jc-smallJeremy Corbyn is MP for Islington North, and is standing to be Leader of the Labour Party. Writing for Labour Hame today he says we have a mountain to climb to regain trust, and members need a stronger say in shaping policy.


On Thursday I boarded the 06:30 train to Edinburgh to visit Holyrood, our elected representatives, party members and our Scottish campaign team. It was a pleasure to be in Scotland again – even though I didn’t get home til midnight. Labour has a mountain to climb to win in 2020 – and, as is true for UK geography, the biggest mountain is to be found in Scotland.

Our Party has lost its way throughout the UK. We have too often ignored our supporters or been cowed by powerful commercial interests and the press. I want to change that.

In Scotland though this UK-wide trend was intensified by the mistaken decision to share platforms with the Tories, which Scottish colleagues had warned me would be disastrous. Sadly, they were proved right.

While the SNP harnessed the insurgent momentum of the ‘yes’ campaign, to some we looked like part of the establishment defending the status quo. One-third of our supporters voted yes in the referendum – and it seems most of them stuck with the SNP at the general election. We need to win back those supporters. To do that we need to be seen as the party of social justice again – campaigning as a social movement for that cause, rebuilding trust and giving people hope.

I believe I can win back lost supporters, and this week two trade unions that are no longer affiliated to our party – the FBU and the RMT – voted to back my campaign, following the support of affiliated unions BFAWU and ASLEF.

It must be up to members in Scotland how the party is organised in Scotland. But we need to ensure that we have the policies that pool our shared resources, redistributing wealth and power across the UK. When I was chair of the London Group of Labour MPs in 1993 I met with our then leader John Smith to discuss restoring devolved government to London. He supported that, but naturally argued that devolved government in Scotland was more urgent.

John Smith was a decent man. I didn’t always agree with him, nor him with me, but he was always prepared to listen to different arguments and accept difference within the party. If elected leader, I would aspire to continue John’s tradition to genuinely listen to everyone’s views within the party. That would start with establishing a constitutional convention to resolve those key questions of where power should lie and of lowering the voting age as Scotland did in the referendum.

Our remaining Scottish MP has taken a clear stance against Trident renewal. I joined CND aged 15 and have since spoken at several Scottish CND rallies. I know many Labour members and trade unionists share that view that huge investment in money, jobs and skills could be put to more socially useful purposes. I propose we establish a Defence Diversification Agency to ensure those workers’ skills are not lost.

Like a clear majority of the public, I believe our railways should be operated as a public service, rather than for private profit. The re-privatisation of the ScotRail franchise and proposed privatisation of CalMac ferry services shows that the SNP government is not so far from the Westminster consensus.

At First Minister’s questions last week, Neil Findlay MSP asked an excellent question about the 50,000 jobs lost in Scottish local government. These jobs have meant the closure of libraries and swingeing cuts to adult social care. Nicola Sturgeon’s answer was a disappointing party political swipe that didn’t even acknowledge that austerity policies are harming people’s life chances and taking away opportunities.

We must reject the notion that the journey to prosperity tramples over people – and become an anti-austerity movement. A movement which rebuilds communities in all parts of the country recognising that well paid jobs, high quality public services and investment are the core of a civilised society. We can regenerate communities in all parts of the UK if we are willing to be radical enough.

Polling shows that Scottish people would be more likely to vote Labour if we advocated these sorts of policies: scrapping Trident, abolishing university fees, bring rail back into public ownership, and setting the minimum wage at the level of the living wage.

We have a mountain to climb to regain trust. We now need to ensure that members have a stronger say in the running of the party and shaping of policy, so that we offer the social and economic policies to build a movement to give people hope – the hope of a better world.

We can build that movement. Please get involved in my leadership campaign (www.jeremyforlabour.com) and together we can deliver that change.

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24 thoughts on “A mountain to climb together

  1. “Nicola Sturgeon’s answer was a disappointing party political swipe that didn’t even acknowledge that austerity policies are harming people’s life chances and taking away opportunities.”

    That comment gives the impression that somehow the SNP are not virulently opposed to austerity in a wholly unambiguous way, a way unmatched by the British Labour Party.

    Almost no-one who voted SNP in 2015 will believe that.

  2. “he says we have a mountain to climb to regain trust, and members need a stronger say in shaping policy.”

    This is what you call an understatement.

