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 He has a point as Cllr George Ryan, who was widely expected to be the Labour candidate has withdrawn from the contest, leaving the party without a standard bearer and with less than three weeks to go before the polls open.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.