Friday, 5 October 2012

Today's Labour Party

Two things stood-out from the Labour Party conference, held last week in Manchester.

The first was the speech delivered by party leader, and would-be prime minister, Ed Miliband: the second was the address to conference delivered by the leader of the British Labour Party’s Scottish sub-section, Johann Lamont.

In general, the media portrayed Miliband’s speech as a personal triumph, one the party hoped would change the public’s perception of the man: currently, few believe he has the abilities required to lead the UK. However, closer examination showed the triumph of the leader’s speech was actually one of style over substance.

Miliband showed he can deliver a speech in the style of Tony Blair – if you haven’t already noticed, watch closely the next time he is on TV. In both intonation and mannerisms, Miliband is copying the style of the ‘great communicator’ Blair. Even the Party Political Broadcast that accompanied the conference chose to focus on what a ‘regular sort of guy’ Ed Miliband is...just like Tony ‘pretty regular sort of guy’ Blair portrayed himself, just before he showed the world he was actually a pretty regular sort of war criminal by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the war-mongering American administration of George W Bush.

Worryingly, the fact mainly English newspapers thought Miliband’s speech was a triumph shows how much they still hold Blair in awe, despite his many faults and failures. Almost everyone now accepts that Tony Blair lied to the people of Britain in order to build the case for the illegal invasion of Iraq. Most people now recognise the damage done to the UK economy under the governments led by Tony Blair and his Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown. The true nature of Tony Blair is there for everyone to see in the way he has conducted himself since leaving office – unashamedly using contacts and the prestige of his former position to make himself a multi-millionaire. Yet, despite all of that, if Blair was to make a return to frontline politics, and was to lead the Labour Party again, chances are he’d take them back into government.

With such a scenario extremely unlikely, it is clear Ed Miliband has been told to use the Blair technique in an attempt to attract the middle-England voters who backed New Labour in three General Elections. Blair is personable, articulate and, if you don’t actually listen to what he says, comes across well, particularly in the broadcast media. Miliband is attempting to ‘do a Blair’, and much of the press was fooled last week.

Look at what Ed Miliband actually said in his speech to the Labour conference and it is clear there is to be no change of direction from the party that was originally formed to give a parliamentary voice to the working class. Today’s Labour Party remains closer to the bosses than the workers. Today’s Labour Party fully embraces the capitalist system that has brought national economies to their knees. Today’s Labour Party remains, in the words of former Cabinet Secretary Peter Mandelson, “extremely relaxed about people becoming filthy rich”. Today’s Labour Party has abandoned all pretence of being a socialist organisation. Today’s Labour Party refuses to support industrial action by workers who face unrelenting cuts to jobs, wages and pensions. Today’s Labour Party supports young British soldiers being sent to kill or be killed in illegal, immoral, imperialist wars fought in the interests of global capitalism. Today’s Labour Party is committed to spending billions-of-pounds on upgrading Britain’s nuclear weapons of mass destruction while, at home, 1-in-4 children live in poverty and thousands of our senior citizens will die over the next few months for no other reason than they are poor and can’t afford to put on their heating.

In the conference speech by Ed Miliband – supposedly a triumph – he made clear the Labour Party would continue to embrace Tory policies and ideology. He also had the cheek to tell us here in Scotland that we are better allowing his party, the Tories and Liberal Democrats to govern us from London rather than electing our own government in an independent country.

Which brings us to the contribution of Johann Lamont MSP. Ms Lamont styles herself as the ‘Leader of the Scottish Labour Party’, but such a political organisation does not exist as an independent body. There is no such thing as the English Labour Party because that remit is carried out by the British Labour Party, and the organisation Johann Lamont leads is the Scottish regional sub-section of the English/British Labour Party. Johann Lamont and Scottish Labour, for all their protestations to the contrary, are very much controlled by party bosses in London, which was why, in her conference speech, she whole-heartedly embraced the British Unionist line that seeks to keep Scotland as merely a devolved region within the UK.

In a classic example of total hypocrisy, Johann Lamont said she was “someone who campaigned for a Scottish Parliament to protect Scotland from future Tory Governments”. This is the very same Johann Lamont who now leads a ‘Scottish’ Labour Party that is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Tories, sharing public platforms with Tory politicians, taking part in campaigns part-funded by Tory donors, and all to prevent Scots from re-taking the status of a normal, independent nation.

Johann Lamont and ‘Scottish’ Labour are part of the pro-British Union campaign that wants us to vote against independence in the 2014 referendum. If we do what Johann Lamont and ‘Scottish’ Labour want, we will be sticking with devolution, which means the Tories will continue to impose their policies on Scotland even when we reject them at the ballot box, as we did in 2010. It is, in fact, only independence that will give us the power to elect our own government and forever end Tory rule in Scotland.

In reality, what Johann Lamont and her Blair-clone leader Ed Miliband are saying – although they won’t use these words – is that they would rather see Scotland continue to be governed by Tories from London than have a Labour First Minister in an independent Scotland.

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