No, I've not lost my marbles - not yet anyway. I really do believe that if Scotland vote 'Yes' next Thursday in the Independence Referendum it will be the best thing that has happened to the Labour Party in decades. And I'm predicting a narrow win for Alex Salmond.
Let's unpack this thought and set the scene. At the moment, most British people don't like politicians. This is no secret, although it's certainly not been fully accepted by the politicians themselves. Westminster politicians are seen as plastic, out-of-touch careerists with no charisma and no original ideas. They don't know how to communicate and they don't seem that bothered about learning how to.
People are turning to Ukip or giving up the idea of voting for anyone at all. The Conservative Party is set to lose the next election because it has turned away from its core policies and the Labour Party has swung wildly to the Left, giving up any hope of securing votes from anyone of a less radically Left persuasion (I like to call these voters 'normal' people). So, to make a sweeping statement, normal people think most politicians are patronising, ineffectual idiots.
What we have in the UK right now is a wholesale rejection of the Westminster political system. People see politicians parachuted in to local constituencies from London HQ; representing communities they've never visited and people whose lives they can't possibly understand. We have MPs who are great on the theory, but have no interest in practical application; politicians who have never been near what most people would call a 'real' job. We have millionaires on both of the front benches and liberally scattered around the house like confetti. And most of us would be hard pressed to think of more than a handful of MPs who we'd trust to answer a straight question without ringing HQ to ask for a LTT ('Lines to take') instruction briefing.
Now I've been a member of the Labour Party for 22 years. I was a Labour Councillor for six years and even stood for Parliament in the 2005 election. And I admit... I'm also a huge Blairite. I don't think Tony Blair was perfect, but overall he did a great deal of good to this country. He understood that to do good, you have to be in government, which means you have to get elected. Duh. And he won three general elections in a row. He did this by making the Labour Party attractive to those nice normal people like me and you. He understood that not everyone was very Left wing - in fact, the vast majority of real, normal people are clustered around the centre in politics. However, now we've got a new team at the top and while there is every chance we might (narrowly) win the 2015 general election, I believe that our grip on power will be tenuous in the extreme.
But what if there's a 'Yes' vote in Scotland? What will that mean for the Labour Party? Well, up to now we've been using the 40 Scottish Labour MPs as a crutch. If Scotland votes 'Yes' to independence then we'll lose these MPs on the day independence is declared. That means that Ed Miliband will only be Prime Minister for a year or so, as once those 40 MPs stand down, any majority he holds, however slim, will be wiped out.
As a loyal Party member, how can I possibly think this is good thing, I hear you ask? Well, it will mean that if Labour ever wants power again, we will have to take a long hard look at ourselves and decide how to rebuild in a more sustainable way. That means we'll have to get some policies, and personnel, that appeal to Middle England.
Now I know that to a large section of the Labour Party, the Lefties who are currently running the show, the thought of appealing to Middle England is an anathema. To them, when Tony was running the country, he was 'tolerated' (because of his election winning capabilities) until Gordon Brown would fulfil his destiny and be the True Labour Prime Minister. They are entitled to their opinion, as am I. But to those prepared to listen I would suggest that if we carry on the way we are, our traditional core vote is going to go to Ukip. And what's worse? A change within our party, a change of leader and a change of policies - or the death of the Party itself?
If we don't change, then in ten years' time we'll suffer a fate worse than death - we'll be the Lib Dems. When Gordon was Prime Minister - despite everyone in the real world knowing he didn't connect with people and could never win an election - we all had to pretend he could; because to think aloud, or to call for someone to lead us who could actually win, was labelled 'disloyal' and 'destabilising'. We currently are led by Ed Miliband, and as a pragmatist, I know there is nothing I can do to change that. Our Blairite charge against Brownites such as Ed was always that they didn't actually win elections. And yet this time I also know that even though the party doesn't deserve to win, I think we probably will. And it will be a disaster.
And, if for no other reason than that, I really hope Scotland votes 'Yes'.Suggest a correction