Legend has it that the heavens trembled in fear the day Jim Murphy was appointed branch office manager for British Labour in Scotland. In reality, that noise wasn’t thunder. It was the sound of thousands of Yes supporters’ jaws hitting the floor simultaneously. For most of us, only one thing could explain such monumental crassness – from within the British Labour bubble, the real world is invisible.
This same explanation works for them opting to commit so wholeheartedly to partnership with the Tories. Although this move was less surprising to those of us who had long recognised that British Labour was just another face of the British establishment, it was nonetheless striking just how oblivious they were to the implications of brazenly acknowledging the faux rivalry at the core of the British political system.
But arguably the most striking revelation to come from this leaked research is the fact that nobody knows who made the decision to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Tories. The immediate reaction among many will, I suspect, be to scoff and assume that it’s just a case of nobody wanting to admit responsibility. And this would be a very natural reaction, given what we know about British Labour in Scotland. But what if this isn’t merely an example of passing the buck until it gets lost? What if, in fact, nobody did make the decision?
Is it not shockingly easy to imagine the pretendy wee party so devoid of effective leadership that it could simply drift into a situation that was almost certainly going to be fatal to its electoral fortunes? Is it not disturbingly plausible that, rather than the then nominal leader (Whichever unmemorable cipher that was!) calling a meeting and thrashing out a strategy, there was just a press statement from one of the London-based ‘big beasts’, and everybody then went along with it because nobody knew how to do anything else?
Nothing has changed. For all the theatrical hand-wringing and pompous rhetoric about ‘listening and changing’, British Labour in Scotland remains the same pathetic entity it was when it tripped over one of its egos and fell into the Tories’ lap. It is the same scabrous coalescence of arrogant, unthinking entitlement it was when, in a fit of prideful pique, British Labour shoved Jim Murphy in the faces of the people of Scotland.
We know it occupies that same reality-obscuring bubble because it continues to behave in ways that defy any explanation other than that it hasn’t a f****** clue what it is doing. Or what is happening all around it.
We know it hasn’t changed because only last year it allowed itself to be manoeuvred into siding with the Tories as the British establishment parties yet again joined forces in an effort to stem the tide of democratic dissent rising in Scotland. The Tories took the line that an SNP/Labour alliance was unthinkable. British Labour in Scotland not only endorsed this propaganda but sought to outdo their Tory allies in ludicrously portraying the SNP as the spawn of Satan.
We know that British Labour in Scotland is no more conscious of the political realities in Scotland now because they persist with the strategy that has come to be referred to simply as #SNPBAD despite all the indications that it is having precisely the opposite effect to that intended. We watch their antics over tax, to give just one example, and we recognise immediately that no thinking whatever has gone into the proposal beyond the potential for further sniping at the SNP administration in that infantile manner that has become so depressingly familiar.
Only one question remains. How can this lot imagine themselves credible as a party of opposition, far less a party of government? It’s bad enough waiting for the next moment of jaw-dropping ineptitude when it will cause problems only for the dutiful hacks who must try to spin it as an act of deft political genius and a ‘major blow to the SNP’. As the campaign for May’s election gathers pace, British Labour in Scotland are asking us to imagine them in government. For most of us, that is a prospect which doesn’t only make the jaw drop, it makes the heart sink.