Keith Hart on Sat, 9 May 2015 15:42:19 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Guardian > Irvine Welsh > Labour risks failing the

   In the late 90s I met the US ambassador in Paris. He asked what Tony
   Blair was going to do with the pound/euro issue. I said the question
   should rather be which of Blairâs subjects he could bring along to take
   part in any currency deal. By that I meant that the United Kingdom,
   formed just 300 years ago, was the most unstable polity in the advanced
   world and could succumb at any time to any combination of
   constitutional crises: Europe, Scotland, two Irelands, parliament,
   voting system, monarchy, regional devolution, Londonâs dominance â you
   name it. He was pleased and said that the Brits were always
   condescending to the Yanks in Europe, so next time this happened, he
   would ask âWhat are you doing about your creeping constitutional

   Fast forward to 2005-6 when I published a couple of articles on the
   fringe of the London media (Times Higher) about [1]the multi-cultural
   aftermath of the bombings and [2]the British national identity crisis.
   I drew on the same repertoire of creeping constitutional crisis, with
   maybe 15 elements this time.

   Well, earlier this year I asked myself what had happened to this
   prediction. Nothing of course. But being part of a Norway-Scotland
   project ([3]J. Bryden and O. Brox eds 2015 Northern Neighbours:
   Scotland and Norway since 1800, Edinburgh University Press) revived the
   sense I have always had from my friend, John Bryden, that the Scots
   could lead the way to the âbreak up of Britainâ (I never bought Tom
   Nairnâs political line, but it was fun). The revelation for me was that
   the 2015 election created a confluence of circumstances that could
   ignite a serious set of interactive problems â Scotland, Europe, the
   voting system, powers of parliament, especially if it was a hung

   So I ran with that scenario and asked what could be immediately
   disastrous for the status quo (the monopolistic and undemocratic London
   troika of politicians/bureaucrats, media and finance). The idea I came
   up with was the demise of the Labour Party. Everyone is asking how the
   English could vote Cameron in again â and he now has a working single
   party majority which will ensure that the kind of questions entailed in
   a hung parliament are deferred indefinitely. I have my own answers to
   that, but the reason for my cataclysmic speculation went deeper: the
   Labour Party was seeking election on an unelectable platform. They
   promised even more austerity than the Tories. They backed Trident. They
   followed the Toriesâ script on Scotland. Itâs like Miliband just wanted
   to ask, How far do we have to bend over in order to be allowed some
   crumbs of government? And this was not what the parts of the electorate
   with some sympathy for Labour wanted. Nicola Sturgeon made it clear
   that a bolder and more compassionate approach would probably pay
   electoral dividends. In addition he was a weak and unconvincing
   character. The party itself has fallen into the hands of a North London
   clique of Guardian-reading social workers whose only aspiration is to
   be accepted as legitimate members of the national elite. It should be
   unsurprising therefore that the Labour high command would not allow
   itself to embrace anything that smacked of socialism and they never
   knew how unconvincing they were as second-class Tories. Plus of course
   the SNP was going to wipe them out in Scotland, their regional base
   since Keir Hardie.

   The Tory/newspaper campaign was disgusting. But the English voted Tory
   because they feel very vulnerable in this post-imperial phase and they
   are not going to abandon the establishment for an ostrich party wedded
   to an incoherent and retrograde strategy (we must keep the UK at all
   costs, even if it is already moribund). Maybe the English will slide by
   default into xenophobic fascism. But the opposition to the ruling class
   in London will be formed by a drive for devolution, with the Scots and
   Sturgeon in the vanguard. One Welsh politician this morning said that
   if the English vote in Cameron, the Union itself comes into question.
   Then there is the West country, Yorkshire, the post-industrial
   Northwest and Tyneside, just for starters. The Labour party could
   easily break up: Blairites vs old left, Scots going their own way. The
   politics of the coming period will be about the consitutional
   settlement, about what comes after the UK.

   So this has been my own little private journey so far this year.
   Thinking about Scotlandâs money options in a Scandinavian context
   certainly pushed me along this road. The question of timing is always
   hard. The point, however, is to build a coalition of interests that
   would devolve power away from London and make British politics more
   democratic and society more just. I am convinced that the whole show
   could fall â the monarchy, Church and state, the City, Lords etc. It
   has to come to that really if there is to be any hope of progress.

   Keith Hart

   On Fri, May 8, 2015 at 9:18 PM, Flick Harrison <> wrote:

     "What gave me, and many on the left, the biggest problem with Scottish
     independence, was the idea that we were running out on our English
     comrades, leaving them to the mercy of a built-in Tory power
     block. "

     Reading as a Canadian, this hits home.

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