Blair – Brown – Balls – Miliband – Darling – The Real Story Of The New Labour Finance Team That Brought The UK To It’s Knee’s

 

 

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1986: The British American Project – The USA Groomed Gordon Brown and the Labour Party for office in the 1980s

The US, International Visitor Program is a subtle exercise that trades heavily on America’s considerable cultural and social capital, in other words its soft power. But the altruistic aspect of providing the trip is always balanced with the intention of some kind of return. An invitation offered at the start of a young, obviously talented politician’s career can pay off later if, as expected, that politician rises through the ranks in the following years.

A US funded trip has the potential; thanks to the extra information sources or contacts it can provide, to be career enhancing, particularly for those in the media or academics but also for MPs. It is not a case of undue influence but of pragmatically attempting to establish favourable, constructive relations early on with someone expected to achieve greater influence in the future. The element of chance that it will succeed in the long term is of course large. In 1984 the International Visitor Program showed the first signs of this approach, with an invitation, (accepted)  to Gordon Brown.

 

 

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1998: Ah !!! The Private Finance Initiative, (PFI).

Lest we forget. The PFI presented as one of the greatest financial cock-ups in modern times, recklessly committed to by the Labour government, smitten by the spell of Thatcher’s acolytes Blair & Brown.

The sell-off, of, in excess of 1000 UK taxpayer owned buildings to private enterprise was a disgrace then and is even more so now. The UK will effectively be handing over vast amounts of rent money, (leasing back, formally owned depreciating assets) from a foreign owned conglomerate, (Mapeley Steps) almost without limit of time. What a disaster.

Adding insult to injury the company, having bought the properties at a knock down price then immediately transferred ownership title and all other aspects of the contract to a Caribbean tax haven so that all revenue gathered from the UK government would be free of any form of UK tax liability.

Embarrassing indeed, but there’s more. The property sell off, included the entire HM Revenue and Tax Office estates UK wide, who, at the time of the sale were officially committed to the closure of tax haven loopholes. You couldn’t make it up.!!!!! Scotland needs to be rid of these extortionately financially draining PFI schemes.   http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200405/cmselect/cmpubacc/553/553.pdf

 

 

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THREE FULL YEARS BEFORE THE (TOTALLY UNEXPECTED) FINANCIAL DISASTER HIT THE UK

 

 

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2004: Warnings Ignored – Warnings Ignored – Warnings Ignored – Warnings Ignored – Warnings Ignored

Lyndon H Larouche jr. ranks highly among the world’s most influential international political figures. His exceptional qualifications as a long-range economic forecaster, was confirmed when, in 2004 he forewarned in the “Executive Intelligence Review” of the erupting, global systemic crisis of the world’s economy.

 

 

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2004: Warning of Unsustainable House Prices

House prices in Southern England were at the outrageous level of 7.5 times local earnings. Nationwide, the multiple was 5.6. Since 2001, house prices had risen by one-third in Greater London, but almost two-thirds in the rest of the UK. Halifax Bank, The UK’s biggest mortgage lender, reported that the average UK property now cost nearly £158,000.

UK householders were borrowing heavily on the bubble. In April, they took out a record £6.4 billion against the value of their houses, household debt was at a record 120% of disposal income, up from 100% during the pre-crash 1980s. as a direct result of ever increasing net mortgage borrowing which year on year was up:

* 27% over April 2003

* 60% over April 2002

* 131% over April 2001!

In France, by comparison, household debt was 58.7% of disposable income. Bets were being taken, which would burst first, the UK debt bubble, or Tony Blair’s political career.

 

 

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2004: Economy Overheating – Brown Dithering

Then, there was the economy. The Bank of England chose 10 June 2004 to announce it was raising interest rates by a quarter-point for the second time in two months.

This was even a greater blow for Blair.  Bank Governor Mervyn King followed up, four days later, with a blunt speech warning price inflation was now over 20% a year in Britain.

With credit card and other debt added on to mortgage obligations, British households were £1 trillion ($1.835 trillion) in debt — a bubble just as bad, per capita, as that in America.

One trillion pounds debt equals Britain’s annual output, the Financial Times noted sourly on 2 June 2004.

 

 

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2004: Britain’s Housing Bubble Surfaces.

Already, the Bank of England had carried out four 0.25% to bring its base rate up to 4.5%, and there was widespread discussion that the rate would need to be raised to 5% before the year end.

Bank Governor Mervyn King’s June 14 statement that British home prices were not sustainable shook up the financial markets, and in a limited way, acknowledged the problem.

But while King and Greenspan made different public statements, both they and their respective central banks indicated that they hoped for a miraculous soft landing for their twin housing bubbles.

That is a fantasy wish: such highly-leveraged, immense housing would suffer a hard landing.

