We listened to an interesting chat on Good Morning Scotland earlier today (it’s right at the start, just after the news) featuring Gerry Hassan and the sharp New Statesman reporter Stephen Bush, which briefly discussed a curious political phenomenon of the 2000s where people said they liked certain policies until they were told they were Tory policies, at which point their opinions changed.
It put us rather in mind of a classic 2000AD comic strip called The Ballad Of Halo Jones, and in particular a short episode from it about a character called The Glyph, which seemed to us to sum up the current dilemma facing the Labour Party on both sides of the border – but especially in Scotland, as was rather strikingly illustrated by a revealing interview with Kezia Dugdale on Friday.
So we thought we’d share it with you, because sometimes pictures say a thousand words. Especially if there are several of them and they also have words on them.
Just four months out from a general election, Dugdale pathologically avoided nailing down a single Labour position, dodging questions on taxation, welfare and universal services. But the truth is that it didn’t matter.
Dugdale’s party has switched back and forth so many times on pretty much every principle it ever stood for that when people hear a new policy announcement they just shrug in boredom and move on, knowing that it’ll probably have changed again next week, or that if they somehow got into power it would change then, just like the commitments to electoral reform and not introducing tuition fees and etc etc.
Whether it’s the council tax freeze or “something for nothing” benefits or Trident or just about anything else you could name, Labour have held every view under the sun at some point or another in recent history. Their pronouncements are meaningless, and because they’re meaningless they’re boring, and because they’re boring nobody pays any attention to them.
The only solution to that is to nail the party’s colours to some masts and keep them there for years – something the current Labour seems catastrophically unable and/or unwilling to do, and which will be a long-term project even if they do ever get round to it. In the meantime, the rest of us have a long period of Conservative governments to look forward to.
The Glyph makes one more appearance in “Halo Jones”. We don’t want to spoil the book for you, but it doesn’t end well for him/her/it. Perhaps someone should buy Kezia Dugdale a copy before it’s too late.