Most of us will be aware of the political civil war in Labour taking place, many deeming it a battle between the socialist left against an angered Blairite rebellion, or simply those who are angered at the leadership Jeremy Corbyn has offered, trying to replace him with an alternative. Taking a birds eye view of the situation, both camps are resolute in their positions. But whilst this loud civil war takes place, a very silent Labour figure has been moving swiftly herself…

 

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Kezia Dugdale. Yes, the leader of the now seemingly diminished Scottish branch office. As Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith fight over the UK party, Kezia has been shifting her own party’s position. It may not seem extremely obvious, but the false socialist image Kezia tries to brand Labour is falling apart. Let’s start off with an example most recently.

 

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The letter you see above is from Jackson Carlaw, Conservative MSP and Deputy leader of the Tories in Scotland, sent to Kezia Dugdale asking her to help form a Tory/Labour “alliance” to oppose a second independence referendum. The source of the letter can be found here. This being a new letter, Kezia Dugdale hasn’t directly responded yet to Jackson Carlaw, but that doesn’t mean we can’t already get an idea what her position is. The Scottish leader has already made her position very clear.

 

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The article headline you see above isn’t old, as it only came out two days ago. Kezia Dugdale is seemingly positioning Labour into a firm unionist position within the party, most likely trying to make Scottish Labour the unionist party of Scotland. She’s also moving the party away from Jeremy Corbyn’s more progressive values.

 

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Which isn’t new because she didn’t support Jeremy Corbyn in the original leadership contest in 2015.

 

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Seeing as she does not support Jeremy Corbyn in the new leadership contest, this leaves her only left to support Owen Smith. This is a man that supports the idea of austerity, supports UK action within Iraq (then later tried to lie about it), has supported the privatisation of the NHS, supports PFI and wants to cut welfare spending…

 

 

And then there is this…

 

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Owen Smith is the ONLY alternative to Jeremy Corbyn, and it’s most likely she will back him. If she didn’t back any of the main candidates then it would seem the Scottish leader would have a lack of confidence within the UK labour party, resulting in even more divides within the party. But when it comes to deep cuts, Kezia Dugdale not too long ago supported such action…

 

 

Kezia Dugdale was a strong supporter of New Labour. When Blair came to power, Labour didn’t ‘re-nationalise the railways that people hoped they would, in fact they arguably began planning and started the privatisation of the royal mail, NHS, education and air traffic control. Labour barely invested in social housing which was desperately needed at the time, whilst taking billions of pounds away from the NHS using PFIs (even Jeremy Corbyn acknowledges it is a mess). They also introduced ATOS, which we all know is now a tool used by the Tories to target those who are disabled. So naturally, Kezia Dugdale would warmly welcome Owen Smith as leader. Let’s also remember Kezia Dugdale only last year supported Jim Murphy with this…

 

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Kezia Dugdale is trying to move her branch office back into the centre of politics. It would make logical sense, seeing as most of her political career she has supported the Blairite agenda, it is what she mostly recognises and is comfortable with. When Kezia Dugdale chants “stop the cuts”, do you believe her? Do you believe Kezia Dugdale wants to restore the money lost through tax credits, even though Labour and the Tories together voted to keep the power of tax credits at Westminster? Do you really believe Kezia Dugdale really wanted to raise income tax by 1p for everyone, even though she said that voting No would mean lower taxes AND campaigned with Jim Murphy to not raise taxes for the middle class?

But Kezia Dugdale is also facing problems of her own…

 

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There are still many people within Labour who do share strong socialist values and back Jeremy Corbyn, most notably Alex Rowley. What’s even more painful for Dugdale is that it seems many within Labour are becoming more open to the idea of Scottish independence. But Kezia Dugdale is so determined to lead the party in her own direction, she’s willing to see relations between her and her deputy collapse. We are not talking about a down to earth politician here, because the Scottish leader is permanently stuck to a certain script which she believes is the right path from purely her perspective. But allow me to become a little more personal, as I also want to talk about a time when I myself shared a platform with her…

 

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My old High School, Wallace High, held a special Question Time last November, in which I was invited as one of the main speakers on the panel. I’m seated on the right of Kezia Dugdale, where we exchanged in a number of current topics at the time. Hearing her speak was strange, because it became apparent she used the same old Labour sound bites (the classic SNP BAD was always there when she had the chance) and yet didn’t hold the same conviction as others like Nicola Sturgeon or even Ruth Davidson. In fact she became even defensive of New Labour at times when I questioned her on their history. I made the point to Kezia Dugdale that Labour were in power for 13 years under Blair and Brown and didn’t reform the House of Lords enough to make it democratic, plus if she didn’t believe in it then her party peers shouldn’t go to the Lords to make a statement. Her response? Well, they did some things to make it slightly better. The response was underwhelming.

Many people will say “Hang on, surely if Labour back the status quo again they’ll be committing political suicide?” And that’s correct. We hear Kezia Dugdale constantly saying she doesn’t want to pick between the EU and the UK, but obviously she has to at some point. So the likely direction is that Kezia Dugdale is going to ask Scotland to allow the two years of EU negotiations between the UK government and Brussels to play out, see what deal Scotland can get, and as Article 50 is triggered, the two years to negotiate with Europe will starve the cause for independence. By the time negotiations end, Scotland will be out of the EU with an ugly package deal given by the Tories. If Scotland did want to join the EU then, we would be in an even weaker position, again because of a Brexit. Kezia Dugdale will by relying on time to help her win the battle against the Yes movement.

However that’s if her leadership even survives. With Labour supporters now more vocal on their support for independence, with the polls showing a Yes lead, the party may even overthrow her leadership. This could be the saving point of the party: the old socialist movement of Scotland is once more restored and bringing power back home. We could quickly see the SNP’s influence fall to second place and being replaced by Labour, but this can only be achieved if the party is seen as competent and ousts their pro-establishment leading figures…both which right now seem unlikely.

Kezia Dugdale is using the Labour civil war as cover to prepare herself for the next battle. It’s important that all of us in the Yes movement help the pro-independence members within Scottish Labour, in order boost our progressive movement and stop her from driving the party into a centre-right, unionist position. If she succeeds and moves on with her plan, she’ll barely need to do anything and could stall the current drive for independence. She truly will be the Phantom Menace of Scottish politics. But as long as we keep pointing out the long list of broken promises and give a new positive vision for Scotland, then independence is just over the horizon.

So let’s seize it with both hands.