Ronnie McGowan, like thousands of other members, received an email from Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard on Friday, addressing Thursday’s election results. Here is his reply.

Richard,

Thank you for your correspondence on Friday evening and I appreciate the opportunity offered to say a few things.

Before you were born I was campaigning for Labour values, dragooned at a young age by a future leader of Tayside Regional Council into delivering a Labour Party newspaper round the doors of a post-war housing scheme. Ron Tosh was his name; he would later give me a lift to work every day.

When you were still in short trousers and mastering joined-up writing I was a shop steward while working as a high-precision toolmaker. This was a good arena for learning the ins and outs of AEUW politics; my knowledge of Euro-scepticism and the ‘left’ in British politics has some historical depth. While I was on the shop-floor, the current Labour leader was cutting a niche in a different brand of political activity, not one familiar with the application of ‘swarfega’ at the end of the working day.

I’ve now been working solidly for over half a century. The work ethic of ‘boomers’ is strong. We are not owed a living; we are too busy earning one.

I give you this background merely to indicate I have no political axe to grind, no political ambition to fulfil and no malice to anyone. I’m a working man who, at this stage of life, has a settled view on what I want to see from the Labour Party and gives his time to the cause when time permits.

The Labour Party should ditch identity politics. Last Thursday I had to vote for ‘Scottish Labour’. I want to vote only for the ‘Labour Party’. If the General Election has told us one thing it is that the Labour message has been comprehensively rejected throughout the United Kingdom. It needs a united UK response, not some parochial tinkering.

Your correspondence name-checks ‘Scotland’ or ‘Scottish’ no less than thirteen times. At the same time there is no reference to ‘equality of opportunity’. I was saddened neither word was present as it’s one of those core Labour values which resonates with meaning.

‘Children going to bed hungry’ is indeed tragic but the solution isn’t a Scottish one. If you think we must embrace the message of I, Daniel Blake, a film you admire, then I beg to differ. Anyone who thinks national identity will solve this kind of poverty should make a point of seeing the film Never Look Away. The horrors of nationalism should never be forgotten.

‘For the many not the few’ is a slogan oven-ready to be binned and should never have seen the light of day. It carries an insidious undertone.

The Labour Party needs healing from the inside. There is probably genuine and widespread disgust at the triumphalism shown by the First Minister during Thursday night’s results. But I witnessed similar sentiments and behaviour in the Glasgow Science Centre when you were elected leader. It dismayed me then and still does, years later. You need to fix that if the will is there.

Holyrood is failing. How do I know that? After forty-four years in the front-line of education I am currently watching a developing catastrophe for the future economy. There are school pupils emerging from statutory education not having sat a formal national exam in English and maths and other crucial subjects.

How on earth can the Labour Party ‘in Scotland’ have watched this unfolding and done so little? Where are the discussion papers on education policy? Harold Wilson gave us the Open University, Tony Blair ‘education, education, education’. But here we are ‘in Scotland’ failing a generation of whom we claim to be the champions.

The voters’ judgement might be that the Labour Party offers only ‘lip-service’ to education, amongst other things. The one ray of hope from Prime Minister Johnson is he turns the spotlight on Holyrood’s performance and asks some serious questions, demanding it gets its act together.  You should get in there first and demand better from Holyrood. 

I know what ambition and aspiration looks like. It looks like a good functioning education system, a good functioning health service, a good functioning communications infrastructure. It looks like a Glasgow underground system that links its four outer communities and beyond. That would get the economy moving. That would get a working population on the move and quicken the pulse of the west central heartbeat, fuelling a more prosperous future for everyone. It would be a start anyway.

And finally, I’ve said nothing about the campaign model. How could I express anything but admiration for that dedicated, tireless team of young activists who were at my door in the pouring rain at 7.30 on the morning of polling day, ensuring I voted.

You as leader have a great responsibility, to lead with passion, clarity and a hope based on sound social democratic principles and get rid of this constant ‘Scottish angle’. As a humanity we really are all in this together.

I wish you and your family a Happy Christmas and good health for 2020. Come back refreshed in the New Year with vigour and energy. The analysis can then commence in earnest.

