SINCE that glorious summer of 1997 when it seemed that a Labour government might at last have the wherewithal to drive home lasting societal change in the UK, the party have never lost any opportunity to disappoint its core support.

Such was Tony Blair’s majority that he was guaranteed at least three terms of government, a stretch which amounts to a generation. Instead, he chose a strategy of aggressive caution.

One of the abiding memories of the 2015 Westminster election campaign two decades later was of older Labour voters in the party’s Glasgow strongholds turning hesitantly towards the SNP. When I asked them about the principal reason for doing so, they all cited the failure of Blair’s government to reverse Margaret Thatcher’s pernicious anti-trade union laws.

Some also pointed to Gordon Brown’s continuing indulgence of the financial and banking sector in a forlorn bid to win their trust. Brown seemed to have been paralysed by the political equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome. His kidnappers remain at large on a high street near you.

Some insist on advancing the notion that incoming Labour administrations must always apply a rinse to the red rose to make it more acceptable to a wider constituency. Curiously, no such concessions are expected of Conservative governments. All Tory administrations are propelled into office by working-class votes as there will never be enough of their own to guarantee electoral victory.

Not only do they successfully pull off this confidence trick, they somehow also succeed in having the memories of their working-class supporters wiped clean when another election beckons.

Since Labour lost power in Scotland in 2007 and at Westminster three years later, they have never remotely looked like regaining it any time since in either political realm. In Scotland, the party has allowed itself to be consumed and driven half-mad by its hostility to Scottish nationalism.

Nothing else seems to matter than that Scotland must remain part of the United Kingdom come hell or high Brexit. Its senior personnel and former leaders continue to appear at events sponsored by Scotland in Union. This is an organisation that is so right-wing that it will soon be demanding a wall be built in Glasgow stretching from Cathedral Street to the Clyde to stem the flow of commies and nationalists from the east end.

In England, Jeremy Corbyn held out the hope that at last we had a conviction politician at the helm of Labour who was capable of scattering the moderate careerists making a dishonest penny from the party and cutting through the fusillade of falsehoods and conspiracies of a right-wing press spooked by his terrifying authenticity.

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Now, his principles have been pulverised and scattered in the Brexit threshing machine. Monday’s lamentable performance on Theresa May’s sinister Immigration Bill was another indication that Labour have lost their moral purpose. Gordon Brown initiated this betrayal with his British jobs for British workers theme. Those Labour MPs who oppose a second People’s Vote on Brexit claim they must keep good faith with voters in their constituencies who voted Leave.

Does that mean then that every Labour candidate who wins a Tory seat must advance cautiously on social reform for fear of upsetting fickle constituents?

Labour continue to support Trident and the £30 billion cost of replacing the current class of submarines. A distressingly high number of the party’s MPs voted for air strikes in Syria in the knowledge that civilians would be put at risk. Kate Hoey is still in the party ... and Hilary Benn and Stephen Kinnock.

I feel that now may be the time for the party to stop kidding itself and the rest of us and consider a re-branding exercise. Thus something more malleable and elastic might emerge like Labour-lite that is guaranteed never to scare the horses. Its slogan could be “Keeping things in Perspective”. Dr Vernon Jones, the great mentor of Dr Martin Luther King once told his protégé: “If you see a good fight get in it.”

UK Labour’s version would be: “If you see a good fight, volunteer to hold the jackets.”

On child poverty: “let’s see where we are in 20 years’ time”; on immigration: “let’s not be too hasty”; on food banks: “maybe we could all donate a tin of carrots”. At least we all know what the Tories stand for. Meanwhile, Labour are still looking for fences to sit on.


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AMONGST the garlands and salutations that greeted the unveiling of the V&A Design Museum in Dundee yesterday, I must have missed the paragraph that said Prince William and Kate Middleton would be performing the official opening.

Who made this decision? The Scottish Government is by far the major funder of the V&A, contributing more than £30 million. I have no doubt that it will prove to be money well spent on one of the most important cultural projects ever undertaken in Scotland.

Thus I’d have expected it to have the final say on who got to declare the V&A officially open. As such, I’d have expected them to have said “anyone but the British royal family”. But then I was similarly puzzled by the decision – again taken in secret and with no apparent debate – to name Glasgow’s new Southern General after Queen Elizabeth.

Dundee was one of four regions to come out for independence in 2014. Much was made of the potential of the V&A to help transform the economy and marketability of a city sorely-hit by poverty and social challenges. The British royal family represents a system which encourages unearned privilege and inequality. It sits at the pinnacle of a social structure designed to retain power, money and influence within the hands of the fewest number possible. The British royal family has no business here.


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ROSS Greer seems to cut a dash in Holyrood and has successfully come through the job creation scheme for environmentalists otherwise known as the Scottish Greens. I’d caution him against wasting too much time, though, on making his animosity against Winston Churchill a personal crusade. 

Greer is a talented and eloquent politician who could have a big future in the affairs of this country once he finds the exit door from the telephone box that is his current political home.

More people than Greer will admit now that Churchill was a malevolent old colonist who permitted atrocities to happen in the dying days of the British Empire. Let’s speak frankly here: the entire British Empire and its history was an atrocity and an affront to human decency and Scots played more than a passing role in maintaining it.

There are still many Scots and their families who remember also the atrocities of the Second World War and the pure evil of the Nazis and their death camps. They will always associate our deliverance from this with Churchill’s leadership. This will never change. 

History gives us some imperfect heroes whose lives would not bear much moral scrutiny. Save your anger and your intellect for the inequalities and human suffering that are happening in this country right now. You can’t change the past, Ross but you are young enough and smart enough to help alter the course of our current journey.