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Showing posts with label Jimmy Reid. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jimmy Reid. Show all posts

Monday, 8 July 2013

The Scottish media, Falkirk, Labour and Unite – independence excised from coverage?

MY SUMMARY OF THE FALKIRK FACTS

I’ll be as brief – and objective – as I can.

A preliminary summary of events

Eric Joyce was expelled from the Labour Party for multiple instances of bad behaviour. He is still MP, but has stated his intention not to stand at the general election in 2015. (Had he resigned as an MP or been removed, there would have been a by-election.)

Labour and the Falkirk constituency selection committee must choose a candidate for what has historically been a safe Labour seat. The selection of candidates for safe seats is a matter of high significance for any political party – for a party in opposition 22 months from a general election, hoping to win and form the next government of UK, and facing a riven, inept Coalition in disarray, such a selection is crucial.

(N.B. The Labour Party must have concerns for the safety of this seat, not only because of Joyce’s past behaviour, but because, as MP for another 22 months, outside of Labour, not subject to the Labour whip, he is potentially a loose cannon politically.)

Labour policy was to have an all-woman shortlist (AWS), and members of the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) were surveyed on whether an all-woman shortlist should be used. (The survey was paid for by Unite.)

Candidates who had already emerged were Linda Gow, former leader of Falkirk council and Gregor Poynton. Poynton is UK Director of Blue State Digital, adviser to Better Together Campaign and husband of Gemma Doyle MP, who is deputy to Jim Murphy MP, the shadow defence minister.

Then Karie Murphy appeared as a candidate. Karie Murphy, formerly Unison, now Unite Union, is Tom Watson MP’s office manager. Introducing Karie Murphy as a candidate was consistent with Labour’s policy of all-women shortlists (AWC) but Gregor Poynton’s candidacy was not.

A sudden influx of new members was recorded in the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) and it appeared that the Unite Union had recruited as many as 100 members. The CLP choose the Parliamentary candidate for Falkirk, not the total Labour membership. (The idea of holding primaries, elections in which the wider electorate are involved has been mooted before the Falkirk debacle, and is much debated since it commenced.)

Allegation began to appear that irregularities had occurred in the signing up of CLP members by Unite. The Labour Party was in essence created by the Trades Union movement (late 19th, early 20th centuries) to ensure Parliamentary representation for working people. The rules of the Labour Party permit trades unions to encourage members to join the party, and to pay their first year’s subscription. But it was claimed that Unite had signed up members without their knowledge, a very serious allegation if proven. The matter has now been referred to the police by the Labour Party.

THE POWER GAMES BEING PLAYED

N.B. From here on in, I don’t pretend neutrality, and only as much objectivity as I can muster, because I am of the Left in politics and I am also a Scottish nationalist – not a SNP member or member of any party, but wholly committed to a socially democratic independent Scotland.

Labour has a long history of fights with the trades unions. Unions are by far the Labour Party’s principal source of funds through the political levy (optional) that members pay, and unions apply the funds in various ways, including sponsoring specific MPs. In return for this, they not unreasonably expect the MPs and the Party to serve the interests of their millions of members in addition to serving the whole electorate. This has always led to tensions between Party and unions. Exactly the same practices apply on funding to all political parties, with the key difference that the Tory and Liberal Democrat parties, for example, get their funds from organisations and individuals, a very much smaller group of large donors in comparison to the millions of small donors of the trades unions.

The key difference is that these corporate donors and individuals operate to a large extent behind closed doors in pursuing what they expect for their money – and they all expect something – whereas the union interaction tends to occur in a blaze of publicity.

To try and contrast the two systems in a nutshell – the trades unions, an imperfect but functioning democracy representing millions of UK workers interact with a much larger imperfect democracy in the Labour Party, whereas totally undemocratic organisations and individuals in commerce, industry, armaments and interest groups not confined to the UK interact with the imperfect democracies of the Tory and LibDem parties. Ultimately, in both cases, the trades unions interact with the over-arching and highly imperfect democracy of the UK Government.

