By Terry Houston
THERE is a high chance that many of the Scottish Labour and Lib Dem Westminster MPs who recently got their jotters will stand in the Holyrood election next year – a lot of them as list candidates.
It is a moot point as to how successful they will be. In particular, Labour’s lost boys and girls in Never, never land appear to have the tougher task in fighting extinction; though I would proffer a fiver to the bookie who sends a taxi for me if he hears I’m in gambling mood, that the Liberal Democrats are in Queer Street, too.
The first rule of any organisation – be it a business, quango or political party – is to perpetuate its existence. Perforce, Scottish Labour must try to staunch the bleeding of their close to fatal wounds. It is a straight-forward case of survival: if they do not hang together, they shall surely hang separately. Watching them fight like ferrets in a sack for control of the soul of the Labour movement, we see a party in deep denial. The vicious civil war continues, unabated but more subterranean, on both sides of the border.
While the Punch & Judy show is vastly entertaining to the serried ranks of SNP supporters who, despite our anti-hunting laws, seem to have re-introduced in the country a new type of blood sport, ie, Labour-baiting, (and in due course I am going to indulge in it, too; I simply can’t help myself), it is time to consider deeper truths.
The first is this: the Scottish Parliament, not Westminster, represents the true route to Scottish independence.
For a long time now Scotland’s voters have recognised instinctively the worth of Holyrood; it is to Edinburgh they turn first, not London, irrespective of the true realities of power. Not so our shell-shocked Labour brethren at the party’s Scottish branch office (and it will always be the branch office, no matter if they call themselves the Self Governing, Sovereign, Autonomous, Self Determining Scottish Labour Party). They look always southwards.
Nor have their (slightly pinkish) political betters in England, to whom Scotland has always been a puzzlement, truly cottoned on to the fact that the pipsqueak parliament that was to look after the drains and the sewers and drinks laws and all that important, but minor stuff, has actually come of age. By and large, Labour’s English MPs have been remarkably slow on the uptake.