What should Scottish Labour do?

24th October, 2014 1:14 pm

There is much talk in the Scottish media about a crisis in Scottish Labour. Some of it is of course froth (is the Scottish Daily Mail where we would seek advice in our best interest?). But some of it is substantial – based on the post-poll evidence, anything between 30-40% of Labour voters voted Yes in the referendum.

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The angst is also heightened by the surge in SNP membership to nearly 80,000, making them the third largest political party in the UK. Moreover, it is not only the numbers that are important: when the surge was first reported, the Glasgow Herald quoted ‘a senior Yes source’ as saying: “[the new SNP members] are all united in hating Labour.”

In other words, having failed to break the UK, the Yessers would gleefully, as a close second best, like to break Scottish Labour. It is against this background that we look to the next three years and their respective elections: Westminster 2015, Holyrood 2016, and local councils 2017.

Taken together, these elections are now an existential challenge for the party in Scotland: if we fail, we put at risk our potential to be a force in Scottish politics again in the foreseeable future, and perhaps ever.

So what should Scottish Labour do? Here are some basic ideas to get working on.

First, let’s give some leadership: Scottish Labour has to take the political process by the lapels and show it who’s boss – as in who won the referendum, and who is going to dictate to whom in the coming weeks and months.

Alex Salmond spoke about “holding the feet of the UK parties to the fire” over extra Holyrood powers, and Nicola Sturgeon looks like she will follow suit.  They lost the referendum by a clear majority and it is their feet that should be held to the fire until they admit that fact. This is not just in Scottish Labour’s interest, but it is our duty to the 55% of Scottish voters who voted No to dominate the argument.

Like the old Scottish football manager Jimmy Sirrel said “the best team always wins and the rest is only gossip.” Scottish Labour needs to be clear that we are on the side of the majority and of democracy. We need to keep the SNP painted into its losing corner with the minority, aligned with the 45ers and the UDIers in the anti-democracy fringe.

Secondly, Scottish Labour must upscale the appeal of our unique selling point: that we are a party of UK government.

Most immediately, we must make it clear that as part of the winning side in the referendum, we can and will act to safeguard the outcome. It should therefore be announced as soon as possible as a headline commitment in next May’s General Election manifesto that no Labour government will agree to a new Scottish independence referendum: not in the next Parliament, not ever.

Thirdly, we must use our status as a UK party which can and will influence the big agendas of the coming years. The defeat of independence means that the essential issues of the economy and welfare, as well as defence and foreign affairs, remain at Westminster, meaning that Labour has a role in these areas which the SNP cannot rival.

Our message must be that if Scots want a voice in shaping the next decades, they are will be fools to waste their vote on the SNP. And if they want those decades to be socially progressive and economically successful, they will be wise to vote Labour.

Finally, we must look at how these cases, all based on the votes of the majority and common sense, can be presented effectively. Every night on television we see the SNP acting as if their campaign was still alive or as if they won the referendum. Labour’s campaign and public relations resources must be used to make sure that they do not go unchallenged.

The SNP claim that No voters will be angry if new powers are not delivered to Holyrood: in fact, many No voters are already enraged by the way that their votes are being ignored by the SNP and by media commentators obsessed with the Yes vote. The message is easy enough: Yes lost, and anyone continuing to argue the independence case should have their credibility shredded at every possible opportunity.

The referendum campaign showed that we have the people to do the job. Let’s use them. We can and must show up Yes for what it is: a zombie movement, running around causing havoc after life expired from its cause in the early morning of 19th September.

These steps do not address some of the issues which we face heading into the subsequent Holyrood Elections, although presenting ourselves as ‘Scotland’s UK party of social democracy’ in opposition to the SNP as ‘Scotland’s Party of Scotland’ has to be an advantage. It could even be a foundation for what we could call ‘Scotland’s Social Contract’ – a narrative which puts together our achievements, our polices and our objectives as we go forward into 2016.

Above all, however, they are steps which are bold enough to grab the initiative and set the agenda for the 2015 General Election in post-referendum Scotland. Moreover, they offer what people want and what Scotland needs.

