Posted by: rosa alba | July 3, 2014

Composting the Decomposing Labour Rose: a Kristevian-Existentialist Analysis.

Tonight I am in despair of democracy, due process, intellectual debate and political integrity.

The entitlement and the blindness to their own faults of those in Westminster, in power or on the other side of the Foucaultian coin that maintains the hegemony, is distressing.

It is more distressing when it IS those in opposition, those who previously wore the ermine-less mantle of socialism and solidarity. No one likes to watch the stridor of death throes, not least of something in which  you once believed.

An unbridled profiteering and individualism is the unfortunate mark of today’s politcal right in Westminster. Rapaciousness is disagreeable, and unpleasant but to be anticipated. There is after the Thatcher years, a certain expectation of the cult of Mammon.
But with the political left, Labour, we have evidence of  complete breakdown. The other side – the Opposition – even in Foucaultian analyses, should be moving against the dominant side (to define it by comparison) or eventually risk becoming one with the other side of the coin. And Labour has flipped. .
This morphing may have caused the complete breakdown: almost like psychological “decomposition”.

I am not sure that Labour know who or what they are, having offed the heroes that were Benn and Foot, and silenced or quite effectively side-lined the likes of Tatchell and Diane Abbot, and now even poor Dennis Skinner (Canavan jumped, integrity intact). No definition of  Labour  in three words, or 140 characters.
In wanting to be Desired (the gazed upon) to the exclusion of all else, in trying to be what Other was, they have lost Self (and socialist being): you cannot be both Self and Other; you cannot be both Subject and Object; you cannot be both Heads and Tails.

And, with no clear set of ideas or politic-philosophical framework to define them, or to serve as parameters,  with no opposition on the other side of the Chamber to define them (what they are and what they are not: for Labour and ConDem are Same) the breakdown occurs. The lack of structure to define identity means a lack of structure to define behaviours. Stockholm Syndrom.

The Liberal Democrats avoided this, perhaps, through not being in the Opposition of a still, effectively, two-horsed race, rather in becoming one with Conservatives in the coalition; it may be that the LibDems are reflecting back the Gaze, without becoming the Gaze: there may still be in their interactions a relational Self and Other, Subject and Object.

Applied to the Union, while England has assumed at some level that Scotland and Wales reflect back the English Gaze – and it has -there has never been this assumption of Sameness. England, Scotland and Wales retained separate
identities.  Isobel Lindsay spoke of this concept of identities – of the different demographics not of the English and the Scots who hold these separate national identies but of what the identies themselves are (or reflect).

Better Together further complicates Labour’s ability to know who or what it is, and consequently how it is to behave. Better Together  is a broad spectrum – if single issue – political alliance, from UKIP and the Orange Lodge to Labour and Gorgeous George Galloway (whose gallantry is no longer misplaced, just seemingly absent altogether). Even George has adopted the tendency to decry foreigners, in his defence of the Union. That is a simplification of his arguments, but the volte face is quite hard to comprehend. As with Labour his logic seems in disarray.

The worrying focus on hurling accusations of Naziism around seems to be a dissonance and contradiction. Those being identified by Labour’s gaze are the more coalescent and politically consistent grouping of the Yes Campaign. The SNP and its fellows in the flowerbed of Independence are all left of centre: the manifesto promises equal rights for all, including the LGBT community, the Deaf Community and those with Additional Support Needs and Mental Health issues. It promises housing, education, healthcare, a living wage, affordable childcare, renewable energy. Further it promises renationalisation of services and utilities and separation of Church and State, and aspires fuurther  to Land Reform, and Collective, Cooperative and Community initiatives as an ongoing and defining  ideology and praxis. A modern socialist state. The ideals the Left itself once aspired to, from the embryonic incarnations of the Chartists and other such movements, through the Cooperative Movement, the Establishment of the Labour Party, the Red Clydesiders and into the Garden City Movement.