The problem of the union conflicts with the Labour Party over the last half century (e.g. Clause Four) created  - or were alleged to have created – the problem of electability, and this was specifically what Blair, Brown and Mandelson set out to remedy after  Neil Kinnock had done some of the spadework. They created New Labour and it worked – Labour was elected and re-elected. The results, over 13 years, are now history. Two wars, one illegal, the deaths of hundreds of thousands, terrorism brought to UK by the Iraq War, the gap between rich and poor widened, corruption of Parliamentary institutions, the prosecution and imprisonment of Labour MPs, the resignation of the Labour Speaker of the House of Commons in disgrace, the corruption of the Press and the Metropolitan Police, the banking and financial collapse, cash for access, etc.

Hardly a success, except in one key aspect – Blair, Mandelson, Brown, Labour defence secretaries, Labour ministers and many Labour MPs got very rich indeed, in the case of Blair and Mandelson, egregiously rich.

The revolving door between government ministers, civil servants and industry – especially the defence industry – spun ever faster and more profitably. And the military/industrial complex rejoiced and celebrated New Labour’s achievements.

Meanwhile, the trades unions were marginalised, and the benches of Westminster became increasingly populated by MPs who had never experienced the real, harsh world of Blair’s Britain, MPs who came directly into politics waving their PPE degrees through internships as SPADs, etc.

This great divide, this yawning chasm has widened between the trades union movement and the political machine for enriching politicians and their friends that New Labour has become. After being finally destroyed electorally, Labour was replaced by a Coalition that is almost indistinguishable in its right-wing practices from the right-wing Labour Party. As an opposition, Labour has been feeble and equivocal. The trades unions, having placed brother Ed Miliband at the helm, vanquishing ultra-Blairite brother David Miliband, have been bitterly disappointed in their choice. And now he attacks them, setting the police on Unite.

The Falkirk debacle is symptomatic of this – a war between the Blairites (led by the noble Lord Mandelson, who cannot conceal his visceral distaste for trades unions)and what is left of the Left in the Labour Party, which is mainly the trades unions – some of them at least.

SCOTTISH DIMENSION AND INDEPENDENCE

All of the above has been gone over with a relatively fine tooth comb by the UK/metropolitan media. They see the Falkirk Affair in a UK context, from a UK perspective. The fact that Falkirk is in  Scotland, that Scotland played a major role in the foundation of trades unions and the Labour Party is ancient, and mainly irrelevant history to them. This superficiality and parochialism is what Scotland has come to expect from London media. From time to time, Scotland intrudes rudely on their consciousness, and they are aware that Scottish voters are effectively disenfranchised and don’t get the government they vote for on occasion, but then, Scotland is just another region of England (sorry, Jock – UK!)

What is almost unforgiveable is that the Scottish media has swallowed this narrative whole, and conceives its duty done when they passively regurgitate it to Scottish voters. Consider the following examples -

To listen to this duo, one might think the Falkirk debacle had nothing whatsoever to do with Scotland's independence, and had no significant implications for it.
But these journalists accurately reflect a Scottish press and media that is either so locked in a UK mindset that they are oblivious to them, or are so caught up in editorial policies that don't wish to highlight them that they are hamstrung as professional journalists in telling the truth to the Scottish electorate by fully analysing a political event that is shaking up UK politics and is central in many ways to the great independence debate.

Here we have John Reid, who sure as hell knows what the battle is all about, and it has bugger all to do with Scotland, except incidentally -

John Reid: "a very important moment for the whole Labour Party"

The point at which the poisoned grip of Blairites like Reid could be loosened and the Party returned to the people it was created to serve.

John Reid:"It is at heart an ideological battle - a political battle..."

It sure as hell is - to free Labour from the men enriched and ennobled by Blair and his wars - like John Reid - while the people sink deeper into the slough of poverty and death created by Blair and Brown's ineptitude - widening the gap between rich and poor and bankrupting the nation. Men like Lord(!) Reid who deliberately wrecked the chances of a Rainbow Coalition to defeat the Tories after the 2010 election.