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  • Theuniondivvie

    ‘the anti-democracy fringe.’

    ‘It should therefore be announced as soon as possible as a headline
    commitment in next May’s General Election manifesto that no Labour
    government will agree to a new Scottish independence referendum: not in
    the next Parliament, not ever.’

    Hmm, not getting a HUGE pro democracy vibe here. Certainly gives the lie to all those SLAB rictus grins as they wibbled on about a ‘festival of democracy’.

    Of course Labour’s single manifesto commitment currently is that they will oppose a currency union forever and a day; amusing if their only two UK manifesto commitments were to thwart the the aspirations of a sizable chunk of the Scottish electorate in perpetuity.

    • Cath Ferguson

      Also not feeling much democracy from the idea that: Leadership is about making sure the losers know they’re losers, hence who will be dictating to whom over the next few years. “You lost now shut up: we’ll be telling you what’s what” certainly isn’t my idea of democracy. Nor is it the attitude of a party I’d ever vote for again (and I did vote Labour for Westminster up to 2010).

    • The 45% an anti-democracy fringe? “no” won the referendum on a bribe. “yes” accepts the referendum result but to paint the ongoing independence movement as anti-democractic because they lost is like painting Labour 2010 as anti-democratic because they lost and Labour 2015 as anti-democratic because they will lose too. A political opinion is not anti-democratic, it is the essence of democracy. This is why you deserve to be in meltdown.

  • MrSauce

    It should concentrate on Scottish issues.
    That is what MSPs will be making decisions on.
    As for Westminster MPs, they will be doing less: when devolution strengthens they won’t be voting in on devolved issues.

  • Paul Adams

    Two messages our Scottish comrades must keep hammering home – the Labour Party always has been and always will be a Unionist Party – we are proud to defend the unity of the UK State and the British Labour Movement, glad the NO side won and we would do it all again if there was another Referendum. We are sorry and surprised if this is a shock to any lifelong Labour voters but they must get over it. (while we’re getting these shocking facts out of the way Labour also set up the UK-wide NHS, UK Welfare State, Nationalised the commanding heights of the UK economy after WW2, introduced the UK-wide NWM and stood shoulder to shoulder with other UK political parties – yes, including the Tories under Winston Churchill – in the great war against fascism, unlike some Scottish Nationalists we could mention).

    Secondly, the reason so many of our people did vote YES in the IndyRef wasn’t because they really wanted to break up the UK but in desperation to get away from the Tories – at GE2015 the best (only) way to ensure the Tories are sent packing is to vote Labour – a vote for the SNP will make the very thing you most want less likely, they may even help prop up a Tory government in Westminster for their own cynical reasons.

    • JoeySchmidt

      Now that is missing the point entirely. Labour haven’t been a socialist party since John Smith died. Unionist or not, they are supposed to be socialist in their ideology, but over the last 18 years, they’ve shape shifted into a centre right outfit with the goal of appeasing middle England. This is changing you core ethics to fit a certain electorate, that is not political strategy, it’s political suicide. People should vote for a party they believe in at the core level, if the party has to change that core belief just to make headway, then they have lost all credibility to those who are politically engaged and not voting out of habit.

    • Stewart Kerr Brown

      Comrades? You are having a laugh…

    • NO Paul.

      The reason folk voted YES was to get independence – Comrade

      INDEPENDENCE – The question didn’t say vote Yes for no tories.

      And WW2 finished a wee while ago.

      Labour always looking backwards.

      The Zombie party 🙂

    • Colin McFarlane

      Paul, your assertion that Labour always has been and always will be a unionist party is not exactly correct. Home Rule for Scotland was one of the founding pledges of Keir Hardy’s Scottish Labour movement and remained a Labour Party commitment up until the end of WWll. Of course Labour isnt committed to Home Rule anymore; its dropped its commitment to state ownership; its stood by the erosion of workers rights, and colludes with the Conservative party in promoting an economic orthodoxy that rewards those at the top whilst punishing those at the bottom. The real Labour party, with socialist values at its core is long dead. What stands there now is an empty shell, deviod of values or principles. The emperor has no clothes and people in Scotland are at last waking up to that fact.

