A few years ago I was lucky enough to see Tony Benn speak at a couple of May Day Rallies. Both times he finished with this anecdote.
“Once upon a time in a town not unlike this a small boy fell down a well. The towns folk gathered to try and get him out. “The blacksmith said, “Hang on I’ve got some rope, we can throw it down and get him out.” But when he tried the rope was too short. Then the librarian said, “Hang on we’ve got rope at the library that may work.” But again it was too short. It was the same with the teachers rope and the nurses rope and the janitors rope. Finally losing his patience the young boy cried upwards. “Come on you people…Just tie the rope together.”
Needless to say I was soon getting messages from frustrated Nationalists pointing out they’ve offered an alliance with Labour. It was turned down at the last election and it’s been turned down now. Trust me I fully understand your frustration and I still find the Scots Labour leadership to be a pretty hopeless/Blairite bunch. I also completely agree with the Scots turning their backs on what was Tory Blair’s idea of a Labour movement. But on the notion of an alliance I wouldn’t take everything being said at face value. Milliband’s Labour party of non alliance were a very different beast to the Labour Party of this moment. There was little difference between a Labour, Lib-Dem or Conservative MP around that time. They were self serving and not much more than puppets of large corporations and media Barons. I would hope people on all sides of SNP, Lib-Dem and Green could at least agree Jeremy Corbyn isn’t that kind of politician. And in that one initial agreement suddenly we all have something in common.
It’s no secret large swathes of the Labour party don’t want Corbyn there. I feel that after the dust settles on this election he may sadly be gone. If he is I would say, “Good effort, well done for standing up to a corrupt/biased media who dragged your name from the word go. Well done for standing up to members of your own party who’s only interest was career and self preservation. Well done for increasing the Labour party membership by hundreds of thousands and giving ordinary people a choice in who represents them. Well done for getting proper old Labour socialist policies back into the public domain.” The point is that now Jeremy has got these policies out there it’s vital that they are kept on the table. There are people within his party keen to see this happen.
I know there are prominent/ potential leadership figures in both Labour and SNP who do favour a progressive alliance. Just because it’s not out on the table yet doesn’t mean it would never happen. We have to stand back a bit from current dialogues and try to look at a bigger picture. If Corbyn was to come out and say yes to an alliance just now the English/British media would finish him off. There would be cries about England being ruled by the Scots. In short it would be a disaster. But what I hope Scots nationalists should understand is there are hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of people living in England who are entirely sympathetic to Scots self rule and see the SNP as a credible party. That huge group of people have a voice and one day Scots may be reliant on them. If the second referendum fails then the only way forward for the Scots would be an alliance.
In a perfect world a cross party alliance could finish off the Tories for good. Many European parliaments have been built on alliances. So try to put current grievances aside. Try to admit to yourself that many ordinary people all across the UK are all after the same thing. Try to be patient. Tie the rope together.