England struggles - and Unite struggles to give working people a real political choice with the forlorn hope that they can reform New Labour. Blue Labour, Lord Sainsbury's Labour, Progress Labour - call the beast by its many names, see its many faces - multi-millionaires Blair's and Mandelson's Labour - at best a centre-right party, but sliding towards something much worse in the global military/industrial complex that is raping the planet.

God help England - this is the only chance they have, but it is a forlorn hope.

But Scotland has a real choice - already exercised in the limited form open to it in 2007 and 2011 and yet to be made fully on 2014 - the choice of saying YES or no to an independent, socially-democratic Scotland.

The Sunday Herald had a major spread on Falkirk – comprehensive, albeit a mirror of London media analysis, despite their pride in having “broken the story …” From its front cover headline Lamont: Unite’s puppet? to its extensive coverage on pages 6, 7, 8 and 9, with Ian Bell on page 10 to its editorial on page 36, it took an almost exclusively UK perspective of the Falkirk issue, despite the reference to Lamont.  Only in the last half of the last paragraph on page 7 could I find any reference to another party that might just have an interest in all this – the Scottish National Party, the party that forms the devolved government of Scotland, elected with a massive landslide majority – the party that has delivered the referendum, the outcome of which will shake the entire UK power structure, perhaps end the 306 year-old union and remove nuclear weapons of mass destruction from Scottish soil, with ramification for Europe, NATO and the transatlantic alliance.

Here was my little exchange with Paul Hutcheon of the Herald/Sunday Herald on 4th of July. Paul was reacting to my criticisms of Scottish media coverage of Falkirk -

Peter Curran@moridura 4 Jul

  • @paulhutcheon It's time for Scottish Unite, Scottish Labour and trades unions to recognise where their real interests lie - in independence

    Paul Hutcheon Paul Hutcheon@paulhutcheon 4 Jul @moridura can't see the independence angle on a story about membership subs

  • Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura 4 Jul

    @paulhutcheon It's painfully obvious that you can't, Paul.

  • And he demonstrated comprehensively his inability to see “the independence angle on a story about membership subs” in the Sunday coverage. Let me help you, Paul - and Tom Gordon and Ian Bell and the Leader Writer - to understand …

    Three political parties in Scotland – all from the left of the political spectrum, plus many other organisations also on the left, are committed to the independence of Scotland from the UK. Additionally, embryonic breakaway organisations exist of disaffected Scottish Labour members and Scottish trades unionists – including Unite members – who support independence. Some support the SNP, others don’t, e.g. Labour for Independence.

    A major think tank, the Jimmy Reid Foundation is active and influential on the left of the political spectrum (where else would it be bearing Jimmy Reid’s name?). At least one major union is not affiliated to the Labour Party, the firemens’ union. All of them are diametrically opposed to Blairism and all that it stands for. They are solidly anti-nuclear and pro-trades union. The STUC is well aware of this growing dynamic within its member unions and their lay members, together with a growing number of shop stewards, worker representatives and a few cautious full-time officers.To say that Johann Lamont is aware of this – despite laughing it off – would be a massive understatement. Effectively elected by the Scottish trades unions, I suspect it keeps her awake at nights.

    To suggest that the Falkirk issue, a frontal attack on a trade union – a civil war between the BlairitesBlue Labour, New Labour, Lord Sainsbury’s Labour, call it what you will – and the soul of the pre-Blair/Brown/Mandelson Scottish Labour Party is irrelevant to independence is, to put it at its lowest, a failure of imagination and good political journalism.

    I hope to attend a meeting of Trades Unionists for Independence this Wednesday in Edinburgh. Reflect on that title, Herald/Sunday Herald (and BBC Scotland) and on the keynote speakers – Dennis Canavan (former MP/MSP), Robin McAlpine (Jimmy Reid Foundation), Cat Boyd (PCS activist) and Sarah Collins (STUC Youth Committee) and think again about the nature of your coverage of Falkirk and Unite.

