Yvette Cooper was interviewed on Scotland Tonight tonight. Her virtual head massive in comparison with her flesh and blood interviewer, Rona Dougall, Yvette reminded me of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz posing as a giant.
In typical Blairite fashion, Yvette dodged questions about the reality that Labour is, day by day, losing ground in the poorest communities all across Scotland, most of whom already back independence, changing the question, always changing the question, running away from the real world as her troops on the ground scatter like particles of dust.
Scotland Tonight has been covering our independence referendum for months now, doing an infinitely better job of this than BBC Scotland, by the way. It is the airing of this daily antidote to Ian Katz’s ludicrously right-wing Newsnight that, probably more than any other, is the reason Scottish Television publicly resigned from the CBI within hours of the latter’s declaring their intention to spend money to back the Better Together campaign. Congratulations all round for a very sensible and prompt decision. What a pity the BBC refused to follow suit. The question remains as to why the BBC hoped to be able to ignore reality of their being a member of a key supporter of the Better Together campaign. Was this ‘merely’ mindboggling incompetence on the part of those who are running BBC Scotland? Or is it more sinister than that? Is this nasty right-wing bias a direct consequence of the Chairman of the BBC’s Trust being Chris Patten, former Chairman of the Conservative Party under the hated Margaret Thatcher? Either way, heads should roll. And roll they most certainly will.
Anyway, that is an aside. What about Yvette Cooper? What exactly is her role in Scotland’s independence referendum? Will her interview – and her Shadow Cabinet colleagues holding their meetings in Scotland – help the Better Together campaign? I hardly think so.
Yvette Cooper wants to act as head cheerleader for Ed Miliband. Unfortunately for her, Ed is a massive vote-loser. She knows it. We all do. Ed is in fact (let’s not beat about the bush) the trump card of David Cameron’s Conservative Party which expects – not unreasonably – to exploit his personal unpopularity to minimize the prospects of a majority Labour government or even his having to share office with that most detested of political non-entities: Nick Clegg.
Yvette Cooper knows Ed Miliband is dismissed as a figure of fun all across the political spectrum. That is all he ever will be. A prime minster in waiting? Yeah, right. Pull the other one.
However, let’s assume for the sake of argument that, despite the cataclysmic albatross that Ed Miliband is to the anti-Tory majority all across Britain, Labour nevertheless managed to win the next general election. Even if Labour’s voters in Scotland believed that was likely, and not many are willing to put money on it, how much better would things be for the people of Scotland?
Ed Miliband’s priorites are, alas, virtually identical to those of the United Kingdom’s Tory establishment. That after all is what explains his leading all but a couple of handfuls of Labour MPs into the same lobby as the Tories to remove desperately needed benefits from the poorest victims of the economic crisis a few weeks back, doing so while refusing to explain how inequality grew throughout the premierships of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Perhaps their mutual friend, Peter Mandelson, being relaxed about the rich getting richer and richer had something to do with this libertarian dystopia.
Five families now own more than the poorest 20%? That is the legacy of all those Labour governments that Ed Miliband wants to sell to the Scottish people? Thanks, but you know where you can shove your Blairite politics.
Yvette Cooper told Rona Dougall that Better Together are defending traditional Labour Party values. Really? Is that why David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage, and Nick Ferari are all queuing up to defend Better Together? Is there any chance Yvette Cooper can explain this?
Can Yvette Cooper explain how the unpopularity of Ed Miliband is put down to the very poor election defeat of Labour at the last general election? How can she simultaneously make the case that Gordon Brown is the man to boost the hopes of an all-UK Labour government, rescuing everyone from this Tory nightmare, when he is the man held most responsible for the collapse of Labour’s vote at the last election? The Better Together campaign can hardly reinvigorate itself so long as none of those leading it wake up to the rather uncomfortable fact that everything they are saying is utterly incoherent. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.
Yvette Cooper attacks the SNP government for not doing things that she knows they are unable to do due to the constitutional constraints on the devolution settlement, constraints she insists must remain in place.
Yvette Cooper knows that the economic resources cannot be there until tax and spend powers are brought under the democratic control of the Scottish people, until the powers to determine priorities over welfare versus warfare are similarly brought under democratic control.