It seems that the name-callers, predominantly the Labour and Scottish Labour contingents of Better Together, although the name itself covers the belying reality of internecine strife, should praise  the proposed  egalitarian structures, the and the socialist ideals of Future and an independent Scotland.

Labour is left sitting shouting in opposition to these ideals  because they oppose Independence; they  also sit in opposition to the Coalition, while simultaneously not just endorsing the policies, tax initiatives, benefit cuts, bedroom tax, privatising de-construction of the NHS and other policies, but stating they would be as if not more draconian in their legislation and policies.

The accusations of Fascism come from, in part the unavoidable association of Nationalism and Nazism – Nazionalsozialismus (which was not, of course, Socialism by any other cognate of another name), and the 20th Century Socialism/Fascism dichotomy. If not Socialism then Facism.

From a Labour Perspective, unbelievably, there must still be retained among the faithful a blind perception of being Socialist (by tradition or through being in opposition politically at Westminster, who knows?) At Holyrood, too, the Labour Party sits (as the second largest group) in opposition to the Scottish Nationalist Party (who espouse uniformly at Holyrood and at Westminster, the same socialist agenda). A confused piggy in the political middle.  With regard to their place in Better Together, the Yes Coalition is “not us” for Labour, therefore Fascism, despite the evidence.

But it is not the 20th Century, far less the 19th C, of the  two-horse oppositional political race. For all there might be less difference between Conservative and New Labour than between Tory and Whig, there are, even at Westminster more horses in the race. The Con-Dem Coalition itself is evideence of that, without the no longer stalking horse of UKIP. At Holyrood there are six parties and the process is multi-party and, ideally, cooperative rather than the confrontational that Labour cut its teeth on, a hundred years ago.

My aim is not to suggest how or if Labour can go through some therapeutic process to rediscover itself, far less what schools of therapy it needs. I am here to reinforce that, come Independence, Scotland can through democratic process redefine  and adopt effective, people-centred, people-driven government that builds on the true principles of socialism: All of us first, and Common Weal.

I am not sure this explains the complete and utter Balls-up by Labour in terms of HR and Management. Not only was there no rigorous vetting of prospective candidates in a decade where people leave clear paper and ethernet trails,
but a glaring absence of a hastily written Social Media Protocol that any half-competent organisation would have produced if not years ago, then 17 days ago, or at the very least by Tuesday this week, in the interests of containment and self-preservation after the Wiles debacle.
I do not know what any rank and file Labour acolyte was doing posting anything other than what they thought of the football, where they were going or what M&S Dine at Home special offers they had for their supper the day before.
The evident lack vetting or of briefing on political ettiquette for the social media-focused 21st Century, where there is no stone under which to hide from the random predating iPhone, is indefensible in an organisation which hopes to have its hands on not just a national budget, but the button of a nuclear weapon.
The see all evil, hear all evil, click-and-capture world of today is good for democratic process and involvement, but bad for indiscretion. Moments of minor indiscretion will happen, of course,, but as 15 minutes of fame really does struggle to stretch beyond 5 days (a week in politics is longer than ever). a quick, no-nonsense but sincere apology is the solution. Obfuscation and deniability of major faux pas is not. And collusion of the press in covering up gross  political malfunction or gross misjudgement is unconscionable in a country, where, unlike Spain in the Franco era, the mainstream press is largely uncensored.

It is obvious that Labour IS in complete, self-combusting disarray, beyond the usual powerplays of politics and jockeying for position, and has no clear vision as to its future.


  1. All that would appear is the Labour party going through some sort of cognitive dissonance. They have characterised the Scottish Independence debate as being between internationalist solidarity and ‘blood and soil’ Nationalism. They are wrong, especially as the SNP have stolen their left wing credentials. Now they are locked into a death struggle for the soul of the (left) voter in Scotland, and looking more threadbare by the day as they try to walk a line between allying with the Tories and decrying the “nationalists”

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