    Monday, 8 August 2011

    Honours - key questions answered by the SNP - but none by Labour! Put up or shut up, Cathy Jamieson and Johann Lamont!

    Monday 8th August 2011

    HONOURS - LABOUR SHOULD PUT UP OR SHUT UP

    LABOUR KNEW SNP MINISTERS DO NOT NOMINATE

    The SNP today said Labour should put up or shut up over their smears regarding the award of honours.

    SNP Ministers put an end to the process of ministers making nominations when elected in 2007 and the First Minister even rescinded his right to approve the decisions of the permanent secretary.  This was confirmed to Labour in a Parliamentary answer in 2009 to a Labour MSP which also sets out where nominations can come from.

    Following the latest desperate Labour attack SNP MP Angus MacNeil said:

    “Labour should put up or shut up.

    “Labour ministers admit they made nominations for honours so they should tell us who they nominated before it’s revealed under Freedom of Information.

    “Second, instead of sending out ridiculous smears, if Labour has evidence that Scottish Government Ministers sought a nomination for anyone since 2007 then they should put that evidence in the public domain.  SNP Ministers do not and have not made nominations as Labour well know.

    “Just as Labour try to throw stones over News International without offering full disclosure themselves they are playing hypocritical games instead of making positive contributions the future of Scotland.

    “It’s time to get beyond childish and baseless allegations.  The SNP is focussed on a bright and better future for Scotland and our Ministers are getting on with doing their jobs including a public question and answer session today engaging with real people and a cabinet meeting focussed on Scotland’s economic growth not playing silly political games.”

    END

    Notes

    The Parliamentary Answer showing that SNP Ministers had chosen not to exercise the right to approve the recommendations by the Permanent Secretary is as follows:

    Question S3W-21587 - George Foulkes ( Lothians ) (Scottish Labour ) (Date Lodged 04/03/2009 ) : 

    To ask the Scottish Executive what the arrangements are in Scotland for consideration of nominations for honours and what changes there have been since May 2007.

    Answered by John Swinney ( 25/03/2009 ):

    Nominations are received from a variety of sources, including members of the public, outside organisations and Lord-Lieutenants. Prior to May 2007, Scottish ministers added their own nominations to those from other sources. Nominations from all sources are initially assessed by Scottish Government officials who assist the Permanent Secretary in preparing recommendations for the UK-wide selection committees to consider. Since May 2007, the First Minister has chosen not to exercise the right to approve the recommendations by the Permanent Secretary. The UK-wide selection committees submit their recommendations to HM The Queen through the Prime Minister.

    Honours, Salmond and Souter - get the questions right.

    The UK Government has a number of honours committees - UK Honours Committees - to consider nominations for honours. Remember it is the United Kingdom Honours Committee and the Head of State of that kingdom is the Her Majesty the Queen, and it is she who confers the honour. Whether she can veto a nomination from the Committees, and whether she has ever done so is unknown. My guess is that she theoretically has a veto, has never exercised it formally, but that her views are known to the Committees well before the formal recommendation is made.

    Since I do not stalk the corridors of power and am never to be seen in the inner sanctums, my speculation is worth precisely nothing. But I can say one thing with absolute confidence - since the Queen approves the honour and confers it, she has, de facto, given her approval and endorsement to the person receiving it. If I may choose a completely uncontroversial example, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II laid her sword on the shoulder of commoner Brian Souter  and made him a Knight of the Realm, Sir Brian Souter, and in doing so gave her Royal approval to the man and to the reasons advanced for his nomination.

    Does Cathy Jamieson MP, or the Labour Party in Scotland wish to challenge that?

    Brian Souter is controversial because of his views on gays and what he calls the promotion of homosexuality.

    Does Cathy Jamieson MP, or the Labour Party, suggest that Her Majesty the Queen is anti-gay, and a fundamentalist Christian because she knighted Brain Souter, successful businessman and a major contributor to the Scottish and UK economies?

