ncfomLabour Hame editor Duncan Hothersall owns up to being a sad old man, but is worried that ideological purity should be the test for becoming a Labour candidate.


That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

WB Yeats

You probably thought the title was a reference to the Cohen brothers’ film, didn’t you? That’s because you’re not as old as I am. Sad old men quote poetry, not films; except possibly Now Voyager, but that was in black and white because it is so old. It’s also quite sad.

I am a sad old man. I know this because the official youth wing of the Scottish Labour Party – Scottish Young Labour – told me so on Facebook. I also have horrific politics, according to the same source.

Let me first say that SYL have every right to hold these views about me, and to express them wherever they want. Robust exchange of views is healthy in a political party, and sometimes it can’t help but spill over into public view. It happens. It’s okay.

The terms are so relative, anyway. I do find it quite hilarious that among elements of the Corbynite left of the Scottish Labour Party I am seen as right wing, old and out of touch, while most of my family consider me to be dangerously left-wing and still a bit too young to be out expressing political opinions on my own. Perspective is all.

Anyway, to the meat of the issue. My condemnation as sad, old and horrific was not spontaneous. It was meted out in response to my expressing strong concern over the recently announced policy of SYL to ask those seeking its endorsement as Labour candidates how they voted in the last three Labour leadership elections. This is the only explicit political question they ask. All of a candidate’s other qualities are to be assessed from their political CV.

You might think that people putting themselves forward to be considered as Labour election candidates should primarily be assessed on things like campaigning ability, policy priorities and engagement with the local area. No. Apparently the single important defining characteristic for a Labour candidate is whether you voted for the right faction in a secret ballot in an internal party election. And this argument has received broad support from across the left of the party.

Once again let me stress that the SYL executive are allowed to do this. My criticism isn’t that they have somehow exceeded their brief or broken any rules. That isn’t the problem. The problem is that selecting our election candidates based on who they voted for in internal elections is a terrible idea, will exclude good candidates, and will stop us winning elections.

And we do want to win elections, don’t we? I mean actual elections, in the real world, not just internal fights over ideological purity? I’m sometimes not entirely sure.

There’s something else worrying about the creeping attitude of dismissal towards what I guess SYL would call “horrific politics” and I would call compromising with the electorate to deliver Labour values in government. It’s that dissent, so thoroughly indulged in figures on the hard left who voted against Labour hundreds of times during their careers – I’m thinking, to randomly pick a name out of the air, of people like Jeremy Corbyn – is now apparently intolerable in our party. As if robust debate was somehow anathema to us. As if we were, and I shudder to type it, the conform-at-all-costs SNP. Surely we are better than that?

So I offer SYL the opportunity of a reply to this article right here on this site. Because the Scottish Labour Party needs to be able to have robust debate and come out the other side more informed; we cannot retreat into our factions and hope that leads to success. It will not and it can not.

Labour was founded to be the broad coalition of the left which could deliver the values of the left in government via the parliamentary system. That coalition will always suffer instability, but I fear it is at a particularly rocky moment. Fragmentation would be ruinous. We need all elements of the party represented in all echelons of the party.

All of the voices on the left should have a place in the Labour Party if it is to succeed. Even the voices of sad old men.

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24 thoughts on “No party for sad old men

