THE Labour party conference in Liverpool came to its conclusion yesterday with a keynote speech by Keir “Anas Sarwar says what I say” Starmer. The most exciting part of the speech came when a protestor rushed onto the stage and showered Starmer with glitter, which is guaranteed to be the only time that you will ever see the man sparkle.

As a protest, the stunt failed dismally – and not only because it remains unclear what the glitter bomber was actually protesting about. It also failed because an effective protest should make its target appear ridiculous. This protest merely bestowed the grey man of British politics with a fabulosity which he in no way deserves.

Glitter protest failed to make a mark

The protestor, identified later as Yaz Ashmawi of a small group calling itself People Demand Democracy, barged onto the stage just as Starmer was about to start speaking and yelled: "We demand a people's house, we are in crisis – politics needs an update. We are in crisis."

All of which is true – but what is a “people's house” exactly and how does it differ, if indeed it does differ, from an elected parliament?

The National:

According to its website, People Demand Democracy seeks to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with what the group calls a "permanent citizens’ assembly" – whose members would be ordinary citizens selected at random by a lottery system, rather like being called up for jury duty.

The problem with this idea is that it crucially depends on citizens being informed by a fact based and unbiased media. That is very far from the case with the British media, which has a strong right-wing bias – whereas social media is all too often a hellscape of conspiracy theories.

The abolition of the House of Lords might be a good start, but we all know that was one of Starmer's many U-turns.

Starmer quickly dropped any suggestion of abolition, or even meaningful reform of the House of Lords, within a week or two of the publication of Gordon Brown's decidedly underwhelming Constitutional Review.

READ MORE: Even Scottish Labour doesn't buy Gordon Brown's 'irrelevant' report

Reform of the unfair voting system for elections to the House of Commons and the implementation of measures to bring that sclerotic and dysfunctional institution into the 21st century was never on Starmer's radar to begin with.

This brings us to the second lesson for any effective protest, it should always be clear exactly what the protester wants to achieve. You might not agree with the tactics of the Just Stop Oil campaign, but it is crystal clear what the group wants to achieve.

Keir Starmer on Scotland ...

Starmer devoted several minutes in his speech to Scotland, mostly boosterish triumphalism on the back of the Optional Identity Mark's victory in last week's Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election. We were regaled with the sight of Starmer, standing in front of a massive British flag, in a conference hall bedecked with more British flags than an Orange Lodge's coronation party, insisting that the Labour party had defeated nationalism.

"The SNP will realise nationalism doesn't work,” Starmer asserted as he stood in front of the biggest display of nationalism that the party conference season has seen. The irony is off the charts.

The new Labour Party membership card has a British flag on one side, and a call to put "country first" on the other. It's a membership card which is functionally identical to that of Britain First. But the Labour party is opposed to nationalism, allegedly.

It's a frankly delusional stance. You don't get to claim that you are opposed to nationalism while you wrap yourself in flags and tell Sky News that you understand the "soul of the British people”.

British nationalism is pathological, incapable of recognising itself for what it is.

Is there a 'British soul'?

What is the "soul of the British people" if not an overtly nationalist turn of phrase. It assumes that there is such a thing as a single British people with a unitary identity. It subsumes those of the different nations which comprise the British state and says that this "Britishness" is a quasi-religious entity which possesses a soul. This is nakedly nationalist and reactionary language.

Starmer's speeches on Scotland essentially copy the old negativity of the last Labour government, which refuses to look at why so many people in Scotland are attracted to the idea of independence, blaming it all on "nationalists" stoking division. It's a grossly simplistic and reductionist approach which does not engage with the real drivers of the desire for independence among so many in Scotland. It also conveniently absolves the Labour party from the need for any introspection or change.

READ MORE: Anas Sarwar's family business STILL does not pay living wage

Starmer reduces a complex and nuanced issue about the future of Scotland, a topic on which many people are either undecided or open to persuasion, to trite platitudes about "nationalism". This is not how to persuade soft Yes supporters that you really understand their concerns.

The Labour party is reaping the benefit of recent turmoil within the SNP and widespread desperation in Scotland to see the back of a hated Conservative government. But the SNP's problems will not last forever – and the promises of Labour will soon crumble once the party takes power at Westminster, revealing a party which has learned nothing.

Any Labour revival will be short lived. It's Labour's brand of Anglo-British nationalism which will not work. What we are currently witnessing is not so much a fresh breath for the party as a death rattle. This will be Labour's last gasp in Scotland.

The great error Labour is making is to assume that the desire for independence is a creature of the SNP – so all they need to do is defeat the SNP and the whole issue goes away. But it's the other way around. The SNP is a creature of the desire for independence. Since Labour is unable and unwilling to address the root causes of that desire, it will inevitably reassert itself.

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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