    The civil servant who wrote to Cathy Jamieson said that the Scottish Government nominated Brian Souter. The Scottish Government says that it was the Independent Honours Committee of the Scottish Government who nominated him, presumably to the relevant UK Honours Committee.

    Who nominated Brian Souter to the Independent Honours Committee of the Scottish Government? Or did they just come up with his name on their own initiative, go online and nominate him to the UK Committee, just as any citizen or group may apparently do?

    The UK Honours Committee online site - Nominations to UK Honours Committees - offers helpful advice to those considering a nomination -

    Before you make your nomination, ask yourself the following questions. Has your nominee:

    • made a difference to their community or field of work?
    • brought distinction to British life and enhanced its reputation?
    • exemplified the best sustained and selfless voluntary service?
    • demonstrated innovation and entrepreneurship?
    • carried the respect of their peers?
    • changed things, with an emphasis on achievement?
    • improved the lot of those less able to help themselves?
    • displayed moral courage and vision in making and delivering tough choices?

    The question arises - who nominated Brian Souter to the Independent Honours Committee, and for what reasons?

    Did Brian Souter, now Sir Brian Souter, meet any or all of these criteria?

    Clearly, the person or persons making the original nomination to the Scottish Independent Honours Committee (who was not a minister of the Scottish Government since they are debarred from doing so) thought so.

    Clearly, the Scottish Independent Honours Committee (whoever they are, because I’m buggered if I can find out!) thought so, because they submitted the nomination to the UK Committee.

    Clearly, the UK Honours Committee thought so, because they submitted their recommendation to Her Majesty.

    Clearly, Her Majesty the Queen thought so, because she didn’t veto the nomination, and duly dubbed commoner Brian Souter knight - making him Sir Brian.

    But Cathy Jamieson MP doesn’t think he deserves his knighthood, and questions the process and its integrity, and so does the Scottish Labour Party, and for all we know, Ed Miliband.

    I applaud Cathy Jamieson’s courage - some may say her foolhardiness - in questioning the judgement of the UK Honours System, and implicitly of  the Queen herself, and therefore the Union that the Labour Party is pledged to uphold. This is indeed political bravery of a kind rarely in evidence, least of all in the Labour Party.

    This ancient system, the bedrock of the imposing edifice of unelected power, birth and privilege that protects the UK from the worst excesses of democracy and the electorate, has been fooled all the way along the line, and only the perspicacity of Cathy Jamieson MP can save it.

    Surely this is worth a Damehood and a seat in the Lords? 

    But a last question, one that I asked yesterday -

    Why is the Scottish National Party getting involved at all in a system that is designed, in everything it does, to protect and embed a non-elected power structure that is totally and utterly hostile to the values and objective of the SNP?

    SUMMARY OF QUESTIONS

    Does Cathy Jamieson MP, or the Labour Party in Scotland wish to challenge the Queen’s decision to knight Brian Souter?

    Does Cathy Jamieson MP, or the Labour Party, suggest that Her Majesty the Queen is anti-gay, and a fundamentalist Christian because she knighted Brian Souter, successful businessman and a major contributor to the Scottish and UK economies?

    Who nominated Brian Souter to the Scottish Independent Honours Committee, and for what reasons?

    Did Brian Souter, now Sir Brian Souter, meet any or all of the UK Honours Committee’s criteria for nomination?

    Why is the Scottish National Party getting involved at all in a system that is designed, in everything it does, to protect and embed a non-elected power structure that is totally and utterly hostile to the values and objective of the SNP?

    Sunday, 7 August 2011

    Is there much honour about today?

    Late last night, a tweet appeared from the Labour Party promising revelations about Alex Salmond in the Sundays today. Responding to a query from another tweeter, I said there couldn’t be much in it - whatever it was - since nobody was trailing a big story.

    However, Gail Lythgoe, Convener at SNP Students, got her word in quickly -

     

    Gail Lythgoe

    GailLythgoe Gail Lythgoe

    Scottish Gvt decided in 07 that ministers wouldnt make nominations. It was the indy Honours Committee within the SGovt.cant get much clearer

     

    COMMENT

    Gail says it can’t get much clearer, but it isn’t clear enough for me. And so to the Sundays, specifically, the Scotsman and the Sunday Herald.

