An alternate view of Scotland and the world through prose and poetry.
Thursday, 27 June 2013
Lessons from Mandela ...
many I am saddened by the death of an old man who changed his nation by
peaceful means, simply by taking a stand against aparthied. Mandela did
more to bring about change in South Africa, while in jail, than any
number of ANC / South African Government bombs or riots or killings. He
would be the first to say he was no saint but it is easy to argue he is
the Gandhi of our era, a political Buddha - enlightened, proposing
healing than revenge, steadfast on his course.
I now fear for
South Africa, as the berserker ANC Government is not that different from
the aparthied regime it replaced. The ANC still rely on division to
rule and it still operates on inherently racist, tribal lines.
Africa is on a cusp - will it stay on its present course or fall off the
edge in a Mugabwe style cascade of crony and lackeyism?
Here in Scotland does Mandela's political life have any bearing on or comparison with our own situation?
Superficially there are no similarities.
We Scots are not discriminated against in the way coloured and black races were in SA. The UK Government has not indiscriminately shot and killed peacefull protesters, there has been no Sharpseville massacre in the last four decades in Scotland, there have been a number of concessions towards the Scottish sense of nation. Some, such as devolution, prised from the unremitting grasp of Westminster, sold as a 'parish pump executive', designed and intended to fail, primarily created to 'kill the SNP stone dead', still sneered at by a Westminster increasingly fearing the popular support the institution at Holyrood is building. Labour were supposed to run Holyrood as a 'Greater Glasgow' meme, jobs fir the 'bhouys and girls', lots of grease and back handers for Labour apparatchiks, a Scottish tribal government - if you will - firmly in the London Party bosses' pockets. A subtle shafting of Scotland by the back door.
It quickly went wrong. The 'Sainted Donald' and his Libdem 'Robin' decided to test the waters, see what they could get away with, how far could they push their party bosses in London? Blair and Brown found themselves hoisted on the petard which was supposed to be dealing a death blow to the SNP. Powers that were supposed to remain on paper began to be flexed. Scottish solutions began to drift away from the right of centre political direction Labour was going, Scots were starting to see potential in their pretendy parliament, a different way, a more 'Scottish' way and because it was lead by the 'Sainted Donald', London had to sit on their hands and say nothing about what was happening, against their will, in case they blew the gaff.
Oh the relief in Blair and Brown's offices when the 'Sainted Donald' shifted from this mortal coil. A relief which was even greater than the demise of John Smith. They could get the Scottish Parliament back on their track. McLeish was seen as a safe pair of hands, Brown's protegy, from the wrong side of Scotland for most of the Labour cabal but no one could move against Brown. Disaster - McLeish went native. Out came the Labour knives, Mcleish was stabbed in the back - the pretender is dead, long live the London lackey. McConnell played the 'toom tabard' role to perfection but something went wrong, the people of Scotland increasingly were not buying the standard line of 'subsidised by England'. The Scots were saying in ever greater numbers we want full fiscal autonomy, we reject the neo-liberal drift of the UK, it is an anathema to the people we believe we are and our ways of caring for the poor, the disabled, the sick which have a 400 year tradition, imbedded in Scots Law. We do not want to break up the Union but we reject the Westminster politic. Labour's pot of 'jam tomorrow' was increasingly seen as empty across Scotland.
In 2007 the 'stone dead' party comes out as the biggest party at Holyrood and what is more they form a minority government. Labour's Scottish arm is in ever increasing melt down, this was not supposed to happen. Brown takes the huff and cuts funding to front edge technical developments in Scotland to demonstrate who is boss. The Scots do not do contrite, we do thrawn. Wendy Alexander comes and goes with a knife in her back when she crosses Brown and Murphy with her 'bring it on' cry on the issue of a referendum on independence letting the cat out the bag with which Labour now indiscriminately belabour themselves with. Somehow Ian Gray gets to be Labour leader, he is clearly an even emptier 'toom tabard' than McConnell and the lines he is given to say by London look ever more at odds with the way Scotland is thinking about itself than his predecessor. Labour can not understand, it has lost control of its own 'Botswanna' tribal homeland. Scotland does not believe the too poor, too stupid, too small propaganda line being spun by a clearly failing Labour Government, along with Brown's spurious, meaningless and frankly embarrassing 'Britishness' campaign.
In 2011 the 'stone dead' party does what was supposed to be impossible in Labour's cleverly rigged, pretendy, Scottish Parliament - they get an outright majority. Labour get a new leader as a minotiy party, one who is even emptier than all the previous ones since McConnell added together - Labour has become a negative political sum. They keep hold of their Glasgow fiefdom by the skin of their teeth and call it a success while across Scotland Labour now had the lowest number of councillors in over three decades.
The 'gemme's a bogey' for an increasingly right wing Labour Party in a left of centre Scotland. The scare stories about the SNP bogeymen and women go into overdrive, the rending assunder of a once great nation will be a disaster for Scotland, without London rule we will do something stupid, we Scots are not to be trusted with Scotland.
All the time the personal attacks against the SNP leadership increase at an expotential rate as Mandela was compared to Mugabwe; so is Salmond - along with being compared to Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and even Pol Pot as Labour's desperation to strike out looses all political sensibility. Labour's propaganda is now simply a muckspreader towed behind a tractor which has seen better days. The muckspreader frequently jams and ends up spraying themselves or they keep on having to put the wheels back on their tractor as they frequently fall off. The tractor has only two gears working, first and reverse, and reverse is getting harder and harder to engage.
Labour's new friends in the Tory party all chip together and get Labour a better tractor to demonstrate how sponsorship is the best way to work better, together. The problem is they just stick the same, old, failing muckspreader behind it with all its unrepaired faults, routinely spraying the insides of their 'Better Together' campaign with muck that was meant for elsewhere. The Labour tractor driver complains the new tractor has no reverse.
All the while the case for Scottish Independence, Labour's real terror, grows. This is not because of riots on the streets, past massacres by the UK Government of Scots, forced displacement of her people to parts of the old and defunct empire but simply because Scotland is a different land with different sensibilities that no longer chime with the increasingly right wing politics of the UK Union at Westminster.
There was a glue that once bound us together, it was a product of the last war against a right wing government, it was the Welfare State. The same Welfare State as the Tories and their Labour allies are dismantling in England, at great cost to the most vulnerable in that country, while throwing money at the richest in the UK and beggaring the rest of the UK, to prop up London.
Regional aparthied is alive and well in the UK Union.