Only by working together that we will be able to defeat nationalism

30th October, 2014 7:25 pm


Since before the Independence Referendum the Scottish Nationalists have tried to drape themselves in Labour’s clothing, pretending they are the party of social justice, promising a socialist utopia if only people voted for independence, all the while passing on cuts and austerity from a Tory Government in Westminster. They even suggested that voters would get ‘a better’ Labour Party if only they voted for independence. What a ruddy cheek!

Since the vote they’ve done a pretty good job at trying to convince anyone who will listen that theirs is the cause people voted for. They didn’t.

The Scottish people rejected independence by a decent margin. It is now our party’s job to deliver for the people what they actually voted for – a reformed devolved settlement within the United Kingdom.

The ‘vow’ must be honoured. There can be no dispute about this. Cameron’s ‘EVEL’ proposal was a vindictive political manoeuvre, which only confirmed that the Tories have given up on Scotland and care only about protecting the seats they hold in the South. Ed Miliband was absolutely right to call for a Constitutional Convention to examine how power can be further and more fairly devolved right across the UK.

The current devolved settlement is unbalanced, so it is completely understandable that Wales and the English Regions have, on the back of the Scottish Referendum, asked for their own additional powers and until further devolution has also been delivered to them the current system will remain lacking. A Constitutional Convention would resolve this issue for the whole of the UK.

It is right and necessary, to review all our internal party structures at a future point to ensure they fit the new constitutional settlement. That may mean a more federal structure, but if it does that will have been a considered conclusion to a reasoned debate not a knee-jerk reaction to bullish Nationalism.

But whatever the outcome of the Constitutional Convention, we should always remember we are a United Kingdom Labour Party. It’s our party that led the campaign to keep the United Kingdom together. Because we know we are better together. Because we know that we achieve more together than we do alone and because working together is part of the Labour Party’s DNA.

Those who call for ‘clear red water’ between our Scottish Party and the rest of the UK Party, who suggest that the Scottish Labour Party cannot take on the Nationalists because they do not have enough, ‘autonomy from London Labour’ are deeply misguided. In talking process rather than principles and policies they are, I fear, handing ammunition to our opponents and doing a grave disservice to the people Labour seeks to represent – the same people that are suffering most at the hands of the Tory Government in Westminster and from the failure of Nationalists in Holyrood.

They should ask themselves how on earth a change to our internal structures delivers the Scottish jobs those people so desperately need, how ripping up our rule book would address the fact that in some constituencies in Scotland 25% of children are living in abject poverty, and how breaking up our party would prevent independence rather than help deliver it. They should ask themselves how attacking those who gave up so much to help in the referendum allows Labour to hold the Nationalists to account for their many failings.

The Scottish Labour Party has full autonomy over policy matters in Scotland. The Scottish Executive Committee has more delegated power than any other part of our party. The Leader of the Scottish and Welsh Parties (or a deputy they choose to send in their place) have dedicated seats at the National Executive Committee – representation I called for and was delivered by Refounding Labour. All these things are absolutely right.

Could there be greater understanding across the whole of the UK Party of the challenges our Scottish Party faces? Yes, of course. But as I’ve travelled across the UK, to over 120 CLPs, I haven’t found disinterest in Scottish Politics, quite the opposite, but I have found members who have felt that the Scottish Party would not welcome their help, their interest or their solidarity. And I have also found members in Scotland who have felt their challenges and pressures have been misunderstood by the rest of the UK.

Relationships are a two-way deal – both sides need to make an effort to make it work. That means respect from both sides and for each other’s position. That’s what needs to exist. Because it is only by working together that we will be able to defeat nationalism.

If the most recent poll tells us anything it should tell us that people will not vote for a party that is expending more energy in its own internal affairs than the issues affecting those they seek to serve.

When members in Scotland are choosing their next leader they should ask who has the policies, the politics and the vision to deliver for the people of Scotland, rather than who promises the most distance between our comrades. Who has the energy to take the fight to the SNP, who will challenge nationalism for what it is and who will not rest in holding Nationalists to account.

Remember that ‘London Labour’ is the office that rests in Euston under the direction of the London Regional Director, supporting the membership across all of our London Constituency Labour Parties. It’s a term used by Nationalists to create division where there need be none and to belie the power that we have as a UK Party – united across borders and united in our values.

Nationalism is the narrative of nationalists. Social justice must be the narrative of socialists and unity and collectivism are the only means to deliver it.

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  • robertcp

    A depressing article that shows why Labour is in trouble in Scotland. Nationalism was defeated last month! The SNP has been in power since 2007 and it is rather insulting to hint that they have been fooling the voters in that time.

    • Robin Stevenson

      Trouble?…no..I`m afraid you`re dead in the water (in Scotland) having jumped into middle England and sold out your socialist ideology. But…don`t worry with SNP`s 50 new MP`s after 2015 (Ipsos Mori survey), we don`t mind doing a deal with UK Labour…we`ll make it so hard for you to make ANY policies work you`ll be begging us to be independent….And the blind and ignorant will rejoice…then the proverbial will hit the fan…our educated English neighbours will think, what have we done?

