As the authors of devolution, we must now become devolution’s defenders

In a speech given to Welsh Labour, DOUGLAS ALEXANDER MP outlined the challenges that lie ahead for Labour in Scotland

 

I travelled down from Scotland to be here so you’ll appreciate why I say with real feeling that it’s a great privilege and a pleasure to be here in the capital city of a Labour nation. 

A capital city that next May can, and with all of your efforts will, once again, be a Labour city. 

So let me begin by congratulating the 30 Labour Assembly Members, Labour’s Cabinet team, and Labour’s First Minister, Carwyn Jones. 

Let me also congratulate my friend and colleague Peter Hain and the whole team in Welsh Labour for Labour’s magnificent resurgence here in Wales. 

And let me pay tribute to the Welsh Labour councillors and council candidates – the very bedrock of that resurgence – fighting for its next stage – by winning seats and councils across Wales in May. 

Now over the last year, as Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, I’ve had the responsibility of leading Labour’s response to the momentous events in the Middle East and the continuing challenges facing Europe. 

But today I want to speak to you of events closer to home. 

Of what they tell us about our Party and our politics. 

Of what we must do to win back power in Westminster, in Holyrood – and to secure our victory here in Wales. 

I want to talk to you today not just as a fellow Labour Party member but also as a proud and patriotic Scot. 

It is with humility but also with determination that I address this conference today. 

Because last May, as Welsh Labour enjoyed a historic victory, in Scotland we suffered to a historic defeat. 

We now have a new leader, Johann Lamont, who is working hard to bring Labour back, and a new Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran who is taking the fight to the Tories in Westminster. 

But for Labour in Scotland, this has been a difficult and serious time: a time of lost hope, lost opportunity, and lost power. 

So first I want to share with you a sense as to why that defeat happened and then discuss with you the consequences of the defeat for all of us. 

For us, the result in May last year was bad. Very bad. 

Labour – the Party which on the day the new Scottish Parliament was first elected in 1999 could claim without contradiction to be the only true National Party of Scotland, within twelve years found itself supported by only one in eight Scottish voters. 

And the harsh truth is that the Nationalist’s victory in May did not derive exclusively from their approach to national identity. It reflected differences in personnel, resources and campaigning approaches. 

Crucially it also reflected that those who voted for them had judged them competent in their stewardship of Government over the previous four years.

Last May’s result was about many things but I do not believe that, at root, Scotland was voting for independence.

I believe Scots were saying that they want Scotland to be a better nation. They feel pride in Scotland and want new possibilities for its people. 

And the brutal truth for our Party – is that they didn’t feel last May that Labour was offering that better way forward.

And to be honest, when I reflect on your recent victory, and when I now see you campaigning here on the pledge of ‘Standing Up For Wales’ I wonder whether in Wales you have better understood the changed dynamics created by devolution, that ironically, as Scottish Labour, we helped create. 

While I recognise that the dynamics and history of nationalism in Wales and Scotland are different in many ways – I am struck by how Welsh Labour has learnt so much from the rise of Plaid in the early years of the Assembly, and the shock of its defeat in Labour heartlands across Wales – particularly in the South Wales Valleys. 

Welsh Labour has reformed its methods of organisation, campaigning, and communication. Not just at the Assembly level but also in local government. 

All across Wales you have learnt how to fight again. To adapt to the reality that we cannot simply expect the Labour votes to pile up on the counting tables – year in year out.

Whether in the re-taking of those crucial South Wales valleys seats, in the ousting of Plaid from Ynys Mon at Westminster, or the recapture of Llanelli last May – Welsh Labour has shown an ability to get back to hard graft of community based campaigning that needs to be the hallmark of a reinvigorated Labour Party across Britain. 

And the benefits have been far keenly felt than in the fight against Plaid – just look at the outstanding organisational achievements against the Tories in Cardiff North and against the Liberals in Cardiff Central last May.

Equally as crucial, you in Welsh Labour developed a distinctively Welsh social democratic offer – preventing Plaid from moving onto your territory even when you had to share the Cabinet table. 

And by making sure that the people of Wales knew that it was Labour’s driving hand under Rhodri Morgan that was delivering the progress that they could see – in their transport, their schools, and their hospitals.

Under Carwyn and his team you are continuing a distinctive, and visionary approach that makes clear to the people of Wales that you are on their side – investing in jobs and PCSOs when faced by Tory/Liberal cuts – while at the same time setting out a vision of hope for the future – by using your new powers to put sustainable development at the heart of all that you do, or to develop new models of cooperative housing.
 
