Monday 10 February 2014

From Southbank to Scotland, Bragg calls it wrong

From today's Daily Record column, 50p at newsagents or try the e-edition online
The kids who skateboard in the concrete cavities under the South Bank Centre in London have won an unlikely victory.

They have beaten a £120 million plan to move their graffitied  skatepark to make way for commercial development on the Thames side.

Mind you, they were up against some powerful opponents including Billy Bragg, the radical troubadour.

Bragg bought into the vision for community-based enterprises the arts centre developers had for the space.

Not many believed that community businesses would last a minute longer than it took to fulfil planning conditions.

There were over 27,000 objections to the idea of moving the skatekids, a colourful London tribe, onto "the reservations". Having read it wrong, Bragg appears to have fallen silent on the issue.

The episode shows that just because you are right-on you are not always right.

Now Bragg, like many of London's liberal left, wishes so hard for socialism he has convinced himself it is really Scottish nationalism.

Frustrated by the compromises of Labour Party, the English patriot Bragg backs independence for Scotland.

"Go for it," he tweeted at the weekend, and nationalists paraded him as Stalin lauded the British left who thought the Soviet Union offered a glimpse of socialist heaven.

The evidence of the last two SNP governments, and the populist, middle-class gains at the expense of the poor, is that the SNP is anything but the vanguard of the socialist revolution.

Before the bedroom tax is rewritten in history remember John Swinney didn't want to let London "off the hook" until he was pressed to act.

Progressive policies always have to be fought for, they won't be gifted by separating like-minded voters from each other across a political border.

Does anyone think if the SNP manages to bind together a majority around a Yes vote that coalition would be allowed to unravel after victory to usher in a left-wing government made up of the remains of a shattered Labour movement?

That patriotic bundle would strapped together with whatever populist policies necessary.

Ruling around a patriotic banner means every principle is subsumed to the greater national cause. The White Paper promise on childcare - independence first, women second -  is a good example of that.

Governing from the left involves compromise, but is underpinned by the mission of create a more equal society. Popular nationalism by its nature, involves jinking opportunistically from one populist pillar to another.

I don't think that is the kind of New England Billy Bragg seeks. He'd be mistaken to think a Yes vote offers a socialist New Scotland.