Christy Moore

A Long Lost Love or a Serial Abuser – What Is Our Relationship With The Labour Party?

One of Christie Moore’s most famous songs is called ‘Ride On’.  The song was crafted by the song writer Jimmy McCarthy (a former apprentice Jockey) and many people have questioned what the song is actually about.  Christie Moore says that ‘Ride On’ is the type of song that everybody who hears it can wrap themselves in.  That you can apply your own story to the song and that the sign of a great song is that each one of us can take it and make of it what we will.  To give you a gist of the song’s lyrics the first few lines are:

True you ride the finest horse I’ve ever seen, Standing sixteen, one or two, with eyes wild and green You ride the horse so well, hands light to the touch, I could never go with you no matter how I wanted to.  Ride on, See you, I could never go with you, No matter how I wanted to.

I was reminded of this song the other day when I was meeting an old friend who now lives in Aberdeen.  We were reminiscing about young love lost. We had both had at least two serious relationships before we met the person we finally settled down with.

In both our cases, we had now lived with our respective partners for at least twenty years. Over a few beers we analysed what made the difference between our early love affairs and finally settling down. One of our observations was that in some relationships you have to let your loved one, ‘Ride On’ – that the timing, the great gears of fate, are not aligned to enable the relationship to become permanent.  The relationship lacks the destiny to last a life time.

Another observation was that maturity was important.  That is, you can reach a stage in your life where you understand yourself and other people in a much clearer way.  You reach a point, where you have confidence, experience and knowledge.  Experience and knowledge enables you to make fearless choices, supports you to know what a quality relationship looks like and encourages you to confidently enjoy establishing permanent bonds with the person who becomes your life’s love.

Once the relationship becomes permanent, then life makes hard work of things and what keeps you together is the ability to draw on your knowledge and experience to support each other through the hard times.  Or, as one of my writing colleagues tells me, ‘What keeps you together is the good fortune that neither of you both wants to walk away from the relationship on the same day’.

So, what happened to our relationship with the Labour party in Scotland? Huge numbers of us chose to walk away over days, weeks, months and years – the long drawn out divorce began when Tony Blaire took over.

The song ‘Ride On’, speaks of a loss in a way that invites you to imagine that the singer would have really liked to have ridden on with his lover.  Dire Straits have two similar yet different songs that also cover this ground. ‘Tunnel of Love‘:

‘And in the roar of the dust and diesel I stood and watched her walk away, I could have caught up with her easy enough but something must have made me stay’.

Romeo and Juliet‘:

’When are you gonny realise it was just that the time was wrong’.

So has the Bob Dylan song ‘Don’t Think Twice’:

‘And it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe ‘(sung here by Gal Holiday).

These lyrics sing of love’s regret, of miss-timed romance, of an in-experience, of an inability to say or do what is required at the most opportune of moments.  We have all had moments like that. The sad thing for the Labour Party is that none of its former supporters feel that way.

If there were broken hearts, they have turned into a steely resolve.  Nae meikle teardrops or hefty sobs here – but lots of anger, distrust and frustration.  Some people on social media speak of the last days of their relationship with the Labour Party in terms of escaping a serially abusive partner.

This permanent separation was recognised last week by ex-Labour MP Tom Harris on STV’s Scotland Tonight when talking of the forthcoming Holyrood election in ways that suggest he has given up on winning and is expecting more of the same from the voters. Scottish Labour has given up on People like me.

I first voted Labour in 1986 and voted for them for twenty years and was even a member of the party for a few years in the late 1990s.  My principle reasons for stopping voting labour were: local politics about compulsory redundancies, Clause Four, the Iraq War, Trident, their inability to fulfil long term policy objectives on universal childcare and Blairite introduction of student fees.

But most of all, I walked away because my experience from previous heart brakes told me it was over and I had the experience to know you don’t stay with someone who doesn’t care about how much pain they can inflict upon you – and you absolutely have to get away from someone who enjoys inflicting pain on you – whilst lying to you at the same time.

The Labour Party are currently shifting from a party that brought us pain to a party that is becoming irrelevant.  Their current Westminster leadership contest at best is a damp squib or at worst is a shambles – will they or wont they vote against attacks on children in the budget?

When even people in the Labour Party think the Westminster leadership contest losers will actually be the winners, you know they have got problems. The way to think about the Westminster contest is like this, a Labour leadership candidate walks into a bar and the bar man says, ‘what can I get you?’, the candidate says, ‘A pint of Guinness please’ and a smart witted local shouts, ‘Good things come to those who wait!’.

This leadership contest is thought of within the Labour Party as a, ‘beware of what you wish for’ event and people like Chukka Umunna appear to be taking the advice from the Guinness slogan and waiting for the next time. This type of attitude will not give much hope to the new members who have joined the labour party in England with the aim of changing the party and standing up to the Tory government.

