....Research Topics and Speculation about Art and Public Space by Scottish Citizen and artist Matt Baker

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Are We Changing the World or Aren’t We?…. Scottish Labour, The Rangers: Momentum, Mercenaries and Missing the Point

I just spent 2 hours delivering political leaflets with a 16 year old lad from my town. Aiden joined the SNP on his 16th birthday and I felt very honoured to be with him on his first experience of organised activism.
The experience sent my head on mad journey about what the point of all this is….one that ended up making parallels between the current status of the Scottish Labour Party and The Rangers Football Club. 
The things we really care about create passion, belief, conviction and require a hands-on connection to their source. When I was introduced to Aiden (by the SNP candidate for Dumfries and Galloway, Richard Arkless) I was talking to Aileen MacLeod (MSP and Minister for the Environment)….I have known Aileen since she was first campaigning to be an MSP and we are very proud of her down in the South West. Aiden said to me later that he had been surprised how difficult it was to tell the difference between the volunteers and the politicians at the gathering………and there it is...‘hands-on connection’ in a nutshell.

When Rangers’ troubles emerged a few years back and they were demoted to the Third division there were many emotions and opinions flying around….but one I remember clearly was the real hope that this situation might lead to a re-connection with the ‘real values’ of football. That hope sketched a vision that Rangers might look to their grassroots, re-connect with their community and build a team from that renewed connection….a team that would capture the imagination of the whole country in their attempt to re-scale the heights of the game and re-ignite passion, belief and conviction in the game itself and its power to inspire.

Football - the real thing

Unfortunately The Rangers chose not to take this path – instead they tried to cling to what they believed to be their rightful status – they continued to pay players and staff way beyond what the games they were playing justified. The team had the look of bloated mercenaries…paid, because there were none that believed in the cause. The idea seemed to be that if the illusion of greatness could be maintained long enough then everything would go back to normal.

Arnie, Sly and Willis .....the Expendables

In 1922 James Maxton was one the Independent Labour Party candidates elected to Westminster from Glasgow the group left Central Station with the cheers of a massive crowd ringing in their ears.
James Maxton was regarded as the greatest orator of his age

Maxton and colleague leaving Glasgow for London after his election to Westminster parliament
First the 2011 Holyrood election, then the Independence Referendum should surely have been a massive wake up call to the Scottish Labour party that the foundation built for them by people like Maxton and the status they had enjoyed as ‘Scotland’s Party’ was under massive question. Scottish Labour faced the same situation as The Rangers….unfortunately, it seems they have made the same choice. They appear to believe that propping up an illusion of authority by hiring ‘big hitters’ will see off this upstart challenge which has captured the imagination of Aiden and thousands of others like him.

For their sakes lets hope they don’t draw Raith Rovers in the cup anytime soon

Arnie, Sly and Murphy...The Expendables

The cry of ‘Vote Scotland’ is crucial now as is the intoxicating passion of seeing our country play its part on bigger stages as it establishes itself as an independent state. But part of achieving this aim is to have the good sense to look further into the future and imagine what our society will need then - diverse and powerful debate about different options for creating Social Democracy, Social Justice and Social Economy. For this to come to pass we need groups like the Scottish Labour Party to have the humility to re-invent themselves and embrace the potential for building the sort of country that James Maxton would be proud to call home.

But for now Vote Scotland, #ButterflyRevolution, Yes Alliance etc, etc will be enough to see Scotland as a counter balance to the neo-liberalism of Westminster

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