Labour, and in particular its leader Ed Miliband have an enormous problem. It has played a large role in Scotland's Referendum and if left unaddressed will continue to have massive implications in next spring's general election. The fundamental problem is this; they have become skin crawlingly creepy.
Several years ago my husband, a mad gamer and graphic texture artist introduced me to the concept of the "uncanny valley". The phenomena, coined in 1970 by robotics professor Masahiro Mori, states that as advances in animation and robotics are able to render artificial things more "human like," affection and empathy increase with the viewer. That is until something strange happens: When technological advancements in replication blur the line to the point our brains go from recognising things as "barely human" and shift to seeing them as "fully human" when we are conscious of its artificial nature, a strong repulsive response is triggered. Our core human intuition gets confused as a part of the mind seeks acceptance and another knows the thing to be unreal, and the end result is to find the thing freaky and profoundly disturbing.
Labour, embodied by Ed Miliband has fallen into the uncanny valley.
It is not just that Mr Miliband himself has become an odd caricature of personhood: So coached are his movements; so schooled are his slogans; and tailored his sound bites by professional political advisors and focus groups, that he has become a shell of a human. Rather worse for Labour is the notion that this wholesale adoption of choreographed performance campaigning, where all language is reduced to BBC-ready clips for the evening news, is seen as a really good thing. They couldn't be more wrong. Labour, Labour, Labour *shakes head in exasperation*.
I mean really, no one expects the Tories to be anything but comic book caricature baddies. That is what they do best. And we happen to have the worst of the worst of child poverty inducing, disabled-bashing, banker-loving, give-the-Queen-an-actual-raise Tories in office right now that they are literally only missing a pencil moustache to twirl. The LibDems don't count as they are political tarts who will drop their knickers as quickly as they're willing to drop their campaign promises, to anyone who promises them a whiff of power: but Labour, Labour was supposed to be different. It was supposed to be the peoples party, Scotland's party, the good guys who would stand up for the workers against corporate greed.
And now these bizarre coached, groomed Labour-bot Lords and millionaires have travelled up to Scotland with full paid expenses to tell us all to cower and listen to the same actual people in government and business that has caused such misery for so many. What. The. Actual. Hell? Regardless of the fact the Labour is not actually in power either in Westminster or Holyrood, that doesn't stop them from promising things (kind of, on a time table, after a national conversation, subject to veto by the rest of the UK) that they fought to keep off the ballot for this Thursday's Referendum.
These people of "Faux Labour" see not the slightest conflict invoking the word "Solidarity" and spitting the word "Foreigner" in the same sentence. I mean, either we are for all workers, in all countries regardless of borders or we are a closed shop. And who are the underclass of workers so in need of a voice today? Are they in the coalmines, the shipyards the factories? No, because the industries behind the big solidarity movements of black and white photos of bygone era have been destroyed. Today's working underclass is largely part-time workers, on zero hour contracts in the service industry. Are we to believe McDonald workers in Manchester and Portsmouth are even able, let alone interested, in holding meetings to fight for solidarity with Scottish fast-food workers? I think not. The Labour party of today don't seem to grasp this as they recycle yesterday's slogans whilst pledging to continue austerity.
So while Scotland tries to take matters into our own hands, at a time when food banks blossom in every community, benefit sanctions bite regardless of their validity, and our young still must look away from home for the furtherment of their careers, Labour leaders have travelled north to ask us to "trust them". The Jim Murphys and the Alastair Darlings who were caught fiddling their expenses and flipping their houses in London, say ... "trust them". They tell us to trust the banks as they know best, even when RBS and Deutchbank are paying ridiculous fines for misdeeds and mis-information. Trust the retail market, because when you have to choose between whether to eat or heat, when your cancer recovery is crippled with stress from Atos appointments and you are going to lose not just your flat but your community because you have a spare bedroom to store your disability equipment - you really give a flying fox that prices "might" go up in Waitrose or John Lewis. Really, Labour? This is what you mean by solidarity and supporting people's rights?
But here is the rub: Scotland's Referendum is not a campaign; it is a civil rights movement and Labour could not have been more off tone. But Labour does indeed have a general election campaign coming up very soon. And the smears, the subjugation of democracy, the utter lack of faith in the people who have put you in your job has not only failed in Scotland - it has been widely broadcast throughout the land. And that is a problem. Labour, you have let yourself become well creepy. You have failed your core electorate.
So while Labour have well and truly lost all but the most tribal party members in Scotland, there could still be time for you in the general election. Workers need representation, but for the love of God fire all the advisors and coaches. Please try to reconnect and heaven forbid respect the people who allow and provide for your cushy existence. Pull back from the uncanny valley and quite literally - rediscover your humanity.