Pick one or the other. You can’t just shunt power to the EU and then disavow their responsibility for decisions by levelling accusations of bigotry and xenophobia at dissenters.

57

MilitantlyAardvark 05.07.16 at 9:53 am

I suspect that the anti-semitism row had an effect only locally in areas where there are large numbers (relatively) of Jewish voters. There are few such areas in the UK, largely because there just isn’t much of a Jewish population. I would guess that the people who cobbled together the anti-semitism row were looking to US politics – but forgot the demographic differences that matter.

58

MilitantlyAardvark 05.07.16 at 9:55 am

@Ecrasez l’Infame

Out of interest, do you moonlight as a house-painter?

59

Brett Dunbar 05.07.16 at 10:02 am

The problem with Port Talbot is it is a steel-making plant (turns iron ore into raw steel) and there is a massive global overcapacity in steel-making. Most demand for raw steel is now met by recycling so only the most efficient steel-makers can compete. The other parts of the business are rather more viable. The long products (pipes, beams &c.) arm including the British Steel brand and trademark has been sold already. While the strip products arm (coated steel sheets (painted, galvanised &c.), for example for car bodywork) may also be viable.

60

Puss Wallgreen 05.07.16 at 10:09 am

” I would guess that the people who cobbled together the anti-semitism row were looking to US politics – but forgot the demographic differences that matter”.
Partly that, I would think, and also people who have a background in student politics or spend all their time on the internet might feel this issue to be more significant in the popular consciousness than it is. In any case, there is an increasingly palpable disconnect between these people and the general public – it’s odd that in the 70s and 80s the Labour right used to stress focusing on issues that really mattered to people like jobs or housing, while the Labour left was accused of being obsessed with exotic fringe issues like Israel/Palestine. Now it’s the other way round.

61

Loki 05.07.16 at 10:32 am

Its great that Sadiq Khan won in London and that Labour’s vote held up in England and Wales.

But overall the results aren’t encouraging at all. To get a majority in 2020 Labour needs to win back its losses in Scotland and get more seats in England.

However, after Thursday it looks very much like what used to be the bloc of 40-45 seats in Scotland that used to be reliably Labour has been lost for at least a generation, possibly for ever.

So that leaves getting close to parity with the Tories in England (with the Welsh seats providing a majority). In 2015 and 2010 Labour was about 10% behind the Tories in England. Its certainly not impossible for Labour to beat the Tories in England, that happened in 1997 and 2001, and they were close to parity in 2005. So all the talk of a departing Scotland meaning a permanent Tory majority is wrong.

The problem is that outside London this election didn’t give much of a sign that Labour is making up the 10% it was behind in England in 2015 or 2010.

Which will leave an interesting outcome for the 2020 election. If Labour improves a bit, especially in London, the Tories may be denied a majority. That will mean a hung Parliament which would be difficult at the best of times. But it might occur in the middle of the Brexit negotiations (I know that they are supposed to be over in two years, but I really don’t see that happening). Which would be interesting.

62

Puss Wallgreen 05.07.16 at 10:54 am

What’s interesting is that it seems to have entirely vanished as an issue from any discussion of the election results. It’s almost like they didn’t really care about it that much, or something.

63

djr 05.07.16 at 11:32 am

50 – 60 % now want independence, tho they’re prepared to spread their support between SNP and greens

The “No thanks” parties had a small edge over SNP+Greens. (For the regional votes, this does admittedly require including UKIP.) But was this election really seen as a re-run of the independence vote at all, rather than being about day-to-day issues in Scotland?

voters in England voted according to their perceptions of the possible outcome of the election to make sure that SNP did not have a say in the government in Westminster

This line was strongly pushed by Cameron and the Tory press, playing fast and loose with the Union for short-term political gain.

64

harry b 05.07.16 at 12:44 pm

Scotland. Does anyone really think Labour can win back Scotland? I can’t really see it in the foreseeable future. The Blairites threw Scotland away and I don’t see even Corbyn (who has a better chance than any more normal leader) bringing it back. Old Labour voters can vote SNP, and get good representation from people they agree with on everything that matters except secession — and they can then vote with considerable confidence against secession in the occasional referendum. Scotland has been lost — or, more accurately given away — for at least one, maybe several, generations. The SNP has moved left to win that space, so it is less attractive to conservative nationalists, who can drift (back) to the Tories, assured of devomax, which is as much as most people hoped for. Even if old Labour/new SNP voters were willing to support a Corbyn-led party they’d be stupid to move that way until it looks as if the left has secured its leadership of the party, which it manifestly hasn’t (and which the whole of the media except Jeremy Vine, and the large majority of MPs, are doing their best to prevent).

So, I don’t really see Labour winning a majority in 2020, whoever leads it – – or, frankly, in the next 10-15 years. So what? The question is whether they can win enough seats to lead a secure coalition with the SNP and/or a revived LDP (if the LDs can revive). Of course if the EU vote goes the wrong way, that has to be rethought (and I don’t doubt that for some of the left their conversion to Remain is animated partly by the understanding that Scotland would be much more likely to secede if the EU vote goes bad. But if the EU vote ends up as Remain by a pretty small margin, UKIP will be able to cause more trouble for the Tories (and, yes, for Labour in some places), and the divisions within the Conservative party that have reemerged in the past months will continue to fester.

65

Brett Dunbar 05.07.16 at 1:19 pm

If Labour want to win without needing the support of the SNP then they are going to need to move to the right. Hotelling’s law predicts that provided voters go for whichever viable party of government is closer to them then the parties end up very close together fighting over the median voter. The median English voter is to the left of the Great Britain median voter. The electorate in 2015 had a small pro Labour bias Wales is deliberately over represented due to a lower tariff electorate while declining urban areas are a bit over represented due to using very old boundaries. The next election is intended to take place under new boundaries with legislation removing the over representation of Wales.

Given that the electorate will be more right wing moving to the left seems like a disaster waiting to happen. The non-voters don’t appear to be that different to the voters in political views ad in any event tend to be found in labour safe seats. The lowest turn outs were mostly in seats Labour already wins, so extra Labour votes there don’t matter. Marginal seats already have high turn-outs. Where your vote counts you tend to actually use it.

If Labour, like the Liberals after 1880, are willing to govern with the support of a stable nationalist bloc (SNP now or IPP then). Forming a government would be rather easier.

66

Ronan(rf) 05.07.16 at 1:19 pm

Sorry if im asking what might be a stupid (open ) question, but

“Labour winning a majority in 2020, whoever leads it – – or, frankly, in the next 10-15 years. So what? The question is whether they can win enough seats to lead a secure coalition with the SNP”

This was what I was going to ask. Is there just going to be an snp Labour alliance similar to the old liberal iris h nationalist alliance , over the long run ? How would the numbers work out on this, and what would it mean for broadly left policy goals (ie I can see it working either way, Scottish nationalism could disfigure UK politics by putting the national question above all else, or Labour could use a strong Scottish nationalist vote to push a harder left agenda, that is if Scottish nationalism is the primary driving force of this demographic, and the support of the base can be secured independently of other ideological stances)
(I’m not sure if this has been answered above. I missed it if so)

67

Layman 05.07.16 at 1:28 pm

“If Labour want to win without needing the support of the SNP then they are going to need to move to the right.”

Yes, that’s the answer! It’s always the answer.

68

Ronan(rf) 05.07.16 at 1:28 pm

What’s the story with the Welsh as well? I’ve been reading a little bit on Welsh politics but am still at a superficial level .. there seems to have been a historical divide, politically and culturally, within Wales on a regional basis ? The south being closer to the UK and north being more nationalistic? Tbh I don’t know if that’s at all close to being true, so would be interested in hearing more knowledgeable perspectives (or reading recommendations etc)….wheres the nationalist vote based, how extensive is it? You hear a lot about how deindustrialisation affected politics in the north of England, but not as much about Wales (where it seems to have been equally as devastating?)

69

Ronan(rf) 05.07.16 at 1:41 pm

66, I think i’m.missing something here. (Honestly, I might be missing the point). But if the English electorate skews left more than the GB average, and the Welsh have historically been overrepresented electorally , and this is changing next election, then why would Labour need to move right without the support of the snp ?
Surely your first claim would imply that the English electorate is more favourable to left policies than the Welsh or Scottish, therefore less reliance on the Welsh or Scottish by Labour would mean a greater ability to move left, not right? But the rest of your comment seems to say the opposite, thereabouts needs Scottish and welsh support to shift left?

70

Ronan(rf) 05.07.16 at 1:43 pm

Typo- “Thereabouts” should be “that Labour”

71

Phil 05.07.16 at 1:46 pm

Laura Kuenssberg (whose partisanship I’ve written about elsewhere) argued that the Scottish meltdown was very bad news for Jeremy Corbyn, on the grounds that – while he himself hadn’t campaigned there – the Scottish party had campaigned on policies very like those put forward by Corbyn, and we had to ask ourselves whether Scottish voters’ rejection of Corbyn’s Labour might be repeated across England. In some future election, you understand, not the election we’d just had – at which Corbyn’s Labour did reasonably well across England, including proverbially middle-class swing-voter-ish areas of southern England.

