What Are They For? – 7 March 2024


George Galloway’s Rochdale victory should be a wakeup call for the political elites. Not the rant against democracy voiced by the Prime Minister, happy to tolerate racism and Islamophobia in his own party yet branding peaceful demonstrators and a fed-up electorate as extremists.

 I disagree with Galloway on many issues, not least Independence, but his victory was more than just a vote to stop the horror in Gaza. It was also a vote by a disaffected electorate against mainstream parties ignoring the plight of so many. Folk are fed up with politicians who appear in it for themselves not for the benefit of others.

It put me in mind of a book I’d read about Hillary Clintons failed Presidential Campaign in 2016. “Shattered” written by leading journalists relating the political stitch up that she and the Democratic Party elite conducted.

The campaign was highly centralized and nearly came unstuck when Bernie Sanders running on gut instincts and for issues resonating with the electorate rocked her policy wonk driven campaign. Even on election day when she lost to Trump, they believed they’d won. For sure she did win the popular vote but lost in key seats and in the electoral college that decides the Presidency.

The real problem was it was all about her rather than what she was standing for. “I” and “me”, not “us” and “we”. Everyone knew she wanted to be the first female President but not why or what she would do if elected. Smacking of entitlement many usually Democrat voters turned off and abstained or voted for Trump.

Yet that’s what we’re seeing in this country. Career politicians abounding and looking to gain office but unable to detail what they’re for or are intent on doing. Labour’s electoral call’s that it’s their time now, even if Tory policies won’t change. Plus ca change but it’s all about them not us. Many will either not vote or, as in Rochdale, consider some alternative.

It’s the same in Scotland Humza Yousaf wanted to be the first ethnic minority First Minister but for what purpose? That was echoed by his Economy Minister Mairi McAllan when announcing her pregnancy. Now parenthood’s a blessing and good luck to her and her husband.

But her comments were about how this would show that starting a family was not a barrier to women holding high political office. This, as her statement on Grangemouth Refinery, lauded the opportunity for biofuels at the site in 2045. But it’s due to cease refining in 2025. What is the workforce to do for 20 years? Knit bonnets for her bairn?

 Similarly on her watch Ferguson Marine, the last shipyard on the Lower Clyde, stands threatened and what’s needed is confirmation that the orders for the Cal Mac Small Isles ferries will be given to them. On that she’s been silent.

So, we know about her wants for herself but what’s she for as regards the rest of us, never mind the economy. A female President, an ethnic minority FM and women in high office are all worthy and overdue. But politics is about ideas and values for the many not right and entitlement for a political elite. It’s about us not them and it should be about what they’re for, not their career.