Synarchists Cheney and Blair would need to be prudent and prepare to experience their very brief last days in office.

http://www.larouchepub.com/eiw/public/2004/eirv31n25-20040625/eirv31n25-20040625_068-election_fiasco_kicks_blair_new.pdf

 

 

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2004: Local and European Election Fiasco – Blair Takes A Kicking

British Prime Minister Tony Blair suffered his worst humiliation, in the June 2004 local elections and European Parliament contests across England and Wales, since he was elected in May 1997.

The result of Blair’s Labour Party’s miserable showing in both, is that the Prime Minister is now, at best, a lame duck, In the local council elections, ripe to be removed from power at some early date in the coming months.

In London on June 15, Blair showed the strain in his monthly press conference; he was rambling, losing track of his thoughts in mid-sentence, and issuing contradictory political assertions.

British press the next day noted that the best indication that Blair was losing it, was that he broke down amidst the subject he loves best: praising himself and the great domestic “successes” of his New Labour regime. He resigned not long after.

 

 

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2006: Gordon Brown,  “The Leaker”  sets the standard for Jim Murphy and fellow Labour politicians to follow

During his long years in opposition Brown became a regular conduit for publicising confidential documents leaked to him by civil servants and he was admired for the way he could put them to good use when attacking the Conservatives. Once Labour were in power, he demonstrated an equally deft touch when making use of the journalists he could trust.

The press build-up his Budgets and financial statements was always carefully manipulated to prepare the ground for any changes which he intended to make and Brown continued as Prime Minister to be Labour’s leading exponent of institutionalised leaking.

At the time he was interviewed by the BBC’s Frank Bough in July 1985 he just couldn’t avoid gloating and smirking about the leaks he had orchestrated, received and passed on through his network of minions who were always eager to do his murky deeds.

Many people will have cause to have hatred in their hearts for him. He has departed the scene as a politician, but he leaves a foul stench that will linger for years to come.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIrweIqqsOc

 

 

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2007-2008: Financial Disaster

In the period 2004-2008  Brown then Alistair Darling ignored much repeated advice and public warnings issued by Lyndon H Laroche JR, many other eminent economists and Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England of the rapidly overheating British economy.

The financial “blow out” that hit the world financial markets in 2007 was brought about by defaulting mortgage holders in the USA and the UK who had been contracting to significant additional debt against their properties through excessive loans creating an unsustainable housing bubble.

Brown and Darling, conspired to divert blame away from the Labour government and had the audacity to blame the Royal Bank of Scotland for the financial disaster that befell the UK when it was clear the mismanagement of the economy was entirely the fault of a Labour Party leadership who had been warned in 2004 of an impending financial wipeout.

At a time the UK should have been introducing measures taking the heat out of the economy Brown and Darling instead played fast and loose with the electorate pushing on with a wilful expansion of the financial market, approving bank mergers funded by borrowing, looking forward only to the next General Election.

 

 

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March 24 2009; European Parliament, Strasbourg – British Prime Minister Gordon Brown Is Taken Apart By European MEP’s

An unelected Prime Minister, never elected to office who forced through the Westminster parliament ratification of the ill judged European treaty setting aside a clear Labour Party manifesto commitment allowing the British electorate the decision in a referendum. A really nasty man who will depart politics leaving a foul odour.

In office he sold large amounts of Britain’s gold reserves for a pittance, losing the country many billions and when this didn’t give up enough to fund the largesse of the Labour Party he raided the pension funds of Britain’s pensioners asset stripping, rendering them in danger of collapse.

In his unadulterated flannel of a speech to the European Parliament he exposed a nightmare vision of a Labour Party dominated future state. A loathsome man indeed!!   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1WlpzvgciY

 

 

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Labour – LibDem Minority Government Proposal – Miliband Taking Bad Advice From Preacher Brown – Remember Browns Double Dealing and Petulant Behaviour At The Time The First SNP Government Was Formed In Scotland

 

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May 2007: Scottish General Election

The SNP won the Scottish General Election with 47 MSP’s to Labour’s 46. Despite all the odds being stacked against them the SNP formed a minority Government and retained power for the full term of the parliament.

But Brown, assisted by his network of spies, the Civil Service and rumour mongers continued with vindictive attacks on Alex Salmond and his government making life extremely difficult for the newly elected SNP government turning down meetings delaying and denying Scotland effective governance.

But due to the dogged and unstinting efforts of Alex Salmond a way forward was finally agreed through the establishment of a new “Joint Ministerial Committee” comprising the leaders of devolved administrations and representatives of the Westminster government.

Adding insult Brown insisted that the First minister of Wales should undertake responsibilty for agreeing the format and chairing the body at the first plenary session after which Jack Straw would take the chair at meetings. What a control freak. No Gordon Brown Alex Salmond meetings.