Best,

Ronnie McGowan [Maryhill Springburn CLP]

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46 thoughts on “Dear Richard

  1. Ronnie

    I respect your experience and I suspect that we would align/agree on 99percent of issues.
    However when previous Labour voters switch to the Tory Party or the Brexit Party and are singing the praise of Tommy Robinson I cannot ignore it.

    The rise of Isolationism and support for the right has risen significantly in England.

    It will now be a decade before a reformed Labour Party will even be in a position to challenge the Tories. The very people you and I seek to help will continue to suffer. Even if UK Labour recovers in a decade the evidence is clear that the best the can do is either compromise like Blair and Brown OR achieve turns each in power with the Tories.

    We cannot Change the World. We cannot change Europe. We cannot change the UK BUT we can change Scotland.

    I want to see truly Scottish Labour, Green, SSP, SNP. LibDem and Tory Parties in Scotland because I am confident the balance of the outcome will be positive and balanced towards fair socialism.

    Julia

    1. Julia
      Thank you for your response.
      While I see the need to help people, it is much more productive to empower them through having an adequate education system and a health service which provides a decent life-long provision.
      Holyrood is failing on these.
      All political parties at Holyrood are culpable in these failings.
      It seems to me to have become nothing more than a platform for ‘identity posturing’ and after 20 years there is a case for reviewing its effectiveness.
      For example,I am at a loss to understand why Assessment procedures in secondary education have been allowed to deteriorate, yes a major deterioration, to the extent where pupils aren’t sitting national exams anymore – I doubt this was central to the ideal of Holyrood but it has become nothing less than a catastrophic development and no one in the policy shaping department of the Labour party is talking about this.
      I’m accusing Holyrood of smug complacency and it needs a good shake-up.

      1. Not sitting national exams? Are you referring to those pupils who sit National 4 qualifications rather than National 5 qualifications? Pupils sitting National 5 still sit national exams as do those sitting Highers (National 6) and Advanced Highers (National 7). Pupils sitting National 4 and below are assessed locally with the standards verified by the SQA

        1. Richard,
          Thank you for your comment.
          Let’s take a trip down memory lane, I’m using maths as an example because that’s the subject I teach.
          From around 1984 every pupil in Scotland sat two national exams at the end of statutory education. These exams were called Standard Grade and came about through reforms proposed by two reports in the ’70’s. The Munn Report dealt with the Curriculum and the Dunning Report covered Assessment. You will know them as the Munn and Dunning Reports,they arrived in tandem.
          Without exception every school pupil then sat two maths exams after four years of secondary education [Dunning’s report came with the epithet ‘Assessment for All’].
          There is some evidence out there suggesting this form of ‘equal opportunity’ had a positive impact on the attainment gap.

          Today in 2019 the situation is,and I’m quoting SQA figures:
          Those who attained National3/National4 maths = 29,356 pupils
          Those who sat National5 maths = 41,586 pupils
          Combined National3/4/5 = 70,942 pupils
          The percentage attaining National3/4 maths = 41.3%
          Pupils who sit National5 maths do so during the SQA diet of national exams during the months of April/May/June.
          Pupils who attain a National3/National4 qualification in maths do not sit a national maths exam during the SQA exam diet.

          What does this look like?
          Walk into a McDonalds in 1984 and of the 10 sixteen year olds sitting at a table, everyone of them sat two national maths exams.
          Walk into a McDonalds in 2019 and of the 10 sixteen year olds sitting at a table,4 of them did not sit a national maths exam.
          This is unforgiveable.

          This is what the people of Scotland have voted for. I think it tragic and is shameful the political class in Holyrood have presided over this. This is the ‘lip-service’ to equality of opportunity and equality of access. Every politician elected to Holyrood since 1999 is culpable for this shocking deterioration in educational opportunity.
          More flags but less opportunity.

          I think what you mean by ‘standards verified by the SQA’ is that a sample from the cohort of a school’s National3/4 assessments are moderated by the SQA. This sample is a tiny percentage of the cohort.
          What isn’t verified or moderated are the conditions under which National3/4 assessments in schools are administered.
          You might be surprised at ‘local’ variations.

          1. Why should it matter whether they are assessed nationally or locally? What’s the difference? They all sat exams on the subject. Is this all you have been banging on about? Whether an exam is assessed nationally or locally? Is there nothing more important to be concerned about? Like Boris Johnson stripping out workers rights from his Brexit Bill mere days after he won an election on the back of former Labour voters who believed him when he said they would be protected? Are minor matters and the Union more important than the welfare of the country your Party has so spectacularly failed to protect? Labour are facing extinction in Scotland and this illustrates why.