So we have much to learn from that experience and example because the roots of our defeat in May in part reflected our failure to fully adapt to the changed environment of the devolution we helped to create. 

Last May, in Scotland, Labour was left singing the old hymns and warning of the risks of Thatcherism at a time when these songs were increasingly unfamiliar to a new audience with no personal knowledge of the tunes.

Let me be honest. Scottish Labour never felt it needed to be New Labour in message or organisation – because arguably that process of modernisation was not needed to defeat the Tories in Scotland, but this complacency, in time, left us vulnerable to attack from a different direction from more nimble opponents.

Seen through this light, the SNP’s victory in May – historic though it was – came despite their desire for independence not because of it. 

People felt they could vote for the SNP to run the devolved government, comfortable in the knowledge that ‘the independence question’ would be dealt with later, if at all, in a separate referendum.

However, the SNP’s historic victory, Scotland now faces that momentous choice in the years ahead – A choice with consequences not just for Scotland, but also for Wales, Northern Ireland and England. 

And in this time of choosing, our duty is greater and our responsibility is heavier.

It’s a debate that demands a different quality of imagination.

Given the degree of economic integration between the Scottish and the British economies, with 68% of Scotland’s exports going to the rest of the UK and with  large UK owned companies employing more people in Scotland than large companies based in Scotland, profound economic questions will be asked and must be answered. 

But this debate will, and must, involve more than accountancy.

It will involve deep and profound issues about who we are on these islands and what we believe. 

Because like millions of my fellow Scots, and all of us here today, I have never believed that to stand up for Scotland and Wales means we need to break up Britain. 

And I remain of the view that this United Kingdom, this oldest political union, embodies a quintessentially modern idea – that our diversity can be a strength and not a weakness. 

I like the idea that on these small rainy islands of the North Atlantic we share risks and rewards in a multicultural, multiethnic and multinational union. A shared space of ideas, identities and industries.

And I also continue to believe that across Britain we gain from common services and would be diminished without them; that we achieve more working together than working apart; that unity, out of diversity, gives us strength; that solidarity, the shared endeavour of working and cooperating together, not separation is the idea of the future and the idealism worth celebrating .

To now reject the sharing of risks, rewards and resources among the 60 million people of the United Kingdom and instead spend the coming years erecting new barriers between the nations of these islands would, for me, represent a fundamental separation from a progressive tradition that the SNP now falsely claim to represent. 

As a democratic socialist, ideals have shaped my sense of politics more than identity. I am, and always have been, much more interested in abolishing poverty than abolishing Britain. A fundamental belief in human equality is the core of my politics, more than a fundamental belief in national difference.

Now in the years ahead, the issue of Scotland’s future will be decided, rightly, by the people of Scotland. 

But our future will affect your future. 

The consequences of the choice Scotland makes in the referendum will be felt in Wales, England and Northern Ireland. 

So, today, in a spirit of shared solidarity, I ask for your support in the coming contest. 

In Wales, your example and your voice can make a powerful contribution to the debate about the future of the United Kingdom which is now underway. 

My first ask is for you to keep doing what you’re doing: winning and delivering for the people of Wales. Showing very practically how Labour in a devolved context can deliver for people. 

The Power of Progressive Example is not to be underestimated in this debate.

The SNP have recently taken to claiming to metropolitan audiences that Scotland, with the SNP in charge, is a “beacon of progressive politics”. So lets just take a moment to examine how does the rhetoric match the reality?

Let’s remember that until the last General Election the SNP walked through the division lobbies with the Tories on two out of three votes. 

Lets also remember the SNP Leadership claim Scots “didn’t mind” Thatcher’s economics policy, and now advocate huge cuts in the corporate taxes for the banks……A kind of Reganomics with a kilt on. 

And let’s examine their record in office. 

Capital investment has been cut more quickly by the Scottish Government than even the UK Government. 

Public sector jobs have been cut faster by the Scottish Government than even by the UK Government. 

And on the key issue of child poverty let us not forget: 

Every year under a Labour Government at Holyrood child poverty went down. 

Under an SNP Government in Holyrood, child poverty has gone up. 

But despite the facts – the reality is that before last May Scottish Labour lost too much of the debate – ground we must rapidly reclaim under our new leader Johann Lamont.