  1. Well Duncan at 63 2 hearing aids and on oxygen 15 hrs a day min God knows what they will think of me .
    I joined in 83 when out of work I decided to do something about it . I joined the Labour party .
    In those days we used to campaign in the streets against Maggies destructive policies .Labour has always had passion and divisions but not as far as I am aware the venom we have today .
    In my CLP I am very proud of our young Comrades passionate full of ideas at University doing jobs as well and in some CLP office bearing positions . 2 of them at very short notice at the General Election stood for parliament .
    That’s the calibre of young person in my CLP.
    When we select our next Candidate we will ask why do you want the job etc .
    Anti Semitism I had never heard of it I had to ask what it was . We don’t have it in my CLP yet I put the telly on one knight and a Labour MP told me I am in an anti semitic party .
    I never thought I would see the day Labour MPS would in front of tv cameras escort an MP to a meeting to be met by a counter demonstration . I feel betrayed by those people and others like them .
    Ordinary party members are loyal . For me its our so called Leaders on all sides who have let me down .
    How can Labour get power if every time someone feels he has a grievance they head for a telly camera
    Labour did ok last week we should have swept the board we did not do we have to ask why Alistair Campbell was right Labour are kidding themselves .Brexit a total disaster the NHS are sending out distress signals every day .They cant recruit or hold onto staff because of uncertainty .I think this country will fall of a cliff after brexit why are we not pushing for a full debate and a public education exercise to explain to the public UK wide what leaving the EU really means .Its not just immigration or power grabs and I would not accept the UK deal either .Scotland does need immigration so how about a conference to debate that .
    Unemployment remember that Total announced 300 job loses today just another in a list of job losses take overs and mergers why no conference on that.
    People are worried about benefits why no conference on that.
    There was an Indy demo on Saturday 35thousand at least attended that’s some result those people have hope and belief .That should be a wake up call to everyone that that number took to the streets .
    It puts pressure on Nicola not to ignore the clamour for Indy 2 .
    The Labour party has to work out what will be our response if and when she does go for it. Has any thought even gone into that .
    If the Labour party wants to stay relevant ask why 35 thousand at least went on an Indy ref .
    Why are Labour in 3rd in the Scottish Parliament Why are Labour not on the streets arguing for jobs etc How about a conference on that . Or even better get our act together fight for our people not each other and kick the London mob up the arse out of our way .
    or Labour will go out of existence how about a conference on that old boy haha

  2. Apart from anything else, the approach of “selection on the basis of support for Corbyn” was recently tested to destruction in the English marginal of Worcester. It did not end well for anyone concerned.

    I have to say that I find the recent development of loyalty to Corbyn becoming some sort of crucial litmus test for members to be a bit, well, creepy. We are not, as you say, the SNP.

  3. Duncan l think that what the SYL are doing is ensuring that they endorse potential candidates who support the current Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and the LaborL Party policies. You cannot deny that there is a small Blairite clique that use MSM and write newspaper articles go on tv news channels do interviews at every opportunity to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. So l am not surprised that that the SYL are implementing their endorsement policy.

    I think that it’s only a matter of time especially in England that the disloyal Labour MPs will more than likely be deselected by their local constituency parties and replaced by candidates who will support the party.

    Duncan I cannot understand when it comes to factions that when the Blairite faction was in charge you were happy and now the Left is in charge you are now unhappy maybe you should support rather than oppose because the constant infighting will mean that Labour Party will be unelectable.

  4. D’ee yersels a favour and don’t include the SNP in your comments about the back-stabbing within the labour party in Scotland. When it comes to integrity the SNP are a country mile ahead of labour.

    And for all you anti- corbynites, just remember Corbyn knows your name !

    As you all happily signed a petition against him.

  5. Lighten up Duncan. Try and see the funny side of it.
    Remember the 5 stages of grief (I am sure I have mentioned them before); denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Jump to no.5. Dont hang around between 3 and 4.
    Face up to it, Labour is FUBAR. The children of Blair, son Ewan with the help of dad and some very rich backers is about to set up a new UK political party. Jeremy will be left with nothing but the name, ‘The British Labour Party 1900 – 2020’.
    You want to get on that new boat Duncan, it comes with a free drinks package and outside cabin. Jump ship now, leave Captain Corbyn with his revolting crew and unstable cargo to crash onto the rocks of island, Socialism.

    1. “The children of Blair, son Ewan with the help of dad and some very rich backers is about to set up a new UK political party. Jeremy will be left with nothing but the name, ‘The British Labour Party 1900 – 2020’.”

      Richard; check out our predictions from February 9th, 2017…..spooky or what?

      1. Im not spooked by anything these days.
        The Corbyn Story is a cracker and is proof why Labour will never be in government while JC is in command. How can a party that cannot run itself ever be elcted to run the country?
        The future of the SNP is more predictable. I think they will be forced into demanding a second Scottish independence referendum. I dont think they want to and I mean by ‘they’ Nicola and the bidie in but the clamour from the masses will eventually be defeaning. This will happen after March 2019.
        I expect the conservative government will refuse the demand. This is when it will get interesting. I made this point on a nationalist website last year, (they dont publish this opinion any longer).
        The second referendum is not the only way for the SNP to achieve its goal. The SNP can use a general election to offer independence. “Vote SNP and if a majority of SNP MPs are returned the Scottish governemnt will take that mandate and negotiate independence from the UK” is a perfectly reasonable legitimate one statement manifesto pledge. The SNP should have and could have done this at last years GE. (I think they used the second referendum committment to avoid this nuclear bomb option).
        After a second referendum is refused by Westminster the SNP should state there and then that they have no other alternative but to fight the next GE on this manifesto.
        That should finish the argument one way or the other for good

        1. I think it is best to accept the results of both the 2014 and 2016 referendums. Nevertheless, It does not mean that people should be happy with the outcome, or that the result should stand for all time: In saying that: Once in a generation should mean once in a generation.

