Here’s a heartfelt article about Labour by Observer and Guardian columnist Barbara Ellen. She’s staunchly anti-Corbyn and writes that people like her will desert the Labour Party when Corbyn inevitably wins re-election this week. Her difficulty, and that of her like-minded readers, is that they have nowhere to go to. Not the Tories, obviously, but not the Lib Dems nor Greens either.
Erm, might she and they support the SNP? Or, more logically perhaps given their pro-Labour disposition, continue to support Labour with the strict caveat that it works for a Scotland independent of rule by a semi-permanent English Tory administration? A Scotland which can make its own social-democratic way in the world and create the kind of country Ellen and her readers want to live in?
No, of course not. Because although the article doesn’t mention England, in fact it’s written only for the English. That’s not to criticise Ellen for conflating the UK and England, because that’s the norm in English political debate (see the comments below the article). It’s England alone which concerns the the English; even Wales barely registers. Scotland is tacked on at the end – Scots will take whatever the English are having.
And yet, Ellen’s words are deeply relevant for Scots too. Because, proportionately, there are just as many like-minded ostensibly Labour folk in Scotland as in England. But unlike their counterparts in England, such Scots DO have a choice. They can move from No to Yes and support Scottish independence, and in doing so recognise that Scotland and England are very different countries now. That Scotland is a social democratic culture which English folk like Barbara Ellen wish they could have but can’t.
But what of those Scottish Corbynites Ellen so dislikes? With Jeremy Corbyn secured as leader, they can only grow in power and status within the Labour Party. Unlike the present Scottish party leadership which continues to brand itself ‘unionist’ alongside the Tories, Corbynites in Scotland (far less numerous, having been trumped in the enthusiasm stakes by the SNP) are more than keen not to be seen within a million miles of facilitating a Tory ascendancy. They know people aren’t stupid, too; they can see Labour’s UK polls and know where the 2020 (or earlier) election is going. So they can either fantasise self-indulgently that Corbyn can win – and thereby help facilitate the Tory ascendancy after all – or they can fight for an independent, socially just Scotland free of the rule of English Tory Brexiteers.
That’s your ‘from No to Yes’ right there.