The Labour Party to which I refer is not the Red Tories of Anthony WMD Blair. No, I have not suddenly analysed Scotland’s largest party and decided they have become unionist timeservers and self-hating lickspittles. The reality is somewhat different and much more interesting.
When I moved to Scotland in 1992, I was swiftly informed that the SNP were the ‘Tartan Tories’. Well: who could like a party with such a pejorative nickname? As it turned out: twenty years later, 50% of the population would have no difficulty in identifying themselves as such. When I joined the Party seven years ago, it was one tenth the size it is now. From where did all these people come? Like myself, they made the small, but psychologically important journey from the ranks of the party of Keir Hardie and Dennis Skinner, to rejoin their friends who had arrived by other routes.
Fifty years of failing to protect the poor of Scotland gave most of us who were lifelong socialists, more than enough evidence that it was time for a change. It was not that we had backed the wrong horse, more that our trusty proletarian steed had metamorphosed into the kraken of free enterprise, whilst we had been feeding it principled sugar lumps.
So here we all are: supporting the party that we have taken over, in the hope that it allows us a socialist alternative in the near future. All I know is that: post-independence, there will be an exhilarating time in Scottish politics where there is a tabula rasa. The Caledonian slate will be wiped clean and we will have a once in three centuries chance to decide how many limbs our body politic should have.
Whilst the levers of true power are worked remotely from offices in the Palace of Westminster, there is no point in trying to ascertain which of the Titanic’s deckchairs are posh or proletarian. A discussion about the political soul of the SNP will only become relevant when we have driven a stake through the putrefying heart of the unionist political machine. That will be a conversation for a different and much happier day.