      • Daniel Speight

        That’s interesting Colin. Made me look it up and you are quite correct.

    • Annette Kupke

      Interesting that all Labour’s achievements you list lie several decades in the past. And you are wrong, only 10% of Yes voters wanted to get away from Tory governments. 75% voted Yes on the basis of a political principle, namely self-determination. And they want to get away from Labour just as much as from the Tories. Because, you see, there is nary a difference nowadays between the two. The political ground Labour used to occupy is today occupied by the Green Party and more and more people are beginning to notice this. Fewer and fewer people are willing to vote for Labour because of what Labour stood for in the 1950s. It’s the 21st century, in case you hadn’t noticed.

    • Tinkerbell

      The post war Gov’t set up 2 systems for the NHS one in Scotland the other for the rest of the UK. There were two separate Acts to bring the NHS into being.

  • Stewart Kerr Brown

    “In other words, having failed to break the UK, the Yessers would gleefully, as a close second best, like to break Scottish Labour.” This comment just shows how much you don’t understand the situation in Scotland….

  • This is great. If Labour in Scotland continue on the die-hard British nationalist road mapped out here then they can only continue to lose ground. Please take on this fantastic advice, Labour.

  • Spammo Twatbury

    Congratulations. The most hilariously insane article ever published on LabourList.

    • Nobody Knows

      I am not so sure about that Spammo , you must be new here lol

  • Gabriel Neil

    This is a neat summary of the utterly arrogant, complacent and anti-democratic instincts of the Scottish Labour Party. You see this article and the utter smugness it portrays, Labour party members? This is exactly the reason why you are going to lose and lose badly in Scotland next year and the year after. This kind of blinkered drivel is one of the reasons your party has lost the trust of the Scottish people and the more it is publicly shown in articles like this, the better for everyone.

    • JoeySchmidt

      As long as people don’t continue to vote out of habit, then we’ll be in for a celebration of the removal of Labour!

  • Wallace Wylie

    Labour lost the last UK general election, and the last Scottish election. Calling yourself the party of government after losing sounds anti-democratic to me, ignoring the people who voted against you.

  • Alistair Sheehy Hutton

    So 1/3 of Labour voters voted for independence and this is an existential threat to Scottish Labour and your solution is to dismiss all their concerns? Bold.

  • JoeySchmidt

    “Our message must be that if Scots want a voice in shaping the next decades, they are will be fools to waste their vote on the SNP. And if they want those decades to be socially progressive and economically successful, they will be wise to vote Labour.”

    Yes, that would be fine if our elected Labour officials actually represented us, which they generally do not. We don’t vote people in to do what they want, we vote people in to do what we the people want. They are our servants, not the other way round. See the Iraq invasion, see the selling off of gold reserves, see the expenses scandals etc., we never voted for these things and the public were outspoken in their condemnation of them as well. Was that the democracy you were after Labour?!

    “The SNP claim that No voters will be angry if new powers are not delivered to Holyrood: in fact, many No voters are already enraged by the way that their votes are being ignored by the SNP and by media commentators obsessed with the Yes vote.”

    Indeed they may very well be angry and rightly so, especially if that was why they voted no. Not everyone who voted no is a unionist right wing maniac loyal to the queen and the union flag. Some of them want real progressive change that the Westminster parties have no interest in delivering. Labour keep forgetting that the Edinburgh agreement was made a mockery of. The vow’s timing was in breach of the letter of the agreement and as such a recount should’ve at least on the cards to settle it fairly. However, the Labour party of democracy are only interested in the result and not the method of which it was obtained. Also, how are no voters being ignored, they voted for the status quo, is that not the quagmire we’re still stuck in now?!

  • For the record.

    “The ruling class of the UK desperately needed Labour leaders to exploit their residual roots in the working class
    to defend the rich from a movement that threatened to go far beyond changing flags or government headquarters
    to demanding a change to the entire economic and social system.
    And the Labour leaders obliged, betraying the working class they have exploited for votes and political office for a century.

