Richard Mackinnon, an oft-frustrated Labour Hame commenter, tells us of his cynicism at our current politics, and sets out a radical plan for Scotland’s future which he cynically believes can never happen.


Duncan has challenged me to write an article for Labour Hame. I am a regular contributor of comments on the Labour Hame site, I have been for a good few years, and recently most of my comments have been critical in some way regarding the articles. That, I admit, is wrong; it is unfair to warm your hands at the fire without bringing a log or two to burn. But there is no doubt I have become cynical about politics.  I don’t think this unreasonable.  Let me try and explain why.

I voted Yes in 2014.  I was a member of the SNP.  I joined in the early 80s and was active throughout that time.  I am no longer a member of the SNP, indeed I am not a member of any political party.  The reason I stopped my membership in 2015 is relevant and I will explain later why I resigned.

And I voted Remain in 2016.  But I accept democratic decisions, therefore I accept both of the referendum results and I believe they are now cast in stone.

Why am I a cynic?  The reason I left the SNP is a good start.  I left because, as I say, I believe that the Scottish referendum result of 2014 will not be overturned, nor should it be.  I came to that conclusion before September 2014.  I concluded that the result, whichever way it turned out, had to be final. There was, therefore, no longer any reason for me to be a member of the SNP.

But the clincher, the reason I had to get out of the party, was due to an end-of-session proposal by the Labour Party at Holyrood to introduce ‘presumed consent’ regarding organ donation in Scotland in, I think, March 2015.  The SNP opposed it, and defeated the proposal.  But presumed consent was the right thing to do.  It was opposed purely because of the tribal hatred between the SNP and Labour.  I was disgusted by that decision.  I had to distance myself from that type of pettiness, so I resigned.

I could go on here regarding the SNP, their hypocrisy in playing the games at Westminster, that they carry out this Tory government’s dirty work in Scotland, but lets move on to Labour. Why am I a cynic towards them?

The Labour Party has a big part to play.  Scottish Labour opposed independence in the 2014 referendum. They threw their all into defending the union. The Scottish Labour hierarchy never took into consideration the opinion of their lifelong supporters.  And significant proportion of Labour’s traditional support voted Yes.  The opinion of this core support was of no consequence.  They were being told how they were meant to think about independence.

The only thing that motivated Scottish Labour was their total opposition to the SNP.  Therefore the only position to adopt in 2014 was No to an independent Scotland.  I do not believe Scottish Labour even considered for one moment any possible benefits that may have come from independence; the only driving force was opposition to all things the SNP believed in.  That is too often Labour’s  (UK and in Scotland) default position;   when they have no opinion, react by opposing ‘the enemy’.

So now to the Scottish Conservatives.  They don’t believe in independence,  we know that.  But they don’t believe in devolution either.  They opposed the 1997 referendum to create/re-establish a Scottish parliament.  OK, I can see their get out clause;  they claim that they accepted the verdict of the majority. But everyone can see they sit at Holyrood but they don’t like the place.

And look where we are now with this Conservative government.  The Brexit referendum was Cameron’s bright idea to finish off the fringe element of his party that had a genetic hatred of the EU.  It was a minority core group of the Tory establishment.  No one saw the Leave result coming. It was never meant to happen, but it did.  And now we are looking at the break up of the European Union.

And again to my cynicism – remember “The only way to secure Scotland’s place in the EU is to vote No”?  That is beyond cynical. That is now a sick joke.

Let me go back to Labour for a moment.  Jeremy Corbyn.  Is that possible? He got his name on the ballot paper for the leadership after Miliband to ‘balance the list’, and now he is in charge.  Last year Labour MPs tried to overthrow him and he ended up unchallengeable.

Back to the SNP.  The SNP,  I think, no longer believe in an independent Scotland.  Their MPs and MSPs know that the game is up and survival of the party and the good jobs is now all that matters.  I believe that last year when the SNP forced that daft commitment of a future Scottish Parliament to a second referendum that they were putting in place an obstacle to prevent the possibility of a potential catastrophic disaster to the party. The potential disaster? Being forced into a one statement nuclear manifesto pledge at any up and coming general election.

I admit this is a bit of a conspiracy theory,  but I believe that SNP strategists knew a general election was likely to be called last March and that they saw that the SNP could be forced to fight it on a one issue manifesto: ‘Vote SNP and if a majority of SNP MPs are returned then the SNP government in Scotland will take that as a mandate to negotiate independence’. I think that Sturgeon and her senior staff saw that this posed too much of a risk to the party, as a defeat would have finished the SNP as a political force.

A diversion tactic was necessary,  and committing a future Scottish government to a second referendum (although impossible to enforce) was proposed as a spoiling tactic.  I believe that the second referendum proposal was a deliberate obstacle placed by the SNP hierarchy to prevent any radical voices within the SNP into forcing the nuclear GE option,  everything on the table, winner takes all.  That is what they should have done if they were honest about independence.  It would (had the result been as it turned out) have turned Brexit into a side show.  It would have created a real constitutional crisis but I believe they put the Scottish National Party before the cause that they say they believe in.

But now back to Labour.  I could spend an article on Corbyn and Momentum alone, and maybe I will sometime in the future.   In fact the Corbyn story is so unbelievable cynicism does not come into it.

Corbyn keeps my cynicism at bay.  Cynics believe they can see what’s happening,  that they can predict bad things coming, but cant stop it, hence the cynicism.  You can’t do that with Jeremy Corbyn.   And that story has still got a long way to run.  But this I am sure of: it will never end up in Downing Street, because Jon Lansman will not let that happen.  I suppose that is a cynic’s way of looking at the present day state of the Labour Party.

This all leads me to one conclusion about Holyrood. I believe devolution has run its course. I say that because the Scottish Parliament was set up to ‘stop nationalism in its tracks’,  and it has (although it hasn’t stopped the rise of the nationalist party).  As long as there was the goal/threat of independence in sight,  devolution still kept evolving and the Scottish parliament was a dynamic place.  However on the 18.09.2014 the devolution experiment was tested to the limit and Scotland decided not to take it to its natural conclusion.  We pulled back, rightly or wrongly.  The union remained intact.

Holyrood is now I think, therefore surplus to requirements.  Unnecessary. It is now no more than a vanity project.  It looks silly because it is. We, Scotland, voted to remain as part of the UK.  And so I think we should fully embrace that decision. That is what you should do when you have to make a decision one way or another.  Heads or tails. Call it and go for it. 100%.

Therefore I think we should abandon the devolution project.  I believe that the first Scottish political party that picks up on this common sense will be rewarded in the long term.  I believe that one of the unionist parties,  Labour or Conservative, should campaign to dissolve the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.  Let the civil servants run the Scottish office as they did for 300 years.  But in tandem,  and this is the proposal that would eventually gather support around it,  slim down Scotland’s 32 local councils to a reasonable number,  by consensus and with respected sound argument. 32 councils is crazy for a country the size of Scotland.  Pass down (devolve) the powers of Holyrood to those Scottish councils.  Give those councils real powers to run their own affairs. And as a consequence, realign Scottish local government with that of England.

But of course I know this will never happen,  and I am sure I don’t need to explain why.  Another reason for my cynicism.