          Let’s put it this way, if we were to re run either of the referendums, in the near future, and the results went the other way, there would be civil war.

          However, I have to say that I have never seen either the UK, nor the rest of the World so politically unstable. So both the Yes and Remain movements, under certain circumstances may be able to force second referendums. I for one think it would be akin to opening Pandora’s box.

  6. Instead of fighting each other fight for jobs etc Davy yep we could teach people in other parties on how to fight each other Ordinary party members in Labour and the SNP are loyal .
    Its Senior members and former members who are causing trouble Nicola led the attack on Alec Salmond if it had not been for that I would not have known he had a show on RT .
    Alec Neil went on it made it clear he voted against the party and voted for brexit .
    Then on the weekend of the march which for sheer numbers attending Alec Neil and Jim Sillars and others broke cover to attack any attempt to stop brexit and btw I think Labour Peers will abstain on a Lords brexit debate tonight .
    There has also been some comment about the lack of press coverage of Saturday
    I saw coverage on STV SKY and BBC news also red button and the Sunday Herald .
    I remember going on marches to support the miners to get devolution against the poll tax
    We never got the numbers Saturday got and we had the same arguments about press coverage .
    Meant to say about the march for the sheer numbers attending it was an outstanding achievement .
    35 thousand plus out for something they believe in whether I agree with them or not good luck to them .
    All political parties take note please
    And Alec has a great show

    1. Not interested in labour internal back stabbing, but will not accept SNP-BAD comments being thrown in as a pathetic attempt to make the labour party look more than the poor 3rd place political party they are.

      Pity labour didn’t put the same amount of effort into backing Scotland as they do into back stabbing each other.

        1. Third biggest political cult in the UK.

          FIRST biggest political cult in Scotland.

          Infact bigger than all the other political cults in Scotland put together.

          Spin that one Andy.

          1. So Andy, that covers just about every organisation (Better Together etc), political party (ohhh Jeremy Corbyn etc), sports club and knitting circle in the land. What have you got against knitting circles?

          2. “What have you got against knitting circles?”


  7. Thanks for your comment Davy
    I am a Labour Party member thinking of voting for Indy if we get a second referendum .
    I haven’t done SNP BAD but as usual nobody from the SNP seems to have a problem with Labour bad.
    And from what I heard today the numbers on Saturdays march have been noted in senior SNP circles regarding Indy timing well good

    1. The latest numbers being thrown out there is 93,000, and you will easily find the SNP-bad comments just check the article to start.

      And you will always be welcome in the independence family.

      Davy – cult member 007

  8. Thanks for the comment 007
    Arguing about the numbers where did the 93 thousand number come from who counted .
    The estimated 35thousand was the cops it does not matter it was a magnificent result and the leaders of all parties need to take note if that amount of people took to the streets they are not happy

  9. Sorry for not commenting sooner, but the travel to Australia, where a very successful federal system works, delayed me reading the blog. I may be old, but I am not sad. I welcome the active involvement of young people in our Party. In Cunninghame South we have a very active group of young people, of differing views, topped by our 32 year old Council Leader who is introducing real socialist policies in one council, including, most recently, support for care leaving young people. You are neither old nor sad, and, while I do not agree with all of your view, I defend your right to promote them in the broad church of the Labour Party. I joined in 1980 and since then I have opposed extremism from all sides. Even the right of our Party is more left than the left of the Tories, and we must remember that and welcome it. Our Party is all about the many, not the few, a phrase used both by Blair and Corbyn and meant by both. We need to encourage a diverse pot of views in our Party, not condemn it

  10. Just a small comment: the left in Scotland is spit between ‘pro-independence’ left and ‘unionist’ left. It’s just that the pro-independence left is larger, despite the impression given by the mainstream (unionist) media. If anyone doubts that fact, just remember that there are more socialist members of the SNP than the total Labour party membership in Scotland.

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