The Eagle has spoken

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, Maria Eagle MP, has said the decision “does not change” the UK Labour party policy, which will be set at a UK level. Ms Eagle also made clear that the party remains in favour of Trident renewal.


As widely anticipated, the Labour Party in Scotland Conference, held in Perth this year, decided on Halloween that they were against Trident.  What makes life difficult for them is the fact that they do not actually exist.  Now I know we all think that the SNP has virtually wiped them off the electoral map, but I am not referring to that.


What I mean is that there is no political party called Scottish Labour.  According to the Electoral Commission the only registration is for the Labour Party, so there is no legal entity called Scottish Labour.  Makes a fascinating subject “Who do you think you are” was a popular television series as people tried to find out about their ancestry. The Labour giants of yore would have been anti Trident, if it had been invented; the current Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn is anti Trident renewal, but instead of him changing Labour it looks as if Labour is changing him.


What they are doing is trying to pretend that they have been allowed to oppose a major plank of Labour policy which they cannot do.


Just think, will they put this in their manifesto for Holyrood –No, because Defence is a reserved matter so they can shout publicly about their opposition to Trident, but outwith the manifesto they cannot make the case.


What is happening is that there is now a clear rift between the Labour Party per se, and Scotland.  Labour members in Scotland oppose Trident renewal, but their democratically arrived at decision is brushed aside by the big boys.  They are telling the Labour Party in Scotland their votes count for nothing in the grand scheme of things. There is a simple answer; the Labour Party in Scotland is effectively saying they wish Independence.   They would find genuine anti Trident friends in the SNP.


As it is, the Labour Party in Scotland has a leader who does believe in Trident, and the Labour Party per se also believes in Trident, but their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, does not agree with them!


And on Tuesday, one Jackie Baillie, “Scottish“ Labour’s Finance spokesperson, voted with the Tories against a motion on Trident in the Scottish Parliament.  An idle thought, who selects and approves Labour candidates for the Scottish Parliament?  Is it the Branch Office, or is it Westminster? Ms Baillie should presumably be the candidate  for Dumbarton, as she represents that in this Parliament but a lot of submarines have sailed down the Clyde since she was elected, and Dumbarton voted Yes in the Referendum.


One might feel a twinge of sympathy for Ms Dugdale, a leader with not many followers in the current debate, but I’m fresh out of twinges – she thinks the same way as Ms Baillie.


I also see Ms Dugdale has promised to refund tax credits if she is elected.  Now that is under Welfare and not devolved, and not possible and even if she had the power where does she get the money.  Deputy First Minister John Swinney was mildly rebuked by the Presiding Officer a couple of weeks ago for “speaking from a sedentary position” during First Minister’s Questions.  He had commented that the Tories were fiscally illiterate; he didn’t expand to add in Labour as everyone already knew that.  All Ms Dugdale has done is re-emphasise that fact.


Fifteen minutes of fame

As many will know I was given the Presidents’ Prize this year at the Aberdeen Conference.  This puts me upsides with our Business Manager Ian Hamilton who was awarded it by Winnie Ewing, our previous President, some years ago, so the Scots Independent will need to get a display cabinet!  He got a decanter and I got a clock.


While I was very pleased to receive the prize I was totally unprepared for the reception, and the aftermath.  I know it was on Facebook, and then “trended on Twitter.”   I have never used Twitter.  It was flattering, if disconcerting, to be asked for “selfies” – at age 80!  It was good to be still alive to receive it, with only a vague wistfulness that I could have done with it 40 years ago while I still had ambitionsJ


Scotland Bill

I have been watching and waiting in vain for the Scotland Bill, amended or just trifled with.  We know David Mundell says it is a very good bill and does all that was required, and we know there are rumblings of dissent from SNP MPs, and  warnings from the Scottish Finance Minister John Swinney, but as far as I can ascertain no proposals have emerged.  This leads me to believe that a bit of window dressing is taking place, and there will be very little substance.  I know that I am a cynic as far as Westminster, and especially the Tories, are concerned , but it is all down to experience.  They cheat us and call us ungrateful for not welcoming the booby traps they have set.


I note Mr Mundell’s blithe assumption that there were no vetoes in the new Scotland Bill, but they have removed them anyway,  a very real Humpty-Dumptyish comment – all the King’s horses and all the King’s men have their trowels ready.


Holding their feet to the fire

Well the fact that we cannot hold the Tories’ feet to the fire, as was envisaged before the General Election has now been poo-poohed by Labour,who seem blissfully unaware that it was their failure to win votes in England and Wales who have brought this scenario about, and happily go on protesting their innocence.


Some facts;  the SNP was right to expect a liaison between Labour and the SNP could give the Tories a run for our money, and even in these straitened circumstances    the Tories only have a majority of 12.  When John Major won in 1992 he had a majority of 25, I think, but the Europhobes ran him ragged.  Already we have seen some maverick Tories thumbing their noses at David Cameron, so there is scope.


If Labour concentrated a wee bit more they  could really give the Government a hard  time, but I suspect they are quite happy to keep the Tories in power as a means of corralling the Scots;  they are smarting from the beating they received in Scotland.  We have no friends at Westminster.


Whatever the reason, no one has the right to showboat on the drastic privations the Tories have in store for the “hard working families “ – killing them with kindness?