The following was written by Tracy Cooney | @tigs88
When I first voted there was no debate or big decision to be made. I lived in Scotland and was working class so Labour it was, the party of the working class, the party of the people. I never knew anyone to have deviated from this trusted formula.
How things have changed.
With the SNP in government in Holyrood for the past 8 years, it would be fair to say that support for Labour has waned. In the 2015 general election it almost died out completely, with only 1 Labour MP retaining his Scottish seat down from 41. With Labour losing and the UK seeing a Tory majority government, Ed Milliband had to go. Cue a leadership campaign that would wake up the UK.
When Jeremy Corbyn was nominated nobody, even those who nominated him, could have possibly dreamed he would win and become Labour Leader, yet win he did. The reasons for Jeremy Corbyn’s win are many and not hard to understand. He appears to be a principled, dedicated genuine person that seems to live in the real world with the rest of us. He promised us a decent living wage, an end to the austerity that has crippled us, the scrapping of tuition fees, and the non-renewal of Trident. All of these and more are why he won, Britain wants a change from the status quo, the politicians that seem to come from a different planet than us. Politicians who lie, who put personal glory and hunger for power above the need of the country and politicians who foist austerity on us, telling us we’re all in it together then toddle off home to their well-stocked fridges in their warm and cosy mansion.
All of Corbyn’s campaign pledges should have resonated with Scotland in particular, as it’s generally one of the most socialist parts of the UK.
So will Corbyn be able to bring Scot’s voter ‘home’?
I have asked many people this question. Independence supporters such as myself seem to be in agreement that unless Labour offers independence, there’s no way that our vote will change. As important and enticing Corbyn’s pledges are for the UK as a whole, our first objective is to see independence, however until then most people agree that Corbyn is a far more appealing prospect for Prime Minister than Cameron. During the 2014 independence referendum Labour campaigned for a no vote, however their decision to get into bed with the Tories and campaign under the same umbrella is something that hasn’t sat well with the majority of Scottish voters, many of whom have never quite recovered from Thatcher decimating our coal and steel industries, not to mention the poll tax. Resentment of the Tories has not abated, especially with Cameron carrying on her legacy with his brutal treatment of the poor, disabled and vulnerable for the past 5 years.
So will Jeremy Corbyn sway independence voters?
Then we have the question of whether Jeremy Corbyn can genuinely offer us the campaign promises.
On Jeremy Corbyn’s victory there was a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm shown by most ‘floating voters’ who thought if they wanted to change from the SNP, Labour would finally offer a viable electoral choice. Or Labour voters who had placed their X elsewhere because of Labours ineptitude. Jeremy Corbyn represented a new hope that the party could be restored to the party of true opposition, the party of the people once more, instead of a pale imitation of the Tories.
I kept in touch throughout the Labour conference with the undecided and as time went on the mood slipped into resignation that Jeremy Corbyn will be a politician who can’t keep his promises as he won’t be given the chance.
Although there’s very few people that doubt Jeremy Corbyn’s integrity and desire to build a fairer, more equal society, the general consensus was that in order to appease the PLP and his own shadow cabinet, many of the campaign promises would have to be watered down or even abandoned.
During the Labour conference, this doubt seemed justified with Jeremy Corbyn being openly criticised by his own shadow cabinet, while openly condemning Trident and saying he would not ‘push the button’. It is hard to see how this will square with Holyrood, with the leader of the Scottish Labour, Kezia Dugdale being in favour of Tridents renewal. Despite promising to prioritise Scotland, he has been forced to admit that no decision is likely to have been made on Trident by the Hollyrood elections in May. Jeremy Corbyn also had to admit he was dropping plans to scarp tuition fees and would vote in favour of Osbourne’s new fiscal charter. While being interviewed by Andrew Marr, Corbyn showed a lack of knowledge in Scottish politics when he claimed the SNP was responsible for the privatisation of CalMac, the privatisation of ScotRail and that local government funding was being cut, none of which were accurate. There was disappointment. It seems that the PLC/trade unions will stymy Jeremy Corbyn’s hopes and aspirations for the UK at every turn. In short, there is a feeling of a ‘puppet’ opposition.
Personally, although my vote will always be for independence, I was rooting for Jeremy Corbyn every step of the way during the leadership campaign and would have loved to see him been given the chance to implement his vision of a more equal society, where the 1% doesn’t call all the shots. On a personal level Jeremy Corbyn is very likeable. He is calm, soft spoken, and earnest. His parliamentary record shows him to be a man of integrity, with deep held beliefs and courage, but I fear that the PLP will manoeuvre him into an impossible position hoping that he’ll resign or the trade unions will use him to implement their own agenda transplanting a more electable candidate in 2018, in time for the next general election.
Will Jeremy Corbyn change the landscape of Scottish politics?
The overall feeling is, no he won’t.
By Tracy Cooney | @tigs88
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