I’m getting nothing done

I’ll have to go shopping soon. There’s nothing in the house.

I realise the way this works is that you read the last bit first, as it were. So if you’re interested enough you probably have to go back to I Didn’t Mean To Do This to get the main thrust. Otherwise I’ll try to make this self-standing if you haven’t the time.


I’m picking up on Douglas Alexander who is the last thing approaching a political thinker in Scottish Labour. I’ll gloss over the Damien McBride claims he was ready to jettison his sister in the wider cause – which may have included his own advancement. Frankly, I’d have done the same. In fact I have done, many a time when she threatened to get what I wanted. Come on. That’s what sisters are for.


Douglas Alexander is promoting the idea of a national all-party convention if there’s a No vote, and he’s right. It is exactly the right thing to do. When there is a national disagreement about how to proceed, the needs of all, but especially the majority, have to be respectfully treated. All parties, all opinions and representative groups should take part, just as they did in Iceland to find a new constitution.

I never dismiss any idea from any source out of hand. The foundation of my political belief is that I am a democrat. I am one among many. All views are relevant. I am not always right. And Douglas is never less than worth listening to.

At the same time Douglas is Labour’s election strategist, a man given to longer-term thinking and clever calculation.  He has mastered the arts of statecraft and can take credit for wrong-footing opponents. He is one of that breed of political exponents you can’t take your eye off and every time I hear him, I listen between the lines, if you see what I mean. We all learn not to take at face value the words of salesmen and manipulators even – especially – when they are offering something attractive. To put it another way, Douglas has earned our scepticism.

So, apart from a good inclusive idea what does Douglas’s convention tell us? First, if he is truly interested in the views of all, why didn’t he argue that the views of the known majority be placed on the referendum ballot paper? If we are genuinely trying to find a consensus way forward why deliberately deny the single largest group of voters – call them Devo Max – their choice in this great event of democratic history-making? It seems the views of the many only count when Douglas’s tribal enemy is first eliminated, then we can get down to democracy. I find that unconvincing.

My second thought is that Labour will struggle to produce anything credible on more powers before next September. This is partly because Johann has no devolutionary impulse of her own. She is not driven by it the way Dewar eventually was. It is not her cause. She is suspicious of what she calls the politics of boundaries. Her commission is motivated more by necessity than desire and will reflect that. I predict more powers to local government than to parliament. I’m also doubtful that Miliband will sanction whatever she produces in the face of a deeply sceptical English electorate furious at Scottish spending. (It’s a pity then the Scottish Unionists haven’t bothered to correct misleading impressions).

In that case, to get Labour off the hook, Douglas’s Convention is the perfect diversion. We don’t need too much detail on new powers or too much commitment to implement because we will all get into a big tent after a No vote and sort it out there.

That has the added advantage of suggesting the detail will have to wait for civic Scotland and others to thrash out because it’s only fair and democratic to do it that way. And if the Nationalists say No they won’t be interested in the people’s option because they were beaten.

Then there is the post referendum reaction. Enough Scots may well not be convinced of the case for independence yet but it would be a gross error to believe they will stop voting SNP. On the contrary, the polls indicate the opposite, that Scots will express their appreciation of Salmond’s gallant fight for what he believes in and, assuming he hams his way through a humble concession speech, I think there will be a sympathy vote thrown in. There will be no return to power for Labour.

In that same loser’s address I expect Salmond to thank the Scots for their thoughtful and trouble-free constitutional debate unmarred by violence or any of the nasty conflict Johann Lamont ascribes to their nationalism and then to point in her direction and demand: “It’s over to you now, Johann. You said Vote No. You promised something better. You’ve had plenty time to come up with it. In fact you said you were fed up waiting for the referendum vote. Well, we’re waiting now. The Scots are waiting. And they won’t wait much longer.”

All the pressure will transfer overnight to Labour. Instead of Unionist demands on Yes for detail after detail, it will be nationalists demanding detail and action from a Labour party unable to deliver and very possibly unable to win at Westminster. The tables will be turned and I suspect there will little support from the media who will also begin a relentless pursuit of Ms Lamont, producing a pressure she shows little sign of being able to handle.