You too know the reality of Plaid’s failures in local government here in Wales – today propping up the Liberals in Cardiff or running Caerphilly into the ground.

So here in Wales, in tough times it falls to Labour to deliver, and be seen to deliver, an agenda for fairness: with leadership determined to show what devolution can do, not what it can’t do. 

So your policy choices matter. But so too do your political voices. And today I would urge you to make Wales’ voice heard on the debate about the future of Britain. 

With quiet determination, for forty years – since the advent of modern nationalism – Scottish people have rejected the idea that commitment to Scotland means a determination to cut our connection to the rest of Britain. 

The SNP know this. 

But that knowledge that they do not speak for Scotland on separation is also why they are determined to try to reduce this momentous choice to a contest between the First Minister and the Prime Minister. 

They know the Tories remain deeply unpopular in Scotland and so hope to frame the contest as a battle between Scotland and the Tories. Between William Wallace and the Bogeyman.

That’s why they claim constantly that any scrutiny of their plans is scaremongering or anti-Scottish.  But they wont be able to evade legitimate questions about Scotland’s future by simply wrapping themselves in the Saltire. 

They’ve got no monopoly on patriotism, no matter how often they claim to have. 

They now suggest that any voices heard from beyond Scotland are trying to “bully Scotland”. 

This nationalist narrative – that seeks to amplify a sense of grievance in Scotland is deeply uncomfortable with, and indeed has no place for, Welsh voices or Welsh perspectives. 

In truth, it suits the Scottish nationalists to see the rest of the United Kingdom as simply greater Westminster. To imply, somehow, that Wales is just the Home Counties with hills. 

Passionate, patriotic, Welsh Labour voices just don’t fit in to their narrow nationalist script. 

Now, at this time of year, Scotland and Wales may be rivals on the rugby pitch, sadly another example of where Wales has recently taken the lead – but by geography we are near neighbours.  By history – we’re allies. By economics – we’re partners. And by fate, and fortune we are comrades, friends, and family. 

So in the coming months and years I hope Carwyn, you will speak for Wales and make the case that Wales wants Scotland and the other parts of the UK to continue to work together and that we would all be diminished by the breakup of Britain. 
 
I know the SNP will complain. They always do. But their attempt to shout down voices that don’t stick to their script is a sign of their weakness, not their strength. 
 
And here is the final ask I would make from this platform today: continue to show by your words and your deeds the difference between Patriotism and Nationalism. 

Each time you stand up for Wales, and for Labour values, while rejecting the politics of narrow nationalism, you make that distinction.  

Nationalists call forth a fate for our islands, divided into separate national states taught to cherish their separateness. 

But when I look at this audience I don’t see foreigners – I see friends and comrades. 

So let us together speak up for our progressive, modern vision of Scotland and Wales’ future within Britain. Not one forced together by the imposition of a narrow and crude uniformity, but one that celebrates unity from diversity, a multinational Britain in which we gain strength from the interaction of different cultures, the loss of which would diminish us. 

That is our shared heritage. 

Keir Hardie may have been born in Lanarkshire but he represented the people of Merthyr Tydfil. 

Welsh coal fired the ships of the Clyde but carried goods from every part of these islands to every corner of the globe. 

The National Health Service was created by Aneurin Bevan, but it serves the whole of Britain. 

Together our movement has achieved unique and great things on these islands.
 
Not just the NHS and our welfare state but the extension of the vote, rights for women, the raising of the school leaving age, and in our time, the National Minimum Wage, the equal rights bill, devolution to Wales and Scotland, peaceful resolution in Northern Island. 

Our Party has a proud history as the advocates of devolution. The Labour Party conference as far back as 1918 supported legislative assemblies Scotland and Wales.

As the authors of devolution, we must now become devolution’s defenders. 

As Labour we can be equal to that challenge. The challenge of spending the coming years pulling our whole society together, and rejecting politics that would pull our shared home apart.

Let us together now vanquish a politics of manufactured grudge and grievance. 

Let us uphold a politics of working together. Of solidarity and cooperation. Of achieving together what we are unable to achieve alone. 

That is our challenge. That is our commitment. And working together, that will be our achievement.

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Douglas Alexander is the Shadow Foreign Secretary and served in the last Labour government as Secretary of State for Scotland, Transport and International Development. Follow Douglas on Twitter at @DAlexanderMP.

