Sunday, 7 July 2013

Personal reflections on the third battle of Falkirk

FIRSTLY, to declare an interest or two.  I was born in Falkirk, still have relatives there and am a fairly frequent visitor.  Second, unlike many who post on this blog I am an unrepentant Parliamentary Roader, tortuous as that path so often is. So, I think I have a bit of an interest in the latest row surrounding the town of my birth and its politics.

My gut instinct is a plague on the houses of both Miliband and McCluskey, both of whom are playing out personal power struggles and virility tests to show which corrupt Tammany Hall clique has the right to manipulate a Labour candidacy.

Let the self righteous and self-indigant travel back a few years, however. Falkirk had a great Labour MP, in the shape of Denis Canavan, from 1974 until 2000, a socialist with the town and its hinterland in his life blood (I cannot but help thinking that Miliband minor and McCluskey have had to reach out for maps recently to find out where this battleground that each has set so much store on is actually located).

Check Denis' parliamentary record - always on the side of the good guys, whenever he rebelled.  His crime? A bit too independent for the likes of New Labour. He didn't follow the Blair/Brown/Mandlesohn mantra and had the temerity to believe that Scotland could have done with a bit more independence from the corrupt imperial Parliament at Westminster, at the turn of the millennium. 

So, the Mr Fixits and bag carriers (you know the kind - Oxbridge - posh internship snivelling and bag-carrying around power brokers - Mini Mili-like, - without a bloody clue, in fact) decided, as a member of the awkward squad, Denis had to be blocked and frustrated.  He was too independent, literally and metaphorically, by half, when he tried to stand as the Labour Candidate for the Scottish Parliament in 2000.

So, the apparatchiks prevented it from happening.  Oh, how clever they must have felt - those smug, self-satisfied bunnies who were busy shovelling away expenses and mopping up dubious money to support their Parliamentary careers and wider ambitions.

Did the people of Falkirk have a say? Well, no and yes. Despite the fact that Canavan's candidacy had the support of 97% of the local party, they couldn't stop the Labour-hijacking, carpet-bagging, power-broking know-alls blocking Denis as an "official" candidate for Holyrood.  But the people of Falkirk lived in a democracy and gave the apparatchiks a very bloody nose.

Denis stood as an independent candidate in the Holyrood elections, was victorious and obtained the highest majority of any MSP when he re contested the seat in 2003. He retired from Parliamentary politics in 2007, following some appalling personal tragedies.  But when I last saw him, two years ago, his socialism was undimmed.  A true fighter on behalf of working class aims, aspirations and ambitions. The very kind of person the people of Falkirk crave for as a an MP, today - as the power brokers would find out, if they bothered to ask.

But of course what is really needed, says McCluskey and his cronies, is his "good friend" Karie Murphy, with the "working class credentials" that he seeks, being office manager to ex Labour Election Mr Fixit, Tom Watson MP.  Doubtless, the Miliband clique have another whizzo candidate up their sleeve - like the drunken and brawling ex army major, Eric Joyce, that they found as such a suitable replacement for Denis 13 years ago.

So, where does my Parliamentary roading take me?  You could try a book written by Mini-Mili's dad, 50 years ago, Parliamentary Socialism.  I recommend it.  Read it and you will conclude that Ed isn't fit to ties the man's boots, never mind carry his bags.

And a personal bit.  I was born in a private nursing home in Falkirk, the year before the NHS had its own birth, 65 years ago this week,  as Labour's greatest achievement, because there was no decent public maternity provision for working people.  If Labour had been in the hands of the pygmies, triangulatores, third-wayers, cutters, trimmers, headline grabbers, compromisers no-hopers then that it is today, the NHS would never have seen the light of day.  Where are Clem and Nye, when you need them?

And the third battle of Falkirk?  Well, the previous two turned out to be Pyrrhic victories for failing regimes.  The first, in 1298, was a victory for Edward II, who thought he had conquered the Scots, only to be trounced at Bannockburn 16 years later.  And the second?  The 'Old Pretender's' last stand before the Jacobite rebellion petered out and Bonnie Prince Charlie went on his way to Skye, in 1746.  Is it too much to hope that the third battle will be equally Pyrrhic for whichever Pretender - Len or Ed - wins, and that Socialism will, in the long run become the victor?  We live in hope!! 

1 comment:

Bill Kay said...

A fine deconstruction of a grubby affair - made no better than the pathetic Prescott - apart from the gratuitous swipe at Oxbridge. Perhaps you should have declared your redbrick interest!