Some comments on Alyn Smith and Image Politics

The National today published some right pish from Alyn Smith, wherein he doubles down on the statements he made in his now-leaked communication to SNP members in Stirling.

He writes:

“A cautionary tale – Donald Trump won Wisconsin in the last US presidential election because, in part, he was able to attack the local Democrats as being out of touch, spending all their time debating gender neutral bathrooms while the economy was going to the dogs.

It was probably untrue, but impressions matter. Likewise, Labour in the 1980s was able to be portrayed as “Loony Left” and out of touch precisely because some of its leading members were.”

Sure Alyn’s article later contains some schmaltzy platitudes about how “independence is nothing unless everyone matters. Equality is at the heart of our proposition for a better Scotland, it is not either/or,” but the previous paragraphs we’ve quoted give the lie to that. Alyn has suggested that Trump may indeed have had a point about democrats being out of touch in trying to do something about trans civil rights. Sure Trump’s line of attack might have “probably” (read: fucking obviously) been untrue, but Alyn wants to make clear to his audience that it’s the imaging and the message that was the point.

Alyn here reduces politics to what is essentially a question of brand reception. Like all liberals, he is willing to play games with trans rights, to play things safe and moderate for image reasons. Because god forbid the SNP try to do too much of the right thing by trans people and appear, shock horror, Out of Touch!

By this policy the SNP may ensure that it appears a perfectly palatable choice for some bigoted conservative landlord or businessman, but it will not succeed in leading a national struggle that works for the dispossessed and the downtrodden people of Scotland.

Remember this: False friends like Alyn Smith are not just ready to sacrifice commitments to trans civil rights for quick political gain. They are also ready to skip out on struggles for racial justice, disability justice, and workers’ justice if it makes them look like a “proper”, “sensible” political force. If you think the trans struggle is just something that can be shelved til independence, just remember that a time will come when voices in the SNP will call for a struggle that is important to you to be dropped from the cause. We must resist this kind of divide-and-conquer political opportunism at all costs- together!

1 Comment

  1. Smith’s comments about Wisconsin are treading close to the old notion that working class people can’t be LGBTQ+.

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