Skip to content

Historical Propaganda

This past week an argument has raged north and south of the border (and on both sides of the Scottish Independence debate) about the democratic nature of Labour, and whether it was capable of the social democratic reforms that Scotland sups for its tea. I am dubious about many of these claims, but there is evidence as well as anecdote to stand behind them. The main problem, in my mind, is that many in Labour consider an outdated 90s idea of a ‘third way’ to be superior to a 50s idea of social democracy. Both are defunct. Fighting over these corpses will do us no good.

Find below enjoyable video evidence, and links to the key articles in this debate.

Labour still believe the dream is just round the corner:

But actually this is what is going on:

Analysis and Critique

Just watch them again. If it doesn’t help, find below all you need to know about the past week’s debate on Labour, social democracy, and Scottish independence.

Gerry Hassan - Labour and Independence: The Power of the Past

“Once upon a time, Scottish Labour became a party of instrumental unionism, by which I mean, not the notion of the union as the be and end all of everything which was the Tory variant, but of the union as a means to an end – that end being the end of exploitation and the triumph of solidarity.

As the United Kingdom has become this ‘global kingdom’ of inequality, insecurity, winners (and losers) and new elites, this has become an almost impossible story to tell. Near too impossible. This has led to Scottish Labour slipping its moorings from this qualified, pragmatic, progressive unionism, and ending up arguing for the union as an end in itself. This is a complete cul-de-sac for a progressive party, because to take just one fundamental, it entails colluding with the dominant Tory account of Britain.”

Ben Sellers – Sleepwalking in the Labour Party

“It’s clear that too many people on the left of the party are paper members only, cowed by defeats, beaten down by the hegemony of the right and the depoliticisation at a local party level… but for those of us still in the party, is it not time to question the practical usefulness of such membership? In other words, if you’re not in the party to “cause trouble”… what are you in it for?”

Thomas Coles - England, what are you doing?

“Fighting over who gets to be the inheritor of Blair’s Labour is like arguing over who your old aunt promised the gollywogs to.”

Amy Westwell & Cailean Gallagher – Labours Parliamentary Malfunction

“Labour should fight to forward its aims and objectives at whatever level or in whatever system it thinks it will be most effective. It is tied to a movement, and a Party, not to any one political system.”

Euam McColm - Labour for independence? Really?

“Labour for Independence is a sham, a tawdry little con in which some of the party’s most bitter rivals are complicit.”

Amy Westwell - On Labour for Independence

“… some are preparing for this fight, in order to use economic powers in Scotland to create better conditions and wages, to win real control by working women and men over the future of the people who live here. We should be allowed that voice in the Labour party; but Labour for Independence were not that voice.”

Cailean Gallagher – The King, the Court and the Castle

“The SNP are bourgeois in the old sense that they are concerned with people as they operate freely outside work. They deal with the public as a body of burghers, not workers. Through this lens they come to believe that all a government can ever do for the working class is to implement measures to improve people’s ability to enter the labour market…. But they ignore one of the central features of class politics: that we can, through political action, change the conditions of the labour contract itself.”

Rory Scothorne – Riding the Unicorn (Mair nor a roch wind)

“The Common Weal’s idea of the Nordic model confronts us as the end (or containment) of history, an indefinite time-out from historical struggle and transformation, precisely because it exists in their rhetoric as if history has ended. It offers no significant analysis of the historical conditions for the emergence of their chosen utopia…”

Dan Paris – The Case for a Common Weal

“The basic institutions of the social democratic state already exist in Scotland. The challenge is to move beyond protection and instead extend these. This is far from impossible…”

Ben Sellers – Why We Need a Red Labour Alternative

“The last six months have seen a clear change in the leadership under Ed Miliband as the 2015 election comes into view – and it is bad, rather than good news for the left as New Labour retrenchment gathers pace. What has also been noticeable, however, is the beginnings of a resistance in the party.”

Thomas Coles – Then who do we shoot?

“If we are not going to shoot the beast with the social democratic bullet, what are we going to shoot? and to keep the metaphor rolling, what are we going to shoot it with?”


This week things were a little better.