In other words, she was suggesting that Corbyn’s Labour was (a) too left-wing for Scotland but (b) not too left-wing for Hastings. As I said on my blog, the trouble with partisanship is that after a while it just makes you stupid.

72

Dipper 05.07.16 at 1:49 pm

The SNP joining a coalition to form a UK government? No. Never. Instant political suicide for any UK party. It just will not happen. Every English voter knows exactly what kind of a deal that will be; The SNP will threaten complete disruption of the workings of the UK unless we pay them. If anyone doubts that all nationalist politicians are complete scumbags, creating grievance and then using threats to extort money, then just any interview with Alex Salmond will convince.

The SNP are not a left-wing or progressive party. They position themselves as left wing because that is where the votes in Scotland are, but they would believe anything if they thought there were Scottish votes in it.

73

Placeholder 05.07.16 at 2:08 pm

“The Blairites threw Scotland away and I don’t see even Corbyn (who has a better chance than any more normal leader) bringing it back. Old Labour voters can vote SNP, and get good representation from people they agree with on everything that matters except secession — and they can then vote with considerable confidence against secession in the occasional referendum. Scotland has been lost — or, more accurately given away — for at least one, maybe several, generations. The SNP has moved left to win that space, so it is less attractive to conservative nationalists, who can drift”

This seems contrary to the things I know about Scotland:
1. Scotland is the only part of the country that swung TOWARDS labour in 2010. Brown is a Blairite if we’re honest.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:2010UKElectionLabConSwing.svg
2. This held up right to the referendum, an issue on which labour techinicaly won. It’s actually that secession is wildly popular in Labour’s glasgow/working class/irish base, which we can see from a map of its results.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Scottish_independence_referendum_results.svg

“Given that the electorate will be more right wing moving to the left seems like a disaster waiting to happen. The non-voters don’t appear to be that different to the voters in political views ad in any event tend to be found in labour safe seats.”
Voters are not all points along a spectrum. This in ’90s triangulation. UKIP voters are overwhelmingly in favour or nationalising utilities like everyone in fact. UKIP has created a politicial coalition to get them to vote for Thatcher’s children and the Establishment media has created a suffocating vacuum around an idea the people like and the elite holds in contempt.

” I would guess that the people who cobbled together the anti-semitism row were looking to US politics – but forgot the demographic differences that matter.”
British people view Israel about as highly as North Korea. Let that sink in. The Labour Right might as well be trying to call Corbyn ‘anti-jucheism’ and ‘colonialist subserviance to the Yankee gang of brigands.’ They should remember that.
http://normanfinkelstein.com/2015/02/01/unfair-to-north-korea/

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Loki 05.07.16 at 2:14 pm

Ronan(rf), the electorate in England tends to be more right wing than in Scotland or Wales. The elections in which there was a clear victory (above 5%) for Labour were 1945, 1966, 1997 and 2001; and there were thinner majorities in 1951 (2.4%) and October 1974 (1.3%). The Tories had a majority of votes in England in 2015, 2010, 2005, 1992, 1987, 1983, 1979, February 1974, 1970, 1964, 1959, 1955, 1935, 1931, 1929, 1924, 1923. The election in 1950 was a dead heat.

harry b, speaking as someone who spent many years as an active Labour party member in Scotland, part of its current problems are due to decades and decades of complacency due to the electorate reliably winning every year. The situation is improving and the SNP will get complacent, but it’ll take a long time.

In addition, the basic problem is that the referendum showed that about 45% of the Scottish population are committed to independence, and the remaining 55% are split among the unionist parties. Its difficult to see how Labour can get back to its old position for as long as it relies upon the votes of leftish unionists, which look to be about 20-22% of the population. For Labour, supporting Scottish independence won’t work, it would cost them votes in England, and a nationalist would usually be better served by the SNP anyway.

As for an SNP-Labour coalition, that’s what I was hoping for before the 2015 election. However there are reasons to suspect that it might not happen:

– The prospect of a coalition in Westminster would damage Labour’s chances of a Scottish revival. Why should a voter switch from the SNP to Labour if the end result would be a SNP-Labour coalition?

– We saw in 2015 that the prospect of a Labour-SNP coalition is unpopular in England. Jeremy Corbyn might have to promise not to go into coalition with the SNP or else risk losing constituencies south of the border.

I think that a Labour government may well depend upon Labour getting a majority, or at least parity in England. The trick will be how to do that without going to the right. But as to how to do that I’m out of ideas.

75

Dipper 05.07.16 at 3:11 pm

To bang on about this, what’s wrong with a Scottish Labour Party? With its own conference, its own policies, but a non-independence party that would form a coalition with an English Labour Party?

76

Ronan(rf) 05.07.16 at 3:17 pm

“The SNP joining a coalition to form a UK government? No. Never. Instant political suicide for any UK party. It just will not happen. Every English voter knows exactly what kind of a deal that will be; The SNP will threaten complete disruption of the workings of the UK unless we pay them. If anyone doubts that all nationalist politicians are complete scumbags, creating grievance and then using threats to extort money, then just any interview with Alex Salmond will convince.”

Even leaving aside the ridiculously definitive declarations ( “everyone knows”, “all x are scumbags” y will never happen”)I don’t know what any of this is meant to mean.
My understanding of the irish nationalist liberal alliance (which admittedly might be wrong, especially from a Westminster perspective) is that the alliance initially developed a more limited(because politically feasible) form of nationalism in ireland, it enabled the irish political class to resolve a number of political and economic issues that were somewhat unique to Ireland, and it enabled the liberals to follow policy positions that were not particularly relevant to Ireland,or at least would have been more contested in a less homogenous political culture.
What’s wrong with political movements lobbying for resources on a regional basis? You don’t think this happens from southern England ? Or that there’s a British nationalist identity in opposition to the peripheral ones?

77

Dipper 05.07.16 at 3:27 pm

Ronan(rf)

“What’s wrong with political movements lobbying for resources on a regional basis? You don’t think this happens from southern England ? Or that there’s a British nationalist identity in opposition to the peripheral ones?

I don’t think there is anything wrong with lobbying for a region, but that isn’t what the SNP says it is doing. It says it wants independence. There is no good will to the rest of the UK in that.

Your discussion of the Irish Nationalist Liberal alliance is clearly well informed, but you are just about the only person in any discussions on Scotland I have seen who has mentioned it. I have no knowledge of this. No-one I know has any knowledge of this. It isn’t a factor or a consideration in this discussion. Maybe it should be, but it isn’t.

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Loki 05.07.16 at 3:35 pm

Dipper, a fully independent Scottish Labour party definitely should be considered. It would be able to support policies that are popular in Scotland but are not in England. That might well be the best way to reduce the SNP’s constituencies.

But that option might solve one problem by creating another. If it was certain that there would be a coalition between Scottish Labour and England and Wales Labour then the distinctiveness of both of their positions would be reduced. For example, if Scot Lab were to oppose Trident and EngWal Lab were to support Trident renewal then in Scotland the SNP could quite reasonably warn that Scot Lab would ditch its opposition to Trident as soon as it got into government (with the opposite happening in England).

As an independent party Scot Lab could of course retain the option to refuse to be in coalition with EngWa Lab, but that would get messy.

All that could be solved by coordinating the two parties policies. But then we wouldn’t be looking at independent parties any more.

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Loki 05.07.16 at 3:46 pm

Dipper, Ronan(rf)

The Liberal-Irish parliamentary alliance in the 19th and early 20th centuries was based around a shared policy of home rule for Ireland, which at the time meant that Ireland would remain in the UK but that it would have a degree of devolved government.

As mentioned by Dipper, what the SNP wants is independence, and for Labour to support Scottish independence would very likely lose Labour support in England.

80

Dipper 05.07.16 at 3:58 pm

It is possible for Labour to win the next election.

The thing that everyone agrees is that Labour cannot win the next election. So if you are a Conservative, you no longer have to put up with non-Tory David Cameron, the Conservatives answer to Tony Blair, to get you elected. You can choose a proper Conservative who agrees with you on all the things a conservative government should be doing. This is the big chance, a guaranteed win if only your choice of Leader can get the top job.

But there are different shades of opinion here, some really quite big differences, as to what a conservative government means. So the leadership battle could get really ugly, as the prize is so close and if your choice wins the Leadership then you are as good as in power, because Corbyn is hopeless.

And that’s the opportunity. That the conservative party eats itself and destroys its own winning position.

All you need is a clear focus, a clear message that appeals to enough people, and to be disciplined in execution so you look like you can do the job when in power. John McDonnell knows all this. He has already worked it out.

SNP? A vote for the SNP is a vote for a conservative government. If Scotland really wants influence, it needs to vote Labour.

John McDonnell for next PM. 33/1 at Paddy Power. Get it whilst you can.

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Ronan(rf) 05.07.16 at 4:03 pm

Loki, true. But home rule as the aspiration was also a result of what was politically feasible. Separatism through constitutional means wasn’t feasible , so home rule was really the only game in town, although there’s evidence irish popular opinion was more separatist than their political preferences would imply. A number of people assumed home rule meant eventual separatism, afaik. Scottish opinion seems to be at least split on independence, so devolved government is still surely the only game in town ? Therefore there’s a hypothetical deal there to be made?
Do you think a Labour snp deal would really be more politically noxious than the liberal ipp ones?

