At the Fabian conference on Saturday, I heard Jeremy Corbyn say we must reach out to left wing parties in Europe. I wondered if that included the Scottish Nationalists because in one Labour committee room I visited on election day last year, four out of four of us said we would have voted for the SNP, had we been in Scotland. We might not have actually gone that far but we were obviously affected by the reputation of the SNP becoming a caring left-wing party while Scottish Labour had a Blairite reputation (Should that be Mandelite?)
Since then, like many others, I have seen Mhairi Black’s maiden speech as an MP. Emotionally brilliant with some home truths for Labour.
“I like many SNP members come from a traditional socialist Labour family and I have never been quiet in my assertion that I feel that it is the Labour party that left me, not the other way about.
The SNP did not triumph on a wave of nationalism; in fact nationalism has nothing to do with what’s happened in Scotland. We triumphed on a wave of hope, hope that there was something different, something better to the Thatcherite neo-liberal policies that are produced from this chamber. Hope that representatives genuinely could give a voice to those who don’t have one.”
Later I met someone from the Scottish Labour and asked if Mhairi could be the next leader of the Labour Party. He visibly stiffened and said she wasn’t all she appeared to be and that her maiden speech may have been written for her by Angus Robertson, the leader of the SNP in Westminster. “Angus Robertson’s fingerprints were all over it”. He also said that the SNP were a mixed bunch of nationalists, not to be trusted and slippery with their arguments. I have found a Scottish Labour website with a piece by one of Saturday’s speakers, Daniel Johnson, who seems to corroborate Scottish Labour’s dim view of the SNP.
“We heard it time and time again. Labour had signed up to Tory Austerity, £30bn of cuts. It underpinned the charges of “Red Tory” that every Scottish Labour candidate had lobbed at them on the doorstep and at hustings. They said it so often it became almost impossible to dismiss. Except it has been exposed as untrue by Nicola Sturgeon’s own words.”
I suppose the “Red Tory” message had got to us four in the Labour committee room.
But was Mhairi Black’s speech svengalied by Augus Robertson?
And is the SNP a left wing party in Europe that Labour must reach out to?
If, as Jeremy told us, the Tories are fixing the electoral system to give them everlasting power, would we welcome Scottish Independence so at least Scotland does not suffer everlasting Tory government?