  2. I can not agree with you I’m afraid. The election proved to me that we need a distinct Scottish Labour Party. We would of course remain aligned with all of the core values of the Labour family. However on issues for example such as Brexit, Trident replacement or Nuclear energy we must have a unique viewpoint clearly communicated to the voters. This does not undermine core values it recognises the expression of voters in Scotland.

    1. Thanks Geoff,
      Social democracy needs a distinct narrative, that’s what the election confirmed to me.
      This narrative for the 21st century needs some philosophical input, missing so far.
      The rise of populism isn’t unique to the UK- there is the USA, Brazil, Austria, Hungary, Italy.
      I don’t hear any arguments coming from these countries on fragmenting into smaller geographical units.
      Holyrood was meant to be a distinct and indeed a unique form of government to ameliorate Westminster policy where it was deemed to be appropriate.
      It has all the necessary powers to be distinct and unique but fails to want to use them.
      It’s interesting you raise Trident;not so long ago that bastion of socialism Strathclyde Regional Council boasted of being a ‘Nuclear Free Zone’, people may not have like nuclear weapons on their doorstep but didn’t mind their council clearly communicating otherwise.

      1. But Scotland isn’t going to fragment itself into smaller geographic units, it’s going to continue to remain united. Ah, I see, you don’t regard Scotland as a country just a region of England!

        1. Thanks Gordon,
          I don’t think I said Scotland was a region of England. The mask is never far from slipping.

  3. Ronnie,
    Here is the problem with your logic. You say in your article “You (Richard Leonard) as leader have a great responsibility, to lead with passion, clarity and a hope based on sound social democratic principles and get rid of this constant ‘Scottish angle’.”..
    You forgot to mention; It was Labour that created the ‘Scottish angle’. Labour created the The Scottish Parliament. Donald Dewar the Scottish Secretary of State at the time was ‘proud of it’. He liked it. George Robertson the Secretary of Defence claimed it would ‘kill nationalism stone dead’ ..
    That is the problem with your appeal to Richard Leonard.
    That is, unless you add on this awkward fact: as in,

    PS
    Richard, I forgot to mention, you see, back in the 90s when Labour created The Scottish Parliament, well it was us, we created the ‘Scottish angle’ and when we did, well we made a right arse of it. That was a massive mistake. And it has cost us plenty. We didnt know it at the time but we know it now, Its been a nightmare for us ever since.
    Difficult times call for difficult decisions. I think the time has come, when we hold our hands up and take responsibility. ‘Own it’ as they say these days. We, Labour ‘in Scotland’ need to accept our mistakes. Because we are the losers here. And the losses just keep mounting.
    If we were to do this, do a 180 in other words, there will be consequences and they are big. They need to be thought through.
    The first one is, In the future we will now have to campaign against the Scottish Parliament, We would have to stand up and say, you see devolution, it was a good idea, but now its a bad idea. That is a difficult one. The Scottish Parliament, the one Labour created in the 90s well we dont believe in it any longet and we want to disband it.
    I know this is a difficult one to get your head around, not least the costs involved and not to mention all the good jobs that go with it. But on the plus side, this policy would put ‘clear water’ between Labour ‘in Scotland’ and all the others, and with Labour ‘in Scotland’ almost wiped out this might not be too hard to sell. I think its a winner. The first unionist party to campaign against Scotland’s parliament?
    Any way in the the New Year pass it round the next meeting of our MSPs. See what they think.

    1. Interesting point Richard, thank you for that.
      My logic is impeccable, at every opportunity I’ve voted against the formation of a Holyrood style devolution,stretching back to the ’79 referendum.
      But you’re right, it would require a sea-change for the Labour party to now start campaigning for Holyrood’s demise.
      My view is that the area covered by Strathclyde Regional Council was better administered than it is today and that we should move to begin considering a devolution resembling the regional and district councils between 1974 and 1996, with funding funnelled through a beefed up Scottish office.