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Ronan(rf) 05.07.16 at 4:06 pm

“As mentioned by Dipper, what the SNP wants is independence, and for Labour to support Scottish independence would very likely lose Labour support in England.”

But do they have to explicitly support Scottish independence ? Rather than support more general positions such as “the Scottish peoples right to decide”, or just remain agnostic?

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Dipper 05.07.16 at 4:40 pm

Ronan(rf)

Nicola Sturgeon was quite clear at the last election that the referendum was over so this was about representing Scotland at Westminster, so much as you say. But that seems (to me, and I think others) to be having your cake and eating it. She is entitled to say that is her party’s position, and I am entitled not to believe it.

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Ronan(rf) 05.07.16 at 4:45 pm

I wouldn’t believe her either. My (admittedly layman’s) impression is that the primary aim if the snp is Scottish independence, at least in the longer term. But in the shorter term there’s still room to fudge these differences of opinion. Sturgeon doesn’t push for a referendum, so Labour won’t have to support it. When she does push for it then Labour are faced with the dilemma, but in the meantime they can both choose to ignore the elephant in the room.

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chris y 05.07.16 at 5:04 pm

Dipper, the Scottish Labour Party has a great deal of autonomy as it stands: its own Leader, Executive Committee; its own Conference; its own manifestos. It has to have this because whatever the future might hold it is currently engaging with the Scottish Parliament as well as Westminster. As far as I know, the Union party doesn’t interfere with it in Scottish affairs, so for example Kezia Dugdale, not Jeremy Corbyn, should take any flack for the outcome of the recent elections.

On the other hand, as long as Scottish Labour remains Unionist, why should it cut its ties with the English and Welsh parties.

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novakant 05.07.16 at 5:09 pm

Some people hear voices in their heads uttering things that have never been said, some see words that have never been written.

Indeed!

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novakant 05.07.16 at 5:16 pm

#40 and #45 sum it up pretty well, thanks

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Brett Dunbar 05.07.16 at 6:19 pm

The English electorate is more right wing than the rest of GB (Northern Ireland has an entirely separate party system and is basically irrelevant).

The median voter in England is to the right of the GB median voter. Hoteling’s law implies that the optimal position of a party in a two party system is between the other party and the median voter so they end up just left and just right of the median voter. The English seats that are overrepresented are the urban seats which are mostly safe labour seats. While the Tory Shires are somewhat underrepresented. So the boundary changes will make the electorate more right wing than it is now.

Corbyn seems to be the Labour party’s IDS. Popular with the party membership but not attractive to the wider electorate or regarded as an effective leader in parliament. IDS led to the Conservatives limiting the membership role in selecting the leader.

89

Strategist 05.07.16 at 7:04 pm

Ronan (rf) @69: there seems to have been a historical divide, politically and culturally, within Wales on a regional basis ? The south being closer to the UK and north being more nationalistic? ….wheres the nationalist vote based, how extensive is it?

Oh blimey, that’s a big one. For a small country, there is much complexity. In the absence of a real Wales expert to have a go at this, here’s my first stab: Welsh nationalism has traditionally been about survival of the language, rather than setting up as a fully independent country. Plaid Cymru’s base has traditionally been in those (limited) parts of the country with a Welsh-speaking majority in West Wales and North West Wales (Gwynedd, Dyfed). They have always had a rural economy.

South Wales was a coal and steel industrial boom area in the 19th century, and as a result lost the Welsh language. Its Welsh identity is based on rugby and socialism (Nye Bevan etc). The South Wales Valleys have traditionally been the most solid of all the solid Labour-voting areas. The Valleys have been in relative industrial decline since the 1920s, and have been an economic basket case since Thatcher and the shut down of coal. The Valleys are not more pro-English than the Welsh-speaking areas (go into a pub in the Valleys with the wrong kind of English accent and you’d better tread with care), but it is fair to say that traditionally they have put their faith in a UK-wide Labour government as the best available political option.

There’s plenty more complexity and much parochialism in Wales – too much to go into, but includes English-speaking Tory-voting farming areas in the borders and “Little England beyond Wales” (Pembrokeshire), bombed out failed holiday resorts on both the north and west coasts, new Ager-type places plus the more cosmopolitan/boringly mainstream Cardiff metropolitan area. There’s an interesting DNA map (sorry no link) that shows that the various traditional bits of Wales have had non-mobile populations for many centuries, they are totally distinct both from England but also from each other in DNA terms. There’s never been one unified independent Wales.

For some years Plaid Cymru has been trying to “do an SNP” and break out of the ancient heartland and challenge Labour in South Wales. Plaid leader Leanne Wood from the Rhondda, the quintessential Welsh valley Labour safe seat, just took the seat. But that was more (an entirely deserved) personal vote. Overall no Scottish-style political revolution appears to be happening.

Final point. Few will remember this but one of the most thrilling referendum counts of my experience was the vote on Welsh devolution in 1999. You’d need to check the details but the rare alliance of the Plaid Cymru Welsh-speaking areas and the Labour Valleys delivered the vote (50.1% to 49.9%, if I recall). It all came down to the last place to declare, (Carmarthenshire I recall) one of the few places where the coal & tin plate tradition and Welsh-speaking sheep farming share the same space. Thrillingly, they delivered the votes took the whole country to devolution, a move few in Wales would now reverse.

90

Bartholomew 05.07.16 at 7:43 pm

Loki @80: ‘The Liberal-Irish parliamentary alliance in the 19th and early 20th centuries was based around a shared policy of home rule for Ireland, which at the time meant that Ireland would remain in the UK but that it would have a degree of devolved government.
As mentioned by Dipper, what the SNP wants is independence, and for Labour to support Scottish independence would very likely lose Labour support in England.’

Which is in fact exactly what happened when the Liberals declared for Irish Home Rule, there was a substantial breakaway:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Unionist_Party
They later joined the Tories.

Dipper @78: ‘Your discussion of the Irish Nationalist Liberal alliance is clearly well informed, but you are just about the only person in any discussions on Scotland I have seen who has mentioned it. I have no knowledge of this. No-one I know has any knowledge of this. It isn’t a factor or a consideration in this discussion. Maybe it should be, but it isn’t.’

See Alvin Jackson, The Two Unions: Ireland, Scotland, and the Survival of the United Kingdom, 1707-2007 (Oxford University Press, 2011)

91

Ronan(rf) 05.07.16 at 8:35 pm

Thanks strategist, that was very informative.

92

MilitantlyAardvark 05.07.16 at 11:05 pm

@Dipper @81

“SNP? A vote for the SNP is a vote for a conservative government. If Scotland really wants influence, it needs to vote Labour.”

I think not. All the SNP needs to do is declare a willingness to work together with Labour against destructive Tory policies – and it will effectively consolidate its position as the True Scotsman’s Labour Party that it has been pretending to be for the last decade give or take. Plus, the SNP as source of key votes would have far more influence than as a gallant little party ruling roughly 5.5 million souls and when things got tough they could blame Labour and scurry back to the fortress of the bonnie blue heather.

93

kidneystones 05.08.16 at 4:51 am

Early signs of trouble – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/07/sadiq-khan-attacks-jeremy-corbyn-hours-after-winning-london-mayo/

We’d like to forget the Telegraph’s bias, but it’s a good idea to remember that Corbyn is far from well-liked in Labour circles.

94

Salem 05.08.16 at 9:31 am

Are we talking about the same Nationalist Liberal alliance? The one that subordinated the future of the UK to the electoral needs of a third party, led to repeated constitutional crises, and took us to the verge of a civil war that we were only “saved” from by the outbreak of ww1? I agree that is the right parallel for a Labour SNP alliance, but I am not sure why you think it would sell English voters on it.

Such an alliance today would be even more irresponsible than the original, as I very much doubt that today’s Tories would show the heroism and self sacrifice of Bonar Law.

95

Ronan(rf) 05.08.16 at 11:05 am

It isn’t a morality tale. If the institutions of the British state and british national identity are losing relevance in key parts of the UK then you really have two options. You try and correct the problems or you wind it up. What is this, the third existential crisis in the Union in the past century? Ireland, NI, now Scotland? Would this not imply that there are deeper structural issues with the union, which can’t be corrected by complaining about how mean nationalists are?

96

Dipper 05.08.16 at 3:04 pm

Ronan(rf) – I’m not convinced. Scotland has a separate parliament, it has separate laws, it has separate institutions, it can raise its own taxes. it is practically a separate state.

If we look at the things connecting Scotland to the rest of the union, the ties that need to be cut for independence, they are principally shared government debt, shared defence, and Scottish representation in parliament. Significantly, the SNP do not want to get rid of the first two and have resisted Full Financial Autonomy, and although they said they wouldn’t vote on non-scottish issues in parliament, they are.

So it doesn’t look like a structural issue. They don’t really want independence, they want to renegotiate the union. It looks to me like someone trying to extort some more money out of their neighbours.

97

Dipper 05.08.16 at 3:15 pm

Militantly Aardvark @93

All the SNP needs to do is declare a willingness to work together with Labour against destructive Tory policies

No no no no No! Stop it. Don’t go down this route. If this would work then we would now have Prime Minister Miliband.

