stooges of the Kremlin

Wings Over Scotland


Diff’rent strokes

Posted on January 06, 2013 by

Against our better judgement, we found browsing the Twitter feed of the Labour MP for Glasgow South (remember him?) on Friday for the first time in several months, after some irresponsible person (specifically this one) drew our attention to the fact that Tom was still boasting proudly about the Downfall-parody video clip that got him in trouble last year. And a couple of things struck us as at least vaguely interesting.

One was the “biog” entry below the avatar, which is a variant on a well-known chant often aired by fans of defunct Glasgow football club Rangers FC – “Nobody likes us, we don’t care”. It seems an odd, confrontational attitude to adopt for someone who relies entirely on being liked by the public to still have a job.

But it was the rest of the feed that revealed the oddest thing.

Tom Harris is on the right wing of the Labour Party, although admittedly that’s a fairly fine distinction in these “One Nation” days. He constantly rejects any notion that the party should move back to its roots on the left on the grounds that such a thing is electorally unpopular (in itself a strange and somewhat defeatist creed for any political party), and sure enough Tom’s tweets from the preceding 24 hours alone were full of such arguments, essentially insisting that Labour had to adopt Thatcherite economic policies in order to be electable.

But that got us thinking – if Labour’s reaction to defeat by the Tories is to become more Tory, how come their reaction to defeat by the SNP isn’t to become more nationalist? Why have they turned into fundamentalist Defenders Of The Union in Scotland, rather than trying to steal the SNP’s clothes by championing some sort of devo-max (which would also give them the huge morale boost of an almost-certain victory and put the party on a massive high going into the 2015 and 2016 elections)?

We’d ask Tom, but after we stealth-interviewed him at the end of 2011 he doesn’t talk to us any more. Can anyone hazard a guess? We’re not even being sarcastic.

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    24 to “Diff’rent strokes”

    1. Seasick Dave says:

      Leave it Stu, he ain’t worth it. 🙂

    2. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      The tweets on the site are often interesting and sometimes profane. Kenny Farquarson is a regular twit 

    3. Angus McLellan says:

      I think Tom covered that in his tweets Rev. It’s about wallet appeal. But in this case it’d be Labour MPs’ wallets rather than those of working class voters. Is there a prize?

    4. Morag says:

      Er, because it’s true that losing their Scottish seats in Westminster would put the UK party in a bit of a bind?

    5. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      We know it’s not, though. 

    6. Morag says:

      I don’t know.  I know it hasn’t been a big factor in the past, but in the present political situation it could be a bigger factor.  In any case, it doesn’t need to be empirically true to frighten them witless.

    7. Barontorc says:

      Having lived through the radicalisation of the Labour ‘left-wing’ party to centre-right visionaries, it’s doubtful that true labour, pragmatic socialist labour exists any more and that being the case, how can socialists still cling to this party?

      When we talk of members and voters we tend to talk of sympathisers who support a common cause. Where has that common socialist cause disappeared to? Is the big-brother value too important, does it now supersede principle? These people claim to represent Scottish people. Why ditch them for a crazy UK feed-fest machine run from London?

      Are these ‘socialist’ spokespersons now defending the status-quo, which is the perpetuation of their cronyism and self-service, because it is their only value left – self-preservation?

      There is no question these same characters will seek political placements when we become independent, so what does that say about their whole scale opposition to the independence movement right now?

      Are they representing themselves or the political best ideal for their country – in independence that will be for Scotland and its neighbours, not a UK, with Scotland tagged on as a dependent benefits junkey as claimed.Cut the bloody ties that bind and let us get on with it.

      When will they cross the chamber? 

    8. Doug Daniel says:

      Opportunistic careerists like Tom join the political party that best provides them a route to power, regardless of their actual ideology fitting that of the party. They’ll then try to change the party from within if they need to. 

      Independence is a pure and noble motive. For Labour to turn nationalist, it would require natural nationalists to join Labour and rise through the ranks pretending to be unionists, and then trying to change the party after an electoral disaster. Would it be wrong to suggest that such people would not be in favour of the noble pursuit of independence in the first place…?

      As an aside, how on earth do right-wingers like Tom even win support from their local party to stand as candidates? Did he spend his early Labour years pretending to be a communist or something (aka the John Reid strategy)?

    9. Boorach says:

      There was a time when labour politicians joined the party for reasons of belief. They believed that the socialist way was the best for their country and their common man.

      Now, however, for the majority of them the driving force is their THIRST for powerwhich is your driving force and what matter if slaking that thirst involves the abanonment of all the principles on which, that once proud, party was built.