    The Scotsman has a little piece by Eddie Barnes (front page to page 3), and he leads in the first paragraph with a fairly unequivocal statement on the row over Brian Souter’s knighthood with Labour “ … after it emerged that the Scottish Government had nominated him - the SNP’s biggest donor - for his knighthood.”

    That’s clear enough, Eddie - but who say so? Cathy Jamieson, Labour MP - who on this and other matters seems to interpret her role as a Scottish MP as one of attacking the SNP rather than fighting for her constituents (e.g. in the phone hacking debate, etc.) - says so, and the Herald (Paul Hutcheon) reports, (in a much larger piece on page 3) that she has a letter from the Westminster Cabinet Office that confirms this.

    This is confirmed by a spokesperson for the First Minister (and by Gail Lythgoe, an SNP insider, who presumably knows what she’s talking about) however, they distinguish sharply between ministers of the Scottish Government and ‘the Scottish Government’ as it refers to the mechanics of government and the unelected  civil servants who carry out the mundane work of government.

    This recommendation came from the Independent Honours committee within the Scottish Government. Ministers are debarred from making nominations for honours to this committee.

    (I spent a modest amount of time searching for details of this committee on the Scottish Government site, but drew a blank. Perhaps someone can point me in the right direction?)

    So a committee of the Scottish Government, with its independence from ministerial influence protected, came up with Brian Souter’s name, and recommended him to Westminster for an honour. Brian Souter is a prominent member of the Scottish business community whose religious, social and political beliefs are controversial.

    So the question arise - who nominated him to the Independent Honours Committee, and for what reasons?

    Let’s look at the man, and why he might have been nominated. Educated in Scotland, trained as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Anderson, he built a huge UK and international transport group, Stagecoach, with his sister, Anne Gloag and her brother Robin, using his father’s redundancy money. He set up the Souter Charitable Trust which has disbursed some £20m in grants to almost 3000 projects worldwide that support Christian principles. Successful businessmen on this scale are often nominated for honours, especially when there is a charitable dimension to their contribution to society, and the commercial achievements of Brian Souter and Anne Gloag are formidable by any standards.

    But it is no secret that those who have made large donations to political parties in Britain often appear on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, and that this is entirely coincidental. (Cries of Aye, right Jimmy from cynical Glaswegians.) The Cash for Honours scandal was scandalous because this appeared not to be coincidental after all.

    It may come as a surprise to the cynical that anyone can nominate someone for an honour. Download the forms here - UK Honours system - and get your Uncle Willie an MBE or even a knighthood in time for his birthday in 2012.

    But Brian Souter is controversial because of his views on gays and what he calls the promotion of homosexuality. Such views are anathema to me, and I share neither his views nor his religious beliefs.

    Should these views have debarred him from receiving a knighthood? I cannot answer that, because I am totally opposed to the honours system itself. There may well be some kind of blackball mechanism within the mysterious working of the honours system: if there is, it would appear not to have been operated in the Souter Case.

    To illustrate the ludicrous nature of UK politics, Westminster Government and the whole sordid apparatus of the monarchy and the British  Establishment, I only have to ask the question - May we now assume that Her Majesty the Queen is anti-gay, and a fundamentalist Christian because she knighted Sir Brian?

    Of course, the real reason for this furore is that Sir Brian is that rarity, a large corporate donor to the Scottish National Party. This is the truly unforgiveable sin in the eyes of the Labour Party - a self-made Scottish working class man, the classic lad 0’pairts, who chose, unlike Bernie Ecclestone and many, many others, to donate to the only party that truly represents the people of Scotland instead of the party of Blair, Mandelson and Brown.

    Having said all this, I want more answers than the SNP Government has given so far about this committee and its workings, but especially the answer to this question -

    Why is the Scottish National Party getting involved at all in a system that is designed, in everything it does, to protect and embed a non-elected power structure that is totally and utterly hostile to the values and objective of the SNP?