    One central aspect of this betrayal was the last ditch intervention of Gordon Brown for ‘substantial extra powers’ provided we voted No.” (Richie Venton)
    .

    It is for this act of supreme treachery via its cynical betrayal of the working class,
    that Labour in Scotland will surely be given the DEATH PENALTY when the court of Scottish public opinion sits on May 7 2015 for the General Election.

    For the Red Tories (formerly Labour) have betrayed not only this generation of the working class
    but also those who have gone before us,
    as well as future generations of working people throughout Scotland.

  • Malcolm McCandless

    So 1.6 million Scots (including 30-40% of Labour voters) are now labelled as the ‘the anti-democracy fringe.’

    Then there is this, ‘a headline commitment in next May’s General Election manifesto that no Labour government will agree to a new Scottish independence referendum: not in the next Parliament, not ever.’

    If this represents current thinking within the Labour party then it will face annihilation in Scotland.

  • Andy Ellis

    This wrong-headed and deeply delusional response to the referendum result is symptomatic of all that is wrong with the odious New Labour project. It amply demonstrates why the unionist elites in the UK should be very worried about the prospects of a melt-down in Labour support in Scotland. Having won a narrower than expected victory in the referendum, the No Camp are set fair to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They say it is wise never to interrupt a foe when they are in the middle of making a mistake, but in the case of Scottish Labour, it really doesn’t seem to matter; so bereft of self awareness and political nous have they become, that they simply cannot see the depths to which they have sunk.

    The rise in SNP, Green and SSP membership, the continuation of the Yes campaign and the growth of moves toward a Yes Alliance presenting a united front at the 2016 GE must give the Labor party nightmares.

    Firstly you don’t HAVE any leadership worth the name, as the response to third raters like Lamont, Sarwar, Curran and Murphy shows. The internacine hatred between the Holyrood and Westminster parties hardly helps.

    Secondly, emphasising the UK-ness of the party is part of your problem, not part of the solution. Trying to rule out any future referendums is not only profoundly undemocratic, it will quickly prove to be electoral seppuku in the face of arguments about more devolution, and the imminent failure if unionists to agree how much there should be, still less actually deliver it.

    Thirdly, New Labour has shown precious little evidence of the socially progressive or economically successful instincts which will encourage people to abandon the SNP simply because they can’t control defence and foreign policy. Indeed, the opposite is closer to the truth; the more people realise that only independence will actually deliver socially progressive and economically successful policies, the more willing they will be to go the full monty and insist not just on devo-max, but total independence.

    Lastly, the collapse of the vow within hours of the No vote on 18/09, Cameron’s comprehensive outflanking of Labour with EVEL, the continuing rise of UKIP in England, and the imminent prospect of English votes propelling us out of the EU, will ALL militate against a Labour victory in GE15. A Yes Alliance block of MP’s could well hold the balance after another hung vote, and absent any moves toward true devo-max or home rule beforehand (which is vanishingly unlikely given unionist disarray on the subject) then indyref2 looks increasingly likely.

    The people of Scotland know what the want and need. Your answers don’t provide it.

    • Andy Ellis

      That was a superb piece. Really feel the passion in that comment

      Well said sir.

  • EH ??

    Delusional .

    Labour are the party that lied and scared the people of Scotland. Now if we unanimously vote for another referendum you say no. regardless of what Scots think.

    Aye democracy Labour style, that’ll have them voting in there millions…

    R.I.P – Labour are THE ZOMBIE PARTY.

  • No – 2,001,926 votes to Yes – 1,617,989

    But 500,000 reportedly voted conditionally Yes to ‘substantial powers'(Gordon Brown)

    but because that wasn’t on the ballot paper

    the 500,000 had to put their cross in the No box

    even though it was really a Yes.

    So Yes 4 Indy + Yes for powers = 2,117,989 55.3%

    No to Independence = 1,501,926 41.49%

    (- not including the postal vote -)

    The conditional Yes is effectively not yet cast in stone.

    Who won; who lost? It’s not over is it?

    I have to think that Peter Russell & John McTernan can work that out.