 

 

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May 2007: Labour Backstabbers

Brown was so desperate to keep Alex Salmond from being First Minister he tried to cut a deal to keep him out of power. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuHoijTQ3Y8

 

 

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May 2007: Sir Menzies Campbell And Gordon Brown’s Secret Talks On Pact To Deny SNP The Right To Govern Scotland

Brown held two secret meetings with Sir Menzies Campbell during the 2007 Scottish election campaign in an attempt to forge a new Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition and keep the SNP out of power, it emerged last night. Brown, the then Chancellor tried to get the agreement of the former Lib Dem leader for an anti-SNP coalition – even though neither had the authority to make such an agreement. The secret meetings, held behind the backs of their respective Scottish parties and leaders, were disclosed in Sir Menzies’ recently released autobiography.

 

 

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In Menzies Campbell: My Autobiography,  Sir Ming described how he met Brown twice in Edinburgh during last year’s election campaign – once on Easter Sunday and on election day itself, when it was clear that the SNP was ahead in the polls and heading for victory. On both occasions, Brown asked for a new Labour-Lib Dem coalition as he did not want the SNP to control the Scottish Executive and its 30 billion budget. Sir Ming told Brown that, although he was also against an SNP-led devolved administration, he could not decide coalition policy, as that was in the hands of the party’s Scottish leader, Nicol Stephen.

 

 

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Jack McConnell, the then Scottish Labour leader, was not invited to the meetings. Brown was operating without the knowledge or approval of the Scottish Labour leadership. News that Brown was working behind the scenes to forge an anti-SNP coalition will infuriate Nationalists and embarrass Scottish Labour leaders, particularly as Mr McConnell made it clear after the SNP won last year’s election that Alex Salmond would be given the chance to form a government.

 

 

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Sir Ming wrote that Brown first called him at home on Easter Sunday last year to ask for a discreet meeting. He stated: “Like me, he was anxious about the possibility of the SNP governing in Scotland, our own backyard. Was there common ground between Labour and the Lib Dems to tackle the SNP together? He made a number of suggestions. I told him I would have to discuss them with Nicol Stephen.

“He then raised possibilities for a new coalition between the Lib Dems and Labour on the assumption that the two parties had enough seats jointly to form a government. ” Sir Ming wrote that this was difficult for him as such decisions were for Mr Stephen.”

 

 

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As the election campaign drew to a close, Brown got in touch again. Sir Ming wrote: “We met at the same discreet place as before. Throughout the campaign, the polls had put the SNP ahead of Labour. Was there scope for an arrangement between our parties? “What would be the consequences for Scotland and our parties if the SNP used the 30 billion Scottish Executive budget to build support for independence over the next few years?”

 

 

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Sir Ming also explained how the Scottish Lib Dem leadership team met at his Edinburgh home the night after the SNP’s victory to eat pizza and decide what to do. “After two hours, we packed away our pizza boxes and any possibility of a coalition deal with the SNP.” Sir Ming also revealed that both he and Tavish Scott, the Lib Dems’ election campaign manager, were against an SNP-Lib Dem coalition, but a deal with Labour was still a possibility. Brown went on BBC Scotland’s Politics Show the following day, all forms of coalition had been ruled out for the Lib Dems, which is what Mr Scott then announced.

http://www.scotsman.com/news/sir-menzies-reveals-brown-s-secret-talks-on-pact-to-deny-snp-power-1-1158022

 

 

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Gordon Brown – The Great Clunking Fist Keeps Resurfacing -The Long Goodbye Right Enough – Here’s Some Video’s of His Best Bits – Not

 

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A video Selection of Gordon Brown’s best bits

* Brown gets beaten up by David Cameron over the BA and Unite Union strike by. https://youtu.be/Q-GkrHKcwvo

 

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* Brown gives a weak performance in Prime Ministers Questions. https://youtu.be/fvhgBV5YCZ4

 

 

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* Brown tries to say that David Cameron is Mr.10 per-cent. But in reality it is Brown who is Mr.10 per-cent. It was he who put the basic rate of tax up on the poor from 10% to 20% to pay for his rich banker friends. https://youtu.be/2tdPejENgms

 

 

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* Brown in his usual manner comes up with meaningless statistics to impress the gullible New Labour MP’s. https://youtu.be/qaDOIOkPlmc

 

 

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* In an effort to keep New Labour in power, Brown quits as Prime Minister. https://youtu.be/_0w9wGvWwnE

 

 

 

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* State Opening of Parliament. Closing remarks of Brown during the 2007 Queen’s Speech debate with Leader of the Opposition David Cameron. https://youtu.be/TsAa9VmwOaI

 

 

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* The inside story of the credit crunch, charting the roller coaster journey of Gordon Brown’s fortunes from the moment the recession began. https://youtu.be/NL8A2fi3ols

 

 

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* Unfit for high office? It is a puzzle to me how such a flawed personality survived in politics for so long. https://youtu.be/fT0AtqaLbJY