In any adversarial contest a key part of your strategic process is to ask two questions. Firstly “what does my enemy want me to do?” and the answer is clearly to concentrate on hard left issues and talk about going into coalition with the SNP. Secondly “what does my enemy not want me to do?” and the answer is to relentlessly hammer their record.

Labour have let Osborne get away with his dreadful economic management, and have no answer when Cameron goes on about economic growth and Labours terrible record. They need to get the responses on these hammered into everyone’s head; that Osborne promised to get rid of the deficit in 5 years, and 5 years later he has added massively to the national debt and clearing the deficit is still 5 years away, that under Osborne productivity and wages have gone nowhere, that this is a great country for foreign oligarchs and other tax avoiders but for ordinary people the wages are lower, the living standards are lower, the queues are longer, and hope that this will ever get better is receding every day.

So basically, Labour just needs to go relentlessly full on at the governments record and undermine its credibility. If Labour allows the Conservatives to get way with the reputation as being economically better than Labour, then Labour will lose.

98

Ronan(rf) 05.08.16 at 3:24 pm

But even if it’s primarily regional rent seeking, that’s a symptom rather than cause. Bartholomew mentioned Alvin Jackson’s book, so I’ll quote his explanation for this malaise (and leave it there for a bit, as I’ve diverted the thread a little)

“Why, then, did the unions fail? The Irish union failed because it could neither permanently accommodate nor defuse a distinctive Irish national sentiment. The institutions of union provided a partial and intermittent accommodation to Irish Catholic conviction and ambition; but the compromises demanded by the reconciliation of a Protestant monarchy, the vested interests of the Ascendancy, and the claims and rights of the Irish Catholic people, certainly stimulated some imaginative political action, but ultimately proved overwhelming. The obstacles to the success of union were overwhelming; but it still took the universal conflagration of 1914–1918 to bring down the 120-year-old edifice.
The pathology of Scottish failure appears to be somewhat different. The Scots union has survived thus far because it has, in fact, been able to contain and represent much Scottish national feeling. The institutions of union have provided a solid receptacle for Scots conviction and ambition; and the compromises demanded by the reconciliation of an Anglican monarchy, the vested interests of Scottish society, and the claims and rights of the Scottish people have proved manageable within the structures of union. Moreover, though seers who foretell the death of union are inclined to focus upon single issues such as empire or economic retreat, in reality the union (whatever its wider justice) has proved simultaneously flexible and sturdy—supported by a wide range of ostensibly solid institutions and relationships.
The Irish union, maimed from the start, limped to its death in the killing fields of the Great War. The Scots union has survived war, the death of empire and of British economic ascendancy. It has been upheld until now by a sympathetic and broadly popular monarchy, armed forces which are respectful towards Scottish national sensibilities and traditions, a welfare state which has provided for the victims of Scottish industrial decline, and a parliament in London which has simultaneously provided a forum for Scottish political ambition and relatively generous support (if not always imaginative leadership) for the Scottish people.
The threat to the Scots union at present lies not with a single conflagration (such as befell the Irish union with the Great War), but rather with the simultaneous failure of all of the props upon which it rests. The empire and industrial prosperity have indeed gone; but the embarrassing travails of monarchy, bitter conflicts over unpopular wars and regimental amalgamation and disbandment, the denationalization of state assets and industries, and the slow erosion both of a uniform national regime of welfare provision and of a beneficial fiscal funding formula are all taking their toll.
As the Unionists of the Home Rule era predicted for Ireland, devolution has proved to be a starting point for Scottish national aspirations rather than a one-off settlement. As the unionist constitutional architects of the 1990s were unable to predict, devolution has proved to be a vehicle for the SNP, rather than a constraint. One of the great props to the union settlement in the 20th century has been the effective unionist consensus binding the Scots Labour and Conservative parties.
Another has been the capacity of Westminster to provide a platform for Scottish politicians. One of the great threats to the settlement in the early 21st century is now the effective free market consensus binding the two unionist parties. Another is the failure of a union government led by Scots to persuade the English people of its capacity to govern. With friends like these, the union clearly has no need of its nationalist enemies”

99

Dipper 05.08.16 at 3:34 pm

Thanks Ronan. Interesting. I don’t think you are diverting the thread as Scotland was the first specific point on it and it is a key factor in UK politics.

100

Phil 05.08.16 at 6:00 pm

#94 – the old Labour Right & centre consisted of people who thought Jeremy Corbyn was too left-wing; New Labour consisted of people who thought most of the the old Labour Right & centre was too left-wing. To the extent that the current generation of Labour MPs represent either of these groups, it’s not surprising that there’s no love lost between them and their new leaders. They’ll come round if he starts delivering successes, although they do need to at least STFU if that’s going to happen.

It’s also worth noting that the Telegraph story doesn’t actually say what the headline (and URL) suggests it does.

101

eddie 05.08.16 at 7:09 pm

Stephen, read your comment #31 again. Your calling out novacant on terrorism while ignoring goldsmith’s support for israeli crimes against humanity is there for all to see.

102

eddie 05.08.16 at 7:19 pm

Dipper, I was reacting to your repeating the multiply falsified canard that labour needs scottish seats to win westminster. It’s shamefull with the truth so easy to find that anyone claiming any political nous at all subscribes to this. It’s creationist level ignorance.

As for the equally false idea that hatred of scots handed the tories a victory last year, why do we have hundreds of thousands of english voters after seeing sturgeon in the leaders debate, trying to join SNP and urging the party to stand intheir seat in england? If hatred of scotland had an influence, it was milliband saying he’d rather the tories won than work with snp in coalition. But that was just the last straw to millibands overall car crash.

103

Pete 05.08.16 at 7:30 pm

@Dipper

> “Scotland can raise its own taxes”

Some of its own taxes. There’s a small amount of flexibility on income tax and that’s about it: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-35470086

The benefits system is UK-wide, as are corporation tax, VAT, excise duties (rather important in a land of oil and whiskey) and so on. There’s no independent borrowing power.

Defence is also a major point of contention, between Trident and the Type 26 frigates.

> “The SNP have resisted Full Financial Autonomy”

Other way round: “MPs have rejected attempts to have full fiscal autonomy (FFA) included in the Scotland Bill on more Holyrood powers” (June 2015)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-33146586

It’s not the preferred option but if proper FFA was on the table it would not be rejected.

I actually agree with your last two paragraphs on @98, that Labour should fight on the economy and absolutely not concede the “there’s no money left” narrative.

104

eddie 05.08.16 at 7:40 pm

Also, Dipper’s “The scale of the late swing to the Tories last year took everyone by surprise. ” Is equally false. We watched milliband commit electoral suicide at least three times during the campaign. Only the mainstream media’s willful distortion kept the ignorant thinking it would be anywhere close.

105

eddie 05.08.16 at 7:43 pm

Puss Walgreen @55 The size of corbyn’s and khan’s victory is comment enough.

106

eddie 05.08.16 at 7:47 pm

Well said, Ecrasez @56. So nice to see more perspective from outside the bubble.

107

eddie 05.08.16 at 7:54 pm

The problem with looking at the steel industry as a global industry is that the reality is that a country being self-sufficient in steel production is an infinitely more important national security isue than any of the bullshit about terrorism. The tories know this, which is why they are so keen to devastate the industry in scotland, wales.

108

eddie 05.08.16 at 7:55 pm

Imagine having your navy build by a potential enemy. Sounds like treason to me.

109

eddie 05.08.16 at 7:57 pm

Just lat us be clear. There is no antisemitism row. There is a long running campaign by nazi israel to falsely conflate antizionism with antisemitism.

110

Igor Belanov 05.08.16 at 7:59 pm

“Dipper, a fully independent Scottish Labour party definitely should be considered. It would be able to support policies that are popular in Scotland but are not in England.”

What issues are these? The compulsory serving of deep-fried haggis for breakfast? Free school whisky for the under-11s?

Scotland really isn’t that different from the rest of the UK (or Europe) when it comes to the issues. Surely the whole point of the radical Left is to demonstrate that there is a common international struggle against the wealthy, privileged global establishment.

111

Igor Belanov 05.08.16 at 8:07 pm

Stategist @ 90

“For some years Plaid Cymru has been trying to “do an SNP” and break out of the ancient heartland and challenge Labour in South Wales. Plaid leader Leanne Wood from the Rhondda, the quintessential Welsh valley Labour safe seat, just took the seat. But that was more (an entirely deserved) personal vote. Overall no Scottish-style political revolution appears to be happening. “

The difficulty, paradoxically, is that Wales does have a much more strongly defined cultural identity than Scotland but, as you point out, it is focused more on certain less densely populated areas of the country. The other areas have distinct senses of identity, but crucially not dependent on language or a sense of being treated colonially by the Westminster government.

Scotland, on the other hand, has benefitted from not having such strong identity ‘traits’. Their nationalist party has been able to unify enough of the population behind more ‘modern’ features of identity and a limited amount of significant ‘issues’ to achieve political domination. The difficulty for them is that many of these factors are more transient, and I don’t think Scottish nationalism has as deep a set of roots as some now assume.

