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.
I think it was around 1990, I was sat in my parents house on my own watching The SNP conference. This was unusual in that my family are a couple of generations of natural Labour supporters, as was I at the time. So why was a watching this? Well this bloke Alex Salmond was on speaking and it struck me the some of things he was saying sounded decidedly more left wing than what even Labour was offering at that time. Labour had purged the left by this point and were well on the road to becoming “New”. And then Salmond pointed something out. I can’t quote exactly, but it went something along the lines of, “An independent Scotland would NEVER have to be ruled by a Conservative government ever again.” And with that won thought my viewpoint changed.
I’m from a mining area and already at that young aged was well versed in the brutality a Conservative government can bring down like a cosh on people like me. I had a cousin who was a miner who’s suicide I lay directly at the door of Thatcher. He was blacklisted then made homeless by her policies.
But Scottish independence isn’t true to the values of socialism you cry. If I may I’d like to quote a friend of mine Thanasis Manitarellis who said yesterday “Blaming Scotland for causing further division after Brexit, is like blaming an abused wife for wrecking her marriage after running out of the house. ”
Also can anybody point out any of our main parties who are implementing more left wing policies than the SNP at the moment? Trust me, I know the SNP are far from perfect but free access to education, free school meals and free prescriptions are all steps in the right direction. Of course I am sympathetic to the principles of Jeremy Corbyn (I’m also a Labour party member as I live in England. If I lived in Scotland I’d be with the SNP) but I have no idea what his policies are. And when Scots Labour leaders and mayors of London start comparing the entire Scottish nation to the likes of Donald Trump! Well, I’m reminded of how completely they have lost the plot and the ability to communicate to ordinary workers/voters.
But they’re imposing cuts. No Westminster Tories are imposing cuts and the SNP are having to follow. We’re not independent remember. Saying this there is much in SNP economic policy I disagree with. But here’s the point. If you don’t like it… an Independent Scotland could vote in a more leftist/Socialist government if they had the power to do so. The way Scottish politics leans the only way I can see someone out manoeuvring the SNP is to move to the left of them. This is something that would never happen in a United Kingdom. For me it’s a win, win situation and the reason I’m for self rule. And I don’t even live in Scotland any more, but if any nation on the planet managed to liberate themselves, even partly, from oppression then I’m all for it…And don’t even get me started on Europe…
I understand your fear
What are we walking into?
Just look at all the foodbanks
Are you up for joining that queue?
I understand uncertainty
Of our countries destination
It’s all the fault of immigrants
Is the bigots proclamation
That’s the fear they’ll try to spread
Demonising the unknown
But we have bigger family
In that European zone
I understand your caution
To have heedfulness is wise
“We’ll give you more of your own say”
Do you still believe those lies?
But what about the economy
Our pay will take a squeeze
So put your trust in bankers
There’s nothing they won’t seize
The way they treat a worker
Is more akin to robbery
You’ll break your back, work endless shift
As they shove you into poverty
But what about the NHS
They say it’s safe with them
As you queue for beds eternally
Until your life’s condemned
You see I understand uncertainty
What are we walking into?
But surely now you know
This is the last chance for a breakthrough
I understand uncertainty.
But what shall we become
I’m not sure, but look at this list
And you’ll know what you’re walking from.