    When Labour go out of their way to employ the likes of John McTernan and Blair MacDougall they end up getting embroiled in the likes of “Clypegate”

    If Clypegate is an example of Labour reaching out to the voters in Scotland then its akin to an Octopus reaching out with a tentacle to draw in a meal.
    Ive read a couple of posts on here from Labour members who seem to be trying at least to recognise and acknowledge the problem with Labour today but then we get “Clypegate” and all their good intentions and thoughtful prose turns to shit.
    As long as Labour is run and controlled by right wing Tories and insists on hiding beneath a blanket of spin doctors who’s only message is “SNP Bad” then Labour can forget about any chance of a resurgence in Scotland this side of Independence.

    1. “One-third of our supporters voted yes in the referendum – and it seems most of them stuck with the SNP at the general election. We need to win back those supporters”. Jeremy that will never happen. If you don’t understand that, then you don’t understand anything about Scotland and the struggle for independence. Yes voters at the referendum will never vote for a unionist party ever.
      As a nationalist I shouldn’t say this but take a piece of well intended advice; stay out of Scottish politics. You are part of the problem for Scottish Labour not part of the solution.

    2. Mike you are spot on. There is nobody left in charge. The doctors, nurses and most of the patients have got out. McTernan and McDougal are roaming the corridors, the medicine cabinets are lying wide open, tanoy system cranked up to 11, playing Rule Britannia and I’ve Got A Lovely Pair of Coconuts on a loop.?

  3. “At First Minister’s questions last week, Neil Findlay MSP asked an excellent question about the 50,000 jobs lost in Scottish local government. These jobs have meant the closure of libraries and swingeing cuts to adult social care. Nicola Sturgeon’s answer was a disappointing party political swipe that didn’t even acknowledge that austerity policies are harming people’s life chances and taking away opportunities.”

    I find this passage particularly staggering in its delusion and self deceit.
    Labour supports the idea of Union because its a UK wide political party but in doing so it at least has to accept and acknowledge that union means Westminster control and Westminster influence in decision making which affects the whole of the UK. So when as a direct result of Westminster ideologically driven austerity policy we get adverse affects such as unemployment, growth in poverty and massive cuts in welfare then Labour should have the decency at least to acknowledge it as a direct result of being in the Union and under Westminster control. They may wish to argue that this can be countered by advantages such as pooling and sharing of resources even if it is a stupid lie but the fact remains they cannot expect people in Scotland to take them seriously if they cannot at least acknowledge the drawbacks of Westminster control and the affects of Tory Government!

    1. Sadly, no one finds your passages of text staggering, given it is the usual reheated mindless tripe you get from nats.

      The SNP’s cowardly council tax freeze is hammering services on which the poorest rely, at the very worst time given the tories current assaults on welfare. Thousands of council workers and services have been cut. Councils are down to their barebones now, having to make unpalatable decisions about where the axe should fall. Councils are taking the flak, when in reality it’s the SNP’s Scottish Government which should be held responsible. They are shamelessly exploiting the political system in Scotland to further their purile agenda of independence, which has very little to do with social justice in practice and ultimately won’t lead to anything other than more unnecessary economic misery for working class Scots.

      1. As some one in England like Jeremy Corbyn trying to connect with ordinary people, it ill behoves us to ignore the reality of New Labour’s Neo-Liberal compliance.

        Just calling the opposition names doesn’t explain the loss of faith shown by the transfer of allegiance to the SNP. The Labour party has got to change, claiming the deficit lie signifies how far they have moved into the corporate sector and aligned their economic strategy with the Tories.

        It was to escape the Tories that led Labour support to join the SNP, New Labour lost the initiative to reclaim that support when they reaffirmed the Neo-Liberal agenda and continued as the right wing in the party do today by stating we need to pay down the deficit.

        Revealingly though, today in the Guardian the Greeks have been exonerated for their anti austerity stand and proved right by the Troikas own research, that austerity will make Greece’s position worse not better.

        Something the right wing in the Labour Party still don’t accept.

        Until we change the leadership of the party we will never get the change necessary to implement viable policies.

      2. This utter tripe is exactly what Im on about. The I want the union irrespective of what it means mentality because I feel bigger and better in a jingoistic manner being part of the great UK of GB instead of something akin to just another small country like Scotland.
        The I think this mentality because I want to think it irrespective of how out of touch and sadly delusional it truly is.
        The FACT is Westminster is absolutely and irreversibly criminally corrupt and serves nobody but themselves and those who can afford to bribe those who work within it. It certainly couldn’t give a monkeys about Scotland or Scots other than as a source of exploitation.
        You cannot pretend to support the idea of Westminster rule by ignoring the utter unhidden in your face criminal corruption that comes with it!