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36 thoughts on “As the authors of devolution, we must now become devolution’s defenders

  1. In the same way that the EU is made of sovereign member states, so too a future British Union can be made of up of sovereign states that can cooperate together.

    1. Agreed.

      I notice Douglas Alexander says “that we achieve more working together than working apart; that unity, out of diversity, gives us strength; that solidarity, the shared endeavour of working and cooperating together, not separation is the idea of the future and the idealism worth celebrating .

      Can I assume that Douglas Alexander is also now arguing for a far closer European Union? Surely he is not interested in national differences within the EU is he?

    2. Or even European states themselves, e.g. Germany which is country not too different in size yet is a federation of smaller states with more autonomy than Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland in many respects.

      “The [European Charter of Local Self-Government, 1985] Charter commits the ratifying member states (UK a late/reluctant signatory in 1997) to guaranteeing the political, administrative and financial independence of local authorities”.

      Given 70% of Scots want fiscal independence, I’m left wondering why this is not being implimented and why England, Wales & N. Ireland are not being offered the same too. Maybe related to the reluctance of the UK to sign up in the first place?

    3. i agree.i find it difficult to understand how supporters of the u.k. turn the argument on its head when when arguing against closer integration with the e.u.social values are not confined to nation boundaries.the victims of poverty in glasgow is the same as that of cardiff yes but they are also the same in naples,madrid,athens…i could go on.when i look around europe i do not see foreigners i see people the the same trying to get by and earn a living.

  2. We know that high profile Scottish Labour ministers and MPs in 1997 were opposed to devolution, a referendum on devolution, a Scottish parliament and tax vary powers for the Scottish parliament. Those self styled defenders of democracy are still in the House of Commons, the House of Lords and are still opposed to devolution. Labour are not the party of Home Rule never mind defenders of devolution.

  3. What a start….’a labour nation’…!!! Really……’A labour nation’…?? What on earth is THAT??

    ‘It reflected differences in personnel, resources and campaigning approaches’. …No, no, no! It is seriously worrying for new labour if Douglas Alexander STILL believes new labour’s failure is Scotland was somehow down to the SNP marketing themselve’s better?? No failure on your part then?

    • If only new labour had more money?
    • If only new labour had better personalities?
    • If only new labour had been better organized?

    Then what? You think you would have won? How about:

    • If only new labour had not failed the Scottish people of the past 30 years and had listened to them instead?

    Your problem is you DID become new labour in Scotland…that is a fundamental problem for your party in Scotland – its an alien concept to most Scots…..the shallow ‘things will only get better’ and ‘blairs babes’ approach to serious politics!

    Personally I can’t wait for Scotland to be able to work together with other nations of the world, including other nations of the uk, as opposed to being represented by those politicians NOT voted for by the Scottish people.

    Unfortunately Douglas you still come across as someone who would happily see Scotland run by tories for eternity, and as I’ve said on this site many times, take your grandstanding speech about being a socialist who is interested in abolishing poverty to those in Scotland who you and your party have failed.

    There is still nothing in this speech that tells any Scot why we are better off in the union. It is the great unanswered unionist question. Best avoided and stick to jibes at the SNP? That approach is getting you nowhere…when will you wake up and realize it?

  4. We could have a federation of Nations, with equal powers and status. We could have Independent Nations co-operating where our interests are the same. We can co-exist on these Islands in friendship and mutual respect. What we cannot do, is carry on with the same old political fix. England exists in the World, Britain sometimes. Scotland and Wales are invisible. It has become obvious that London is more friendly with Ireland these days than Scotland. Whether its Englands politicians or Englands media pundits, they have a large dollop of contempt for Scots. Just read the articles and the online comments. Scottish Labour are only interested in getting on with their careers, they lost interest in the poor, the wage earners, the communities that voted for decades to send people to fight for their wellbeing, a long long time ago. Now the panic is setting in, their cushy number is nearly up. And instead of policies to empower these communities what do we get, smear and misrepresent their political opponents. Keir Hardie! More like Laurel and his pal!

  5. 1918 was it?
    So what happened in the next 85 years?
    Labour abandoned Home Rule for Scotland before 1950!
    Do you think I’m likely to forget all those high heid yins in Labour going about in the Labour Says No campaign in 1979?
    Of dozens of us going out to distribute the Labour Yes leaflets because most the Labour Party wouldn’t put them out?
    Had there been no SNP there would have been no devolution and everybody knows that.

