Monday, 11 July 2016

Don't wanna choose, I want them both

Today The Guardian carries an interview with Kezia Dugdale, in which she outlines her current thinking on the state of UK politics.  The interviewer attended a speech Ms Dugdale was giving on the lessons of the EU referendum, of which he says
The promising premise of Dugdale’s speech is undermined by her fondness for political cliche: “Here’s the thing”; “It’s in our DNA”; “Entering uncharted waters”; “It’s a wake-up call”.
Sounds like a typical Dugdale speech right enough.  Heavy on the cliche, not so much on the inspiring rhetoric.  At best her speeches can be described as 'workmanlike' and unlikely to scare any passing horses.

The interviewer then gets to the meat of his one-to-one interview.  First of all they discuss why she wanted the job of Labour in Scotland leader in the first place.  The answer seems to be 'out of a sense of duty rather than an overarching careerism'.  One has to suspect that she was voted in as being the most middle-of-the-road candidate, who offended none of the various factions within her party.  However, kudos to her for stepping up and grasping the poisoned chalice. It's not like there's  anyone queueing up to take it from her (at least not before next year's council elections).

Next she says that she believes that Labour can fight back in Scotland as 'they are the only party that believes in the redistribution of both wealth and power'.  I rather think she's wrong on that score, since the Greens and Scottish Socialist Party are also quite keen on this for example, but at least she's retaining some optimism, hard as that must be given their recent lack of electoral success.

Ms Dugdale then goes on to talk about the result of the EU referendum and how she doesn't want to have to choose between staying in the EU or staying in the UK.  One rather suspects she has come to this view as it's one that no-one else is espousing, and there's a very good reason for that.  Ms Dugdale says that we don't yet have the full picture of what we're faced with, and she can't therefore choose between them.  Unfortunately she's behind the curve on this, since we already know that the EU leaders have told Nicola Sturgeon that they can't negotiate with Scotland while it remains a member of the UK and that if it remains in the UK it will be out of the EU along with the other home nations after the post-Article 50 negotiations are concluded.  This being the case, the whole federalism idea that she and her party are pinning their hopes on is about to run aground on the rocks of real-politik.

Really the federalism option is the last stand of the Establishment to try and stop the UK breaking up, losing them power and money.  However, it's not going to gain much traction in Scotland I suspect, because we still remember how Gordon Brown already promised 'the nearest thing to federalism' back in 2014, and look how that turned out.  The Smith Commission turned in a very watered down set of powers in its reports, which in turn was further watered down in the Scotland Bill.  Why on earth should Scots believe them this time round?

Ms Dugdale is revealed in this interview as a perfectly nice person and as a not particularly talented politician.  One can see that she and her party will have to be dragged kicking and screaming towards an independent Scotland, assuming that they actually survive the current civil war within their own party.