Some points from my contribution to the Morning Star conference this morning on redeveloping class politics.
The class divide today is more prominent than ever before. The ruling class have a straight lifeline from Eton to Oxbridge to Parliament Commons then Lords, or sometimes straight to the Lords. The arrogance of their assumption that they can do anything they want was epitomised by Pig Gate.
The perpetuation of that privilege is reinforced by their corporate friends in exchange for tax breaks and the owners of the media who went to their schools, go to the same dinner parties and send their children to the same schools. Their class colludes to shackle the working class and to demonise the poor.
The Party of Keir Hardie has now been reclaimed by socialists from the new Labour creed and the metropolitan “professional” political class. Socialists, inside and outside of the Party now have a responsibility to defend Corbyn against the assault of the ruling class interests and the snarling Labour right who are waiting in the wings.
But we must also be honest with Corbyn, McDonnell and ourselves about where the political momentum is in Scotland. And it’s currently not with Labour. Scottish Labour has yet to earn back the trust that the working class has transferred to the SNP. The cry that “I didn’t leave Labour, Labour left me” still resonates. The 56 SNP MPs were elected to Westminster on an anti-austerity ticket. All Nicola Sturgeon had to do was take one step to he left of Scottish Labour to win that trust. People will not easily “come home to Labour” yet, and anyone who advises John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn otherwise risk the new leadership shouldering the blame for the sins of the old leaders.
The very constituencies which south of the border have coalesced around Corbyn, the anti austerity and peace movements, are in Scotland more rooted in the Yes camp. Not only should this be recognised , but also understood. Many Labour members and supporters remain supportive of independence. These people do not need converted, just accepted within the Labour Party family, the same way that the Scottish trade union movement had been able to unite across this divide.
If Scottish Labour wish to seriously challenge the SNP, it can only be from the Left, with a real alternative programme – not just a list of the SNP weaknesses. The way to expose the lack of class politics in the SNP’s programme is by injecting class politics into Scottish Labour’s own. programme