 

 

 

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* Brown meets Gillian Duffy, who he was later heard off-camera describing her as a ‘bigoted woman’. https://youtu.be/CTr8IVWBuPE https://youtu.be/A-Ixqw85_P0

 

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* Brown was so desperate to keep Alex Salmond from being First Minister he tried to cut a deal to keep him out of power. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuHoijTQ3Y8

 

 

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* The woman that Gordon Brown called a bigot gives her instant reaction to what Gordon Brown called her. https://youtu.be/yMTnvtZro7U#

 

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* And to think one of the worst ever financial disasters was caused by a man who wrapped himself in ‘prudence’. https://youtu.be/lRTg13dwttc

 

 

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* Farage blasts Gordon Brown as he calls for “New World Order”. https://youtu.be/VUFdVkAsU0Q

 

 

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* An English voice speaks out. Brown and his vows, he has no right to speak for the English. I for one will not let a Scottish MP and the one who ran the UK into the ground make deals to his own people on my behalf. Make note Scots anyone telling you the English will bribe you to stay has no authority. Don,t think you can have your cake and eat it. If you want to stay then great but 60 million English will not pay you to stay whatever Gordon thinks he can say on our behalf. English Nationalism will make a comeback so get ready for it.

 

 

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* Labour managed to spend the 3G money as well ! And the £35 billion they raided from British Pension Funds and every other stealth tax they invented. 10p in the £ anybody? And if 40p was OK then why is 45p wrong now? Hypocrites! You only get into debt when you spend more than you earn and borrow to make up the difference. Its really very simple. Even before the Bank bail outs we were in the shit with Labour. It now turns out the 2008 / 09 recession was 2% worse than we were told. https://youtu.be/MRAn_SB1Q9w

 

 

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* British troops begin their withdrawal from Iraq after over six years of occupation. The war led to a disconnect between the British people and their elected representatives, as well as a backlash against the UK’s Muslim minority. It also led to much death and destruction in Iraq itself. https://youtu.be/oWeY2BVNAHY

 

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* Gordon Brown Launches Big Bribe timetable at yet another private, closed pensioners meeting, ( broadcast in full on BBC) in Loanhead Miners Club, (but there are no miners now) and they swallow it. https://youtu.be/4PShsBlrCDg

 

 

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Preacher Brown Savages The SNP at Another Closed Meeting – Labour Still Living In The Past While Scotland Has Moved On – Even Their Own Party Policy Guru Despairs At Murphy And Browns Negative Campaigning

 

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Labour Party Head Of Policy Review  Jon Cruddas – Persuades Labour That There Is A Better Way

Jon Cruddas, Head of the Labour Party’s policy review, has been promoting a policy of “winning power to give it away”. In collaboration with Labour leaders of English cities, Cruddas has been pushing the devolutionary agenda since he was appointed to his role in May 2012.

The approach advocated by the policy review – whose recommendations have now been adopted as official party policy, for what it’s worth – involves something rather different: as one text co-authored by Cruddas puts it, transforming Labour “from a 20th century political party into a modern, democratic political movement for radical change”.

But some party insiders are gloomy about the sincerity of the two Ed’s and their leadership colleagues, convinced that they are not fully committed to the new way of thinking. In this view, Labour still remains too fond of centralised lever-pulling. It is also investing too much political capital in what Miliband calls “the cost of living crisis”, believing the answer to most voters’ grievances is to engineer financial remedies (cuts in household bills, incremental upticks in the minimum wage) from Whitehall.

 

 

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Cruddas has spent two and half years working on a new vision of Labour’s future. The whole experience, he said, has changed him in all kinds of ways – and by way of showing how much new thinking is required to restore faith in politics, he quickly went radically beyond party policy.

“One of the things that is reflective of changes in me is, for example, proportional representation,” he said. “That’s now not some sort of middle class indulgent exercise – it’s a fundamental issue in terms of democracy and people’s rights. I never had a view on it before; now I think it’s central to the rebuilding of the whole thing. As is space for referendums, and recalls. These are really interesting questions.”

The officially adopted elements of what Cruddas has been working on since 2012 cover all areas of policy, and do so on the basis of a deep analysis of what has gone wrong with Britain, much of it inspired by the pioneering work of Compass, the left-aligned pressure group that still comes closest to representing Cruddas’s political tribe.

As well as devolution to cities and regions in England, the review has proposed regional banks to provide grassroots help to small businesses, a ramping-up of local planning control over high streets, an insistence on public sector competition in rail franchising, and more.

Some of those who have worked on the policy review echo such thoughts. They also talk about palpable tensions at the top of the party. The policy review, it is said, offered Miliband a basic narrative about  “national renewal” and people’s sense of powerlessness, about which he was initially enthusiastic – before it was dropped in favour of the cost-of-living agenda, and a more tactical, day-to-day approach.