112

Igor Belanov 05.08.16 at 8:08 pm

“Scotland, on the other hand, has benefitted from not having such strong identity ‘traits’.”

I should, of course, have said ‘Scottish nationalism’, not ‘Scotland’.

113

eddie 05.08.16 at 8:11 pm

djr @64 “But was this election really seen as a re-run of the independence vote at all”

That’s the campaign ruth davidson ran. She went to great lengths to downplay any association with cameron in london. Her problem is she has to spend the next five years having her nose rubbed in westminster’s poop.

114

Brett Dunbar 05.08.16 at 8:41 pm

Strategist @ 90

Actually there was an independent unified Wales for about seven years. King of the Britons Gruffydd ap Llywelyn had managed to unite all of the various Welsh kingdoms by 1057 and retained control until his murder was procured by Harold Godwinsson in 1063, who then married his widow Ealdgyth who was then widowed again three years later.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gruffydd_ap_Llywelyn

115

harry b 05.08.16 at 8:50 pm

Wales is also closer to London, which makes a difference.

116

Igor Belanov 05.08.16 at 8:55 pm

@harryb

Yes, and that also explains one of the differences between South Wales, which is easy to reach from Paddington or on the M4, and North and West Wales, which take about three months to get to.

117

djr 05.08.16 at 9:16 pm

eddie @ 114: But is it the campaign that anyone else ran? If not, do you think it explains the 22% that the Ruth Davidson party got? Or just the 10% that they gained since 2011? It would seem a bit of a stretch to think that the Conservative campaign is responsible for all of the Labour+LibDem vote too, especially as the balance between unionist and independence parties hasn’t changed much since last time.

118

eddie 05.08.16 at 9:35 pm

harry b @65 – I don’t think there ever was such a thing as ‘conservative nationalism’, apart maybe from the douglas humes supporting hitler Nowadays conservatism = unionism. Even the narrative of the SNP push for reducing corporation tax so they must be right wing falls apart when you see that they are doing this to support small businesses against big business.

119

eddie 05.08.16 at 9:38 pm

djr No and yes. No other party ran the campaign as a referrendum rerun so yes, ruth d got the hardcore unionist vote and little else. She wasn’t going to run on cameron, osbourne’s recors, was she? As far as I can tell, kezia dugsale didn’t run much of a campaign at all.

120

eddie 05.08.16 at 9:45 pm

Oh dear. The “Scotland, on the other hand, has benefitted from not having such strong identity ‘traits’” is flawed. We scots have always seen the ‘tartan and shortbread’ image as a colonial imposition. Our genuine and strong cultural identity revolves around anti-imperialism (at least for those ofus whilo have woken up to the reality of colonial rule. More amd more of us wake up every day and guff like george robertson’s ‘scotland doesn’t have a culture’ helps immensely.

121

eddie 05.08.16 at 9:46 pm

It’s like jerry lee lewis saying black people don’t have any music.

122

eddie 05.08.16 at 9:50 pm

harry b @65 – I’m pretty sure a scottish labour party full of corbynistas rather than blairites would have done so much better than dugdale did. But then, the blairites’ primary goal is, as it has always been, to destroy the labour movement. They see kezia’s result as a victory.

123

eddie 05.08.16 at 9:53 pm

“So, I don’t really see Labour winning a majority in 2020, whoever leads it “

Well, Corbyn could be prime mnister before the end of the year if the cops get serious about investigating tory election fraud.

124

eddie 05.08.16 at 9:56 pm

“If Labour want to win without needing the support of the SNP then they are going to need to move to the right.” – the mantra of blairite bullshit. The opposite of the truth.

125

eddie 05.08.16 at 10:06 pm

ronan(rf) @67 Given what I posted earlier about labour needing SNP support to override english toryism, a labour SNP coalition would be very rare. Labour wins westminster overwhelmingly by willing in english votes. zthis happens when they attack tories rather than pandering to ‘centrism’. But, accepting your premise for sake of argument, a labour SNP coalition would be pretty much the same as a corbynista government. SNP stands largely for the non-neocon, social democrat party, not tainted with the libertarianism of the actual liberal democrats.

126

Brett Dunbar 05.08.16 at 10:10 pm

Labour did have a coalition in Wales with Plaid Cymru, however support for independence runs at around 10% PC have it as a long term aspiration rather than any kind of active policy. Support for Scottish independence is so high that the SNP have to be seen to be attempting to achieve it. While PC can concentrate on increasing autonomy and furthering devolution (with substantial success) with the aim of building a stronger sense of Welsh national identity which might eventually lead to a greater desire for independence.

127

Brett Dunbar 05.08.16 at 10:34 pm

Provided Hoteling’s law holds then in order to win Labour needs to move a bit to the right. If there are boundary changes before 2020 then the pro-Labour bias in the current distribution of seats should be eliminated; which will make the electorate more representative of the population and slightly more right wing than the 2015 electorate.

Hotelings law assumes that a voter will vote for the viable candidate closest to their views. So the ideal placement for a candidate is between their rival and the median voter. This ultimately leads to a situation where the logical position is either side of the median voter.

I have a logical argument for why Labour needs to move significantly to the right if it wants to win without needing the SNP. It is trying to win a notably more right wing electorate in England. To govern with the support or acquiescence of the SNP it needs to pick up a few Tory marginals which means shifting a little bit to the right to pick up the left most Tory voters.

128

eddie 05.08.16 at 10:45 pm

“What’s the story with the Welsh as well?” I’ve no idea. Best, as with orkney, sheltand, to build a wall around them and treat them as leper colony/mental hospital. They viloted for celebrity lying sack of shit hamilton, for goodness sake.

129

eddie 05.08.16 at 10:45 pm

Hoteling was a blairite scumbag.

130

eddie 05.08.16 at 10:52 pm

As for djr’s “the 10% they gained from 2011”, it’s important to note thar 22% is less than they got in 1992 which was a historic slaughtering.

131

eddie 05.08.16 at 11:01 pm

Dipper @73’s blatant racism is the kind of shite that will ensure intependence will happen. They, like kuenssberg say whatever tory central office tells them to say. The reality is that milliband lost the election by rulling out such a progressive alliance.

132

eddie 05.08.16 at 11:10 pm

“what’s wrong with a Scottish Labour Party? With its own conference, its own policies,?”

Well, everytime the branch office comes up with a policy, head office phones and says ‘you can’t have that’.

133

DDOwen 05.08.16 at 11:25 pm

“I’ve no idea. Best, as with orkney, sheltand, to build a wall around them and treat them as leper colony/mental hospital. They viloted for celebrity lying sack of shit hamilton, for goodness sake.”

It’s *always* nice to know that the spirit of pan-Celtic brotherhood is alive and kicking above Hadrian’s wall, I guess.

134

eddie 05.08.16 at 11:31 pm

“a fully independent Scottish Labour party definitely should be considered.” – errr no. There’s no point in a labour party proposing policies that aren’t in areas actually devolved. As per my last comment, they can try, but are quashed by labour in london. And it’s not corbyn that’s oing the quashing, it’s the blairite labour whips office. The same blairite whips bending over backkwards to help the tories false claims of antisemitism.

135

eddie 05.08.16 at 11:36 pm

“if Scot Lab were to oppose Trident and EngWal Lab were to support Trident renewal then” fucking move it to cardiff or london!

There. Fixed that for you. No charge.

136

eddie 05.08.16 at 11:38 pm

Dipper – “SNP? A vote for the SNP is a vote for a conservative government”

Creationist level ignorance, as I said before.

137

J-D 05.09.16 at 12:32 am

eddie @109

‘Imagine having your navy build by a potential enemy. Sounds like treason to me.’

Not to me.

138

J-D 05.09.16 at 12:33 am

eddie @110

‘There is no antisemitism row. There is a long running campaign by nazi israel to falsely conflate antizionism with antisemitism.’

The second statement contradicts the first.

139

david 05.09.16 at 2:20 am

Hotelling was an American economist who died in 1973.

140

J-D 05.09.16 at 2:36 am

eddie @129

‘“What’s the story with the Welsh as well?” I’ve no idea. Best, as with orkney, sheltand, to build a wall around them and treat them as leper colony/mental hospital.’

A concise fusion of bigoted contempt with casual reinforcement of the stigmatisation of vulnerable disadvantaged people.

141

harry b 05.09.16 at 3:22 am

” I don’t think there ever was such a thing as ‘conservative nationalism’, apart maybe from the douglas humes supporting hitler Nowadays conservatism = unionism.”

I was thinking about the conservatism in the nationalist movement, not that there was separatism within the Conservative Party, which has always been unionist. The conversion of the SNP to social democracy only started in the 60’s and still wasn’t complete in the early 1980s.

142

dr ngo 05.09.16 at 3:26 am

Amid all the confusion above, I am particularly confused by Brett Dunbar’s assertion in #66 – “The median English voter is to the left of the Great Britain median voter” – vs. his #89 – “The median voter in England is to the right of the GB median voter” (echoed in his #128 – “a notably more right wing electorate in England.”) First you say you will, and then you won’t; then you say you do, and then you don’t . . . ?