      • Guest

        Oh right, so you’ll act as wreckers on Britain, and make anyone educated wanting to be rid of you, so there will be a slash and burn of Scottish resources followed by banishment.

        No EU for you either, oh no!

      • robertcp

        The Scottish people may regret voting SNP if the MPs act like idiots. You need to forget about independence and concentrate on the devolved government and being constructive in the House of Commons.

        • Robin Stevenson

          Don`t be ridiculous Robert…the issue of independence will never be dead until it`s achieved,,,as far as MP`s acting like idiots, we already have more than enough of them already and none of them are SNP
          The “New powers”, that will be offered will be a token and certainly unacceptable, of that I have no doubt.
          I`m not being negative incidentally, just a realist.

          • uglyfatbloke

            There’s plenty of idiots in the SNP, it’s just that there’s nothing much in the way of talent nor spines in the upper regions of Scottish Labour – a silly term in itself; do we really talk about West Country’ Labour?

          • robertcp

            The issue of independence will be alive for a very long time then!

  • Paul Adams

    Long live the unity of the British Labour Movement and the international proletariat – down with separatism in all its forms! Glory to the Scottish Labour MPs who defeated the Bedroom Tax at Westminster on that famous occasion which should be a badge of honour – this shows what can be achieved if we work together!

    • Robin Stevenson

      LOL..The bedroom tax was Labour Policy – Gordon Brown introduced it in 2008 for private sector tenants …at least make an effort and pretend you know what you`re talking about?

      • Guest

        Keep making up silly nonsense about non-existent laws.

        • treborc1

          2008 Gordon did bring in the bed room tax for people living in the private sector, it became law although it was called the spare room subsidy and the Tories said come on why not council houses as well so here we are today.

          • Steve Stubbs

            It’s only called a subsidy when applied to private tenants by labour. But it is named a tax when applied equally across the renting sector.

          • Guest

            There is no such law, you’re waving at chimeras.

          • Guest

            Complete rot. No such law.

      • mara jones

        Well what do you know, your right! Labour did indeed think up the bedroom tax, but only for private renters. I never thought I’d see the day when politicians started lying to us. Lol

        • Robin Stevenson

          So sorry to be the one to burst your bubble Mara 😉

  • Paul Adams

    My only question – why aren’t you standing for the Scottish Leadership Johanna?

  • B. MacIntosh

    In talking process rather than principles and policies they are, I fear, handing ammunition to our opponents

    Ah yes, Gordon Brown speak of derogating ‘process’ in favour of principles – which define the aim and scope of process, and policies which define the path of process and its aims.

    I would rather have a party focusing upon process in all things rather than setting targets without addressing the processes for attaining them which is the curse of New Labour. And that world of targets in the NHS without focus upon process is leading to one disaster after another.

    This stupid putting down of process must stop.

    • Guest

      Ah yes, can’t allow people to see how badly your processes are working, after all.

  • MonkeyBot5000

    Cameron’s ‘EVEL’ proposal was a vindictive political manoeuvre

    Are you high?

    Parliament is supposed to represent the people. If an issue that only affects England (due to devolution) is being voted on by people that don’t represent English constituencies, then parliament will not be representative.

    If English MPs were allowed to vote on issues that had been devolved to Scotland, it wouldn’t be devolution.

    • Leon Wolfeson

      No, that’s two classes of MP (which is sure to be used to exclude the second class from *many* votes). What would be representative would be federalism.

      • Steve Stubbs

        You don’t seem to have noticed we already have two classes of MPs, those who can vote on all matters affecting their constituents, and those who can only vote of some matters affecting their constituents.

        Do keep up.

        • Guest

          That’s nice for you, but I live in the UK.

          • Steve Stubbs

            That’s OK, but I had formed the view based on your postings that you lived in cloud cuckoo land.

          • Guest

            Yes, of course you can’t believe other views exist here.

  • Robert Leslie

    The SNP’s campaign contained a ‘dog whistle’ – vote for the ‘Saltire’ and get the ‘Red Flag’. The whistle was heard – ‘Yes’ votes were most prevalent in Scotland’s most deprived areas. If you take Lanarkshire, Glasgow/Dumbartonshire and Dundee out of the overall votes then you get a 60-40 vote for the union.
    The Labour Party needs to connect with the people in these areas. We need to show ourselves as the progressive force that will make a real difference to their lives.
    The Nats can offer dreams and hope but they cannot deliver. A dynamic Labour administration in Edinburgh and, hopefully, in Westminster can create real change.
    Away with narrow separatism! All hail international socialism!

  • treborc1

    Meaningless really the fact is the SNP are growing, devolution is now expected, and if it does not happen look out labour and the Tories.

    But the SNP are now seen as the left leaning power in Scotland and labour as the opposition Progress Tory or what ever.

    What a dam shame we did not have a SNP in Wales and England it would be interesting to see where labour would be.

    Labour has a choice now redefine it’s self and tell us what it really is these days, we all know to be a Labour voter you have to be hard working that’s the main criteria in fact that’s the only one.

    Labour is not New we are told, it’s not old, it’s now Blue or maybe Purple and it’s One Nation, what a shame it’s not labour any more.

