Britain has a new and serious threat to national security and the welfare of your family! Jeremey Corbyn’s runaway victory of the Labour Party leadership contest certainly has David Cameron in a fluster, but then, according to the Tories, Britain is faced with so many threats that we can’t be sure how exactly to take his hysterical outburst on social media about Labour’s new leader. It can only reassure us that Cameron’s alarmist remarks – placing the new leader of the opposition up there with Osama Bin Laden and Jimmy Savile – were met with a healthy mixture of mirth and condemnation. Not nearly enough people take David Cameron seriously enough for us to take seriously. The reality is that Cameron and his ilk have become complacent after almost two decades of Thatcher’s greatest success; a neo-conservative lapdog parody of Socialism known as New Labour and its progeny. Corbyn’s promise to re-introduce old Labour style politics to Westminster unsettles Cameron because it is alien to the new generation of the British political right.
In Scotland this shift in the balance of English Labour has caused some concern. Amid what is left of Scottish Labour – a thoroughly Blairite operation – there is the same sense of panicked disconnect as is being mirrored down south among the old guard of New Labour, and a further slip in the Scottish power base looks to be, at present, a very real possibility. Those of us seeking independence for Scotland and the dissolution of the Union can only welcome the hope of further mayhem in the remnants of the unionist ranks, but there is also the concern that Corbyn might just be the person to rally Labour in Scotland, and so further threaten our cause. We would want to be thinking about this perceived threat. How serious is it?
On the one hand, for sure, we have to welcome the arrival of Jeremy Corbyn and the social demand within the Labour Party membership which made it possible. The long-awaited return of the English Labour Party to some form of Socialism highlights the true extent of the failure of both the New Labour project and the Conservative programme of austerity. People all over the United Kingdom are making real their desire and desperation for change, and thankfully this is being done in the political arena. Corbyn, it would not be wrong to say, is a symptom of the same social change we have been witness to in the past number of years in Scotland; first it was a growing sympathy in England and Wales for Scottish independence and a willingness to come with us, and now it is a politicisation for change happening at their own grassroots. London’s agenda of privilege and greed has given people few alternatives.
On the other hand Corbyn has awoken the dragon in England that was, last year, roused here in Scotland. The entire machinery of the establishment and the media was arrayed against him; portraying the MP in the Commons who was found to have claimed the least expenses during the Commons Expenses Inquiry as everything from a Nazi sympathiser to an out and out Stalinist, and this assault will not stop here. Rank and file Labour Party members, during the leadership contest, were given a taste of what things were like in Scotland during the referendum campaign.
With all this, together with the Blairites’ blanket refusal to accept their own party democracy and cooperate with him, he has already been forced into making a number of blunders which may shortly prove to be his undoing. Faced with the exodus of so many of his so-called Labour colleagues he has turned to the unelected House of Lords to begin the process of building a Socialist shadow cabinet, and this can do nothing but damage his reputation among those few remaining parliamentary friends he has. To his left on the benches he continues to snub the vast majority of Scotland’s elected representatives by opposing both further powers and independence. He can only cut so many off before he himself finds himself cut off. Corbyn’s leadership may prove to be short lived.
Either way his remaining or departing may work well for Scotland. In embracing the popular will that has placed him at the helm he will have to acknowledge that Scotland’s want for independence is the other side of the coin of England’s working class demand for change. Surely this will put him squarely in the negotiating seat with the Scottish government. If he chooses to ignore this pressing reality and opts for a short stay in the Labour Party penthouse then the rift he has created will only deepen and widen to be filled by a series of less able characters. In sum, Jeremy Corbyn may indeed offer some form of salvation to a suffering Britain, but his significance on the road to Scotland’s departure from the Union is at best a lift, and at worst an irrelevance.
Jason Michael, Ayrshire