THE Labour party conference is currently underway in Liverpool, a conference which is just as delusional in its own way as the Conservative party’s in Manchester last week.

Relatively little attention is being paid by the British media to the Labour conference, due to the focus now being on the unfolding tragedy in Israel and Gaza. Although the two events are of course completely unrelated, it's very convenient to Keir Starmer that media attention is currently elsewhere.

The Tory conference was delusional in its overt espousal of dangerous far-right conspiracy theories and its demonisation of powerless minority groups in a blatant attempt to distract from the manifest failures of the past 13 years of Conservative government. Rishi Sunak was at pains to lead us to believe that all has nothing whatsoever to do with him, an effort in which he dismally failed.

The Labour conference is delusional in an entirely different way.

Labour's shtick at this conference is to pose as the party of "change" – while doing its utmost not actually to change anything much at all.

Didn't Labour used to oppose NHS privatisation?

The NHS in England is in deep crisis, but Labour's shadow health secretary is proposing only to provide limited funds so staff can do more overtime. So Labour's solution to the staffing crisis assailing the NHS is to encourage over-pressed staff who are rapidly approaching burnout to spend less time with their families.

An NHS campaigner was removed from the Labour conference after calling for an end to private sector involvement in the service – and for a Labour commitment to making it a fully public owned, managed and controlled service. For his pains he received a slow hand clap from delegates, which ought to tell you all you need to know about what the Labour party has become under Keir Starmer.

I'm old enough to remember when calling for an end to NHS privatisation wouldn't get you booed off the stage of a Labour party conference. Harry Leslie Smith (below), the veteran campaigner who addressed the Labour conference in 2014 on that very topic and received a standing ovation, will be turning in his grave.

The National:

The party leadership is being accused of "gerrymandering" conference debate in order to ensure that the leadership does not face an embarrassing vote on ending private sector involvement in the NHS in England.

Speaking to local English newspaper the Banbury Guardian, one Labour member and conference delegate said: "It's pretty clear that delegates are being directed to support the 'NHS Fit for the Future' option, whereas the real Labour concern should be with the future of the NHS as a national public service, without more creeping privatisation taking profit out of our publicly-funded health service.”

“The splitting up of [the] NHS debate and the names given to the choices is deliberate, to ensure the renationalisation option is not even mentioned," said the activist, adding: "It is a blatant attempt at gerrymandering."

The conference venue is liberally plastered with Union flags, which is about the only way in which Starmer's Labour party still qualifies as liberal. Visually as well as in policy there is little to distinguish the Labour party from the Conservatives.

Why are there so many flags? In order for Labour to prove that it's not nationalist at all – another aspect of the delusion which has engulfed both the major parties in British politics.

Are Labour the 'party of devolution'?

Meanwhile Labour, the soi-disant “party of devolution”, is refusing to rule out further use of the controversial section 35 order in future. This is the "viceroy measure" which permits a UYK Government Scottish Secretary to unilaterally overrule a Scottish bill passed by Holyrood, thus ensuring that it cannot pass into law.

Alister Jack deployed this hitherto unused measure in order to prevent the Scottish Gender Recognition Reform Bill from passing into law. His use of a section 35 order is currently the subject of legal action by the Scottish Government.

During an interview on BBC radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, Labour's shadow viceroy general Ian Murray refused to rule out using section 35 orders in future – although he insisted it would be as a "very last resort".

The big fear about Alister Jack's cynical use of the section 35 order on a highly controversialm topic was that it was a Trojan horse which would serve to normalise the use of such orders, opening the way for Westminster governments to use them more frequently in future.

Murray's comments appear to confirm those fears.

As SNP MP Pete Wishart noted: "It would seem that voting Labour would mean replacing one set of democracy-denying, parliament-constraining, Scotland-bypassing bunch of Unionists with another.

"Labour now seem determined to continue the Tory agenda of muscular Unionism, reminding Scots of their place in their broken Union."

Alister Jack avoids scrutiny

The National: Alister Jack was visiting Vietnam (PA)

Meanwhile the current democracy-denying viceroy general Alister Jack has snubbed yet another invitation to appear before a Holyrood committee in order to give evidence about the UK Government’s decision to block the deposit return scheme (DRS) in Scotland.

This latest snub now means that Jack has declined four invitations to appear at Scottish Parliament committees seeking to question him about a variety of issues. There is now a longstanding pattern of British Government ministers refusing to appear before Holyrood committees.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that this is part of a deliberate policy of contempt. One which the Labour party gives every indication of continuing.

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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