 

 

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When I last met Cruddas, at Labour’s autumn conference, we talked about the sense of ferment in Britain, reflected in the transformation of politics in Scotland. Rather than being thrown by this, he seemed to be fascinated: “People are confronting orthodoxies, kicking over tables, creating a bit of energy … and I think that is absolutely fantastic,” he said. When we spoke this week, he made much the same points: that in England, there was an obvious symmetry between, say, Ukip on the right and the apparently insurgent Green party on the left, and “I find that exciting, rather than threatening. But there are threats: huge tripwires, all around.”

Such as? “The future existence of the Labour party. In the sense of, are there changes in the structure of society and the economy which are so demanding for political parties … well, can they change?”

Big debates, he said, were happening around ideas about “family, home, nation”, Labour, he said, had to guard against becoming “quite calculating in our politics, versus other groups that are more culturally aligned, swarming in and out of those issues”.

Was that his interpretation of what has happened to Labour in Scotland? “I think that’s exactly what’s happened. They’re not talking about cash transfers, are they?

Just about everything Cruddas said in London, Liverpool and Manchester underlined his belief that these are serious, seismic times, replete with threats to the normal way of doing things. “There is a democratic danger here,” he said. “Those parties that hoover up seats in Westminster have been dependent on shrinking portions of the electorate.

But the system puts them into power, and there’s a legitimacy crisis about how much people actually vote for them. There are issues there around PR, and referenda, and the architecture of England, and pushing out power from Whitehall.

A big part of what we’ve been doing in the policy review is this: can you win power to give it away? That is hugely counter cultural for Labour.” Once again, there was a clear sense of a fork in the road. “My view is, you either hide from these issues – or you run towards them.”

 

 

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Debating the Scottish Independence Referendum: What Future for the United Kingdom and Scotland

After their humiliating defeat in the 2011 elections, the Scottish Labour Party have found themselves ensnared in a circular dialogue of apology and aggressive stereotyping. Breaking out of this requires a change of focus – away from Alex Salmond and the SNP and towards the party’s professed values of social justice.

It is then timely and apposite that the Fabian Society in association with Compass held a discussion under the theme, ‘Debating the Scottish Independence Referendum: What Future for the United Kingdom?’ with Labour MPs, Jon Cruddas, Anas Sarwar, Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour, and Gemma Doyle, along with myself, (Gerry Hassan) in the Houses of Parliament.

The evening showed some of the many comfort zones and delusions which Scottish Labour still hold to after its 2011 Scottish Parliament election humiliation.

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The two Scottish Labour MPs and Anas Sarwar in particular, spoke a language of renewal and urgency but which seemed mostly devoid of real political understanding or content.

The thoughtful observations of the evening from the Labour MPs came almost exclusively from Jon Cruddas who talked with an acute eye about England, the absence of English Labour, and the shifts in the Tories with a brash, aggressive English nationalism emerging in the party.

Cruddas referenced the Australian debate under Paul Keating which redefined national identity, and cited Tom Nairn and the challenge of ‘the hyper-empire of capital’.

In terms of hinterland Cruddas as well as referencing Nairn and Keating, mentioned George Lansbury’s ‘My England’ and Clement Attlee.

Sarwar and Doyle, as representatives of today’s new political classes, showed their ‘thin’ external world, with not one wider reference or example all evening.

 

 

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In my presentation, I suggested Scottish Labour stop talking to itself and stop using words such as ‘devolution’ and ‘separatism’ which gave the party succour and satisfaction but which were mostly meaningless to the general public.

“Devolution” was a narrow notion of political change and a concept born of 1970s compromise and accommodation. ‘Separatism’ which is how Labour describes the Scottish Nationalists is an archaic relic of a term which reveals much about who says it.

The SNP have never been ‘separatists’ and indeed the true, serious ‘separatists’ in the UK are the fossilised, fanatic parliamentary sovereignty fetishists of Euroscepticism.

Labour has to drop its own private world of language, stop talking process and embrace substance.

Labour’s obsession with the SNP has been an unhealthy one, destabilising and disorientating the party’s view of the world.

Despite the fact the SNP have been on the Scottish political scene for over 40 years, Labour north of the border have yet to fully come to terms with them.

The aggressive language and stereotyping which goes on between the two parties belies that these are two rather similar parties, both broad churches and both, in parts, significantly (small c) conservative.

 

 

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Sarwar and Doyle presented cartoon caricatures of the Nationalists, citing ‘separatism’ many times, with Sarwar articulating a convoluted definition when challenged on Labour’s constant of use of the big bogey word.

The Nationalists talked left and right, he maintained, depending on the audience (just like New Labour), and as he accurately observed, have left independence so far undefined. Doyle talked from the old hymn sheet, talking of the SNP as having cornered ‘the right wing vote’ and being just like the Tories.