      Today in the UK maximum power rests with Westminster so all auld Claes must be cast aside to appeal to middle England’s voting majority. The VULGAR fraction is principle over policy equals power or at least in the perception of our esteemed friend and his cronies.

      Let’s not forget that there are still socialists in the labour party in demonstrated by ‘labour for independence’ and give that section of the party all the support we can. 

    10. Macart says:

      Denial and guilt singularly and collectively?

      Denial, because he/they still can’t believe that what he/they considered a small movement progressed and evolved into a popular and formidable political opponent overtaking Labour at the gallop.  

      Guilt, because this party became  a party of government promoting and defending more effectively the policies and rights which Labour should and could have from the positions granted them by a faithful electorate. 

    11. Munguin says:

      We all know that Tom’s non-political creed (i.e. before he discovered Labour nepotism at Strathclyde Region and Glasgow City Council…..those watchwords in the Scottish lexicon for corruption and chicanery) was the dizzy heights of an erherm journalist on the East Kilbride News and the Paisley Dailey Express. Now he makes a career of blotting his copy book, being in the wrong place at the wrong time and toadying for the wrong wannabe. Oh and he is not that much of a Doctor Who fan either, he didn’t know who Roger Delgado was, so no doubt that was just another bandwagon that stopped at his door!

    12. Macart says:

      How could you be a Dr Who fan and not know the Master???? Now that was a baddie to get you ducking for cover behind the nearest sofa. 🙂

    13. Vronsky says:

      A Labour MP, now retired, told me that he joined the local Labour Party because it guaranteed that he would get a seat in parliament.  Had the Tories offered the best opportunity he would have joined them.

    14. DougtheDug says:

      But that got us thinking – if Labour’s reaction to defeat by the Tories is to become more Tory, how come their reaction to defeat by the SNP isn’t to become more nationalist? Why have they turned into fundamentalist Defenders Of The Union in Scotland, rather than trying to steal the SNP’s clothes by championing some sort of devo-max (which would also give them the huge morale boost of an almost-certain victory and put the party on a massive high going into the 2015 and 2016 elections)?
       
      Labour are an integral part of the British Establishment. Shifting right or left doesn’t really matter because they still get to be elected to Westminster in a Buggin’s Turn arrangement and the career path to the House of Lords with a touch of ermine round the throat, a title, a very generous attendance allowance and a flunkey serving tea is still open with the fall-back option of a title and directorship/consultancy somewhere in the city. Labour have integrated fully and become the British Establishment and they’re not going to give up the perks without a fight.
       
      Devo-max will never happen and to support it will open a tin of nationalist worms when it isn’t delivered. Nationalism threatens the British Establishment gravy train, dancing right and left round the British Establishment maypole doesn’t.

    15. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “Labour are an integral part of the British Establishment. Shifting right or left doesn’t really matter because they still get to be elected to Westminster in a Buggin’s Turn arrangement and the career path to the House of Lords with a touch of ermine round the throat, a title, a very generous attendance allowance and a flunkey serving tea is still open with the fall-back option of a title and directorship/consultancy somewhere in the city. Labour have integrated fully and become the British Establishment and they’re not going to give up the perks without a fight.”

      Man, I was so hoping it was something less cynical than that.

    16. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      Many years ago Teddy Taylor (whom I spent a day with outside a polling station at a Glasgow Council by election) told me that exactly about Donald Dewar and John Smith. He also admitted that he had been a member of the Glasgow Uni Nationalist Club but could see no personal  political career for himself as a nationalist.
      I also have a cutting from the Telegraph somewhere  quoting a legal colleague of Tony Blair who says that Tony approached the Tories first as potential candidate but veered off to Labour when the Tories told him he would have to serve an apprenticeship first as Tory candidate in some no hope seat in the North. He veered off to Labour and got a winnable seat immediately.
      John Bercow did his “apprenticeship” at Motherwell South when I was election agent
      (1987 I think) there

    17. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “I also have a cutting from the Telegraph somewhere quoting a legal colleague of Tony Blair who says that Tony approached the Tories first as potential candidate but veered off to Labour when the Tories told him he would have to serve an apprenticeship first as Tory candidate in some no hope seat in the North.”

      Would LOVE to see a scan or pic of that.

    18. Luigi says:

      I have come to the conclusion that the Scottish Labour party leaders are willing to commit suicide, and endure decades of Tory rule, as long as the union is saved. A very noble stance, but is it shared by the party rank and file? We shall find out, soon enough. Unfortunately for Darling, Milliband and Lamont,  the great official party of the union, the Tories are far more pragmatic, and seem to be preparing to let Scotland go. The Tories are pragmatic unionists, whilst Labour are dogmatic unionists. Oh, the irony.