    1. Hahahaha! That has got to be the most absurdly funny thing I’ve read in a while!

      It’s right up there with Eck being the catalyst for the downfall of Thatcher.

      The hubris of the SNP knows no bounds.

  6. Fantastic peice Dug, and if you relly believe it Know you will resign your cushy Westminster gig and fight in Scotland for all these lovely benefits you keep telling us about.

    If you don’t ….well..erm how can I put this Douglas…. The Honorable gentleman is speaking untruths, Mr Speaker.

  7. If Labour is,as you say,the “defender of devolution….why are Labour lords trying to claw powers back to Westminster?

  8. As the authors of devolution, we must now become devolution’s defenders.

    In what way is Douglas Alexander going to defend devolution, and does it need defending?

    It seems to be working democratically. Perhaps Douglas Alexander is against independence, or separation as it has become known in unionist circles? But who, exactly, is fighting against devolution? Perhaps, if anyone, anyone ? were to look at what David Cameron had to say in Edinburgh and London over the last few days then they ought to be worried (or admiring) about his ability to sell us all beads. For he says that there will be ‘consideration’ given to devolution, after a ‘no’ vote. Yeah, that’s going to work. Only a fool would see that as a promise of anything other than a fat two fingers.

    But Scotland has rejected him, and his, many many times. Since the years of Thatcher.

    Labour is getting itself into a fix over self determination, and that is more than a little bit sad.

    It is perhaps, for the sake of honesty, worth declaring that I am an SNP member.

    I do not however expect to vote SNP after independence. I may, indeed, vote for a decent socialist party.

    That said, mea culpa, I find the Labour Party attitude to the independence debate very imperial.

    Just saying.

    1. Does devolution need defending? The referendum in 2014 is going to be a choice between devolution and separation, therefore devolution is under threat.

      Are the SNP climbing down so far now that Scotland could still have devolution after separation?

      Can the SNP advocte any position on separation that doesn’t require them to backtrack within a few days after it being aired?

  9. You may take credit for authoring devolution and by all means defend it BUT
    to show how the union works positively for Scotland why not set out the extent of the powers you believe Scotland should have and a clear pathway to implementing them. If Labour is an honest broker of devolution then do what defenders of devolution should do and lead the other unionist parties in moving the argument forward by devolving powers right now before the referendum. That is – if this is really about Scotland’s interests and not the Labour Party’s interests. As your sister said “bring it on” .

    1. Do you really think people will believe this argument that no further powers will ever be delivered to enhance devolution unless we back ‘devo-max’ on the ballot or spell out what powers we want in the future right now?

      Labour, elected in 1997 brought forward a referendum in 1997, delivered the parliament people wanted, ran that parliament effectively, created a new commission to look at further powers (which will hopefully be implemented soon unless the SNP decide to deprive the people of a more powerful parliament) and will continue to look at the needs of the parliament to deliver for the people of Scotland to create a fairer Scotland and UK.

      We have a proven track record on this – the SNP have let power get to their heads. They believe 2007 was year zero and they created the parliament and are the only people who can deliver more powers to the people of Scotland.

      Lets compare the record.

      SNP elected 2007, still no referendum, not delivered any new powers, stayed out of the constitutional convention, stayed out of the Calman commission and have if anything removed power from the people by allowing our tax raising powers to lapse.

      I think when presented with the facts people will know who to trust when it comes to delivering for the people of this country.

  10. I’ve never heard the term ‘Labour Nation’ before but it does have a nice ring to it. When the Scottish people reject independence, I feel it would be a good idea to use that sign at our southern border. That way tourists and travellers would know that the Scots have once again trusted our Party with their country’s destiny. How about it Douglas – SCOTLAND (Labour Nation)?

  11. “Let us uphold the politics of working together. Of solidarity and cooperation. Of achieving together what we are unable to achieve alone”.

    Excellent!

    Noel

    1. Noel Foy

      “Let us uphold the politics of working together. Of solidarity and cooperation. Of achieving together what we are unable to achieve alone”.

      Despite being part of this union for 65 years, for the life of me I cannot see what the politics of working together, of achieving together what we are unable to achieve alone, would you care to help me here and list what was achieved, and why we would not have achieved that alone.

      1. What have we wanted to achieve that we haven’t achieved because of the union?

        What have we called for that the rUK hasn’t called for and had our request refused?

        I’m not denying it may have happened; just point me in the right direction is all I’m asking.