        1. I hate to pick fault, but your “FACT” is actually an *opinion*. Indeed, “opinion” might be over-egging it. It’s a spittle-flecked rant fuelled by the potent combination of prejudice and ignorance. Just thought you ought to know.

  4. Re Trident I suppose you’d prefer a non-ballistic missile alternative. Does that mean you’d want to see that the engineering skills of the workforce were maintained in equivalent industries and that you wouldn’t back down from a different (eg satellite-based) form of protection for the UK even if it cost MORE than Trident?

    1. The alternative to ballistic missiles is the inability to trigger Armageddon. You cant put a fiscal price on that.

  5. I believe that we should be building more social housing, stop the right to buy,
    star capping rents, so local people can live in there area,
    Stop supporting people to buy houses they can’t afford.
    We need a strong NHS, run by the people for the people, no private contracts
    A fair welfare system, with living benefit, so we can pay our way. There be no need for Housing benefit or CT
    A living wage, not a minimum wage, so we don’t have to pay WTC to make employers higher profits
    Trust our GP/Doctors whether you was fit to work, not a computer programme
    Better support for the disable, stop hounding them

  6. Corbyn is the only hope to save the Labour party across the UK but until he can see beyond the Bain Principle/ SNP bad mindset the party are locked in, he & the Labour party in Scotland will continue on the path to oblivion

  7. As has been pointed out elsewhere, until UK Labour states that they are open to a new relationship between UK nations, including Scottish independence, and until they allow Scottish Labour to advocate independence should it so choose, it is difficult to see a way back.

  8. I can support Jeremy Corbyn on most of his viewpoints, except for one major issue. The same issue that contributed to labour losing elections to Margaret Thatcher during the eighties. Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock highlighted their personal belief in this same issue in their election manifesto and gave no thought to the fact that many socialists like myself are also deeply patriotic and do not wish to see our country defenceless. Therefore drop your stance against our country’s protection, forget the anti-Trident rhetoric and you will be seen as a more trustworthy candidate. Trustworthy to our country’s protection. The alternative is to become confined to the political history books as nothing more than an “also ran.”

    1. Only a month ago 3 parties in Scotland stood on staunchly pro-Trident manifestos, Labour, the LibDems & the Tories. I think the Scottish voters have spoken fairly clearly on their opinion of all 3 offerings.

      1. True. Though it’s also worth noting that between them those parties attracted around 47% of the vote in Scotland. Don’t be fooled into thinking the SNP’s overwhelming result in terms of seats reflected a similarly overwhelming result in terms of votes. They won 95% of Scottish seats with less than 50% of Scottish votes. Still an overwhelming win, but not to be misinterpreted.

  9. Although the 2 parties who wanted to scrap Trident both saw their vote share increase SNP +30, Green +.7, while all 3 parties who wanted to keep WMD’s on the Clyde saw their vote shrink Labour -17.7, LibDems -11.3, Tories -1.8.

    Do you think it’s possible that the voters are trying to tell you something?

    1. I think it’s possible to interpret votes in lots of ways. Do 49.97% of Scots want full fiscal autonomy? Do 49.97% of Scots want to scrap Trident? Can you honestly ascribe the SNP vote to whatever issue suits you and pretend that all of those people voted for that reason?

      My guess is plenty of the people who voted Labour also opposed Trident. My guess is plenty of the people who voted SNP also supported Trident.

      When listening to the voters we should be careful not to be selective in our hearing.

      1. I think it’s a safe assumption that most of the 50% who voted SNP wanted FFA or at least far more powers than those offered by the Smith Commission & as if Labour in Scotland wasn’t in a bad enough place already Labour MP’s in Westminster were actually whooping & cheering at the rejection of any more powers for the Scottish Govt.

        Like turkeys voting for Christmas.

      2. We mustn’t ascribe all SNP voter as supporters of all SNP policies, Duncan.
        However, when a third of Labour voters (now former Labour voters) votes for Scottish independence in a referendum and then votes SNP on the back of it, we should not, as Jeremy does, assume Labour can win their votes back while still ignoring independence.

  10. Well said JC. Labour can win back lost supporters. You’re right about Trident and Sturgeon is wrong.

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