    If not, glad to be of some assistance.

    • jaime taurosangastre candelas

      How are you sure that 500,000 voted for No but in the expectation of extra powers? I do not doubt your statement, but am interested in the provenance of the figure (beyond it being a statement by Gordon Brown, because that is not enough for me. I don’t trust him).

      • Annette Kupke

        The Ashcroft poll showed that No votes were cast for the following reasons: 25% due to identifying with the British nation, 50% out of worries over economy and EU membership and 25% because Scotland would get extensive new powers while remaining in the union, i.e. best of both worlds. That’s the 500 000 above poster was speaking of. The poll also shows that only the first 25%, i.e. 500 000 people in Scotland are truly in favour of the UK.

        • jaime taurosangastre candelas

          Thank you.

  • John Quinn

    Lot of anger and bile in here given you’re on the “winning side”

    By your own calculations and based on 2011 Labour votes, up to 250,000 of your supporters in Scotland are Zombies?

    I smell fear.

    “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” …Yoda.

    • Annette Kupke

      Well, Labour MPs WERE greeted with the Imperial March in Glasgow. 😉

      • John Quinn

        yes that was sweet…and now the “winning” Labour leader resigns???

  • Graham Elder

    Lots of Labour supporters giving positive feedback on the above article I see. Funny how the zombies seen to be the only ones who can be bothered to comment.

  • Jamie Smith

    Labour in Scotland were only too eager to do the Tories’ dirty work during the referendum. Now they beg the Scottish electorate to vote for them in 2015.
    Articles like the one above can only compound Labour’s problems in Scotland – more please.

  • swatnan

    My advise would be to sever its links to the Labour Party and call itself the ‘Scottish Labour Party’, and not contrest any elections South of the Border. That way it will be seen as an independent Party, in readiness for the complete Independence of Scotland which is bound to come within 10 years.

  • Annette Kupke

    Excuse me while I giggle. The No vote scraped past thanks to the efforts of the entire established political apparatus of Westminster AND the mainstream media AND big business; thanks to the Labour Party siding with the Conservatives, UKIP, the BNP and the Orange Order (yes, face it, your allies are bigots and fascists); thanks to the Westminster government instructing supermarket chains to threaten the Scottish electorate with price surges; thanks to lies about the Scottish oil running out; thanks to the insincere promises of the infamous “Vow;” thanks to scaremongering about Scotland’s EU membership as if Westminster wasn’t planning to take the entire UK out of the EU anyway; thanks to the thundering silence from other EU nations only interested in their own agendas, thanks to No campaigners knocking on old people’s doors and telling them that if they voted Yes they would immediately lose their pensions. Let’s not forget that 800 000 postal votes were cast using a system that according to EU reports is wide open to fraud, and that somehow the results of the postal vote were mysteriously known to the No campaign before the closing of the polling stations, as Ms Davidson has kindly informed the nation via TV. The unionists have lied, bullied and possibly cheated their way to winning by a narrow margin. Had there been even a modicum of fair play, Yes would have won easily. Yes would win easily if there was a referendum today, given the new Iraq War, the relentless destruction of our welfare state and our civil rights, the revelation of plans to frack Central Scotland into oblivion without anyone here getting as much as a word in edgeways and, of course, the surprising discovery that Scotland has lots and lots and lots of oil. You call the independence movement, backed by three parties whose combined membership lies in the region of 100 000, backed by Women for Independence, Farmers for Independence, LGBT for Independence, the National Collective, the Radical Independence Campaign, etc etc, and backed by 1.6 million people in Scotland, you call this a “zombie movement”? Yes is a vibrant and creative grassroots movement, which the unionists could only meet by persuading vulnerable people in Scotland that they are too poor and too stupid to look after themselves. Pray, how many members does the Labour Party have in Scotland these days? How many MSPs? How many MPs you think you will have left after GE 2015? If anything is a zombie movement, it is Scottish Labour.

  • Angus

    ” Scottish Labour has to take the political process by the lapels and
    show it who’s boss – as in who won the referendum, and who is going to
    dictate to whom in the coming weeks and months.”

