20 October 2009

Labour: Two Roads Taken

Party political conferences always struck me as pretty dull dos. I’ve never inflicted my presence on any party’s delegates and don’t intend shifting my position for the foreseeable future. Well, save for an amusing outsider’s trip to take in Iain Duncan Smith’s “Compassionate Conservatism” conference in London a few years past, during baldy pow’s tenure, which was festooned with sexually repressed Tory Boy lechers with union jack ties (and I dare say, undergarments) who asked me questions including “everywhere north of Manchester is basically the same, isn’t it?” Charmers, they were. No doubt the young thrusters are even now tonguing their way into servitude to the shadow (soon to be illuminated) Conservative cabinet. A melancholy thought, that.

Recalling these past joys, and having a squint at bits and pieces of the SNP conference, various thoughts swim into view. Firstly, splendid choice of venue in Eden Court. I’d never been before until my work took me up there over the summer. The main hall feels like the inside of an ocean liner, sans portholes, but is a stonking good space elegantly restored. Secondly, I wanted to warm a little to the theme of Labour’s argumentative “tactics” on ideology, the SNP and English Toryism. In a suitably pretentious vein, lets commence with a wee, bastardised poem, illustrating the problem…

Two Roads Taken...

Two roads diverged in a reddish wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveller, long I stood

Before I tried to push my luck

And cut myself in two


- Lallands Peat Worrier, after Robert Frost

In argumentative terms, it is generally a sage proposition to avoid holding two mutually contradictory views simultaneously. Someone might notice. Criticism might follow. Electoral prospects might suffer. Quoth Iain Gray, SNP is a campaign not a government. Salmond is merely using Scotland for some nefarious scheme of his own – meanwhile, apparently, the SNP also have no ideology. Even if we assume that usual rules apply – and only those who disagree with us are benighted by ideology and false-consciousness while we are free, ethical and informed – how to explain this familiar Labour analysis of SNP opposition to private finance initiatives in the funding of public projects? Time for a spiteful juxtaposition.

Yousuf Hamid, Sunday 31st May 2009 “I wonder if the SNP will be willing do to a u-turn and end this ideological roadblock to Public Private Partnerships. I know that some people in the party will be angry and will have to stop using their soundbites in FMQ's but I think far from being shameful it would show a responsible Government who accepted that they have got this very, very wrong.”

Yousuf Hamid, Tuesday 20th October 2009Never mind having an actual reason to vote SNP or a policy to support but I suppose it's easy to avoid being a proper political party when you have no ideological beliefs whatsoever. It's where you see a Government who will play to the gallery on abandoning the Right to Buy despite it being highly questionable how progressive that actually is and then slashing rates on property and business taxes.”

You have no principles, and you stick too zealously to them! Shame. This isn’t just the young man from Strathclyde being a confounded shallowpate – though it is a stonking example – but is simply representative of the far more general vacillations in Labour’s argumentative tactics against the SNP which are, at bottom, riven with mutually contradictory impulses, played out in laughably fatuous ways.

Take another example. Again, from the gurning desk of Mr Gray, we were once advised that the SNP are really “tartan Tories”. The heat of this allegation must be ideological. It must credit Toryness with negatively appraised ideological characteristics. Needless to say, to pursue this thread of reasoning with a second allegation of essential ideological emptiness is precisely to rob the first stab of much of its energy. You have to choose which road to travel by. By turns, Labour and Scottish Labour have in brisk succession taken both – and I think, cut their argument into ribbons. It is, perhaps, symptomatic of malaise and their lack of confidence. Not content with the force of a single argument, they fiddle and muddle to make them all, just in case, whatever damage this lack of finesse does to the overall cogency and honesty of their message. Two roads diverged in a reddish wood, you numpties. Only a moron would attempt to walk both at once.


  1. Agree absolutely. But will voters notice or care?

  2. Mr LPW
    I have admired your blog for some time. Now I can also admire your choice of pictures. I also had the same great picture of the two paths on my blog last Sunday. (no copyright pending)


    Please excuse me riding on your majestic coat-tails ;)

    The sight and sound of Labour activists (and leaders) wrapping themselves up in their own contradictions is indeed strangely amusing, but increasingly depressing.

    It really is not that long ago that abolishing the Right to Buy and fighting against Public/Private Partnerships were totemic Labour policies. Ideologies can be dangerous things, but it is Labour that has lost its way and its core values over the last 15 years.

    ID cards (now abandoned?), the surveillance society, Nuclear weapons, illegal wars, growing income inequalities, prostrating themselves to the world of corporate finance interests, denying the calls for a Referendum.

    There are very many good, honest and honourable people in the Labour Party, but the above (and many other reasons) are why so many people once loyal to the purpose and core beliefs of the Labour Party, have left, never to return.

  3. oouch, Yousuf's youthful inconsistencies are laid bare every time he posts. What's a astonishing for such a young lad, he seems to knwo what 'life under the tories' felt like, despite probably being younger than 10 at the time.

    Mudslinging and misinformation is all that Labour can offer, more and more people are seeing how they keep communities down to keep them voting Labour.

  4. Iain Gray accuses the SNP of having no ideology.

    Irony's not dead then?

  5. It's a tragedy when someone, such as myself, can not bring themselves to vote Labour for the simple reason that they hold Labour values dearer than do the party. Nukes, illegal wars, DNA databases, 40 days detention witout charge... sad.

    And that's before we get to the Union.