Remember back in those halcyon days of ’15, when Jeremy Corbyn was being touted as the Labour leader who would bring Scotland back into the party’s orbit; the guy who would vanquish the SNP, leaving Labour to gleefully take the Scots for granted again, once more able to use the seats as a convenient place to dump would be cabinet ministers of a future Labour government. How far away does that look today? Of all the ways in which Corbyn has failed spectacularly, Scotland might just take the cake.
He stirred the pot again over the weekend, explicitly contradicting Dugdale and the rest of Scottish party’s line over a second indy ref. Just for clarity here, this is what Corbyn told the Press Association, word for word:
“If a referendum is held then it is absolutely fine, it should be held. I don’t think it’s the job of Westminster or the Labour Party to prevent people holding referenda.”
Most of the key figures in Scottish Labour went predictably apeshit, meaning we were headed for that inevitable feature of Corbyn’s leadership: the humiliating and largely inept climb down in which he invariably blames the media.
“There was a bit of mischievous misreporting going on there. I did an interview during an economic development conference in Scotland hosted by the Labour party. I was asked if, in Westminster, we would block the holding of a referendum. I said no. If the Scottish parliament decided they wanted to have a referendum, then it would be wrong for Westminster to block it.
“But, just to be absolutely clear, I do not think there should be another referendum. I think that independence would be economically catastrophic for many people in Scotland. It would lead to a turbo-charged austerity.”
That quote from Corbyn, I shouldn’t need to point out, contains Trump-like levels of nonsense. Breaking it down, there was “mischievous misreporting” in simply quoting him verbatim saying it is “absolutely fine” to hold a second indy ref, and to clarify his real position, he thinks another referendum in Scotland would be “economically catastrophic” but still thinks it isn’t Labour’s job to stop it. Amazingly enough, Corbyn seems to have accidentally put himself in line with Scottish opinion here: almost no one in Scotland thinks Scottish Labour should be doing much of anything either.
It seems to me that Jeremy Corbyn finds the world outside of Islington North a confusing, baffling place where whatever he says, he almost always seems to get it totally wrong. At the same time, he seems unable to just take a line from other parts of the party and then rigorously stick to it. It can’t be that hard to just memorise Scottish Labour’s position on basic things so as not to get caught out in interviews when you’re in Glasgow. Can it?