    Sorry WHAT! ?

    It is your position to try and persuade us that you are the best people to represent us, the voters. Then if we choose to support you, it will be your job to act on our behalf.

    IT is not your position, (or anybody else’s) to dictate anything.

  • jaime taurosangastre candelas

    Is the resignation of Johann Lamont (BBC reports this night) a good thing or a bad thing for Scottish Labour? To me as a complete outsider, she always seemed a bit old fashioned, but then I do not know Scotland very well.

    Hopefully, this might mean that Gordon Brown will find a new challenge that does not involve him being ever again in England.

  • Alan Crerar

    Only got down a few paras before glazing over….but did pick out “Scottish Labour has to take the political process by the lapels and show it who’s boss – as in who won the referendum, and who is going to dictate to whom in the coming weeks and months.” You didn’t win it you wally, you stood shoulder to shoulder with the working class’s enemy No1 (that’s the Conservative party in case you’ve forgotten) and their all Lib lap dogs, plus big business, Lords, Ladies and Leechies. You didn’t have the nerve to stand up for yourselves and you will be punished for it at the GE. The Tories behave exactly as we expect, the Libs made their decision and will have to die by it, but you will live with the consequences for as long as the Labour party survives.

  • Doug Smith

    What should Scottish Labour do? Hang its head in shame.

    It’s difficult to see how, after forming an alliance with the Tories, the Labour Party can recover its credibility in Scotland.

    No doubt the Progress elite will be thrilled at the prospect of friendship with the Tories but the electorate won’t share the sentiment. Labour will be punished at the ballot box in 2015 and beyond.

  • John Symon

    He misses the point. Labour and the rest of the right wing parties won the vote but lost the argument. They offered a future much the same as the past. They offered fear. The Yes alliance motivated voters to get involved. They offered a future that could be better. They offered hope.

  • George Orwell

    I wonder why nobody is talking about the collapse of the oil price? Then I suppose doing the sums is not really a Labour thing.

    • Daniel Speight

      On the other hand they could be talking about the announcement of a new field found in offshore Scotland suspiciously after but close to the referendum. Not that we could ever believe that companies like BP would purposely hold back news for political reasons;-)

  • Redshift1

    There’s disappointingly little here about reconnecting with our base and reestablishing Labour’s social democratic crddentials

    • Annette Kupke

      It would be very difficult to “re-establish” something that went down the toilet decades ago.

      • Redshift1

        If you think the SNP are ever going to be a replacement for what the Labour Party could/should be then you’re daft. Salmond’s policy of creating a corporation tax rate race-to-the-bottom says it all. But I have to hand it to Salmond, he has done a very good job of blurring the lines with solid commitment to universalist social policies. Scottish Labour’s daft short-termism is what has left it floundering in the face of the SNP.

        • Annette Kupke

          I’m a Green, and it is the Green Party who now stand for what Labour “should” stand for. Consulting the Political Compass will show you this quite clearly. Look at the graph and look at which two parties their policies are closest to: BNP and DUP! There is nothing for Labour to “re-establish.” They have aligned themselves with Tories, BNP, UKIP and the Orange Order during the referendum. They belong into the toxic waste bin.

  • Jamie Smith

    Pity. Lamont was doing a great job for SNP.

  • Given that Lamont has just resigned as Labour leader the “leadership” schtick is looking a bit worn at the moment.

    Let’s be clear, I did not vote Yes because I give a toss about scotch mist. I am from Manchester and only moved up here last year, so gimme a break on that one. I voted Yes so that we could have a part of Britain that would not be under the thumb of a loathsome middle class that wants everything for itself and is unwilling to give much to anyone else. I voted Yes to get revenge for the 1980s in other words…

    So did a lot of other people. The Yes campaign was about independence but it was also about social democracy. No matter how many scraps you are willing to throw to your core vote of claimants like me and folk who do the McJobs, you cannot get away from the fact that Labour is the party of the white collar salariat and you speak in their interests.