    19. James Morton says:

      Its got to the point were it appears as if Scottish labour has become a parody of an incompetent organisation. It’s beyond satire or any attempt to make fun of it.
      They are so incompetent that they are not even aware of their short comings. This confidence in moving to the right and adopting the position of a former opponent, being correct for Scottish Labour to hold, is based on a untested assumption that it is working for Labour in England. This is of course entirely a subjective position, it’s based on opinion, its not based on any objective reasoning. Whats worse its a subjective position that the conservatives in Scotland still hold to this day, and we all know what happened to them. The conservatives in scotland became and remain unelectable in Scotland. For scottish labour to adopt conservative language let alone conservative tactics speaks of a level of incompetence that is quite breathtaking.
      They are making poor choices and of course, and this is the crux of it in my opionion, their incompetence prevents them of realising this. So when they do fail, they will blame external factors and the result of that, is to believe that they are actually doing a pretty good job and don’t need to change. You see this illusion of competence in the Conservatives approach to defeat. In blaiming their failure on Scottish tribalism, the myths of the whinging scot, Scots are all hooked on benefits, Scotlands inherent anti-englishness, it allows them think that they have the stronger position and will one day be proven correct. Its how Ruth Davidson could make a speech and claim 80% of the nation contributes nothing to its wealth. Although it is also evidence of cognitive bias in that Davidson, again making a subjective value judgement, neatly avoided the fact that she worked for the BBC before becoming a politician and that both positions are payed for through taxation.
      So what does this mean for Scottish Labour. I have written here before about the peter principle and I still think that explains quite a bit as how Scottish Labour ended up losing, but not really explaining the path it chose to take based on a descreditied attempt to introduce thatcherism in Scotland. This in the end is comes down to “monkey see, monkey do”.  It’s a form of coping mechanisim. They lost in Scotland, not once but twice. In council elections they saw their vote share shrink. They didn’t win as they like to claim, they just didn’t lose as badly as they thought they might at the time. Imagine a scene were a city is besieged, the outer wall is breached in places but the defenders manage to hold on. The enemy are still at the gates but somehow the generals are talking of glorious victory…but I digress. back to the monkey.  They are casting about for a way back to power and have simply decided to imitate ed Milibands approach to getting right of centre floating voters to back labour. It means pissing off northern english left of centre voters, but UK labour hope they can hold on to enough of those and win the southern english floating vote which has always been more right of centre. Electorally speaking, it makes sense for miliband to adopt this approach. But it makes no sense for scottish labour to adopt it. They would need an approach tailored to deal with Scottish issues and the lay of the land would demand a more centrist, leaning towards the left strategy. But this would require an awareness of the danger they are in, as Shakespeare said “The fool doth think he is wise,
      but the wise man knows himself to be a fool”
      As their position fails to secure support i would expect the level of ad hominem attacks to increase and become more surreal. In fact its already been happening – michael kelly’s op piece in the Scotsman was proof of that.
       

    20. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      Rev Stu

      I will search for it. It’s in a wallet of a folder or something but that’s ten years ago at least.

    21. Aplinal says:

      @Dave/Rev

      I have read (somewhere, can’t recall at the moment) that Blair’s father wanted him to be a Conservative MP.  Is that where the story comes from?  Given his background and education – Fettes, St John’s Oxford – this may not be surprising.  He certainly had a more “conservative” look and ‘feel’ about him than a typical Labourite.  Compare/contrast with Gordon Brown for instance. 

      It would certainly be interesting to find out if that story has any provenance.  

    22. Dave McEwan Hill says:

      Aplinal

      I very definitely had the newspaper clipping and am now engaged in a monumental search. If you could see my wee doocat with about three decades of accumulated political debris you would realise how monumental this task is – especially as I know I put it somewhere safe. If you cannot remember where that “safe” is it is undoubtedly very safe indeed.

    23. Indy says:

      It is interesting because the Tories present absolutely no electoral threat in Glasgow South or indeed anywhere else in Glasgow or 90% of the rest of Scotland. Yet Tom is fixated on beating the Tories. In England. The fact that he can contribute absolutely nothing to this process seems to have passed him by.  It’s actually a bit cheeky of him to even get involved because he doesn’t represent an English constituency, he doesn’t have any stake, he’s just an onlooker really.  Yet he likes to lay down the law as though he was a participant. Evidently he has too much time on his hands.

    24. molly says:

      Now Indy ,Tom Harris did make a very telling contribution to the recent debate on pensions.Something about the welfare or provision for circus animals,I kid you not,meantime back in the debate the coalitions proposals to change the pensions for the public sector etc carried on.
       



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