Falkirk and I often get the blame for the Brexit, Corbyn and the Tories ascendancy. It’s an outrageous slur, obviously……

Yet today, my old stomping ground of Falkirk is indeed pivotal and provides the perfect illustration of the choice before Labour at this historical time.

Over the last few elections, Labour and the SNP have tussled for overall control, the winning side usually needing the support of independents and even at times the two long-serving Tories there. Today, the voters have returned one fewer SNP councillor than last time. Normally, the SNP holding 12 seats would would mean Labour had got more seats and would form the administration. This time, however, Labour has only got 9 seats and the Tories have had an incredible surge to 7 (in spite of a small reduction in the total number of council seats available).

There’s really only one way to see this. Middle-class unionists, and maybe some less well-of ‘loyalists’, have moved en masse from Labour to the Tories. Labour has lost lots of votes because its ultra-unionist stance was trumped by the simple fact that the Tories are in a position to do something about it all; and because many of the same folk, a lot of them part of the wide middle-class in the area, liked New Labour and will never vote for Corbynite policies of the left.

Some Labour councillors might be tempted to form an administration with the Tories. But if the Scottish Labour Party lets them, they’ll destroy the party.

The only way for Labour in Falkirk to go now is to lead Labour in Scotland. That is, to support an SNP administration. If I were the leader, I’d go the whole hog and be the junior partners in the administration, but perhaps they’ll choose a kind of ‘confidence and supply’ option instead, where they support the SNP against the Tories key ‘confidence’ votes.

Labour’s plan for the general election has of course been destroyed today. It’s just seen that its attempt to be ultra-unionist has alienated folk who are pro-independence while also losing middle-class (and some less well-off ‘loyalists’) to the ‘real’ unionist party – The Tories. That’s what happens when you let the Daily Mail dictate your direction of travel.

The Labour leadership in Scotland, which hasn’t won an election since 2003, is deeply anti-corbynite. They’re hoping that independence and the Corbynites both somehow go away so they can start to move to the centre again and try to tempt some of those ‘Labour to Tory’ folk back. It’s not much of a game plan – no surprise there – but in any case the change we’ve seen is generational.

The Scottish Tories are the opposition now and, as long as Scotland’s in the UK, they wield real power by being Therea May’s proxies. Voters see Scotish Labour as losers and in no position to help them. And by the way, while Corbyn might go away, the Labour left is much better organised than the scattered centrists now – that’s why so many decent folk are stepping down as MPs – so when he goes he’ll be replaced by one of his crew.

All of this points to only one future for the Scottish Labour Party. Rather than be the Tories’ little helpers, Labour must choose independence and what lies beyond. For now, that means supporting the creation of an SNP administration in Falkirk. Beyond that, it means taking the sensible further-left position where the SNP on the centre-ground (ironically, the New Labour ground) will be a bit vulnerable in future. This will get the votes of some present independence-supporters who want Labour as a left-wing junior partner to a centrist SNP in an independent Scotland in order to keep the latter ‘honest’.

To tell you the truth, I think the present Scottish Labour leadership will try to make no decisions at all – essentially emulate the Lib Dems and hope something happens.  They won’t be there for long, though, because in the end leaders have to lead. And they won’t.

So, to say it again, for Scottish Labour it’s either honest independence with left-wing aspirations and maybe a junior place in a future independent government; or be the Tories’ little helpers and help them usher in a generation-full of right-wing policies. And die, obviously.

 

 

 

9 Responses to Falkirk Labour should support an SNP administration and work for independence
  1. A well thought article but as you say until the current leadership moves on then nothing will change.

    The Scottish Tories are the opposition now and, as long as Scotland’ in the UK, they wield real power by being Therea May’s proxies.

    Is it me or is there something missing from this sentence?

  2. It’s interesting that both the SNP and Tory pitch to Labour voters is that it is a straight fight between the Tories and the SNP. When faced with that choice, any individual voter could choose either way. However, this is a zero sum game for the unionists – a labour voter switching to Tories is simply unionists rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic, which is exactly what has happened in these elections. However, any individual voter that chooses SNP is one less unionist and one for independence. Let the Tories run with that line as long as they want.

  3. I agree entirely with your analysis Eric. Unfortunately, the current cabal running the Scottish branch office seem incapable of rational thought, far less constructive self–analysis.
    Therefore, though I believe your prescription outlines the only positive course of action for any putative left wing party in Scotland: Imfear it will prove a step to far for the Labour Party in Scotland .

  4. After seeing Kez’s response tonight on Twitter.

    Nah – they’ll work with the Tories.

    • I agree with you, Bert. They will reason that since their voters have shifted to the Tories they will do so, too and maybe the voters will come back ….. and there will be porcine aviation.

  5. I agree Eric, though SLAB are currently to the right of the SNP and with the Greens to the left of the SNP with RISE etc coming up behind where does SLAB position itself to the left to the SNP?

    I’m not sure what the point of SLAB is any more, other than the obvious Blairite one of jobs for the boys and girls, for which it is proving not very good any more.

    Just think of the loss of short money SLAB will not be getting from now on. Not the mention the personal loss of all that pork barrel arms length company directorships in Glasgow. They won’t be tappable for donations so much either.

    A good day for the Greens and Plaid in Cymru too.

    The SNP is now the biggest party in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee and now Falkirk. Though it would have been nice if the Falkirk result had been a positive rather than a negative one which would have given more hope that Falkirk might vote Yes next time.

    Still, the next IndyRef will be Yes vs the Tories, at Westminster and in Scotland. In such situations the two sides have to polarise to extremes before a settlement is possible. See Northern Ireland for an example.

    So it seems to me we are in the endgame of the Union. Despite 10 years of SNP government at Holyrood their vote is holding up and where it slips a bit the Greens are there to make up the Yes numbers.

    The SNP may grumble but Yes being more than the SNP is a good thing. Where would they have been last time without us in RIC getting the vote out of the Schemes? Back then the SNP were largely a middle class party.

    RIC is still here, ready for next time.

  6. Superb analysis Mr Joyce

  7. Spot on, Eric – but are any in ” Scottish ” Labour listening.? If they did as you suggested I might even start voting for them again

  8. I think the Tories’ decision to make the council and Westminster elections about independence (Westminster independence from Brussels and Scottish dependence on Westminster) has probably shown us what the present high water mark is for UK unionism in Scotland (they don’t have unionists in England only English voters).
    The Tories always get their vote out so we must assume that they did.
    Our future efforts must be to ensure that we get our vote out and counter the rag tag conglomerate of unionist support in Scotland.


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