25 July 2008
Nu-Labour gets old shafting in Glasgow East
As you will know by now, Nu-Labour has been hammered by the Scottish National Party in the Glasgow East by-election. It is just so nice to see prediction after prediction from this blog coming true. Last night I had a bit of a wobble when I saw the opinion polls, but my earlier instincts were correct: Nu-Labour is now a corpse, just waiting for the undertaker to arrive in 2010 so that it can be given a decent burial.
The interesting thing about this by-election was that the Scottish Socialist Party and a breakaway from it called Solidarity scored between them almost 1,100 votes. Had those fools not split then the single party would almost certainly have overtaken the Liberal-Democrats, and possibly even the Tories as well. So much for the notion that people will not vote for socialist parties. . .
Another factor that Nu-Labour cannot spin away is the fact that unlike the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, turnout did not collapse in Glasgow East. True, it was down on the general election, but only by about six percent. Given that Glasgow is enjoying her annual holidays at the moment, the turnout at this election can only be described as high.
What happened was that the Glasgow working class decided that they had finally had enough of the Nu-Labour nightmare and they voted for the social-democratic SNP. Some went for the two minor socialist parties, and taken all together this amounts to a ripe, two-fingered gesture of contempt for the Blatcherite consensus that combines lifestyle politics with economic neo-liberalism.
It is too late for Nu-Labour, but the party that will be created to fill the void that it leaves will have to accept the fact that the working class are economically radical and socially conservative. The new party will have to work with that grain and not against it. If it does that then it could quickly begin to pick up support.
The party needs to campaign for a British withdrawal from the European Union. That will immediately put the Tories on the defensive and open up all their carefully hidden wounds over European integration. It would also demonstrate to working people that the party is as patriotic as they are - something that many on the left have always had a problem with. Two outcomes for a policy that most socialists just happen to agree is the right one, anyway, cannot be bad, now can it?
Secondly, the party needs to heal the rift that exists between the left and the Catholic Church. I write here as an Englishman who loathes the organisation, but as an Englishman I accept the need for tolerance and compromise. The writ of the Bishop of Rome will never run in England so long as we have the Act of Settlement, and an avowedly secular population, so what is the problem? Let the Catholics keep their adoption agencies and their schools - it is not as if they are asking for very much, now is it? In return the new party would get the support of millions of Catholic working men and women who just happen to believe in the same, economically collectivised future that we want to see for ourselves.
You can see the shape of this new party dimly on the horizon. Socially conservative and economically radical: just like the class that it will represent.