As Jamie Livingstone, head of Oxfam Scotland pointed out on the Scottish edition of Newsnight, the richest 10% in Scotland are 273 times richer than the poorest 10%. Whose fault is that? Yvette Cooper refuses to address this because she is part of the problem. Cutting corporation tax won’t fix this, obviously. However, the Scottish people are going to be sovereign post-referendum.
Rupert Murdoch and Chris Patten may be able to mangle democracy across the United Kingdom. They do this by gagging every politician who doesn’t embrace the perspective of the employers’ organization, the CBI. However, in May there will be the temporary lifting of the first-past-the-post straightjacket. And that is going to expose just how little support either of these two prospective Prime Ministers actually have. Mass abstention. And votes for other parties who are standing as a receptacle of the none-of-the-above party.
Yvette Cooper is being utterly disingenuous when she complains about the alleged lack of arithmetic credibility of the SNP’s budget proposals for an independent Scotland.
Is it credible to lower corporation tax and still balance the books? Alex Salmond may think it is, but I don’t. Nor do most of the supporters of Scottish independence. So what? Alex Salmond will not be a dictator within an independent Scotland and the smears by Alistair Darling, Johnan Lamont and the rest of Better Together that he will only exposes them all as very bitter, small-minded and utterly irrational.
The Scottish people will hold elections. Those who win a mandate for their policies under a new written constitution with guaranteed democratic rights will carry out the policies determined, not by Alex Salmon nor any other individual within the SNP’s negotiating team, but by the people of Scotland. This is about us, the Scottish people. It most certainly is not about Alex Salmond nor any other single individual.
What Yvette Cooper cannot get her head around is that under proportional representation the people of Scotland have put the Tories back in their box, to the extent that such a thing is possible within the devolution straightjacket. David Cameron’s wretched Liberal Democratic lapdogs face virtual annihilation on both sides of the border, thank god. And Nigel Farage’s Thatcherite xenophobes cannot get arrested up here. That leaves us with Labour voters, SNP voters, and those Greens and socialists who want a genuinely left-of-center government. And that is precisely what Scotland will get under independence.
The problem for Yvette Cooper is the same problem facing Alistair Darling, Johann Lamont, Douglas Alexander and Ed Miliband. None of these politicians want a left of center government. Increasing realization of this is another factor in the disintegration of the Labour Party in Scotland, a disintegration that won’t be reversed so long as they continue to pin their colors to the mast of Better Together Tories like George Osborne and Nick Ferari.
Under independence, the fortunes of the Labour Party may change quite dramatically. Maybe Jim Sillars will be brought back into the fold. Who knows. One thing we can predict with 100% certainty is that any rejuvenation of the Labour Party will take place in defiance of those who will be holding their Shadow Cabinet meeting in Glasgow in a few hours time.
Yvette Cooper told Rona she was proud to have been born in Scotland. Good for her. But does this pride imply she thinks those born beyond our borders, who nevertheless have a vote in our referendum – because they actually live and work here – have something to be ashamed of?
The reality is that for socialists it doesn’t matter where you come from but where you are going. That is why no socialist ever held Tony Benn’s privileged background against him. The people of Scotland’s poorer communities will place our trust in those who share our pain, those who fight for economic justice. And to say those people are thin on the ground inside Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet is one hell of an understatement. And that, alas, is why simply giving the Labour leader a good shake, insisting he resigns for the good of the Labour Party, is no panacea.
A Labour leader who proved more capable of thinking on his/her feet after a budget speech or when faced with the voters, stringing a few sentences together in a televised interview or a high-stakes political debate, answering the questions put to him (or her), advance joined-up policies that actually make any kind of sense, rather than simply praying the Tories implode of their own accord…
A new leader might help Labour win the next general election. This cannot be ruled out. However, it would change nothing that really matters. At least President François Hollande made promises that he has subsequently, and rather predictably, broken. The entire Labour Party leadership are even less inspirational than was France’s Judases. Labour’s leaders have drained themselves of every last drop of red blood.
Yvette Cooper and the rest of her Shadow Cabinet colleagues who are coming to Glasgow in a few hours time are peddling a pallid Blairite corpse. The Scottish people are not going to sell out our future in the desperate hope that the English voters might help us smuggle Tony Blair Mark II into 10 Downing Street. Not if we have any sense.