I am less confused by the variant spellings of Hotelling in his posts (two “L’s” says Wikipedia), though somewhat bemused by Brett’s attempt to apply it to UK politics when the thrust of US politics – admittedly a different kettle of fish – over the last decade or more has been away from the “principle of minimum differentiation” toward a much more polarized process. If one assumes equal turnout in all sectors, H’s law may apply; if variability of turnout is itself a huge factor in electoral success, then a polarizing position that actually gets voters to the polls may be better than a centrist position that might win the lukewarm approval of potential voters who stay home.

143

david 05.09.16 at 3:47 am

the Scottish nationalist movement included right-wing nationalists across the 60s and 70s, resulting in predictably ultranationalist splinter groups over the years (1320 group, Siol nan Gaidheal, etc).

Siol nan Gaidheal was one of two factions proscribed after by the SNP after the disaster of the 1979 GE that propelled Thatcher to the premiership. The other, of course, was Salmond’s 79 Group.

part of Salmond’s undeniable genius as a politician was moderating sufficiently to return and annex the entire party – rejecting ties to Sinn Féin, rejecting republicanism, rejecting any Clause-IV-esque commitment to nationalization

144

MilitantlyAardvark 05.09.16 at 4:15 am

@dipper @98

You seem rather confused about the SNP’s strategy as opposed to Labour’s. Labour is finished in Scotland precisely because the SNP has managed to become the Scottish Labour party plus nationalism (admittedly in a rather deceptive way, but that’s politics). It doesn’t matter what Labour offers at this point, because they have no way to outbid the SNP. The only possibility of a Labour revival in Scotland is to let the SNP try being the government and acquire all the taint of the necessary compromises and failures, but I have doubts that this will get them anywhere in the next 20 years.

As for Labour in England, until it finds a way to unify the various party factions around a set of agreed on policies plus a credible leadership, it hardly matters what they have to say about the Tories. Sad, but true.

In the longer term, Labour needs to reinvent itself as some sort of social democratic/economic fairness/civil liberties/clean and competent government party, but whether it can do so while the Blairites are able to play dog in the manger is an open question. My guess is that it can’t.

145

js. 05.09.16 at 4:50 am

“The median English voter is to the left of the Great Britain median voter”

I would’ve thought that Dunbar pretty clearly meant “to the right of”, and that “left” was a typo. The fact that he’s since commented and not cleared this up is certainly curious.

146

Brett Dunbar 05.09.16 at 5:21 am

My spelling isn’t all that good and I misspelt Hotelling. The English electorate is to the right of the GB electorate left was a typo. I didn’t catch it as I knew what I meant to type and didn’t see what I had actually typed.

The US situation is caused by primaries, basically to win the primary you need to appeal to the electorate in the primaries who are systematically unrepresentative of the wider electorate. What you get is a candidate who is somewhere around the median for their party rather than the electorate.

The problem Corbyn has in trying to appeal to non-voters is that UK turnout in marginal seats is already pretty high. Where your vote really matters you tend to use it. And those seats where the turnout is lowest are mostly safe Labour seats, getting extra votes there is pointless as you already have the MP. Basically there just aren’t that many useful votes.

There was discussion of this on More or Less on BBC Radio 4 and World Service on 11 September 2015 hhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06950lm

147

david 05.09.16 at 5:54 am

Does Labour need to overhaul itself for Scotland? It can’t do much worse than it does now in Scotland. What does it stand to lose? One Westminster seat? And conventional polling suggests that it needs to be more rather than less Blairite to succeed in marginal constituencies in England.

The SNP is now stuck in the Parti Québécois problem of Scottish marginal voters themselves being leery on independence – and the oil clock is ticking steadily.

148

Igor Belanov 05.09.16 at 7:55 am

“And conventional polling suggests that it needs to be more rather than less Blairite to succeed in marginal constituencies in England.”

Ah, the famous ‘conventional polling’ that was so successful in 2015. The problem is that in 2005 with domination of Scotland, a strong Lib Dems and less votes for UKIP and the Greens, Blair’s Labour was able to hold on to a comfortable majority with a paltry 35% of the vote. The Blairites’ luck ran out after that and now, with Scotland lost and little prospect of a significant Lib Dem recovery or UKIP slump, there is little chance of a repeat of the Blair years. In many ways, if Labour moved further right then it could well lose votes to the Lib Dmes/UKIP/Greens without compensating Tory defections.

The only thing that could blow this whole scenario apart is the aftermath of the EU referendum.

149

Salem 05.09.16 at 8:18 am

In the longer term, Labour needs to reinvent itself as some sort of social democratic/economic fairness/civil liberties/clean and competent government party

We already have a party that describes itself in those terms, and they were rejected by the electorate even more thoroughly than Milliband. No, Labour does not need to reinvent itself as the Lib Dems; they need broad appeal.

Labour’s heartland voters are the public sector trade unions. They aren’t going anywhere, but aren’t nearly enough. They also are clerical workers, not the traditional working class, which has been gradually rejecting Labour for a decade now, and should be an existential concern – if Labour isn’t the party of the working class, what the hell are they? The possible ways to pick up additional voters are – divide the working class along racial lines (chase UKIP votes); divide the working class along racial lines (Galloway tactics); appeal to middle class voters (treason, apparently); and make a broad-based appeal to the working class (no one knows how to do this). I suspect Corbyn continues to go down path number 2.

150

J-D 05.09.16 at 10:16 am

Salem @150

I don’t know whether clerical workers are part of the ‘traditional’ working class (whatever that means), but not being part of the traditional working class is not the same thing as not being part of the working class. The occupational composition of the workforce has changed (once there were more railway workers and fewer schoolteachers; now there are fewer railway workers and more schoolteachers); that means the working class has changed, and anybody who wants a party of the working class has to accept that. What’s wrong (if you can do it) with appealing to working-class people who are not ‘traditionally’ working-class?

151

Stephen D. 05.09.16 at 10:21 am

@110

“Just lat us be clear. There is no antisemitism row. There is a long running campaign by nazi israel to falsely conflate antizionism with antisemitism.”

Well now, I didn’t think that it was possible to make Ken Livingstone look comparatively reasonable but I think you may have just managed it.

152

Salem 05.09.16 at 11:37 am

The occupational composition of the workforce has changed … What’s wrong (if you can do it) with appealing to working-class people who are not ‘traditionally’ working-class?

What do you even mean by “working-class”?

You can, trivially, reduce “working-class” to “the workforce.” So now lawyers, accountants and chief executives are working class. But that’s not what anyone means by the term, and, more importantly, that’s not who Labour claim to represent.

The traditional Labour claim is something like:

1. We represent the majority of people.
2. Who do the real work that undergirds the country.
3. But are pretty close to the bottom of the pile.
4. Due to exploitation by management, capitalists, bourgeoisie, etc.
5. And who deserve a fair share.
6. And so have a common class interest.
7. And (hopefully?) a felt solidarity.

We’re the many, we’re badly off, we should be treated fairly, we have a common cause. That had a certain rhetorical pull in 1950 when your voters were factory workers. But it sounds kinda silly in 2016 when your voters are civil servants, teachers and nurses. Why should a retail worker think she shares common class interests with a civil servant? Isn’t the civil servant rather more like the management classes (allegedly) exploiting me, both in concrete interests and felt solidarity? And to the extent that the public sector unions feel exploited, isn’t their oppressor… the voters? Hmmm.

There’s nothing wrong with representing the interests of schoolteachers rather than railway workers. You are right that the workforce has changed. But it does not seem possible to represent the interests, or get the votes, of schoolteachers, and retail workers, and the remaining factory workers, all at once. And if you are simply representing public sector unions, you look less like a broad-based movement for the unjustly downtrodden, and more like a lobbying instrument for those who are already alright, Jack.

153

MilitantlyAardvark 05.09.16 at 11:37 am

@Salem

One of Labour’s dirty little secrets is that they ceased to be the workers’ party some time ago. They do need broad appeal, but they aren’t going to find it by rediscovering their working class roots. These days Labour is more the party of the squeezed middle class, but even there it’s lost some voters to UKIP, some to the Lib Dems and some to the Tories.

Your analysis of the Lib Dem meltdown doesn’t mention the salient fact that they wrecked themselves by cooperating with the Tory party beyond all reason. Voters rejected Tory light, not social democracy. There is a space there which Labour could occupy with some profit, especially if it sheds the authoritarian mantle that it donned under Blair and commits to preserving and expanding civil liberties as a core part of the program.

154

MilitantlyAardvark 05.09.16 at 11:40 am

@Salem

” But it sounds kinda silly in 2016 when your voters are civil servants, teachers and nurses.”

Not if you pitch it as fighting for hard-working people who have seen their wages lose value in real terms while Tory fat cats cheated on their taxes. There’s good ground there for Labour to occupy, if they ever get around to developing a coherent strategy.