Scottish Labour has a proud history and story but they are currently in a terrible place and have barely begun to realise what has happened to them.

Both Sarwar and Doyle railed against the SNP Government for not using the Scottish Parliament’s existing tax powers, omitting that Labour in office for eight years had done exactly the same.

Similarly the SNP’s floated idea of cutting corporation tax was trumpeted as proof of their right-wing perfidy, ignoring New Labour’s cutting of it.

What this seemed to suggest was that the speakers had one rationale for an action when the SNP did it (bad), and another when New Labour had done it (good).

How does Scottish Labour get people to listen to them again? I suggested that the party apologise for 50 years of taking people for granted and for municipalism, cronyism, clientism and council patronage.

 

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Cruddas immediately spotted that this was a wider Labour malaise, to which I agreed, pointing out that it was a Scottish variant of that crisis.

So far Scottish Labour has offered a half-hearted apology for losing in 2011, but hasn’t begun to understand why it was so soundly rejected.

Its public mantra has become ‘we have to stop apologising’ when the party hasn’t recognised the longer story of the machine politics it built in Scotland which it needs to take responsibility for and offer an explanation. Then and only then, people may begin to sit up and take notice. This is not just a Scottish but a British and international debate.

All evening Sarwar and Doyle defended a union which was in reality, a ‘Fantasy Island Britain’, the land of the most successful multi-national partnership in all human history, a place where redistribution and social enlightenment march proudly forward claiming the future.

At no point did they engage in some of the uncomfortable realities: of the UK as the fourth most unequal country in the rich world according to Danny Dorling, and on existing trends, set to overtake, Portugal, USA and Singapore, and become the most unequal country in the developed world.

Labour needs to embrace an agenda of social justice and stop talking about the constitution and being obsessed with the SNP and Alex Salmond.

 

 

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Twenty years after the Commission on Social Justice was launched perhaps Scottish Labour could revisit this terrain instead of talking all the time about ‘devolution’ and ‘separatism’.

What this could involve is renewing and marking John Smith’s values and coming up with a social justice covenant for the 20th anniversary of his tragic death, which coincides with the run-in to the autumn 2014 Scottish independence vote.

A Scottish Labour Party engaged with social justice would aid people in the SNP to develop a more distinct, radical social agenda and thus improve the quality of the entire Scottish debate.

It would reduce the superficial noise between these two parties and develop a debate with more substance addressing what Scottish voters want to see it engage with.

 

 

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Such a politics would entail addressing how we tackle and end child poverty, challenge welfare entrapment and despair, and address the huge gap in life expectancy between rich and poor across Scotland. It could even be called the John Smith social justice covenant.

Such a move would make the Scottish debate about self-government and independence both more subtle and real. It would take it away from the politicians’ love of the abstract and grandiose and connect it to the complex choices of modern life and challenges to progressive politics.

The values of solidarity, communitarianism and inclusion have always influenced and shaped much of the Scottish debate, driven in part by a distrust of British politicians and the state.

 

 

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It is now crucial over the next two years that they are brought to the fore, from the implicit to the explicit.

We have to ask how do we best champion social justice in Scotland and in these isles?

That is what Scottish self-government and independent has to directly address; namely, the relationship between progressive values and government structures, and in so doing help all of us to make sense of how we all break out of ‘Fantasy Island Britain’ which has so served the forces of power and privilege.

 

 

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Labour Needed To Learn Lessons From Past Failures And Change Their Approach – That They Didn’t Is Why They Are In Terminal Decline In Scotland

 

 

 

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March 2012: Breaking the grip of ‘fantasy island Britain’: Social justice, Scotland and the UK by Gerry Hassan

Gerry Hassan, PhD, born in Scotland, is Research Fellow in cultural policy at the University of the West of Scotland who has recently been awarded his PhD on political and cultural contemporary debate in the public sphere of Scotland. Gerry is the author and editor of numerous books including ‘The Strange Death of Labour Scotland’ and the just published ‘After Independence’ (co-edited with James Mitchell). His most recent books are ‘Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland’ and the just published ‘Independence of the Scottish Mind: Elite Narratives, Public Spaces and the Making of a Modern Nation

 

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After their humiliating defeat in the 2011 elections, the Scottish Labour Party have found themselves ensnared in a circular dialogue of apology and aggressive stereotyping. Breaking out of this requires a change of focus – away from Alex Salmond and the SNP and towards the party’s professed values of social justice.

The Scottish independence debate had many dimensions, Scottish, English, British, European and global. It was also one that the insular London political class and media had only episodically covered the last forty years, being content to rest on ‘Braveheart’ and romantic, restless nationalist stereotypes.