  12. Where to start ? , lets go with “For us, the result in may last year was bad. Very bad.” Can’t argue with you there, definately the truth.

    But then we come to this ” lets also remember SNP leadership claim Scots “didn’t mind” Thatcher’s economics policy, and now advocate huge cuts in the CORPORATE TAXES FOR THE BANKS” , a huge fib.

    The rest is the usual negative spin mixed with scary stories, nothing about what labour is going to actually do. And claiming to be devolution defenders when you are doing everything you can to oppose devolution-max makes no sense.

    1. Where to start, lets go with ‘a huge fib’. Are the SNP not advocating slashing corporation taxes and did AS not want us to remove the ‘gold-plated regulation on banks’?

      ‘Doing everything you can to oppose devolution-max’. Now isn’t it interesting that you appear to believe that the only option open in terms of devolution is devo-max? So if someone doesn’t support independence they are ‘anti-Scottish’ and if they don’t support devo-max I guess they must be ‘anti-devolutionist’?

      1. “Slashing corporation taxes” is that not the same as “advocate huge cuts in the corporation taxes for banks” another huge fib.
        Does the Scottish Government want control of corporation tax for Scotland, of course it does, and when is being able to lower corporation tax when necessary to attract investment and jobs into our country, a bad thing ?

        I dont know what you mean about our First Minster wanting to remove “gold plated regulation on banks”. But de-regulating banks was very much a Brown & Blair objective wasn’t it, and you just have to look at the state of the UK’s financial position to see how well that went.

        As for Devo-max, if as a supporter of devolution you dont want the people of Scotland to have the option of voting for “devo-max” , then what do you offer instead ?

        PS, do you usually go under Gerard ?, the style is very familar.

  13. Strange you have to go to Wales to look for policies to get re-elected when you could have saved yourself the train fare and looked at the social democratic policies that the SNP have been following in Scotland.
    The policies that got them re-elected with an overall majority.
    The policies that should have been the policies of the Labour party in Scotland, but they weren’t allowed to follow, due to them being different from those being pursued by Labour down south.
    That is Labour in Scotlands’ union dividend, having to follow Londons orders and policies and probably remaining in opposition for the forseeable future.

    1. You’re argument, while compelling, is deeply flawed. I think you’ll find that while in power at Holyrood, Scottish Labour delivered policies that weren’t even on the radar for other parts of the Labour Party (fox hunting, smoking ban in public places, free bus passes, free personal care).

      Now, as I said, you’re argument is compelling so I would like you to tell me more.

      What are these social-democratic policies that the SNP have delivered? In what way have the SNP delivered a fairer society through policy?

      I get the feeling you’re going to say ‘all the stuff people get for free’. I hope I’m wrong and that you don’t confuse democratic socialism with ‘free stuff’. Democratic socialism isn’t about the state funding everything;an extract from Clause 4 states it perfectly: where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe.

      The Romans had a phrase that is apt: per aspera ad astra (Through difficulties to the stars).

      We reach the stars by working together, putting in what we get out and allowing those that come behind us to achieve more than we could. Our difficulties and trials push each generation that follows further along the road to the stars. Getting things for ‘free’ doesn’t fit in with that.

      We achieve our true potential as a nation by working together to get closer and closer to the stars.

  14. if scotland vote no to independence what will labour in scotland have to offer?the usual westminster stuff, labour in power for a few years then the tories for a few years, reversing many of the previous labour policies and visa versa?

  15. Dougie. Dougie. Dougie.
    Will you say the same things after the SNP have a series of “historic wins”
    at the upcoming council elections ?

    Another new leader in the offing ?

  16. From what I have seen in the upper house from some Labour members in cahoots with the Tories grabbing powers back by the bucketful seems to counter your devolution’s defenders mantra.

  17. Mr. Alexander, you say, “As the authors of devolution, we must now become devolution’s defenders. ”
    And how best do you do that?
    The answer is as you know, by developing and articulating and implementing the process of devolution.
    So why the ‘feet of clay? What is stopping Scottish Labour from going on the offensive and picking up the torch of ‘full devolution’ and running with it?
    I think I know the answer to that as well but I would never be that presumptuous; I let you answer that.

  18. Noel,
    Douglas Alexander’s rallying call “Let us uphold the politics of working together. Of solidarity and cooperation. Of achieving together what we are unable to achieve alone” strikes a cord with you.
    Have you ever stopped for a minute and asked yourself if, for the good of the country this cry for solidarity could include Scottish Nationalists?
    Has it ever occurred to you that if Sinn Fein and Ulster Unionists can work together then surely it is time to put away the animosity every time Alex Salmond appears on the TV.

