Well, it’s taken a while, but I’ve finally found an excuse to get antidisestablishmentarianism into a blogpost.
The notion arose to describe those against the disestablishment of the Church of England. But when I studied this stuff years ago, we learned that some of the folk against the disestablishment of the Church were not actually fans of the Church; indeed some were actually quite hostile to it. Such folk just didn’t want to start picking away the fabric of local conservative society in ways which harmed their local interests. For these latter folk the enemies were those challenging the status quo – and their enemy’s enemies were their friends.
And so it is with Scottish Labour’s present leadership. The enemy is seen as the SNP and their enemy’s enemy is the Tories. So: ‘vote Labour just this once, Tories, because we’re really all of the same side’ is the disastrous message.
We’re not talking about encouraging Tories to switch to Labour a la New Labour in 1997 here, by the way. Persuading folk to switch sides to you is what politics is all about. No, we’re talking about borrowing votes from conservatives because, in the short run, they think that’ll represent their conservative interests. In this way, all of the right-wing assumptions which underpin the Tory election campaign – here’s The Herald’s Ian MacWhirter (paywall) with a characteristically good piece on this – will bind such Labour folk to the Tories forever in the minds of most Scots. That way lies oblivion for the Scottish Labour Party.
More sensible Scottish Labour candidates will recognise that the Tory government, any Tory government, is the enemy. They’ll set out some decent policy ideas, instead of obsessing about their objection to an independence referendum the Scottish government has a democratic mandate for. And in this way, they’ll maybe attract the attention of ex-Labour voters who have left for the SNP. In the face of oblivion it’s worth a try, surely?
For those interested, The Church of Scotland disestablished in 1929…..