The Tory Party is split down the middle, with uber-Brexiteers at odds with the Prime Minister and 80 Tory MPs willing to vote against their own government’s plans. A leadership election is an ever present threat.
Meanwhile, the burden of austerity weighs heavily across the UK, with health and social care spending cuts linked to 120,000 excess deaths in England. There has therefore never been a better opportunity for Labour to hold the ailing Tory Government to account. Yet three-years after Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour eeleader, his influence has been one of polarisation, with Labour beset by crisis in Ayrshire, Scotland and across the UK.
My Cunninghame North opponent in 2016, Johanna Baxter, went on Channel 4 in July 2016 after her ousting from Labour’s National Executive Committee to say she felt let down by Corbyn’s refusal to denounce “intimidating behaviour.”
North Coast Councillor Alex Gallagher said to Labour’s leader in Scotland Richard Leonard last January “Does equality include loyal Labour members who have given years of selfless commitment to the party only to be spat on by johnny-come-lately SWP rats? Or does it not?”
Kezia Dugdale MSP, Labour’s leader in Scotland until August 2017, said last weekend after Labour refused to continue supporting her in a legal battle “Labour made a promise and it's not a good look for any political party to fail to keep its promise. This is what it's doing to one of its own, so how can people trust that party in any other aspect of life if this is what's happening? Also, they put me in the most horrendous position.”
Edinburgh Labour MP Ian Murray on Sunday criticised his leader, saying “Mr Leonard has gone strangely silent, because he’s merely the nodding dog to Corbyn. Now it’s simply what Corbyn says or you get ostracised.”
With Labour MSPs badly split, their Shadow Cabinet at Holyrood verges on collapse.
Meanwhile, summer saw Mr Corbyn forced to apologise after accusations of Anti-Semitism. The chilling image of Jewish MP Luciana Berger entering Labour’s Conference flanked by police protection officers perfectly captures the pervasiveness of this scourge.
In July, Labour MP John Woodcock resigned, saying he “could not remain in a party that tolerates Anti-Semitism.” Soon after, Labour’s longest serving MP Frank Field resigned after 39 years, citing “a culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation.” A fortnight ago, former Labour Cabinet Minister Chuka Umunna MP, denounced his own party as “institutionally racist.”
This deep unrest consumes Labour politicians, preventing them from presenting positive policies for Scotland and the UK. Last week, former Prime Minister Tony Blair said “This is a different type of Labour Party. Can it be taken back? I don’t know.”
Labour also suffers from deep splits over its ludicrous Brexit policy “constructive ambiguity” which pretends to remainers it wants to stay in the European Union, while convincing leavers that it doesn’t!
Following their Conference, Labour’s Brexit plan is no clearer. However, Mr Leonard confirmed on the BBC that Labour would oppose a second independence referendum stating: "We just had a referendum in 2014. We think that settled the will of the people of Scotland.”
Strangely, during that same programme, Mr Leonard said a second referendum on Europe was possible. One wonders why Labour will consider a second EU referendum just two years after the Brexit vote, while four years after the independence referendum is “too soon?”
Labour cannot be taken seriously as a government-in-waiting, in Scotland or the UK until their toxic culture of bullying and intimidation is resolved and clear policies established. Meanwhile, the SNP will continue opposing the disastrous Tory Government and its damaging policies.