    1. It could if the SNP would focus on what matters to people and advanced policies that enhance democracy rather than undermine it and equally, advocated policies that represent democratic socialism.

      Could you put your animosity for Labour aside?

  19. Gerard,

    have you not noticed the landslide victory that the SNP won in last Mays election ?
    This was done in a parliament with a voting system that was specifically designed to make sure no party could get an overall majority !

    Don’t you think that this is evidence that the SNP has ‘focused on what matters to people’ as you say ?

    Do you not think that you are completely wrong and the majority of voters in Scotland are completely right and they have therefore turned away from the labour party who they believe do not represent their best interests and instead have voted for the SNP who they trust to stand up for the people of Scotland’s interests better then the labour party. (as a number of polls indicate)

    The fact is that support for the SNP has grown because the people of Scotland do not think the labour party done well in the Scottish parliament and in spite of fear-mongering from labour and the press, the people eventualy voted them in in 2007. what the SNP acheived as a minority government resulted in the people wholeheartidly rejecting scaremongering in 2011 and voting the SNP back in Mays landslide.

    What next ? well labour and the press are still trying the scare stories and smear tactics that they themselves have said are counterproductive.
    support for independence has grown on average by 1% per month in the polls and support for unionism has dropped by roughly the same amount.
    If this continues then it will lead to Scotland voting for independence in 2014.

    After this happens people who truly believe in the UK will say: why did we let the labour party lead us to this ? why did we let their negative smear tactics continue when even they themselves said it didn’t work.
    Why did we allow them to not answer the thousands of requests on various comments sections in which Scots asked the labour party to put forward their positive vision for unionism and to tell the Scots what the union did for them.

    But by that time it will be too late and the labour party will find that the politicians like Douglas Alexander who were part of this betrayal of their own members will pay a heavy price from they very same members.

    Hopefully a genuine labour party will be able to emerge that will not be tarnished by these people.

  20. Gerard,
    Its difficult to change peoples political opinions, its near impossible to admit to yourself, maybe I’m wrong here. (now I know I’ve got your back up already with this comment but please bear with me). Very few politicians admit ‘I am wrong’. Many admit, ‘I was wrong’. Its easy, years down the line to say ‘I got that wrong’, the most recent example I can think of was the invasion of Iraq., but it is seldom that a politician ( or activist/ voter) changes their mind in the present.
    However Scotland is changing its mind. It has not been an overnight conversion and there are many that are still unconvinced (yourself included). And I can assure you that you are well off the mark when you say “It could if the SNP would focus on what matters to people and advanced policies that enhance democracy rather than undermine it ……..”
    Scotland is coming round to the idea of self determination, although they don’t know exactly what that is as nobody does at this point. I find it depressing that although Salmond and the nationalists (Salmond has’nt got it all worked out either, he’ll take real devolution ie tax raising powers now) and Labour (Open Minded Scottish Labour not the Westminster or New Labour brands) are so close ideologically there is still this unsurpressed bitterness that clouds our reason.
    So please put away the old prejudices, the nationalist government are trying their best for Scotland. If Labour sit down together, and I would suggest independent of southern influences as this is a uniquely Scottish Labour issue, and formulate what devolution is, the result will be a policy for the nation that looks surprisingly close to SNP idea of independence.

  21. Richard,

    In order for the Scottish Labour movement to undergo what you suggest, the British Labour Party would have to “separate” and become two “independant” parties. As we all know these are two of their most favourite words…
    So, highly unlikely to occur, I would even put money on it.

    I see Kuwait celebrating its “independance “day. The UK told them the same old lies then as they do to Scotland today. Too small, couldn’t survive, oil running out etc. They are a spectacularly wealthy country today.
    The message is clear, we do not believe you have ever had our best interests at heart. It took a while to find you out, but I suspect the rise of the internet played a large part in this.

    Remember, Westminster is not giving us anything, we are taking back the political management of our nation. Devolution is all about retaining power, nothing else.

  22. Dubai-Scot,
    You are right. Scotland is moving toward self determination. The momentum is slowly gathering and it is clear even to arch unionists (no especially to arch unionists) that it is now impossible to stop.
    Stand in the way and you will be run over. The choice is stand aside or get on board.

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