By talking of this Westminster leadership contest as the one to lose (didn’t they say that about the last one), the Labour Party have shown that they have already given up on the next Westminster election and are kidding themselves its ok to position themselves for an election in 10 years-time.  Can you believe it – 10, years, time!   Please God we are living in an independent Scotland before then.

The Guinness slogan tells us a lot – whoever gets appointed to the various posts up for grabs in the English and Scottish versions of the Labour Party have a lot of work to do.  Simply put – no one presently knows what and who the Labour Party is for and no one thinks the current candidates can change that very quickly – see Wee Ginger Dug.

I saw one of the candidate for the Labour leadership on Chanel 4 news tonight and wasn’t impressed when he got a little too wound up – see this example, although you’ve got some credit that there is actually someone in the Labour party that will stand up to the main stream media, a lack of media sophistication may actually be no bad thing when looking for the union vote.

We are told by Tom Harris that this candidate is the only candidate for overall leadership who might have policies acceptable to Scotland but those policies make him unelectable in England and that the candidates in England need to ignore Scotland.

When Scots members of the Labour party are advising their Westminster candidates to ignore Scotland and also asking Labour members to ignore the only leadership candidate that opposed the Iraq war and continues to oppose Trident – we know the labour Party will not, any time soon, have any relevance in Scotland.

So there it is – Labour’s English centric bias requires a former Scots MP to advise their leaders to forget Scotland (please note my father’s English and voted Yes – there is no Scots-English discrimination meant here).

Meanwhile in Scotland, the most prominent candidate for the Scottish leadership contest can’t help but keep giving freebies such as, we were too concerned with the vulnerable’.  It just makes you laugh, not regret a love lost.

You can see how songs like ‘Ride On’ do not quite apply here. The labour leadership campaigns in Scotland and England show that they have nothing to offer ex-supporters such as me.  The fake love bombing of the referendum campaign has turned to insults, apathy and a modus operandi akin to the view, ‘you can chuck yer grannie, child poverty and disabled people under the bus!’ – Doesn’t sound like any lovely Irish love song that I know.

Labour’s continued support of Tory policies and their affair with the Tory Party during the referendum is why none of us are shedding any tears for Scottish labour.  We won’t be going back to Labour because our affection for them has turned to disgust.

It’s like bumping into your first love shortly after splitting up and they are snoggin’ some public schoollie in a posh blazer (gold buttons and white fluting) and are about to go to a do at a Yacht Club.  You know – it’s over.

It is more Roy Orbison than Christie Moore, more ‘Tainted Love’ than true love.  As Soft Cell tells us, ‘I’m sorry I don’t pray this way, Once I ran to you, Now I run from you’.  We don’t share the same hymn sheet with Labour anymore.

Another, Guinness advertising campaign included the slogan, ‘Out of the darkness comes light’. That’s certainly been my experience since we lost the referendum last year.  There are only two serious parties you could vote for in the forthcoming Holyrood election.

For those of my friends from other countries reading this, in Scotland we get two votes for the parliament, so I am currently going to vote SNP first vote and Green second vote. However, I would like to sound a note of caution to the SNP and Green parties – I haven’t fallen in head over heals love with either of you and you’ll need to put forward some decent, contemporary and redistributive policies if you have any chance of opening my heart up to you on a more permanent basis.

Indeed, my heart is not really up for grabs, it is held by another who I have lived with for twenty year and to paraphrase the song  ‘black is the colour of her hair, Her lips are like roses fair, She’s the sweetest smile, And the gentlest hands, I love the ground, Whereon she stands’.

Some twisted Labour politicians (not as candid as Tom Harris) are still dealing with their grief and are of the view that people like myself have lost their faculties and been tempted by some kind of cult of independence.  Their position seems to be that we have been completely swamped by an SNP temptress.

This is just another example of their inability to engage with what has happened to them – they should know from people like my self’s tendency for faithfulness that not all ex-Labour voters have quickly jumped into bed with the SNP – we are not on the rebound – even if we are open to the occasional flirt.

I have not joined any other party because I value my independence.  That might change but I will not be easily impressed by either the SNP or the Greens nor quick led astray like some young love struck fool. That’s the great thing about experience it enables you to take substantive positions on things based on deeply held knowledge, it also enables you to know when you are being sold a lie.

The problem with the Labour Party is that most of its leadership candidates don’t stand for anything but themselves.  We have worked that out for ourselves. Labour, continue to be Tory-Light – the SNP continue to accuse labour of this.

However, that accusation sets a high bar for the SNP – I’d like to see some redistributive meat on the bones of their Holyrood manifesto before I will be prepared to engage in a serious flirtation and as for getting into bed with them…..I’m probably too old for that.

One final thought I can’t see myself voting for the united left – they are not united.

It will be a great shame if Colin Fox doesn’t get in though, he is very impressive but I can see the left wing splinter parties being crowded out at the next election. To get into Holyrood, he might have to eventually join either the SNP or The Greens. It would be great to see him shake either party up by setting a lead on how to put into practice rhetoric on redistributive policies.