155

Loki 05.09.16 at 12:14 pm

MilitantlyAardvark, Salem Labour Party supporters have been identified as being:

36% professional or managerial middle class
29% clerical, sales, services
35% working class, other or never worked

The 36% probably contains a lot of teachers etc. Much harder to categorize are the 29% of people working in clerical jobs, sales or services. Many may well have low paid and insecure jobs, but as mentioned they may not identify those jobs as being working class.

http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN05125

156

Igor Belanov 05.09.16 at 3:23 pm

The myth is that the working-class has ever been some sort of homogenous group of hammer and pick swinging manual workers with a common workplace identity. Before 1939 a massive part of the working class was comprised of domestic servants. Before 1914 Lenin panicked about a ‘labour aristocracy’ that was funded on the proceeds of imperialism. Since the 1960s political scientists have been telling us that workers would lose their identity once they acquired washing machines/cars/mobile phones. Identities change- I bet quite a few junior doctors feel very working class at the moment.

157

Salem 05.09.16 at 3:27 pm

Not if you pitch it as fighting for hard-working people who have seen their wages lose value in real terms while Tory fat cats cheated on their taxes.

This is already the Labour pitch, and it will continue to fail, because it doesn’t mean anything. It’s not even a slogan, it’s an empty grab-bag.

First, consider the phrase “hard-working.” Why is that in there? Are you going to cut benefits to make sure you don’t reward idle scroungers? No, the next words out of your mouth will be to deny the validity of deserving/undeserving poor! So the rhetoric is self-undermining.

The second half of the sentence, meanwhile, is disconnected from the first. You don’t even pretend that “Tory fat cats” are the cause, you’re reduced to a “while,” because of course the voters know that much larger international forces are to blame.

Then think about the left’s favourite word that you’ve shoved in there – “fighting.” Notably absent – any sense of what that fighting involves. The structure of the sentence suggests that you’re fighting against tax evasion, but that’s almost insulting to the intelligence. In context, it looks like entirely unwanted rhetorical championing. We are your leaders! Are you, now.

If you actually want to pitch to the “hard-working, squeezed middle” you might say – we’ll make sure that your taxes aren’t squandered on benefits for those who won’t work, and we’ll make sure that there’s a high minimum wage for those in work. There’s a party doing that, of course, and it’s not Labour. I’m not saying that’s good policy, but it’s at least coherent.

If I had to write a one-sentence phrase to pitch Labour, it would be:

Ordinary people have seen their wages lose value in real terms because we can’t buy what we really need.

But then the policies, and the rest of the rhetoric, would have to match. And that can only happen when you’ve decided who you’re for. These are foundational issues.

158

Salem 05.09.16 at 3:39 pm

And yes, of course Labour has become a middle class party. And of course the working-class was never homogeneous. “Working-class solidarity” was always equivocating between fact-on-the-ground and unifying myth.

To be clear – I don’t buy into the (1-7) for Labour, even back in 1950. It was nonsense even back then, but it was (fairly) successful nonsense.

159

harry b 05.09.16 at 4:52 pm

I read ‘don’t’ as ‘didn’t”, Salem, and was amazed by your advanced years. I’m a bit disappointed now I have read it correctly.

160

Igor Belanov 05.09.16 at 5:57 pm

Salem has certainly had his/her two penn’orth on the failings of the Labour Party, without suggesting what they should do.

Maybe they can tell us how the Conservative Party get away with it then, because they sure as hell don’t appear to be a set of charismatic geniuses to me.

161

Phil 05.09.16 at 10:10 pm

Why should a retail worker think she shares common class interests with a civil servant? Isn’t the civil servant rather more like the management classes (allegedly) exploiting me, both in concrete interests and felt solidarity?

Not really, no. I’ve been employed as a nurse, a computer programmer (public sector, unionised), a computer programmer (private sector), a journalist, a researcher and (currently) a lecturer, and my sense of my class position hasn’t changed in the slightest. Exploitation isn’t a state of affairs, it’s a process – something that gets done to you; once you’re conscious of it being done to you, solidarity with other people in a similar position comes naturally. It’s not a question of hunting high and low for the elusive Exploited Worker vote; Labour needs to help people realise (or remember) that that’s the situation they’re in. Doctors seem to be realising it quite vividly at the moment.

162

MilitantlyAardvark 05.09.16 at 10:14 pm

@Salem

You seem to be perpetually aggrieved at some unspecified offense committed against you by reality, while rubbishing anything that anyone else might have to say on any given topic. Do you need a hug?

163

MilitantlyAardvark 05.09.16 at 10:20 pm

@Phil @162

I tend to agree that Labour had the right basic instincts, but failed miserably at messaging. People are getting screwed in the new conservative normal – and the Tories are proposing to strip away what little security and hope is left to them, in order to serve the fat cats and the financial services industry. This is economic suicide in the long term, but it ought to be political suicide in the short term as well.

164

engels 05.09.16 at 10:21 pm

Doctors seem to be realising it quite vividly at the moment.

And I hope they’ll still realise as vividly a few years later when they’re consultants making five times more than the average worker.

165

engels 05.09.16 at 10:24 pm

(I can’t be arsed to check the numbers now but I think there’s a good chance NHS consultants are in the global 1% as far as earnings go…)

166

engels 05.09.16 at 10:57 pm

(Though I agree with the thrust of Phil’s comments all the same…)

167

The Temporary Name 05.09.16 at 11:02 pm

I’m in the global 1% it seems. http://www.globalrichlist.com/

168

Ronan(rf) 05.09.16 at 11:05 pm

169

J-D 05.09.16 at 11:22 pm

Salem @153

The statement ‘There is a majority of people who are pretty close to the bottom of the pile because they are exploited’ has about as much (or, if you prefer, about as little) truth in it as it used to. If there has been a change in the nature of the Labour Party, or a change in its electoral success, or a change in the way it tries to appeal to voters, or a change in the options available to it for appealing to voters, it is not because of a change in the truth of that statement.

What may have changed (in conjunction with the change in the occupational structure of the workforce) is the extent to which those people identify themselves (and, perhaps, are described by others) as ‘working class’. One effect of that might be to reduce the effectiveness as a campaign tactic for Labour of saying ‘You should vote for us because we are the party of the working class’ (although I also don’t know how effective that ever was as a tactic). But having to change your tactics is not the same thing as facing reduced chances of success.

170

Salem 05.10.16 at 9:42 am

Salem has certainly had his/her two penn’orth on the failings of the Labour Party, without suggesting what they should do.

@158: Slogan: “Ordinary people have seen their wages lose value in real terms because we can’t buy what we really need.”

I think it’s pretty obvious what policies follow from that; better delivery of public services, and public services delivering what the market can’t.

Maybe they can tell us how the Conservative Party get away with it then, because they sure as hell don’t appear to be a set of charismatic geniuses to me.

As I said @158, the Conservatives say “we’re for the hard-working, squeezed middle,” and act accordingly. And it’s easy for them, because this is their self-image of themselves – they don’t see themselves as the party of the rich, they see themselves as the party of the honest, hard-working middle class, whose businesses are choked by unfair regulation, taxes squandered on benefit scroungers, schools ruined by political correctness, blah blah blah. Now it’s true that the Conservative vision of the “middle” – a two-income professional family who own a house in a leafy suburb – is way above median. But because people are aspirational, and yet no-one sees themselves as rich, the rhetoric has good play. It’s summed up by George Osborne’s question – “Where is the fairness, we ask, for the worker, leaving home in the dark hours of the early morning, who looks up at the closed blinds of their next door neighbour sleeping off a life on benefits?” You may think that’s an unfair question, and you don’t have to like their policies, but they make sense in terms of their rhetoric.

Labour don’t believe in that rhetoric, not really. They started it because Gordon Brown found that “hard-working families” tested well in the focus groups.

171

engels 05.10.16 at 10:11 am

they don’t see themselves as the party of the rich, they see themselves as the party of the honest, hard-working middle class

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plebgate

You may think that’s an unfair question, and you don’t have to like their policies, but they make sense in terms of their rhetoric.

Not when you remember the rhetorician in question never needed to work a day in his life.

172

Ronan(rf) 05.10.16 at 11:48 am

Helmut Schmidt
“If one asks oneself what are the true reasons for the differentiated development of societies and economies between the British and most ones on the Continent, I think it has something to do with the fact that British society, much more than the Scandinavian, German, Austrian, and Dutch societies, is characterised by a class-struggle type of society. ….But as long as you maintain the damned class-ridden society of yours you will never get out of your mess.”

This seems to be equally true for race in the US

173

engels 05.10.16 at 12:40 pm

“Where is the fairness, we ask, for the worker, leaving home in the dark hours of the early morning, who looks up at the closed blinds of their next door neighbour sleeping off a life on benefits?” You may think that’s an unfair question, and you don’t have to like their policies, but they make sense in terms of their rhetoric.

Actually it doesn’t make sense even in terms of rhetoric for the simple reason that if you choose to have something you can not claim that what you get is unfair relative to what you did not choose. People who have jobs are at liberty to become unemployed and claim benefits. Benefit claimants are (often) not at liberty to become employed. It is a priori bullshit.

174

Jim Buck 05.10.16 at 2:20 pm

Actually, it does have emotional resonance for a sleep-deprived shift worker ( for example) whose neighbour is forever on benefits and is therefore free to play loud music at whatever hour of the day it takes their fancy. A somewhat similar situation persisted around here until certain individuals were forced into poorly-paid and insecure jobs. Now silence reigns blissfully at night. As the saying goes: International Finance never woke me up at 3am by turning Slipknot up to 11.