    RELATED MATTERS

    The Mason Motion argument rumbles on. I think it was misconceived, and the views behind it are deeply distasteful to me. I am also disappointed that SNP MSPs Bill Walker, Dave Thomson and Richard Lyle appear to have backed the motion. But they represent only four MSPs less than 6% of the SNP total number of MSPs.

    JIMMY REID AND THE LEFT

    There is a movement to set up a new left wing think-tank in memory of Jimmy Reid. I am of the Scottish Left, and I am not a doctrinaire SNP supporter : the party is a means to an end for me, the only vehicle I currently see for the achievement of my political objectives. My instinct is to applaud and support this new grouping, but I am trying to fight down another, more dissonant note.

    Is this an attempt by the Scottish Labour Party - in the sense that such a thing exists at all - to reclaim Reid, not for the Left, but from the SNP, the party that he joined in the last years of his life, because he too saw it as the only vehicle for the achievement of his political objectives?

    Sunday, 22 August 2010

    The ConLib farce – How did we get here?

    As the ConLib coalition (the Conservatives conned the LibDems) gets into even muddier water, and rumours surface of Charles Kennedy’s defection, let’s remind ourselves that a Rainbow coalition was possible on the arithmetic of the general election, but Labour wrecked it, and betrayed their Scottish voters in the process, delivering them into the hands of Cameron’s millionaires and possibly a double dip recession.

    Labour bottled out of clearing up the mess they had created, and are gambling on the coalition coming apart at its badly welded seams, as well it might. In the process, they have gambled with the future of their supporters in Scotland. Those senior Labour former leaders and leadership contenders who appeared at Jimmy Reid’s funeral have airbrushed over his remarks about the hollow shell of what was once the People’s Party.




    Thursday, 19 August 2010

    Billy Connolly and Jimmy Reid

    Billy Connolly spoke at some length at Jimmy Reid’s funeral service today. He clearly had a strong regard for Jimmy Reid, and was moved by his death. His speech was very funny and conveyed the core of Glasgow working class humour in the way that only Connolly can deliver.

    But it contained little of the real essence of Jimmy Reid, his burning political convictions and his love of Scotland.

    Perhaps we could not expect a recognition of those convictions, especially Jimmy Reid’s most recent views, from the man who coined the phrase “wee, pretendy Parliament”, a phrase that has been quoted again and again by every commentator hostile to Scotland’s devolved Parliament and to the aspirations of its people to run their own affairs.

    One recent quote from the man who embodied the values and pride of the Scottish working class and indeed of all Scots will suffice -

    31st March 2007, just before the Scottish National Party’s historic win in the May 2007 Holyrood election.

    “New Labour has ceased to be Labour. It has betrayed all the principles, all the reasons why the Labour Party was founded, and it has become, quite frankly, a kind of Conservative Party. It’s a Thatcherite Labour Party, which is a contradiction in terms. So I couldn’t stay in the Labour Party – so always having been a political activist, I’ve got to ask myself – what do I do? What’s the next step – as a Scot?

    “I was always a nationalist – that wing of the Labour movement that was for Home Rule, going away back to Maclean - John Maclean …

    “People forget this – that was part of the fundamental principles of Scottish Labour. Quite frankly, I find it impossible to contemplate voting for Labour – because if I vote for Labour, I’m voting for the Iraq War – I’m voting for the PFI – I’m voting for economic policies that still retains elements of the working class in Glasgow among the poorest people in Europe.

    “There’s no reason to vote Labour – and here we’ve got the SNP. I believe in the Scottish Government, sir, and what really chokes me is that Scots say, that somehow or other the Swedes, the Norwegians, the Irish – they can all govern themselves, but we’re so deficient in politics and in governing capacities that we can’t do it. What an insult that is! We can do it --- and I hope it comes reasonably soon, because I want to see it.”

    Jimmy Reid

    YouTube clip