Scottish Labour leadership contender KEN MACINTOSH says it’s time for Labour to speak up and speak out for Scotland’s people

Scottish Labour’s review and the forthcoming leadership election provide Scotland’s Labour Party with the opportunity to renew and refresh our relationship with the Scottish people.

It is right that there has been a root and branch review of our party. I welcome the package of proposed reforms and in particular the new devolved structure with its clear focus on Scotland. Now is the time to learn the lessons: some local, some national, some political, some organisational.

Yes, Scottish Labour lost the election, but we have not lost sight of our values or our ambition for the country Scotland can be.

It was a proud Scot who rose from humble beginnings to found the Labour movement on the fundamental principles of equality and justice that still guide us today. Keir Hardie revolutionised politics and created an organisation that has changed countless lives for the better.

Indeed, it was Keir Hardie’s Labour Party that devolved power to Scotland under the stewardship of another iconic leader, Donald Dewar. And it was Scotland’s Labour Party that introduced the smoking ban and concessionary travel, delivered free personal care and took on the difficult issues like Section 28 and the scourge of sectarianism.

Scotland’s Labour Party has a proud record which we will vigorously defend and a proud history which we will continue to celebrate. But we must also be a movement with a positive message based on the fundamental principles of equality and justice that bind us all.

Remember, thousands of people across Scotland voted for Scotland’s Labour Party and they are looking to us to represent them, to stand up for them, to give them hope for a better future.

My hope for Scotland’s future starts with us getting the simple things right. I want a country where every young couple starting out in life can find the home they want in a safe community; where our children can go to a school that raises their ambitions; where we are looked after when we are ill and cared for when we are old; where everyone is able to better themselves because of their talent and ability; a country where if you work hard and do well, you are able to enjoy your success; and above all, I want a country where we can make the pursuit of full employment the overarching aim of public policy.

The Scottish Parliament can help us be that country and it has already given us the confidence to take charge of our own destiny. But we can do so much more. Labour’s legacy of devolved power is not an excuse for why things can’t be done; it is a liberator to release the potential of our nation.

We have to contrast our hopes for Scotland’s future with the limited aims of the SNP to be simply ‘competent’ in Government, while leading us down the dangerous path to separatism.

The SNP claim to defend Scotland’s interests but separatism is clearly not in Scotland’s interests. I firmly believe that most Scots want us to decide our own affairs as we do in the Scottish Parliament, but to do so within the United Kingdom.  We want to continue to enjoy the best of both worlds.

I am a patriotic Scot first but our shared British identity is equally important to me. I am more interested in the many things we have in common with our neighbours in the rest of the UK, than in the few areas that supposedly separate us.

I want to keep Britain together but I don’t describe myself as a unionist. I consider myself to be a devolutionist and I believe devolution has given Scotland the opportunity not only to get the simple things right, but to be the shining light for others: a caring society where we look out for one another, not just ourselves; a society that values ambition but not greed; a society where selfishness is balanced out by selflessness.

Any Scottish Government’s key role should be to make Scotland fairer, happier and wealthier, not to get sidetracked by constitutional squabbles. My politics aren’t about personality – I’m not in it because I’m against Alex Salmond – I’m in it because of the values that I stand for.

Our task is to give voice to these values, for ourselves, our supporters and, crucially, our potential supporters. We need to win back people from all sections of society and to build a progressive alliance here in Scotland. We need a new voice, one that people will warm to. Above all we need speak up and speak out on behalf of the people of Scotland.

I want to lead that progressive alliance and in the forthcoming campaign I intend to be a new voice for Scotland’s Labour Party, a voice for Scotland’s future.

Ken Macintosh is the Labour MSP for Eastwood and the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education. He can be followed on twitter here @kenmacintoshmsp

Related Posts

15 thoughts on “A voice for Scotland’s future

  1. Keir Hardies cap strikes again.

    The past was wonderful, the past was glorious but the votes Labour need lie in the future.

    Values? Speeches? Win back?

    Tell me how, what with, what policy will put money in my pocket food on my table and deliver a future for my kids? .

  2. Never trust anyone who declares themselves to be a “proud Scot”. Patriotism is the last resort of the scoundrel.

  3. The SNP claim to defend Scotland’s interests but separatism is clearly not in Scotland’s interests.

    Really? – you will need to expand on this statement somewhat before you convince me.

  4. I don’t know about speratism but I wonder if we could do better for our public sector if we had fiscal autonomy? At least a more gradual cut back would be possible.

    It remains the elephant in the room, what is the best constitutional settlement for Scots workers, it is certainly not Calman.

  5. “The SNP claim to defend Scotland’s interest but separitism is clearly not in Scotland’s interest”.
    I think this statement is a good example of why Scottish Labour is where it is. Of course the SNP claim to defend Scotland’s interests. And with regard to separitism not being in Scotland’s interests, Ken needs to come up with a coherent argument that will stand up to scrutiny as to why he comes to this conclusion.

  6. Over the next few months we will listen to Labour politicians stating why they should be the next leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

    But who is to say that they have all the attributes to lead a once great party which clearly lost its way by following policies which to many of us were alien in our values and beliefs.

    The proposal to allow MP’s MEP’s and MSP’s only to stand for election is to say the least unfair, surely would it not be more inclusive to allow any party member the opportunity to put their name forward.

    While I agree that the party in Scotland should have total autonomy,the statements coming from some of our prospective party leaders do not convince me that they have learned any leasons from from the past.

    I have said on various occasions since May that it may take till 2020 before this once proud party will regain its rightful place however if we do not choose the right person it may take us that little bit longer.