175

engels 05.10.16 at 2:51 pm

Me: Saying that the main cause of crime in London is mafia-gangs from Scotland is nonsense.
Jim: Actually, does have an emotional resonance for someone whose just been been to death by a haggis.
Me: Mmmkay

176

Jim Buck 05.10.16 at 4:28 pm

Mr Engels, you soar like the great Australian Bustard. We Emus are closer to the worms though; and it was the worm’s eye-view you were talking about.

177

engels 05.10.16 at 4:49 pm

Where’s the fairness in someone doing something that isn’t illegal or immoral, and which I am free to do myself but choose not to, and which I don’t like them doing for various reasons? Where’s the fairness in it? I ask you?

178

Jim Buck 05.10.16 at 5:15 pm

Because it’s damned unneighbourly, foul behaviour; and it makes me feel like kicking their heads in—which I don’t do; but it also makes me sympathetic to the manipulative rightwing rhetoric.

179

Jim Buck 05.10.16 at 5:38 pm

And the remarkable thing is that, now the perps have been pressed into the pioneer corps of industry, the conviviality and utility of nocturnal tranquility is become apparent. Surely there is hope in this—the shiftless can shift?

180

Igor Belanov 05.10.16 at 6:15 pm

‘Helmut Schmidt
“If one asks oneself what are the true reasons for the differentiated development of societies and economies between the British and most ones on the Continent, I think it has something to do with the fact that British society, much more than the Scandinavian, German, Austrian, and Dutch societies, is characterised by a class-struggle type of society. ….But as long as you maintain the damned class-ridden society of yours you will never get out of your mess.”’

Schmidt showing that Germans are just as capable of daft stereotypes about Britain as the British are about Germany. Aside from the fact that all the countries mentioned by Schmidt are capitalist and with strong economic and social elites (and some with monarchies, albeit of the ‘bicycling’ type), there is little evidence to say that Britain has been any more affected by class conflict than the others. There has been little in British history to compare with inter-war Germany or Austria’s brief 1934 Civil War, the anti-climax of Britain’s General Strike for example. In many ways Britain has been characterised (unfortunately) by a high degree of class compromise or quiescence at times when the ruling class has been firmly on top, and at certain points it has been a model for the other countries. At best you can say that organised labour has exercised greater bargaining power post-1945 in Scandinavia, Germany or Austria than it has in Britain. Just because the toffs are less visible in certain places doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t exist there.

181

Ronan(rf) 05.10.16 at 6:25 pm

I think Schmidt was saying that in the 70/80s, which was the context.
I’m not sure if your larger point is true though. Afaik (which might be wrong, but I’ll go with it)the nordic social democracies were built around cross class alliances and cooperation to a greater extent than the UK, and a less oppositional working class politics.

182

Ronan(rf) 05.10.16 at 6:43 pm

..a less oppositional *class* politics (leaving out the working)

183

Igor Belanov 05.10.16 at 6:49 pm

@182

That kind of analysis was based on a myth, largely influenced by the political systems of those countries, which operated on a PR basis and therefore encouraged coalitions. The British Labour Party has not been notably confrontational as a rule, and the trade union movement was only overtly ‘oppositional’ in certain fields and at certain periods. Both major political parties in Britain have been ‘cross-class’ to some extent, as there have always been significant amounts of middle-class socialists and working-class Tories. To generalise from the 1970s is somewhat misleading, particularly as the root cause for the class ‘instability’ at that time was the fact that the British economy was more volatile than the other countries at that time.

184

Ronan(rf) 05.10.16 at 6:55 pm

Well his point was that the volatility was a consequence of this class politics. At least as afaict from the snippet I came across. I’ll give you the full unedited quote as it puts his point in a slightly different light

“If one asks oneself what are the true reasons for the differentiated development of societies and economies between the British and most ones on the Continent, I think it has something to do with the fact that British society, much more than the Scandinavian, German, Austrian, and Dutch societies, is characterised by a class-struggle type of society. This is true for both sides of the upper class as well as for the working classes. I think that the way in which organised Labour on the one hand and industrial management on the other had dealt with their problems is outmoded.

You have to treat workers as equal members of society. You have to give them the self–esteem which they can only have if they acquire responsibility. Then you will be able to ask the trade unions to behave and to abstain from those idiotic policies. Then they will accept some guidance from outsiders—from the government or the party or whatever it is. But as long as you maintain the damned class-ridden society of yours you will never get out of your mess.”

185

novakant 05.10.16 at 7:01 pm

Igor, are you joking? The UK is to this day obsessed with class like no other nation in Europe – it is strikingly obvious to every non-British observer and to those in the UK who reflect critically on their society. Just look at the education system or check who owns half of central London or Scotland, and the degree of wealth/income inequality

186

engels 05.10.16 at 7:02 pm

“and a less oppositional working class politics”

We could have had everything we wanted if we’d only asked nicely. Damn.(

187

Ronan(rf) 05.10.16 at 7:07 pm

Yeah I corrected that in the following comment . Poorly phrased

188

Igor Belanov 05.10.16 at 8:00 pm

novakant @ 186

I think our wires have got crossed a bit in terms of confusion over the idea of class-in-itself and class-for-itself. You’re right- socially and culturally there is still obsession over the idea of class, and inequalities in society are highly related to class origin. But traditionally the political consequences of this have been very limited. Class conflict has erupted at some levels of society and in certain periods, but the norm has been for a distinct element of class compromise when the working-class has possessed a degree of strength, and periods like the present when the vast differences in class have practically no impact on politics and can be virtually ignored by the elite. For most of the time since the eclipse of the Chartists the political and industrial wings of the labour movement (and particularly their leaderships) have shown an unhealthy desire to be recognised and accepted by the establishment. Things weren’t that different in the 1970s.

Schmidt again (via Ronan @ 185)

‘You have to treat workers as equal members of society. You have to give them the self–esteem which they can only have if they acquire responsibility. Then you will be able to ask the trade unions to behave and to abstain from those idiotic policies. Then they will accept some guidance from outsiders—from the government or the party or whatever it is.’

I’m not sure that he could be more patronising. ‘Know your place’, ‘behave’, and we’ll treat you as equals.

189

Chris Bertram 05.10.16 at 8:28 pm

Nobody has mentioned Bristol in the entire thread … so I will. Labour elected mayor, and Labour regained control (plus a decent showing for the Greens) in a city in the south of England.

190

engels 05.10.16 at 8:34 pm

Fair enough – apologies for excessive snark

191

Ronan(rf) 05.10.16 at 8:49 pm

Engels, don’t worry about it. It Was a fair reply on your part.

Igor, I agree it’s patronising, but afaict a well functioning social democracy requires a heavy dose of being patronized + being bossed around. For those of us in the angloshpere who are culturally predisposed to a bit of raucousness and rough and tumble, we need a change of mind set if we’re going to follow the Nordics .

192

bruce wilder 05.10.16 at 10:52 pm

Knowing something about German political society, one really should raise an eyebrow. Germany is far from class-less. And, if Germany has structured labor-management relations, it is partly because a Labour government gave them to Germany.

193

Garrulous 05.11.16 at 12:20 am

@193 And, if Germany has structured labor-management relations, it is partly because a Labour government gave them to Germany.

That’s an old myth, well demolished here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2579932

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novakant 05.11.16 at 7:50 am

Igor, sorry, it seems we were talking about different things: so I propose that the very fact that the class struggle in the UK has never really erupted on a large scale is the reason that the class structure has been able to survive permeate society to this day. The ruling elite has been able to keep a lid on things. Germany on the other hand underwent a massive societal transformation both as a result of WW2 (large parts of the elite diminished or wiped out) and 1968 ff. (the holdovers from the NAZI past and authoritarian elements of society were diminished and society finally democratized).

I think Schmidt was specifically referring to the very frequent strikes in the UK at the time, that didn’t really happen in Germany on this scale – instead the consensual model of labor-management relations was working pretty well.

Germany is far from class-less.

There is no class-less society, we’re talking about matters of degree. And the UK is based on class to a much higher degree, just compare e.g. the education system.

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casmilus 05.11.16 at 8:12 am

I met some of these working class fellows once and they were absolutely smashing chaps.

196

Igor Belanov 05.11.16 at 11:16 am

novakant @ 195

“I propose that the very fact that the class struggle in the UK has never really erupted on a large scale is the reason that the class structure has been able to survive permeate society to this day”

Well yes, but Schmidt in fact described Britain as a ‘class-struggle type of society’, which I’m saying is a phenomenon restricted to certain periods of time, and certainly not visible at present (outside junior doctors!).

I also would question the implication that Germany is somehow a classless society. WWII and its aftermath wiped out the influence of the old Junker-warrior class and the insurgent Nazi petty-bourgeiosie, but in doing this it left the ‘typical’ capitalist class dominant. The success of the ‘wirtschaftswunder’ allowed the working-class greater bargaining power and gave the capitalists more room for manoeuvre.

I don’t think the German or Nordic ‘systems’ really count as a model anymore. If anything they are converging more on the kind of neoliberalism seen in Britain.

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