It is then timely and apposite that the Fabian Society in association with Compass held a discussion under the theme, ‘Debating the Scottish Independence Referendum: What Future for the United Kingdom?’ with Labour MPs, Jon Cruddas, Anas Sarwar, Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour, and Gemma Doyle, along with myself, in the Houses of Parliament this week.

The evening showed some of the many comfort zones and delusions which Scottish Labour still hold to after its 2011 Scottish Parliament election humiliation. The two Scottish Labour MPs and Anas Sarwar in particular, spoke a language of renewal and urgency but which seemed mostly devoid of real political understanding or content.

 

 

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The thoughtful observations of the evening from the Labour MPs came almost exclusively from Jon Cruddas who talked with an acute eye about England, the absence of English Labour, and the shifts in the Tories with a brash, aggressive English nationalism emerging in the party. Cruddas referenced the Australian debate under Paul Keating which redefined national identity, and cited Tom Nairn and the challenge of ‘the hyper-empire of capital’.

In terms of hinterland Cruddas as well as referencing Nairn and Keating, mentioned George Lansbury’s ‘My England’ and Clement Attlee. Sarwar and Doyle, as representatives of today’s new political classes, showed their ‘thin’ external world, with not one wider reference or example all evening.

 

 

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In my presentation, I suggested Scottish Labour stop talking to itself and stop using words such as ‘devolution’ and ‘separatism’ which gave the party succour and satisfaction but which were mostly meaningless to the general public. ‘Devolution’ was a narrow notion of political change and a concept born of 1970s compromise and accommodation. ‘Separatism’ which is how Labour describes the Scottish Nationalists is an archaic relic of a term which reveals much about who says it. The SNP have never been ‘separatists’ and indeed the true, serious ‘separatists’ in the UK are the fossilised, fanatic parliamentary sovereignty fetishists of Euroscepticism. Labour has to drop its own private world of language, stop talking process and embrace substance.

 

 

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Labour’s obsession with the SNP has been an unhealthy one, destabilising and disorientating the party’s view of the world. Despite the fact the SNP have been on the Scottish political scene for over 40 years, Labour north of the border have yet to fully come to terms with them. The aggressive language and stereotyping which goes on between the two parties belies that these are two rather similar parties, both broad churchesand both, in parts, significantly (small c) conservative.

 

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Sarwar and Doyle presented cartoon caricatures of the Nationalists, citing ‘separatism’ many times, with Sarwar articulating a convoluted definition when challenged on Labour’s constant of use of the big bogey word. The Nationalists talked left and right, he maintained, depending on the audience (just like New Labour), and as he accurately observed, have left independence so far undefined. Doyle talked from the old hymn sheet, talking of the SNP as having cornered ‘the right wing vote’ and being just like the Tories.

 

 

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Scottish Labour has a proud history and story but they are currently in a terrible place and have barely begun to realise what has happened to them. Both Sarwar and Doyle railed against the SNP Government for not using the Scottish Parliament’s existing tax powers, omitting that Labour in office for eight years had done exactly the same. Similarly the SNP’s floated idea of cutting corporation tax was trumpeted as proof of their right-wing perfidy, ignoring New Labour’s cutting of it. What this seemed to suggest was that the speakers had one rationale for an action when the SNP did it (bad), and another when New Labour had done it (good).

How does Scottish Labour get people to listen to them again? I suggested that the party apologise for 50 years of taking people for granted and for municipalism, cronyism, clientism and council patronage. Cruddas immediately spotted that this was a wider Labour malaise, to which I agreed, pointing out that it was a Scottish variant of that crisis.

 

 

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So far Scottish Labour has offered a half-hearted apology for losing in 2011, but hasn’t begun to understand why it was so soundly rejected. Its public mantra has become ‘we have to stop apologising’ when the party hasn’t recognised the longer story of the machine politics it built in Scotland which it needs to take responsibility for and offer an explanation. Then and only then, people may begin to sit up and take notice.

This is not just a Scottish but a British and international debate. All evening Sarwar and Doyle defended a union which was in reality, a ‘Fantasy Island Britain’, the land of the most successful multi-national partnership in all human history, a place where redistribution and social enlightenment march proudly forward claiming the future. At no point did they engage in some of the uncomfortable realities: of the UK as the fourth most unequal country in the rich world according to Danny Dorling, and on existing trends, set to overtake, Portugal, USA and Singapore, and become the most unequal country in the developed world.

 

 

Daily-Record-on-Johann-Lamont10484949_726436334101043_1684413381150678248_o

 

 

Labour needs to embrace an agenda of social justice and stop talking about the constitution and being obsessed with the SNP and Alex Salmond. Twenty years after the Commission on Social Justice was launched perhaps Scottish Labour could revisit this terrain instead of talking all the time about ‘devolution’ and ‘separatism’.

What this could involve is renewing and marking John Smith’s values and coming up with a social justice covenant for the 20th anniversary of his tragic death, which coincides with the run-in to the autumn 2014 Scottish independence vote.