    Next year if I vote SNP it will not be for independence – we lost that debate – but it will be to send as many SNP members to Westminster to ensure that a Labour government does more than pander to the interests of middle class scrotes.

    • Steve Stubbs

      The SNP abstains on England-only votes, so you appear to be supporting EVEL – quite how this will ensure that a labour government ever does anything is hard to see. The only things they will be able to do is any UK wide measure.

      • They do at the moment, but whether that will continue if the SNP has enough seats to be king-makers is anyone’s guess.

        As far as Labour is concerned, it has now emerged that Miliband prevented Scottish Labour from opposing the the bedroom tax for a full year. Seriously, would you cheerfully vote for that party?

  • Peter Russell nicely illustrates the insanity that grips British Labour in Scotland. For only serious mental defect can explain his claim to be on the side of democracy whilst simultaneously demanding that the people of Scotland should be denied one of the most fundamental democratic rights – the right of self-determination.

    Further evidence of Russell’s delusional state can be found in pretty much every paragraph of his demented diatribe. He genuinely seems to believe that the way to win back the 30-40% of labour supporters who voted Yes is to tell them that their opinions are worthless and their aspirations meaningless.

    Russell also appears to believe that “Scottish” labour’s problems are merely presentational. It is not that the party needs to change. It is just that the public perception of the party has to be altered. The party is right. The people are wrong.

    The problem with British Labour in Scotland is, not that it is seen as “Scotland’s UK party of social democracy”, but that it is not seen as a party of social democracy at all. It is seen as “Scotland’s party of the British establishment”. This is a party which happily allied itself with the Tories in defence of the ruling elites of the British state. A British state which, itself, is increasingly regarded as the very antithesis of social democracy.

    Tellingly, Russell sees being “Scotland’s party of Scotland” as a very, very bad thing. There is, to his deranged way of thinking, no worse sin than for a party to seek a mandate from the electorate on the basis of a commitment to serve the interests of that electorate. All of which is explained by the fact that British Labour in Scotland persistently equates its own narrow interests with those of the nation as a whole. What’s good for “Scottish” Labour is good for Scotland. Fewer and fewer people are prepared to accept this partisan arrogance.

  • EdRobertson

    What should you do? You had your chance. You picked the wrong side, instead of saving Scotland from the Tories. You didn’t even allow your members freedom of conscience. An independent socialist Scotland is coming, but the Labour Party will be a historical footnote.

  • Rob Troup

    Full of contradictions .. ” show who is going to dictate to who in the coming months.. ” .. They are not in power in Westminster or Holyrood and won’t be for a very long time – who exactly are they going to dictate to ?

    “the appeal of our unique selling point: that we are a party of UK government… ” Therein lies the problem! The Scottish referendum was supposed to be for the people of Scotland to decide.. the fact Labour are now selling the fact that they are in fact the UK Establishment will do them no good.. pity they didn’t make this clear BEFORE the referendum.

    “Our message must be that if Scots want a voice in shaping the next decades, they are will be fools to waste their vote on the SNP ” .. Labour have just proven that they are the party of Westminster, NOT Scotland, As it is the English electorate who decide on the UK Government, the only way to get any influence at Westminster is to send Scottish MP’s there from a Scottish Party in the interests of Scotland. …..

    “The defeat of independence means that the essential issues of the economy and welfare, as well as defence and foreign affairs, remain at Westminster, meaning that Labour has a role in these areas which the SNP cannot rival.” .. This shows there is absolutely no intention, and never was, to devolve any meaningful powers to Holyrood. Can’t say this surprises me in the least.

    “It could even be a foundation for what we could call ‘Scotland’s Social Contract’ – a narrative which puts together our achievements, our polices and our objectives as we go forward into 2016.” The Labour party came up with the bedroom tax policy brought in by the Conservatives, Blair advertised Britain as the place to invest due to its poor workers rights, Labour support Conservative austerity measures, Trident renewal and War. They were joint authors of the Global Banking crisis and bent over to the City of London.. They started the Private finance initiative In Scotland that has cost the Tax payers so much money, they instigated Tuition fees in the rUK,continued on the road to privatisation of the NHS, in short they are Neo Liberals to the max.

