The new right wing leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Anas Sarwar, has already put the party’s back on the Kezia Dugdale (Blairite) track.
Former left leader Richard Leonard stood down when wealthy party donors told Starmer either Leonard went or they did.
This came shortly after an attempted coup by several Labour MSPs in September . To the dismay of the party’s left, Leonard was unwilling to fight his corner.
It is clear that support for Scottish Labour is now very low, even within its own ranks. The overtly Blairite party has been in visible decline since 2007, when it first lost a Scottish parliamentary election to the SNP. Standing with the Tories in successfully opposing the Scottish Independence referendum proved an act of suicide.
It was all but wiped out in the 2015 UK general election. Despite a slight bump in its support in the 2017 election under Corbyn, the party failed to recover as it remained wedded to deeply unpopular policies and stances.
Its unionist rhetoric, commitment to Trident, and inability to shake off its Blair-era top brass meant it was hopelessly out of step in Scotland.
Sarwar presents himself as a follower of the former British PM, Gordon Brown, who was a key architect of Scottish Labour’s strategy in the 2014 independence referendum.
In the leadership race Sarwar stood as the candidate who opposes another Scottish independence referendum. Lennon was also against independence but argued that if there was mandate for a second referendum, Westminster should not stop it.
Days after this election, Sarwar dropped a heavy hint when he referred to nine councillors in Aberdeen who had been suspended after entering a coalition with the Tories in May 2017 – as ‘still part of the party’ and ‘doing a good job’.
Sarwar will now hope that the party’s overall federal solution to the UK’s constitutional crisis and democratic gap will help differentiate Labour from the SNP and the Tories in the Holyrood elections in May 2021.
He will also desperately hope that Labour will benefit from the feud between Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond.
Promises that Labour’s radical manifesto pledges will be retained will prove false as when Starmer made the same claims in his leadership bid.
The Scottish party will now follow UK Party’s sharp turn to the right which started with the election of Sir Keir Starmer.
Starmer’s main policy platforms, meanwhile, have been to emphasise his differences with the left. He insisted on slogans like the vacuous ‘a new leadership’. He has outflanked the Tories to the right on the return to schools in summer 2020 and more recently on corporation tax in late February 2021.
In recent days, Labour has also underlined an unprecedentedly enthusiastic defence of Trident renewal.
Many on the left will now consider their position in Scottish Labour .
The SNP’s neoliberal vision of an independent Scotland is hardly inspiring. The heavily working class protests, led by All under One Banner (AOUB), over the last few years, and the birth of a new pro-independence organisation on the back of this called Now Scotland, suggests that openings exist for the kind of exciting vision offered in 2014 by the likes of the Radical Independence Campaign.
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