  • mara jones

    Nationalism is out of the bag and will probably never be stopped.

    Those who voted NO in Scotland probably regretted their choice, hence the surge in SNP support recently.
    Plaid Cymru will spring in to action and demand similar powers. England will be next, and Ed’s idea of regional assemblies will not get off the ground as the English have no taste for it, even when it was last attempted. The English will demand their own parliament to represent English identity, EVEL is the minimum that can be given.
    On Europe the choice is if you want further integration vote Lib Dem.
    You want out vote UKIP, You want renegotiation vote Tory. As for labour, they haven’t set out their stall on this in the slightest.
    So in my opinion the run up to the election could end up with labour taking a massive hits in all areas of the union due to nationalism. And not knowing where we stand on Europe, Ed really needs to listen to the electorate, and actually start acting on the answers.

    • Guest

      Ah right, gotta smash it all!

      Keep saying excluding MP’s from votes is the minimum you want…really does show your distaste for decent solutions like federalism.

      Keep making up nonsense about nationalism when Labour’s problem is moving right.

  • Steve Stubbs

    Yet another who for reasons they will not explain want to see England broken up into regions, and who cannot accept that England is a country, just like Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

    The thing you need to understand is that the only people who can determine the future shape of England, what level of devolution it should have, and it’s place in a federal UK, is the English voters; not the Scots, not the labour party, not the tory party, not UKIP or the leftovers of the libdems.

    Oh and by the way your soup is rubbish.

    • Guest

      It’s a region.Your denial of the Acts of Union are sad, as is your denial of Parliamentary Sovereignty.

      And go back to Monaco then.

      • Poppy86

        Your lack of political knowledge together with your inability to string a readable post together is what is sad.

        Does the act of Union mean that England is not a country? What relevance has Monoco to Steve’s post?

        Why don’t you post in response to the article or are you only able to make incomprehensible drivel posts to other people’s responses to the original article?

        You total moron.

  • Steve Stubbs

    And another thing whilst I am reading this. What is wrong with Nationalism? What is wrong with standing at waving the Saltire and singing “Flower of Scotland”? Or waving the red dragon and singing about bloody great fishes (Wales)? Or waving the Cross of St George and singing Jerusalem?

    That’s all nationalism. What you seem to be talking about is Jingoism.

    • BillFrancisOConnor

      Or waving the Swastika and singing ‘Deutschland Uber Alles’?

      • Steve Stubbs

        If you feel the need to do that Bill, go ahead. I am sure that nice Mr Balls will lend you his Nazi uniform.

        • BillFrancisOConnor

          You’ve heard of irony, right?

    • Guest

      Which is precisely what you display, so…

  • Jamie Smith

    Labour said devolution would “kill nationalism stone dead”. Why did Labour lie?

    • Steve Stubbs

      They are politicians. You can tell when they are lying, their lips move.

      • Guest

        “They”. Uh-huh.

  • Jamie Smith

    “The Scottish Labour Party has full autonomy over policy matters in
    Scotland. The Scottish Executive Committee has more delegated power than
    any other part of our party.”

    Then why did London Labour fire the general secretary of “Scottish” Labour, Ian Price, against Ms Lamont’s wishes?

  • Dave Robinson

    If Labour keep insisting on attacking those supporting independence as nationalists without taking into account that there are different types of nationalism that aren’t all negative, then we’re going to remain in trouble in Scotland. Rather than attacking the SNP on this basis, they’d do well to nullify them by actually listening to people and offering a genuine, representative alternative. That’s how you win in Scotland.

  • John Creane

    What’s wrong with the Labour party when Scotland is happy to give the SNP their vote knowing full-well that it will give the Tories & the loathed David Cameron a 2nd term in Downing Street? In my constituency it’s a straight fight between the SNP & Labour & I will gladly vote for the Nats to defeat a Labour candidate, I know of people left of centre in Jim Murphy constituency who are willing to vote for the Tories to get him out of office. Your message of the Tory bogeyman & using Thatcher as a political tool won’t work this time, no one is buying it. Hasn’t Cameron got higher approval ratings in Scotland than MIlliband?

  • NelsonsGoodeye

    Labour’s an irrevelevance.

  • Poppy86

    When the alternative offered by Labour, with regard to EVEL, and reform of the Lords is to ‘regionalise’ England, thus further robbing the English of their identity and further paving the way for the UK to be nothing more than regions to be governed from Brussels, I would choose Nationalism.

    Labour can barely bring themselves to say the word England. England is a country in its own right. Attempts by the labour party to regionalise it with the aim of controlling the cities is cynical and will result in further Nationalist sentiment from English people. Without regionalisation, England as a whole will reject the Labour party. Look at the way Labour runs the NHS in Wales, education in Birmingham or child services in Rotheram.

    You cannot rob a people of their identity by splitting up their country. English have just as much an identity as the Welsh, Scottish, French or Italians. Labour’s days are numbered.

    Ed’s idea of a constitutional convention is nothing more than a way to buy time and stave off criticism regarding his refusal to acknowledge, that only English MP’s should vote on English laws.


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