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Scottish Labour clearly view this as time for payback. The same score-settling will be happening all across the country.

Monday, March 18, 2024
4 mins

Heard It Already

by Rab Clark

Yesterday we had to go to Saltcoats.

In the pedestrianised section of the main shopping street (Hamilton St), Scottish Labour were out introducing their prospective Westminster candidate, Irene Campbell.

We didn't accept a proffered leaflet and so we don't have the details of whatever promises she's conveying to the people of North Ayrshire, but she looked happy enough and had a team of perhaps ten similarly chirpy characters.

The pitch they'd chosen was the elevated stretch of pavement outside the old church which served briefly as a very grand pound shop but now lies empty. And the young lass who normally sits on the ground at that section, passively begging, was nowhere to be seen.

This tweet shows the group getting ready for action. In the 15 hours since it was published it has received 15 likes, one retweet and no responses:

(1) Scottish Labour Saltcoats - Search / X (twitter.com)

We've been trying to work out why we felt mildly sick after passing them and why that feeling won't go away...

If someone tells you a joke, the last thing you expect is that they'll repeat it immediately. You don't turn on the radio and expect the same song to be playing every time. You don't eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. The inevitable result would be nausea.

But that's what the impending general election campaigning has in store for all of us. The same smiles, the same leaflets, printed on the same paper, with the same colours, typography and rhetoric. The same dread as you go about your business in the main street, trying to negotiate separate clusters of apparatchiks earnestly disposing of their allotted batch of promo material as quickly as possible.

It might be different if there was any prospect of a healthy and civilised discussion but that time passed long ago. In the case of Scottish Labour, that became impossible for many of us when they followed London HQ's order to join the Better Together campaign. And now, for reasons which have been catalogued in excruciating detail over the past nine years, SNP activists find themselves in the same position. In 2015 it was Katy Clark who faced being hoofed despite being regarded generally as a responsive and effective MP for the area. Now it's Pat Gibson's turn and Scottish Labour clearly view this as time for payback. The same score-settling will be happening all across the country.

We can do no more than offer honest assessment of what's happening and how it feels right now to be involved in this farce. Because the main thing that stays the same and will never ever change unless we force the issue, is the significance of abstention. Prospective candidates representing the red and blue and yellow have one priority - getting their party over the line. They'll do and say anything to secure your support up until the point where you mark that ballot paper. Thereafter, as we've seen time and again, you, your family, friends and communities are of no interest to them until the next time the circus has to roll into town. They know it, we know it, and they know we know it. But they also know that our awareness of the scam makes no difference - it'll be business as usual, no matter how few ballots are cast, and the lucky winners will get at least a few years of decent wages/expenses/pension contributions.

Writing this has helped us work out why we felt sick yesterday and why the feeling won't go away. It's dread.

Dread because, if the way we're feeling is at all typical for great numbers of people across the country i.e. the 60% of eligible voters who didn't turn up in Rutherglen, then there's going to be trouble. And it won't be low-level SNP vs Labour activist shenanigans such as happened in Garscadden back in the day when Donald Dewar won the seat 46 years ago. It won't be Alba or ISP activists having run-ins with Tories. It won't be any of the above having a square-go with Lib-Dems.

It'll be people like us who feel that we have no-one to vote for and that our legitimate aspirations for our communities and country, as represented by a succession of political parties that we empowered, are simply ignored. Many of us will be telling these characters what we felt like saying yesterday - to get to fuck out of our main streets. And under the new Hate Crime legislation, that's looking for trouble, isn't it?

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