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Wings Over Scotland

Right leg in, left leg out 38

Posted on May 14, 2012 by

The sheer speed and barely-concealed enthusiasm with which Scottish Labour has reverted to its true neo-liberal type given even the slightest sniff of any kind of electoral success has been startling. Having gained a few dozen seats, almost all from the Lib Dems, in the council elections, the party has lurched back to the centre-right positions it occupied before the 2011 Holyrood parliamentary election, having abandoned several of them in the run-up to that vote in a desperate attempt to avert defeat.

We’ve already seen Johann Lamont doggedly refuse to oppose the renewal of Trident, and Glagow council leader Gordon Matheson prepare to backtrack on years of anti-sectarian progress by allowing the Orange Order to greatly increase its toxic presence on the city’s streets (a prime example of the Bain Principle at work, in the wake of the SNP’s controversial Offensive Behaviour At Football Act – if the SNP are taking steps to tackle sectarianism, Labour must take steps to encourage it, however insane that is or whatever their previous policy might have been).

And last week we saw a party whose 2011 manifesto opened with the dire warning “Now that the Tories are back” take every possible opportunity to jump into bed with the Tories in councils all over the country, giving the lie to the constantly-pushed official media narrative that the SNP and Labour are two near-identical centre-left social-democratic parties separated only by their disagreement over independence.

(Since the constitution is outwith the remit of councils, you might therefore imagine that Labour-SNP coalitions would be the norm all over the country, aimed at fighting savage Tory cuts together while Holyrood argues about the referendum, but Labour seems far more concerned with battling the nationalists rather than the right-wing Coalition and its increasingly discredited austerity programme.)

So perhaps nobody ought to be surprised that at the weekend Johann Lamont decided to test public opinion by suggesting that Scottish Labour – which is currently strangely at odds with the UK party on the subject – might once again abandon its opposition to university tuition fees.

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