    What we need is a street fighter who can take on the media, business and off course Salmond.

    I am yet to be convinced

  7. at the moment I am finding it hard to be enthused about the leadership of the Scottish Party, I agree with what Robert McNeill said about alien values and the lack of anyone who comes across as a natural leader and who instills confidence in me at this time.
    As for the Review I will wait and see what the fine print says and what it actually delivers.

  8. I agree, why should we dance to the SNP tune, I voted for devolution, however given the opportunity again I would give serious consideration just like those who wish to leave Europe.

    However we are where we are and it is important that the party get it right, we need leadership, one thing that the SNP do well that all other parties are unable to achieve is Unity and in the eyes of the public that means a lot.

    While I will continue to fight hard to get Labour Councillors elected in 2012,if we experience the lows of May this year then I honestly believe we face not just years but decades in opposition

    1. Rob and Tennis What do you want then? Remember it was the Labour started the whole devolution process to begin with so task is to defend and promote it over independence and unless you stance changes FFA. Explain to the people of Scotland how you want to use Holyrod to improve Scotland and what if any new powers it needs to this, if Labour turns against devolution it will just look to everyone that you’ve sulked and taken your ball and gone home and no1 likes the sulky kid.

  9. Why does Labour not take on the Gnats and the Tories where they are weak? Personal liberty for instance. It’s no use taking on the Tories over the economy – it’ll be a long time before the legacy of Blair and Brown is put aside and a minor temprary cut in VAT will make no difference to buying habits – the difrference between paying £199 or £196.73 for a product will not persuade peolple to rush out and spend, spend, spend.
    It’s no use taking on the Gnats over the Union. Scots may not want independence, but FFA is the only serious alternative; Calman was a sad compromise designed to keep a united fron with the Tories and the Glib-Dumbs; so what’s good about that?
    Blair’s wars cost labour masses of votes, Brown’s handling of the economy made a bad international situation that much worse and that cost masses of votes. Hardline tub-thumping on cannabis cost masses more….do we really want to keep persecuting sick people for medicinal use?
    Support for Nuclear weapons is just plain stupid and opposition to fair voting (the AV thing was a nonsense) just makes us look greedy. FPTP may have given Labour an advantage in the past, but it may well be an absolute disaster in the future. How many Scottish labour MPs will survive if vote share from May is repeated at the next general election? 12? 15? Or will Scottish Labour go the way of the Glib-Dumbs?
    Attacking the Gnats and the Tories is all very well, but Labour needs to give people something to vote FOR. If there’s no radical change there’s no future for Labour in Scotland. A platform of ‘No’ to trident replacement, ‘yes’ to STV, scrapping the Lords and a serious cut (30%) in MPs/Ministers salaries and the same for public sector salaries in excess of £100,000 might persuade the voters that labour is serious about progress.

    1. The Obvious answer is Labour don’t a have good record on this, what with trying to bring in ID cards, increasing CCTV and length of detention without trial. If the Labour were to suddenly start ringing the liberty bell the public response would be “aye right the lib Dem’s got us with that one over tuition fees” so I doubt they would trust any politician performing a U-turn. Also I don’t think its that big of vote winner not with the people you seem to be targeting at the UK level, though maybe one for Ken or Tom to ponder.

      As For your wee manifesto anti, trident anti dodgy war’s, anti the Lords but pro FFA you know there is already a party in Scotland that fits the bill with this maybe you should join it rather than sticking with one that did represent your views 20 years ago

  10. I do not necessarily want to do away with devolution, however I do have some serious concerns about the calibre of many of the elected MSP,s and their capability to articulate especially in debates and certainly recently on News night .
    I would even go as far to say that before 2016 we look seriously at a new generation of prospective MSPs,
    I also have real concerns that many of the current proposed reforms go nowhere near dealing with the real concerns of rank and file members
    If we are serious about our intentions then why do we not have “one member one vote” for all elections from the leader, msp’s mp’s mep’s .
    Why do we not allow any member of the party the opportunity to put themselves forward to stand as leader, I am sure that there are individuals within the party who are more than capable.
    Scottish Labour must move into the 21st Century , the Council elections in 2012 will be a major turning point in the history of the party, we will either regain our traditional serfdoms or we will see the end of the old establishment as we know it.
    If the latter prevails then Labour will face an even bigger struggle to reconnect with the people especially their traditional vote.

    1. Robert,

      Scottish Labour moving into the 21st century may sound nice and progressive but it is this very century which is part of our problem. We must return to our Party culture and policies of the 20th century if we are to regain at least some of the trust of the Scottish electorate. We ruled the roost in Scotland, especially in the West for over 50 years and we didn’t manage that by reforming left and right and centre.

      As for the calibre of our MSPs, I am in full agreement with you that there are too many of them who should not be allowed within a mile of a TV studio. Willie Ross must be turning in his grave.

  11. Keeping the MSPs (and the MPs too) out of the studio is not a bad idea, and there needs to be someone who is articulate and smart, but thre needs to be a message that is actually attractive to people and chimes with what they want. Telling them what they have to do will not help. If Labour is to recover there needs to a clear and truthful focus on values that people genuinely like…ditch Trident, ditch Calman and the Scotland Act in favour of something more practical for Scotland and also make a serious pitch for civil liberties and proper democratic reform and there’s a decent chance.
    If not, regardless of the referendum outcome, the Gnats will be sending a big raft of MPs to the Commons at Labour’s expense…it would be at the Tories expense too, but they really have nothing to lose. Same applies to the Gib-Dumbs; the only Westminster seat they can be reasonably confident about is Orkney and Shetland.

Comments are closed.