How to reduce such scrutiny? By pointing to Douglas’s big tent, of course. You take the heat off by simply saying that this needs us all to decide together. It’s not just up to Labour. It is Scotland’s issue to solve. In that scenario Johann is just one of the contributors who will all be in it together. She doesn’t need to lead, doesn’t need to innovate or inspire. She only has to sit nice and let others do the work.

Is Douglas Alexander capable of devising such a plan? Sorry, that is rhetorical.

I’m away for the messages now. Next, I’ll layout what Johann should really have done to win the referendum for Labour all on its own without the Tories and hand oor Alex a bloody nose…

7 thoughts on “I’m getting nothing done

  1. It’s very easy to read Labour party moves whoever proposes them. Anything they suggest is in the interests of the British Labour Party and should be viewed with suspicion.

  2. WOW ……… Next, I’ll layout what Johann should really have done to win the referendum for Labour all on its own without the Tories and hand oor Alex a bloody nose…………………I am really looking forward to this one…..Johann Jackie and Margaret remind me of tenement living wimmin up a close in Oatlands (where i was brought up) anything for an argument and lots of screaming and shouting and door slamming with nothing achieved other than us kids thinking watch out Mad Wimmin live up that close. Heaven help us if one lived on the ground floor as playing in the street (which was what we did way back then) was almost impossible without spoilsport interruption. Pollyticians aye right, barrel scrapping is more like it. Though not a massive AS fan ( I have yet to get a reply from him to sent emails on various {important to me and family} topics) whereas my local Labour MP replies 99% of the time. Must try LOTS harder Alex and not by a standard reply either. But even with both hands tied behind his back I cant see any Labour MSP/MP landing a serious blow, certainly not the wooden script reading Johann……………….do surprise me with your thoughts

  3. Scotland votes No, the red or blue Tories shut down Holyrood. Bit by bit, or a quick cutting away of the nasty growth.
    The distraction of the referendum has passed, and they get back to the real Westminster duty of filling the pockets of the faithful.

  4. Derek, can’t actually give Douglas Alexander any credit for his suggestion of a convention,especially as he first announced it way back in March. With Mr Mcbrides book being serialised this week you would have thought DA would have wanted to announce it (again ) when less attention was being paid to the allegations of back stabbing ,naked ambition and self interest ,mmm
    The problem for me whether it be DA, Johann Lamont, Magrit Curran , Ian Davidson oh lets face it the whole rank rotten Labour elite is, it would appear they think it should all be on their terms. The Common Weal has done a lot of good stuff so what is to stop DA asking to participate ? Oh thats right, Labour would not be in control and as for local Govt ? Leslie Riddoch and Andy Wightman have both given talks on ‘Nordic Horizons ‘ explaining a different way how local councils could operate but oh thats right ,can’t have that because Labour might not be in control meantime your village,town,city can be gripped by inertia ( with Labour councils), frozen because they cannot afford to improve things in case it reflects well on the Scottish Govt, that is how petty it has become.
    As I think you possibly (maybes aye maybes no ) allude to ,it would still be the Douglas Alexanders (,London branch) pulling the strings while Johann ‘sits nice’ ,yeah pretty much like present .
    talking about squirrels never mind tents, clowns and circuses.

  5. Derek, I don’t react well to visions of Salmond giving a concession speech in 2014. I get nightmares. I may slit my wrists. If you’re going to do that again, put a health warning on it!

  6. If we are deluded and beguiled into voting no, Cameron will tell us all with great glee the following stages of cuts and it will be nasty. Labour is losing control of the gullible..bit by bit…I don’t want to give them any ideas.

  7. It takes a particularly nasty turn of events for the Project Fear campaign to blame the YES campaign for the vicious racist hate campaign against Scotland and its people that Project Fear has itself created and nurtured, but that is far more certain to be what happens if there is a NO vote.

    We’ve never heard a unionist politician and newspaper condemning the torrent of racist hate of Scotland and its people that pours forth each day from the pages of most of the London press, yet Project Fear will try to turn this around by blaming the YES campaign for it, without providing a shred of hard evidence to back up their claims.

    Project Fear will try to rewrite history by blaming the YES campaign, and this will be in order to give Project Fear an excuse to say that Westminster must legislate to pull Scotland firmly back under Westminster rule without any devolution and prevent Scotland from having a referendum ever again if it remains in the union.

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