 

 

Hardie_electarbroath

 

 

A Scottish Labour Party engaged with social justice would aid people in the SNP to develop a more distinct, radical social agenda and thus improve the quality of the entire Scottish debate. It would reduce the superficial noise between these two parties and develop a debate with more substance addressing what Scottish voters want to see it engage with.

Such a politics would entail addressing how we tackle and end child poverty, challenge welfare entrapment and despair, and address the huge gap in life expectancy between rich and poor across Scotland. It could even be called the John Smith social justice covenant.

Such a move would make the Scottish debate about self-government and independence both more subtle and real. It would take it away from the politicians’ love of the abstract and grandiose and connect it to the complex choices of modern life and challenges to progressive politics.

 

labfirst10485307_10206031838613468_5034394981712833040_n

 

The values of solidarity, communitarianism and inclusion have always influenced and shaped much of the Scottish debate, driven in part by a distrust of British politicians and the state. It is now crucial over the next two years that they are brought to the fore, from the implicit to the explicit. We have to ask how do we best champion social justice in Scotland and in these isles? That is what Scottish self-government and independent has to directly address; namely, the relationship between progressive values and government structures, and in so doing help all of us to make sense of how we all break out of ‘Fantasy Island Britain’ which has so served the forces of power and privilege.
https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/gerry-hassan/breaking-grip-of-%E2%80%98fantasy-island-britain%E2%80%99-social-justice-scotland-and-uk

 

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Comments:

Great piece, I agree with a lot of what you say here, and I often find myself agreeing with John Cruddas who is one of the few gifted politicans we seem to have at the moment.

Labour’s problem in the Scottish election in 2011, and the General election in 2010, both relate to it taking people for granted so much that they lost all enthusiasm for the party which was once their own, it has yet to refind this either in Scotland or the rest of the UK. John Smith was a great man, and would have been a fantastic PM, I think if Labour can reinvent itself both UK wide and in Scotland by revisiting his legacy and perspective, then it can be revialised in Britain, regardless of whether Britain is made up of 2 sovereign states on 1.

Thanks for your thoughts. We need to bring the debate about the future of Scotland and the UK fundamentally on to what kind of future, what kind of society and economy.

 

 

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Sad and telling that Labour MPs still blindly defend the imperial centre as this great force of progressivism; a kind of blind faith ….

Absolutely, what really gets me about the modern Labour party is how soulless it has become. The 13 years they were in power were squandered, it was a real chance to help working people up and down the land, make a real difference to things such as housing, education, health and transport, but they wasted it, and now the Tories are back with their Lib Dem bag carriers.

There were some achievements, such as the Minimum Wage…any other good achievements currently escape me… The party needs to redefine itself and break away from it’s slavish ‘Thatcherism Lite’ type of ideal. The problem for me with Labour (& I am still a member) is that it totally lost touch with what it was about during the Blair/Brown era, people on the ground want things like decent housing, good transport, good schools and opportunities for their kids, good healthcare, and a decent Welfare State to support people when the fall on hard times.

 

 

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Labour needs to be on the side of the ‘little guy’ regardless of whether it is Labour in Scotland or wider Britain, too often it found itself on the wrong side in recent years, and that is something that I feel hasn’t yet changed. Markets, and big business have their place, and always need to be taken into account, and listened too, but they shouldn’t dictate everything in society. For me, the saddest, chapter in Labours’ recent history has to be when Gordon Brown met Gillian Duffy, a real person, and Labour supporter, who was concerned about immigration volumes, and he described her as a bigot…it kind of said it all, the arrogance and dislocation of the leadership from the supporters, from the average people in the street.

I am disenchanted with the current leadership, they have scored the odd victory like last year against the Murdoch Empire, Miliband did well, but they don’t have the vision or the passion to make (me at least) feel anything has really changed since they left power. Personally, I think that the ‘Blue Labour’ project that Jon Cruddas has been associated with is potentially the way forward, as it does seek to reconnect with our past as a party, and at the same time takes on board ‘the man on the streets’ concerns about immigration, law and order etc.

 

 

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More of the same from Labour just won’t work, at the moment it feels as though they are just waiting and hoping that the public get sick of the Conservative Party, but not providing any real hope for anything better.

I am English, so not mega hot on the Scottish political scene, however, I was disappointed with the Johann Lamont appointment as leader, as once again that spelt for more of the same. Looking into Scotland as an outsider, it would appear that the challenge again is to get back on the side of ‘the little guy – the man on the street – the working man’ (& women of course). The party obviously needs to take account of the current Scotland independence debate, and perhaps argue more vigorously for Scotland within a wider UK setting. It should also always seek to be more progressive than a nationalist party like the SNP, and only by reconnecting with it’s soul can it do this.

 

 

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