      1. Ronnie,
        Thank you for your reply.
        I cannot agree that your logic is impeccable.
        Why?
        Because, you are still a member of The Labour Party.
        40 years is a long time to be ‘in disagreement’.
        If your in, then you accept ‘collective responsibilty’ . If you cant accept it, you leave. You cant have it both ways.

        1. Richard,
          It’s like owning a car.
          Nothing is perfect, whatever appeals at any given time or even over a period of [life]time. A minor improvement here a catchy innovation there.
          It’s a journey, steady as she goes, eventually arriving.
          That’s a Polo for you.

    2. Ronnie

      You were fortunate to work in an engineering shop that had the luxury of ‘swarfega’.

      We were provided with borax salt, which was similar to washing your hands with industrial grade Vim.

      Nevertheless, in the British Leyland Albion Plant, we worked a 39 hour week, were paid £18 per hour (in today’s money) double time on a Sunday, with 7 weeks holiday and a final salary pension scheme. By and large, things were much better for our generation of workers than they are for today’s.

      The funny thing is, all these terms and conditions were achieved before we hooked up with the EEC. In fact since we joined up with the rest of Europe things have steadily gone downhill.

      I am happy that we are leaving the European Union. It just makes me sad that people are increasingly turning to the Tories, as the only party willing to uphold democracy.

      The Labour Party has too many ala carte democrats, who pick and choose which results they deem worthy of respect.

      These kind of peple don’t respect the working classes, they pity the working classes, whilst constantly virtue signaling and seeing life through a mistyfying haze of political correctness.

      1. Thanks Andy,
        Swarfega wasn’t the only perk- Timex provided free cups of tea at tea-breaks as well.
        How things were – yes, post-war there was an advancement of wages and conditions which of course was a good thing and this came along with a bold education system providing opportunities as never before.[it was the Conservative party in the 50’s who proposed raising the school-leaving age] It was generally a time of economic and social expansion.
        There were clouds gathering though by the end of the 60’s.The US light engineering companies who arrived post-war were now looking elsewhere to invest their capital and were moving out in the early 70’s. The economic climate was changing before we joined the EU and accelerated by the oil-crisis during those years. The good times were over. I was on a 3-day week in 1972 due to major problems in the power industry.
        The EU offered new markets and new opportunities and over the following four decades I’m of the opinion that the EU provided a haven of sorts to counter the deficiencies in social and economic policy pursued by the Thatcher and Major governments, but it is a moot point how we measure what is an improvement or worsening of life chances.
        Time will tell whether we are better out than in.
        With regard to your comment about the quality of Labour MP’s and the ‘pitying of the working class’, I actually agree with you; exactly my point referencing the film ‘I, Daniel Blake’. The Labour party should be doing better and should be tapping into what ‘ambition and aspiration’ means for working people irrespective of their sphere or level of work. Everyone has a value and everyone should be given the opportunities to develop the best they can.

        1. Ronnie

          I enjoyed reading your article and agree with what you say.

          Your proper old Labour.

    3. Alright Richard?

      For what it’s worth, I respect you and your opinions, don’t always agree with them, but respect them nonetheless. You’re a democrat.

      I know it’s easy to say, but I would have respected the result of the 2014 referendum if the Yes campaign had won. You have to respect democratic votes. But you have to ask yourself, if Yes had won, do you really believe independence would have been delivered? I have my doubts.

      The Scottish Parliament? It must nearly be a generation since we voted for it, I don’t think it would be supported with the same enthusiasm if the public were to vote again.

      I voted for devolution. Would I do the same again? No, I would happily get rid of devolution.

      Nevertheless, the status quo prior to devolution was not working either. I would like to see the Scottish Parliament turned into the Council of Scotland, where our local authorities could work together and pool resources etc.

      To be honest, I think Scotland was a much happier country before the rise of the SNP. They are, in my opinion, truly toxic.

      The Labour Party is a democracy denying disgrace and a total shambles. However, it may be the only way out, to avoid the Ulsterisation of Scottish politics, which is my greatest fear for our country.

  4. “There is probably genuine and widespread disgust at the triumphalism shown by the First Minister during Thursday night’s results.”

