IT’S hardly surprising that Angela Rayner, the deputy leader of Keir Starmer's Labour Party, is not a big fan of Scottish independence.

Starmer has shown himself just as keen as the Conservatives on denying Scotland the second independence referendum which the electorate gave Holyrood an unequivocal mandate for at the last Scottish Parliament elections. Instead of accepting that the people have spoken, Starmer and his Scottish branch manager continue to parrot the slogans and arguments from a 2021 Scottish election campaign which their party resoundingly lost. 

Speaking with Conservative broadcaster Iain Dale at an event during the Edinburgh Fringe, Rayner said that the idea of Scottish independence is "not very nice", and claimed that it would condemn people in England to perpetual Conservative rule.

Rayner was displaying that peculiarly British Labour Party understanding – although “dunderstanding” might be a better word – of solidarity which sees the role of Scotland as being to sacrifice itself and its interests in order to rescue England from the consequences of its own democratic choices. 

READ MORE: Angela Rayner: Scottish independence 'not very nice' and means 'perpetual' Tory rule

The truth is that we would still have a majority Conservative British government even if every single Westminster seat in Scotland had been won by Labour. Even a cursory look at the electoral history of the UK shows that what Rayner said is not true. Scottish MPs make up a mere 9% of the total number of MPs in the Commons. How Scotland votes can only make a difference to the final outcome and the party of government if the result in England is very finely balanced.

However, Labour are very much hoisted by their own petard on this issue. When Labour did last have a solid majority at Westminster, they rejected any suggestions that the unfair first-past-the-post system be abandoned. It likewise replaced an undemocratic hereditary House of Lords with an equally undemocratic appointed House of Lords. Labour is every bit as in thrall as the Conservatives to the prospect of the absolute power that the Westminster system offers to a party with a majority in the House of Commons. It is rich indeed that the British Labour party demands that Scotland is obliged to rescue it from a dilemma of its own creation.

It is not Scotland's responsibility to save Rayner's Labour Party from their own inability to get the electorate in England to vote for them. Yet Rayner and other Labour figures continue to view Scotland as a sort of electoral airbag whose job is to protect the British Labour Party from their own ineptitude. Yet the thing about airbags is that the car still crashes and the airbag gets burst. What Rayner and other Labour politicians are demanding from Scotland is not solidarity, it's a suicide pact.

True solidarity cuts both ways. True solidarity would mean a Labour Party which respected the democratic choices that Scotland makes. That would entail recognising that Holyrood was given a mandate from the Scottish electorate for a second independence referendum and accepting that the arguments that Anas Sarwar still trots out against that referendum are arguments from an electoral campaign which Labour fought and lost – and lost badly at that.

True solidarity would mean that Starmer would accept that not all the nations in this supposed union voted for Brexit and trying to find a formula that works for all instead of doubling down on a hard Brexit because Labour seeks votes in Brexit-supporting constituencies in the north of England.

Labour has no right to demand solidarity from Scotland if it displays no solidarity with Scotland. Instead, what we see from the British Labour Party is the same Anglo-British entitlement that we get from the Tories – Scotland is merely a resource to be milked for their own needs.

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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