Thursday, 18 June 2015

Moral high ground proves slippery underfoot

For the Daily Record

That was a thunderous sound of galloping to the moral high ground when Malcolm Bruce declared all politicians tell lies. 

Of course it is not true. Well, not entirely true.

But politicians are adept at bending facts to suit arguments, particularly when they don’t get their own way.

Newbie SNP MPs, and some more experienced ones, took to the internet last week claiming Labour MPs voted against allowing 16 and 17 year olds taking part in the EU referendum.

Labour MPs did no such thing.

True, Labour had not supported an SNP amendment to the EU bill containing such a clause.

At that stage in the proceedings it would have been a vote against the referendum itself.

Labour has amendments granting votes for 16-17 year olds (why not for EU citizens too?) and remains optimistic the case can be won.

But, by distorting a slender thread of voting procedure, the SNP fabricated outrage and shame at yet another Labour “betrayal”.

There’s a tremendous appetite among true believers to accept the such claims as a nationalist gospel, and for contrary explanations to be dismissed as Unionist conspiracies.

So the hunger for treachery keeps getting fed, a classic propaganda tactic. 

This week, on the Scotland Bill, the allegation was Labour had not voted to make the Scottish parliament permanent. Or so it was claimed.

True, a check of the parliamentary record shows Labour withdrew its amendment requiring a referendum to scrap the Holyrood parliament (as if).

But Labour did vote for the measure - in support of the SNP amendment which served the same purpose.

Labour abstaining on Full Fiscal Autonomy, a disaster for Scotland, while the SNP voted on a right-wing Tory motion for it, that also counted as “breaking” the Vow.

Factcheck: the Vow promised more powers and guaranteed the Barnett Formula. Only the SNP claim it now promises FFA, which spells the end of Barnett.

But don’t let the facts get in the way of more SNP outrage in the chamber and online.

You’d think shenanigans over procedural votes in Westminster shouldn’t matter much to the outside world.

But the pattern of chicanery undermines politics itself and, in public eyes, strengthens the Bruce doctrine. 

If they’re not careful SNP MPs will wear down the trust placed in them as quickly as the crumbling limestone of the Westminster halls they inhabit. 

Labour's dark night of the soul

Could there have been a more telling moment for the Labour party this week than Jim Murphy walking out one door as Jeremy Corbyn came in another?

Even stronger symbolism of Labour’s broken keel was the confession Murphy made about the party’s legendary internal feuding.

Glancing backwards in his last speech Murphy said he spoke more to Ed Balls in the last two months of the campaign, as Labour struggled for survival, than he had spoken to his colleague in the two decades beforehand.

Divided on either side of Blair and Brownite factions, Murphy realised in his last political gasp what a good operator Balls was. Both lost their seats.

Two of the most talented politicians of their generation, they sat on the same green benches, played in the same football team, yet hardly exchanged a word.

That silence speaks volumes for the state of the Labour party, and how stupidly macho politics can be.

Unsure of its footing in Scotland, fearful of a UKIP backlash in the EU referendum and scratching the ground like hens for votes in the south, Labour is headed for a dark night of the soul.

The leadership candidates are trapped. Eager to bury Labour’s recent past, they must embrace their history if they are to spell out the future.

At least with Corbyn in the race the SNP as well as Labour’s left-flank has a voice.

He will not win, but when his anti-Trident, deficit-denial agenda is rejected the SNP will say there goes Labour’s “heart and soul”.

Nonsense, of course. The SNP wins power in Holyrood in the middle ground and Labour has to find that shore again.

No comments:

Post a Comment