Can a Corbyn Victory touch Scotland?

Red Tories out

Siobhan Tolland

As the sweeping change is formally announced within the Labour Party it feels like we are watching the second political earthquake of the year. The first one,  of course, was the swathes of yellow that swept across the Scottish map during the General Election. In a stark contrast to the Conservative Party’s victory in England, we voted overwhelmingly for social, political and constitutional change.

I recall thinking that we were witnessing a revolution during the referendum. And then again when the General Election occurred: it was merely a continuation of that process. Here in Scotland we felt it. We felt the political earth crumbling beneath us and new ground forming. By the time people were dancing in the streets the weekend before the referendum, we knew the Union’s time had come. The referendum was not an end, just a step forward in the path to self-determination and a direct challenge to the UK state.

But would we have thought, in any way, that less than six months after the General Election that an anti-austerity veteran peace campaigner would overwhelmingly win the leadership of the Labour Party? Could we have predicted that in any way? But then could we have predicted the referendum revolution also?

Now I know, for Scotland, the Labour Party is anathema and it really should be, given how they have operated. And I think we have to be clear of how politics is operating here. In Scotland we still work on the assumption that Labour is dead. Their position on our self-determination is still their death rattle. But an English political structure voting overwhelmingly for a shift away from the extreme right wing agenda is something special, clear and potentially revolutionary.

As a Scot who is a member of SNP, I congratulate the Labour Party in England for their victory. I am genuinely excited and very happy that people are beginning to unpick the right wing neo-liberal politics in a sustained and humane way. But I look on as a neighbour wishing them well. I look on as seeing another direct challenge to the state. One with many similarities to ours here in Scotland, but not the same one.

And it isn’t the same. And to assume it is the same will be Labour’s problem here. Our progressive challenge is deeply ingrained in a movement for self-determination. The Labour Party is not. That is our clear and ‘line drawing’ difference. We can work with Labour at a UK political level. Indeed, the victory for Corbyn makes a working relationship between SNP and Labour much more feasible. We can now mount an opposition to Cameron’s clearly cruel, cold and calculating policies at a UK level.

However, as a word of caution to Corbyn and the Labour Party. This victory to the left will not win over Scotland. A working relationship with Labour in Scotland will not be possible unless their position on self-determination changes drastically.

But as neighbours who have experienced our own revolution I look on with excitement at how this might change English politics. And it is English politics that have changed today. Congratulations to Corbyn and the people of Labour who overwhelmingly voted for change. I hope we develop a great working relationship with this new Party in Westminster. But here in Scotland, our revolution happened a year or so ago and the key is independence. We left the Labour Party behind back the. And, with a pro-Unionist stance, Labour cant even hope to touch our movement up here, despite Corbyn’s victory.


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