‘We need a healthy opposition.’ How many times have you heard political commentators say that? It’s true of course. All democracies require the party of power to be challenged.
A healthy opposition can ensure even those voters who found themselves on the losing side still get to hear their views articulated in the chamber. The losing side doesn’t stop believing it was correct just because it lost an election. Indeed even though it lost, a supportive media can still ensure the losing party sets the political news agenda, thus applying pressure on majority administrations.
In Scotland things are a little different. The party of power is the SNP. Fifty six MPs in the general election and a majority administration at Holyrood give it a mandate like no other – one it cannot implement. A majority Tory Government at Westminster means the SNP is an opposition government. It has support in Scotland without power.
Recent polls suggest Nicola Sturgeon may well eclipse the historic result of 2011 and return an even stronger SNP majority than that attained by her predecessor Alex Salmond. Whether this will increase the strength of the SNP hand against David Cameron remains to be seen.
This mandate, according to Scottish Labour leader-in-waiting Kezia Dugdale, means Scotland is a one-party-state. Dugdale launched her leadership bid this weekend and the claim is straight out of the Murphy/McTernan handbook. It’s a rehash of the old chestnut that the SNP is a dictatorship. It comes in all sorts of guises and was a cloak Unionists regularly flung over Alex Salmond whenever they wanted to portray him as some kind of despotic Panto-villain.
The claim is nonsense of course. The definition of a one-party-state is a state with only one party. Think China or North Korea for the image Dugdale is trying to convey. And that’s the problem. This isn’t opposition, it’s demonisation.
Dugdale is essentially trying to persuade voters that there is something sinister about the SNP. It came only days after author JK Rowling accused the SNP of being anti-English. Rowling of course is good friends with Gordon Brown’s wife Sarah.
It’s even more bizarre when you consider that whilst Dugdale is busy demonising the party supported by most Scots, she says little about David Cameron’s colonial attitude to Scotland. Scotland is a one-Tory-MP state, but it won't stop Cameron imposing his policies on us. What now for Scotland's renewable revolution?
I hoped that the near wipe-out of Labour at the hands of the SNP might force radical change amongst the party in Scotland. However that disappeared when Jim Murphy announced his intention to postpone his resignation as leader in order to rewrite the party’s rule book in Scotland. I saw immediately what he was doing. It was a London coup aimed at using the Holyrood list in order to install defeated MPs into the Holyrood Labour group.
Labour in Scotland cannot now change. It can no more act independently of its London leadership than my arm can act independently of me. The entity known as Scottish Labour is now and forever London Labour in Scotland.
Since the SNP shocked the Labour party by winning the 2007 Scottish election, Labour in Scotland has been no more than a guerrilla organisation out to sabotage the SNP administration for fear support for independence may rise. The Edinburgh Trams and Minimum Pricing for Alcohol spring to mind. The attempt to use sectarianism at football was more evidence of a party out to undermine through any means possible.
This is a party not of opposition but of sabotage. Scottish Labour’s main goal is not to regain power but to ensure that the SNP does not succeed in its bid to maximise the power of Holyrood. If Kezia Dugdale wanted to end what she called a one-party-state then what better way to do it than to adopt policies that will ensure voters are attracted to her party. Adopting Devo Max would be a start.
Scottish Labour isn’t interested in what’s best for Scotland. It has become nothing more than a pro-Union guerrilla group. It cannot change. It will fight to maintain the Union in its current form until it is extinguished.
We have to ensure this entity never again recovers in Scotland.
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GA Ponsonby is the author of 'London Calling: How the BBC stole the Referendum'.
Available to purchase in paperback or Kindle HERE.