    Ronnie I assume you are referring to the First Minister showing her joy that the candidate Amy Callaghan winning the seat off Jo Swinson Lib Dem I think you look at Amy Callaghan’s background a victory of a 27-year-old woman who fought a brilliant campaign against all the odds, who has overcome a lot of personal adversity in her life is well worth celebrating. Personally I must confess to a slight dose of schadenfreude regarding Jo Swinson who as a cabinet member of the Tory Lib Dem government and who’s voting record was an absolute disgrace Jo Swinson voted nine times to introduce the bedroom tax, she also backed the benefits cap, which limits the maximum benefits income a family can receive regardless of circumstances, and private tendering in the NHS so there you go Ronnie even if you go on the premise that the First was celebrating Jo Swinson losing her seat so what it’s no big deal.

    1. Thanks Ted,
      I used the First Minister’s example of triumphalism to illustrate its presence within the ranks of the Labour party and I drew attention to the declaration of Richard Leonard as leader. I wouldn’t deny the right to be happy,it was an impressive result for your candidate in East Dunbartonshire.
      I think the manner of the celebration was atavistic,unedifying and unprofessional. [and yes,I’m referring to both instances]

  5. Ronnie I was gutted by the result and still am Worse I saw it coming and could not do anything to stop it .
    We had a great candidate ln Louise McPhater in Central Ayrshire .
    She spoke about people on low wages and unemployed I haven’t heard anyone do that for years .
    Congratulations to Nicola she had a brilliant campaign clear on opposition to Brexit and made it clear she wants Indy asap .
    I voted for Jeremy 3 times but I think we got the result on Thursday we were expected to get in 17 .
    We should have won in 17 and did not I kept asking myself why are we not in front in the polls Thursday should have been a walk over it was for Boris .
    Minds were made up on Jeremy a long time ago he was vilified daily from both within and without the party on a daily basis .
    I don’t think he was up to the job .
    On Brexit Scotland voted remain as did Northern Ireland England and Wales voted leave the perfect storm As we saw on Thursday .a lot of leave areas had labour MPS and got rid of them by voting Tory .
    Labour by trying to stay neutral got flattened .
    The fallout will be colossal
    In Scotland with 48 seats we have to recognize that the SNP have at least won the right to pursue with the support of the Scottish parliament to ask for the right to hold another Indy ref .
    And when Boris says no then we support the Scottish Government .and parliament .
    I am 64 and with the drubbing we got on Thursday I find it hard to see a labour government in my lifetime .
    I feel even more sorry for the people we let down .
    Nicola was only reacting to an SNP win
    Labour MSPS are to meet on Tuesday to plan what to do next .For me go it alone.

    1. Thanks David,
      I feel your pain.
      Yes, the SNP vote was up. There is a response to this but not necessarily ‘the right’ to pursue another referendum. There are a number of caveats that could be inserted to counter this ‘right’. One might be that actually only 3 out of 10 of the population voted for independence last Thursday. A General Election is not a binary plebiscite.
      I’m sure there will be much discussion and grass-roots input [won’t there?] to the direction the Labour party should take, but this needs to take time and be measured.
      I’ve already made up my mind, going it alone is not the correct path!
      A united party within the United Kingdom has more chance of delivering the sort of policies which could once again resonate with the electorate.

      1. Ahhh …. the old “those who didn’t vote support my position” subversion of democracy. The last resort of the loser in a straight vote. But I can trump (sic) that assumption. Less than 20% of the Scottish electorate actively voted to “stop indyref2”. Using your logic, I can legitimately argue over 80% want it.

        As to your claim “Holyrood is failing”; it oversees the best public services in the UK and is spending hundreds of £m protecting the poorest and most vulnerable in Scottish (sorry to offend you with the use of the “s” word) society from the worst the Westminster system throws at them. Perhaps you would be happy throwing them to the wolves and seeing public services deteriorate to the UK level in the name of the union, I and millions of others are not.

        My considerable adult life has seen one continuous “Tory” Westminster govt oversee the gradual decline of public services, workers rights and the “cradle to grave” Welfare State” (I include Tony Blair – who Thatcher claimed as her greatest achievement – in that line). I fear I will be long dead before the Westminster system reverses that decline …. if it ever does. Scottish (apologies) independence offers us a way out of that. Its a shame you are wilfully blind to that opportunity.

