Political Perspectives: Kezia’s Darien Expedition

Emily Robinson is a Scottish Labour Young Socialists activist and member of the Democratic Socialists of America

Scottish Labour has no business endorsing Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton’s election is immaterial to the function of Scottish Labour as an opposition party in the Scottish Parliament and forces Labour to endorse values that are antithetical to the values enshrined by the Labour Party. But certainly there must have been some utilitarian reason for Kezia Dugdale to abandon her party on a national campaign day to save the NHS to go phone bank for Hillary Clinton in New York, a state Clinton has a 99.7% chance of winning.

Perhaps it was a moment of personal fulfilment for Dugdale, there is a certain contrived romanticism to campaigning for a woman who has the potential to be the first female president in American history, though I must confess that after several hours of phone banking for Clinton at the onset of the Democratic primary I was left feeling less fulfilled than in the throes of an existential crisis. Perhaps it was a more worthwhile motivation than that, perhaps Dugdale believes Scottish Labour has a chance at becoming the ruling party once more and, in a post-Brexit Scotland, having connections to the Clinton aristocracy and cartel could play to Scotland’s larger economic and political interests. In reality, I believe this is too forward-thinking for the current leadership of Scottish Labour, and instead must settle for the knowledge that Dugdale’s choice came from the modern liberal’s desire to act as though they’re in The West Wing. That is, if a committed liberal sacrifices their principles in service of holding hands across the aisle with their political enemies, heartrending music will swell, cleansing them of their sins and glamorizing their CVs.

It was, of course, a tremendous waste of time. The greatest challenge of this presidential election has been uncovering what principles either candidate holds, and considering the recent release of Clinton advisor John Podesta’s emails, discerning what views Clinton holds has become that much more impossible. Still, the few traits that Scottish Labour and Hillary Clinton might share – social liberalism, ostensible opposition to fascism, possibly a desire to combat global warming – certainly are not significant enough to justify Scottish Labour’s fealty to the Clintons and the Democratic machine. I use the term ‘fealty,’ for the simple fact that the chances that Hillary Clinton will come to Scotland to campaign on behalf of Dugdale or the larger Scottish Labour Party are roughly equal to the survival chances of a polar bear in hell.

Still, the issue of Clinton’s beliefs again requires analysis: anyone familiar with the behaviour of Hillary Clinton and her aligned politicians in Congress and statehouses will know that they are unequivocally to the right of even the most conservative members of the Labour Party. On her most liberal days, Clinton would barely fit in with the Liberal Democrats, and on her average day Clinton would fit comfortably within the centre-right of the Conservative Party. Clinton has long upheld a dedication to neoliberal economics, emails reveal her intention to renege on her promise to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and she has long espoused the objectionable virtues of means-testing welfare programs, a right-wing tactic of determining what kind of poor people should be allowed to benefit from social safety nets. It is then detrimental to Scottish Labour to even have the appearance of alignment with Clintonism, let alone explicit support of Hillary Clinton herself.

If Scottish Labour is to reaffirm itself as the party of Scotland, it must not align itself with politicians who have been described by American labour leaders as “pretend-o-crat[s],” who “don’t represent labour anymore.” It must not align itself with politicians who believe that the welfare state should be dismantled or prohibited if it benefits the wealthy. It must not make wishy-washy endorsements based on feel-good politics rather than do-good politics.

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