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07 July 2008
Catholics may be the latest group to desert Nu-Labour
Nu-Labour is in political "meltdown" according to Alex Salmon, the Scottish First Minister. He has a point as Cllr George Ryan, who was widely expected to be the Labour candidate has withdrawn from the contest, leaving the party without a standard bearer and with less than three weeks to go before the polls open.

Cllr Ryan has claimed family problems as the reason for his withdrawal, but your cynical old Exile is dubious about that one. There are few problems that cannot be solved by the income that would arrive courtesy of the House of Commons' gravy train - something else is going on, so let's do some speculating about what that might be.

Glasgow East is not just a working class constituency, it is also a Catholic working class constituency. Now this has little to do with theology, but it does have an awful lot to do with tribal, intra-working-class identity. It is not about going to mass, but it is about how people define themselves and how their identities are proclaimed.

Nu-Labour has basically become the anti-Catholic party in the eyes of many people. As Jim Dobbin MP wrote:
There was the attempt by Alan Johnson, when education secretary, to force faith schools to take 25 per cent of non-believers. Then there was the adoption agency legislation to stop discrimination against gays and lesbians which finished up discriminating against the Catholic Church. Catholic adoption agencies are now closing. . . There are five million Catholics in the country. If the government think they can disregard even a small number of these voters then they are living in cloud cuckoo land.
The problem is that the post-modern Nu-Labour Party does think that it can disregard Catholics social issues in the same way that it felt that it could ignore traditional working class economic demands. The party just felt that since they did not believe in all that stuff then neither did anyone else - and if they did believe, well, they had nowhere else to go.

However, in Scotland, they do have somewhere else to go - they can dump the Labour Party and vote for the Scottish National Party who are now the favourites to win the seat.

This may be why George Ryan has decided not to contest the seat. He has seen the writing on the wall and doesn't want to be remembered as the man who lost Glasgow East. Far better to wait until the whole Nu-Labour wankfest is over and a new party has been created to represent the socially conservative, economically radical working class once again.

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Spot on, exile

Labour in cities rose on the back of Catholic workingmen and Irish trade unionists and organizers. It is now characterised by the likes of Mary Honeyball MEP and Luke Akehurst, both of whom are as gratuitously and frequently offensive to Catholics as their co-members in the government.

I was 20 years in the Labour party after joining in Corby, where the catholic (and serbian) populations are still large enough to have holy communion and religious event cards in the local card shop, amongst the birthday gear.
In part, I left Labour because of the venom and arrogance of the anti-God squad. Jim Dobbin is right.

Left alone, Catholics might have continued supporting Labour along with all the others who used to make up the Labour tradition. Most of us aren't particularly holy and anyway, Labour used to be a rangers and celtic and english party. Modern catholicism is also very much a centrist, if not a left idea when it comes to community values, human dignity and anti-capitalism.

But being snarled at by this lot because of sexual lifestyle issues while they are peeing on your community's shoes is something five million catholic voters are not going to take any more than the muslims are. I might point out that the people I meet at mass every week are of all ages, colours and both sexes, and for that matter both respectable working class and middle class.

I expect to see the beginnings of the consequences of Labour's folly in Glasgow. I wish I could relish it, but being Labour was a part of my identity for too long. Rather ludicrously, as I left Labour I went and joined the T & G, just to maintain some sort of link. Thy are going to get theirs, though, and I won't weep for the Honeyball-Burnham-Harman crowd.

7 July 2008 at 13:00  

Yeah, I think that the Catholic working class vote would have sagged, anyway, because of Nu-Lab economic policies, but the anti-Catholicism is pushing them out of the party in a big way.

Corby? You have Barker as your Tory candidate. I'll bet that goes down well. Although not as well as she goes down...

7 July 2008 at 19:56  

I know about Barker, having spent some of my time avoiding the likes of her at Oxford (I was an undergraduate at Balliol, then a history graduate, then a non-stip lecturer briefly at worcester).

Corby is one of the most deprived constituencies in England, in economic terms. I suppose culturally, it is in the west of scotland.

The last time I could bare to look at the Tory/media class candidate, she was proposing to 'uplift' the peasants by offering people an appearance on one page of her new trashy novel.

I live on the mean streets south of the Thames now (well, in Putney) where that sort of thing would win votes. In Corby though, it just represents a literary version of 'let them eat brioche' of the sort that caused all that trouble for Marie Antoinette.

Infuriating, but I note that Alistair Campbell, the former porno king and daily mirror hack, is offering the same thing in his new book. What gets me is that no one in the media sees how sad or insulting all this is.

7 July 2008 at 21:28  

Hmm, it was said of Barker that the difference between her and Magdalen Tower was that not everyone had been up Magdalen Tower...

I tended to get on rather well with her type, but she is after my time and made the bad mistake of picking a fight with me.

7 July 2008 at 23:00  

Come off it, Exile. This won't do. "Socially conservative" is one thing, "taking orders from Rome" is quite another. I appreciate your position on looking for odd points of common interest with groups with whom you don't agree on others, but you have to use a long spoon when dining with the Catholics. Ever heard of General Franco? Intersted to hear the views of Messrs Lindsay and Meenagh on that dignitary.

7 July 2008 at 23:19  

Franco; a murderous Spanish nationalist and reluctant Caesarist living in a failed state and opposed by genocidal anticlericalists and communists. Are we going to pick the bones of the twentieth century, or build common ground? Are you a hutu or a tutsi, Cipriano?

As for 'taking orders from Rome'--give me a break! I am a free man. I accept the Church as a flawed human institution. I have no desire to polish my rigteousness in some powerless left-wing ghetto, though.

Labour used to be a practical vehicle for decent people, and deliberate attacks on Catholics have got it into immense trouble with a loyal voting bloc. That was exile's original point, I think.

8 July 2008 at 00:50  

Yes, that was my point. My other point was that it isn't about theology, it's about intra-working class tribal loyalties which we all have.

We can get back to pape and proddie bashing, depending upon the bed we were born in, once the common enemy has been shafted.

8 July 2008 at 04:54  

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