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Wings Over Scotland

Seeing no ships

Posted on September 26, 2012 by

This is what our dear old pal, the arch-loyal true-believer Scottish Labour activist Duncan Hothersall, appears to believe happened (or rather, didn’t happen) yesterday:

This is what actually did happen:

“Alex Salmond is quick to point to the high levels of welfare in Scandinavia but those universal benefits are paid for by high levels of taxation. Scotland cannot be the only something for nothing country in the world. And I will not tolerate a country where the poorest pay for the tax breaks for the rich.”
– Johann Lamont, 25 September 2012

We’re trying really hard, but for the life of us we can’t formulate an interpretation of those words that ISN’T saying universal benefits in Scotland are “something for nothing”, and that DOESN’T attack them on the grounds that they represent a subsidy of the rich by the poor. Can any keen students of doublethink help us out?

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24 to “Seeing no ships”

  1. Doug Daniel says:

    “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.”

  2. panda paws says:

    Happy to help with your confusion. Just (re)read 1984 by George Orwell.
    Peace is war and black is white
    And if I remember correctly, a new version of written words completely erases the previous version from history.

  3. Doug Daniel says:

    Here’s another whopper from Duncan:

  4. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Here’s what I don’t get. (Well, one of about a thousand things.)

    If in this terrible unaffordable future Scotland universal benefits were paid for from taxation (like they are now), would Johann then be in favour of them, or would they still be a bad thing because the poor would be subsiding the rich? Because it would then follow that ALL universal benefits are ALWAYS bad, in and of themselves, regardless of whether we can afford them or not. And that’s something of a shift in Labour ideology for sure. It would unquestionably necessitate the dismantling of the NHS for a start.

  5. Adrian B says:

    I thought that Labour wanted a discussion. seems like there has been quite a bit of backtracking already this morning. Question – is this backtracking official policy or do labour think they need to dig themselves out of a hole. Perhaps it’s not Labour fault, perhaps it’s our fault that Labour got it wrong again.

  6. Commenter says:

    So by ‘Nothing’ does Johann mean… ‘Taxation’?

  7. Andrew says:

    “It would unquestionably necessitate the dismantling of the NHS for a start.” And the state education system, as well as other services such as roads, environment, museums, etc, etc. Indeed we should have a sliding scale of VAT as well. Why should a rich person get to buy stuff for the same price as a poor person.

  8. Doug Daniel says:

    Adrian – I believe it’s our fault for not bending it over and taking it like a man, like we used to do in the days when Labour had absolute power in Scotland.

    Quite selfish of us all, really. 

  9. Adrian B says:

    This is the real problem facing real people who rely on the benefits system today! Why does Johann not comment on these problems facing real people?

  10. Aplinal says:

    One thing that always a(be)muses me when the subject of universal benefits arises is the “complaint’ by the reasonably well off (for example Professor Richard Kerley on NNS) to claim “I get all these benefits, but I am really OK, so it’s stupid” (I paraphrase here). 
    Well, I have a message for you, Professor Kerley, if you think you don’t need a bus pass – don’t use it!
    If you don’t need your 200 pound winter fuel allowance, send a cheque back to the Treasury – they will not refuse it!
    In most cases, if not all, the additional costs related to administering any kind of means-tests outweighs the cost of the ‘free’ benefit.  
    Yes, it is right that these should be looked at, but on NNS Lamont got ‘upitty’ when challenged – so how can you have a debate, if you’re not prepared to debate?
    I am going for a lie down!

  11. Doug Daniel says:

    Stu, you’re absolutely bang on. Like @UKfacepalm has been tweeting this morning, once you go down this road, you get people asking all manner of things about “why should I fund this thing when it doesn’t benefit me personally and I pay for it myself?”

    It’s the Thatcherisation of Scotland. We never fell for Thatcher’s “I’m all right, Jack” ideology in the 80s like England did. Yo-hann seems to think it was because it was delivered by the Tories rather than Labour. I happen to think it was because it went against the grain of the sort of people we are in Scotland. I’m not dumb enough to think Scots are somehow genetically egalitarian, but I do feel there is a sense of community in Scotland that we’ve managed to retain, despite the forces of neoliberalism throughout the world over the past few decades.

