DURING the campaign for the local government elections which took place at the beginning of this month, Anas Sarwar, the branch office manager of the Labour Party in Scotland, announced that councillors elected for Labour would not play the game of “political party stitch-ups”, and would not make any deals with other parties in order to form the administration in Scottish local authorities.

That was a high horse that was boiled down for glue within a few days of the election results being declared. Still, at least we can't accuse the branch office of lacking efficiency under Sarwar's management. It used to take them a couple of months to renege on their pre-election promises.

It has always been the jibe of independence supporters that if you vote Labour, you get Tory. Independence is necessary for Scotland because for decades Scotland voted Labour at Westminster elections but got Conservative governments anyway as voters in England, for reasons of their own Anglo-British nationalism, kept voting Tory.

However, in the aftermath of the Scottish local elections, Labour have taken this to a whole new level.  Thanks to a series of political party stitch-ups of the kind that Anas Sarwar promised that Labour would foreswear, Labour have ensured that the Conservatives form a part of the ruling administrations in a number of Scottish councils, including Edinburgh, South Lanarkshire, Stirling and West Lothian.

So now it's not just "Vote Labour, get Tory" because of the voting habits of the electorate in Scotland's much larger southern neighbour – it's "Vote Labour, get Tory" because the Labour Party actively collude in ensuring that the Conservatives are able to exercise power. Even where, as in Edinburgh, the voters resoundingly rejected the scandal-ridden Conservatives at the ballot box. 

Labour's tribal hatred of the SNP is far more powerful than their proclaimed opposition to the Conservatives, and their opposition to Scottish independence is so strong that they would rather do grubby deals with the Tories than share power with the SNP. 

As a strategy for a Labour electoral recovery, this willingness of Labour to side with the Conservatives in a British nationalist alliance is likely to be self-defeating. Some anti-independence supporters may have returned to Labour from the Tories in these recent elections, but for every vote that Labour have lost to the Conservatives, approximately three have gone to the SNP. Labour's only route back to their lost electoral dominance in Scotland is to persuade former Labour supporters who have spent the last decade backing the SNP to, in Sarwar's entitled words, "come home".

That's not going to happen if independence-leaning voters toying with the idea of voting Labour again see that by voting Labour they are merely enabling the Conservatives. Labour in Scotland may have been taken over by kneejerk apologists for British nationalism who are deep in denial about their own nationalism, but the Scottish voters that Labour must win over can see the hypocrisy of the Labour Party all too clearly.

You cannot proclaim that you are the best party to protect ordinary, working-class people in Scotland from a scandal-ridden Conservative party which grows more corrupt and authoritarian with every passing day while at the same time doing grubby deals with the Tories.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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