    “Above all, however, they are steps which are bold enough to grab the initiative and set the agenda for the 2015 General Election in post-referendum Scotland” .. The agenda has already been set and Labour have nothing to do with it .. Bring on 2015, 016 and 2017 and show these idiots exactly what a post referendum Scotland is all about ..

  • Carol Hutton

    Two quotes from the above:
    “We can and must show up Yes for what it is: a zombie movement, running
    around causing havoc after life expired from its cause in the early
    morning of 19th September.”
    AND,
    “Our message must be that if Scots want a voice in shaping the next
    decades, they are will be fools to waste their vote on the SNP.”

    Ooooh, well done, Labour! Labelling Yes voters, INCLUDING Labour-ites who voted & still support Yes, as Zombies, and characterising their efforts to keep alive democratic discussion and comment so Scotland gets the very best deal it possibly can from the Smith Commission as Running Around Causing Havoc is a pure dead brilliant way of gaining their respect, admiration and loyalty. Not.

    Furthermore, suggesting that a voter is a Fool, regardless of which view they support, and their vote is a Waste if not cast in favour of Labour, is insulting beyond belief.

    I can assure you I am NOT a Fool – I received a top class education in private schools both here and abroad, have many years of specialist military trg under my belt and a Bachelor of Science to boot. Furthermore, as I exhibit a body temp of approx 98F, pulse 60 at rest, BP 120/65 and an active EEG, I take personal umbrage at being labelled as both Fool and Zombie as quite evidently I am neither. NO party or voice for one who labels me, or any voter in Scotland, a Fool or Zombie deserves my vote as they clearly do NOT respect us as Persons.

    I have long supported the SNP’s goal of Full Independence for Scotland but with no option in the form of a Devo-Max choice, on the day I voted Yes. Had it gone to the Yes side once the dust had settled I would likely have voted Labour in an Indy Scotland as I feel it’s historic aims and goals fit well with my personal ethos. No more. With the outright manipulation, disinformation, dirty politicking, allying with the Tories & outright lies, breaking first The Edinburgh Agreement and then The Vow on Day One I will NEVER consider voting Labour EVER. Labour UK’s tmt of Scotland as LESS than an equal partner in the Treaty of Union betrays their disregard and total lack of understanding of Scottish hearts and minds, be they Labour now or Labour-in-waiting.

    You lot made your bed and by dictating to Labour Scotland how to manage it’s internal affairs have sent the mattress up in flames. Good luck finding even a box on a hot air vent – you are going to need it come May 2015 and in many, MANY years to come.

    ps And try using spell/grammar check BEFORE you post – see your own words as quoted in the second para above…

  • Graham

    I’m a Conservative who from time to time reads Labourlist just to see what the opposition are thinking! – and I have never commented before but I am astonished at this article (as I can see almost all of you are). You’re going to have to hope your leadership don’t have the same mindset as this is unbelievably arrogant with a mind boggling amount of ignorance. I was a Labour Party member for many years switching in 97 when everyone was going the other way because I could see Blair and his ilk were from a different world and mindset and had contempt for the working class and their views (Brown and his bigoted women comment and the shutting down for years of immigration as a topic) – and you may not believe this – but I truly believe the Tories in no way share this contempt (well maybe excluding a few of our own metropolitan liberal elite!) sorry I know that last comment might be controversial and I’m not saying there won’t be different views over “the rich” but I’m talking about acceptance of (non-politico) working class views

  • Observer

    They just don’t get it. And will only get it when Scotland eventually becomes an independent country.

  • BLMac

    “Russell also appears to believe that “Scottish” labour’s problems are merely presentational.”

    That translates as “we need more spin”. The wrong end of the dog is talking, you cannot polish a turd.

    How about a bit of respect for the voters? Start by listening to what we want – and it isn’t rule by London Labour.

  • fynesider

    “..no Labour government will agree to a new Scottish independence referendum: not in the next Parliament, not ever.” 1) Whatever happened to democracy? 2) Be careful what you wish for – this could come back and bite you..!

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