  12. Ah wilny hear a word against wee Duncan. The laddie’s goat enough proablems.

  13. balgayboy says:

    So, Duncan Thearsholl..excuse the misspelling! denies what the leader of the uk labour/tory party in  scotland categorically stated what she wanted her tory policy to be introduced to the people of scotland. He needs to go and learn the basic english language and understand that spin is not the common language to the normal working people of Scotland. Tube

  14. YesYesYes says:

    Although we’ve had a lot of fun with this and, let’s face with, with such a soft target as Scottish Labour it’s difficult to resist the temptation to ridicule them, there is a more serious side to this.
    What seems to be happening here – and it’s part of a discernible pattern since 2007 when the SNP came into government – is that Scottish Labour is doing everything it can to limit the distinctiveness of Scotland from the rest of the UK, particularly England, and to prevent the SNP from promoting anything significant that demonstrates Scotland’s differences from the rest of the UK. Even when British Labour at Westminster are, in opposition, relaxed about or even supportive of policies like universal benefits, minimum alcohol pricing, free prescriptions and so on, Scottish Labour has found the most slender pretext to oppose the introduction of these policies by the SNP in Scotland.
    If this is true, then it’s a damning indictment of how Scottish Labour sees devolution. We all know that one of the real reasons that Scottish Labour introduced devolution in Scotland was to create the impression (for the benefit of Scottish Labour voters) that devolution would give Scotland some protection from the worst effects of Tory policies at Westminster. Of course, this was never Scottish Labour’s official position, because for Scottish Labour to admit this would be to admit that Scotland NEEDED to be protected from the effects of the policies of Westminster governments. And if this was ever consistently projected into the public domain by Scottish Labour, it would only be a matter of time before the Scottish electorate would reach its own conclusions that only independence could protect us from the policies of Westminster governments.
    Since 1999, Scottish Labour has always been aware of this danger but as long as they were in government in Holyrood they could contain it, whilst maintaining a veneer of Scottish ‘distinctiveness’ with relatively safe policies like the smoking ban. But the 2007 election result changed this cosy consensus between Holyrood and Westminster, and the 2011 result smashed it altogether, with the important difference that it was now the Tories who were in power at Westminster. None of these events were in Scottish Labour’s script in 1999.
    So we’re left with the question: why is Scottish Labour so desperate to limit the distinctiveness of Scotland from the rest of the UK, particularly England? The answer is obvious. The more distinctive from the rest of the UK that Scotland becomes, the less fearful will Scottish voters be of independence. Of course, for the same reasons, it’s in the interests of the SNP to promote Scotland’s distinctiveness from the rest of the UK. Fortunately, the electorates in both Scotland and England are helping the SNP here and it’s this growing gap between Scotland and the rest of the UK that Scottish Labour needs to close, hence Johann Lamont’s speech yesterday.
    I still think that Lamont’s speech was Scottish Labour’s ‘New Labour’ moment but there’s more to it than that. Like Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army, Lamont is out of her depth as a party leader but it suits those senior members around her in Scottish Labour to let her believe that she’s in ‘charge’ while they go about the important business of politics. Lamont’s speech was clearly authorised by London HQ because they understand that everything possible must be done to maintain the illusion that the UK is ‘one nation’.
    Lamont’s speech is a good example of what the Americans call a ‘snow job’, orchestrated by London HQ. London HQ encourages Lamont to assert her ‘distinctive’ leadership by advocating that Scottish Labour must think the unthinkable. This creates the impression that Lamont is really in charge of Scottish Labour and is promoting ‘distinctive’ and autonomous Scottish Labour policies. But the real objective is to limit Scotland’s distinctiveness from the rest of the UK and maintain this illusion that the UK is ‘one nation’.

  15. Doug Daniel says:

    Tony Blair brought us New Labour. Johann Lamont brings us Nae Labour.

    You can see the PPB now: “Nae free prescriptions, nae free bus passes – we are Nae Labour.”

  16. balgayboy says:

    YYY: Very good post as usual, but unfortunately for myself I have got fed up with trying to understand the reasoning for the empty unionists anti-scotland agenda. The Americans may call it a ‘snow job’ In this case I  would call it a ‘blow job’ by the self serving sycophantic scottish politicians who would deny the people of our nation the right to decide their own future and aspirations so they can to endear/be-knight themselves for their own ends to their london masters. Grrrrrrr

  17. YesYesYes says:

    I share your frustration and I’m pretty sure most of the other contributors to this blog do too, even though it provides us with endless entertainment. I’m encouraged, though, by the extent to which we’ve shaped the agenda of Scottish politics in ways in which, even as recently as 6 or 7 years ago, were unthinkable. What makes this even more remarkable is that the SNP has only been in government for 5 years and let’s not forget, for most of that time, it was a minority government constrained by the arithmetic of parliament in what it could do, not to mention the biggest economic crisis since the 1930s.
    Scottish Labour has been floundering ever since they were relieved of the responsibility of their comfort blanket, rubber-stamping government in 2007. If Lamont’s speech is their attempt to reclaim the agenda in Scottish politics then their voters are being sold a pup, for the Scottish electorate has already given its emphatic verdict on this agenda in the 2010 British general election. The blue Tories in England got there first.
    We’re now being governed by a party that has 1 MP in Scotland. The only loose analogy I can think of here with England is this: imagine if, after the 2010 British general election, the one Green MP elected in England in 2010, Caroline Lucas, had become prime minister and had formed a coalition government with the Lib Dems. Of course, the analogy doesn’t hold up for obvious reasons, but in terms of the mandate that the present government has in Scotland in terms of seats, it’s not difficult to imagine both Tory and Labour voters in England reaching for their pitchforks in this scenario.
    It’s here, I think, that Scottish Labour was thinking about the future in 1999. Their hope must have been that, in the event of a Tory government being in power at Westminster, the Scottish parliament would provide a political safety-valve in Scotland to take the sting out of Scottish opposition to the Tories. The spanner in the works now, of course, is that we have a majority SNP government and an independence referendum on the horizon. That has changed everything and Scottish Labour is now in the most invidious position it has ever been in its post-war history.
    Who would have thought that the day would come where Scottish Labour would unashamedly campaign shoulder-to-shoulder with the Tories, and where Scottish Labour would be advocating Tory policies as the ‘voice of reason’ in Scotland? But, politically, there really is nowhere else for them to go. Even if their instincts were to shift to the left – and those instincts dissipated decades ago – they couldn’t do it, because the Tories at Westminster would destroy British Labour if this happened. British Labour could wave goodbye to the support of Tory voters in middle England if Scottish Labour ever created this schism in British politics.
    Anyway, that’s enough chuntering from me. What I really wanted to say is that I much prefer your version of events to mine – “blow job” is a vast improvement and probably much more accurate than snow job! 

  18. Davy says:

    Aye, as soon as labour relised the bolloxs they and their “leader” had made, out went the call for Duncan Hothersall the man with more twists than a very very very twisty thing to sort the problem.
     First thing to do is utterly denie anything was ever said !! it was all a mass illusion , and in fact it was the SNP’s fault for being in government in the first place. And just to make sure “Tuesday 25th SEP 2012” did not exist and must be coloured in with a permanent marker (red).

    Duncan Hothersall, labours permanent marker.     

  19. Arbroath 1320 says:

    Awe come on now folks, we’re all being too hard on wee Lamont. Instead of getting on her case for being the dingbat we all know she is we should all be CONGRATULATING her on that FABULOUS speech she gave yesterday.
    Now I know what your ALL thinking. Arb has lost the plot. Well to be fair I don’t think I ever HAD the plot in the first place but that’s another story. Hence the reason I had “The Darkened Room” built! 😆
    No, I’m being serious, for once. We should really congratulate Lamont on her speech yesterday. She has managed to do something NO politician has EVER managed to achieve since the early 80’s.
    Now THAT is NO mean achievement!

  20. Don McC says:

    In fairness, allowances have to be made for the fact that Duncan’s the worst kind of fan boy fanactic.  He’s the laddie after all that claims Iain “the Greyman” Gray would have been quite willing to co-operate on bringing forward a referendum bill, if only that smarmy Salmond had been man enough to present it.  At no point in time did Gray say he opposed a bill and he never once said with the country in recession that it was the wrong time to have a bill.

  21. Dorothy Devine says:

    Seems familiar somehow!

  22. Appleby says:

    Duncan is soft in the head, as are the rest of his kind. It’s sad, really. A well trained sycophant who holds a religious-level belief in whatever the head of his Church of Labour tells him, even if that week it is that they should burn babies alive and whip pensioners naked through the streets. Otherwise he would wake up and realise that everything fell apart and moved on long ago as Lamont and co. over the years have repeatedly spat in his face in return for his blind grovelling, service and worship.
    He believes in the Party above all and at any cost. Policies or people take second place at best when in competition with his faith.

    Unfortunately there are still a good few of such fanatics in Scotland and the UK, clinging blindly to their chosen party, no matter what. People need to think more about policies and effective government that benefits the people, not a religious or football team mentality for politics. It’s this abuse of blind lifetime loyalty that has held things back for so long.

  23. Al Ghaf says:

    Has Ed played Johann like a fiddle? Is this policy shift to make Labour appeal to the voters in England who resent the free prescriptions, free university etc. that they perceive Scots enjoy at their expense?

    Or worse, did Johann know that was Ed’s intention, to appeal to the Daily Mail Scotophobes, and went along with it. 

    Perhaps the calculation is that Labour is down to its core vote in Scotland, and so can act with impunity but may pick up more votes in England for putting the boot into the uppity Jocks. The views of Duncan Hothersall and Terry Kelly et al suggest that in the eyes of many Labour supporters in Scotland, the party literally can do no wrong.

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