        1. Thank you MBP!
          I’m not offended by the ‘s’ word, but sparingly.
          I don’t understand your first paragraph, I made no assumption. I said 3 out of 10 voted for independence last Thursday, based on 45% of a 68% turnout.
          I’m assuming your legitimate 80% is a nod to the number of parliamentary seats- but that’s only a representative figure based on 3/10 of the voting population.Seems like Westminster is handing you a bigger voice than you deserve. You should be showing more gratitude!
          Children now sitting no national exam at the end of statutory education is a failure,there will be a price, literally to pay for that in the future.

          1. It’s not that difficult Ronnie. The Tories ran a single issue “no to indyref2” campaign in Scotland and received only 25% of the vote. 25% of 68% is only 17%. Therefore, less than 8 out of 10 of the Scottish electorate, using your logic, are against indyref2. Who are you to deny 8/10 Scottish voters their wishes?

  6. I agree that we shouldn’t try to mimick the nationalists and I also agree that there are some in the party, people like Peter Mandleson, who still think swarfega is a balaeric island. But I wouldn’t include Richard Leonard amongst them. I also agree we’ve gone too far down the road of identity politics and imagined communities. We need to re-establish Labour as the party of working people. Not sure I agree with your view that Shelley’s famous quote “we are the many they are the few” has “insidious undertones’. Care to elaborate?

    1. Thanks David,
      Yes, Labour has to re-establish the goals of ambition, aspiration and rising to the challenges of today. Ironically,I only heard Boris Johnson expressing such sentiments- something those in the Labour leadership should ponder.
      ‘For the many not the few’ could be regarded as anti-semitic.
      It is in itself a divisive slogan- we don’t need division in society, we need to come together, we need to work together, we need to live together.

      1. An end to democracy then? If democracy isn’t divisive it isn’t democracy. Perhaps a “dictatorship of the proletariat”? Or a system employed in many countries where you get to vote so long as you vote the right way. I prefer “divisive democracy” to any of the alternatives.

  7. “The Labour party should ditch identity politics”—-dumping the “Scottish” and becoming “British”.

    Yup, that should fix it. Wheel out Gordon Brown to pontificate about “British jobs…………………………….”. Maybe Labour wasnt Brexiteer enough.

    Good ol’ Blighty! Hip, hip……………………………………

  8. My previous entry was a tad harsh–let me try again.
    Since the Union was formed, some Scots have agitated for the end to it, or more recently ( a century and a half ago) for a Home Rule parliament.
    Enter Keir Hardie and Robert Cunningham Graham (the first socialist MP) to found the Scottish Labour party on the grounds of rights for workers, equality for women and Home Rule (Dominion Status) for Scotland–among many other worthy ambitions.
    Socialism was born, Labour took off and Hardie was largely forgotten (being anti-war–tut, tut) .
    Scottish Labour moved on to be happily British—sometimes in government, most times not. Home Rule was ditched until Scots started voting for the SNP, not in huge numbers but worrysome never the less. Devolution was ultimately born, Donald Dewar became FM, and “nationalism” was killed off (not).
    What some people thought of as REAL politics with REAL politicians carried on in London. No one with ambition went to Holyrood—indeed good politicians like Dennis Canavan were banned from standing for Labour. This was the days of British Labour–good—Scottish Labour–who cares? The Scottish electorate (remember them?) lived through Thatcher, watched industry being destroyed with no replacement (while huge car plants were built elsewhere) to give hope for the future. Thatcher could achieve this through the vast revenue brought in by North Sea Oil. Labour had 50 MPs from Scotland, who sat on their hands—for decades it seemed—- enjoying the benefits of endless hegemony in Scotland.

    British Labour? Scottish Labour?—Duh!

    The point surely is that you have people willing to make a fuss, work for their constituents whatever parliament they are in.
    Somewhere along the line, Scottish Labour dropped the ball and appeared to be more in cahoots with the Tories than working for any Scottish interest. This is of course how the victors( the SNP) portray modern Labour, but unless labour can come up with a more convincing narrative as to a plausible/prosperous future, then few people in Scotland will find any reason to support it. And British Labour have more to worry about in the North of England than spent time being perturbed over Scotland.

    There–I haven’t mentioned Labours previous shambles over Brexit, or the present shambles over Indyref2, or that Richard Leonard, a decent man, often appeared utterly at sea in his job, or that who is left to replace him who hasn’t had a shot already.

    1. Thanks Gavin,
      I wouldn’t dispute the Labour party dropped the ball, they are being dropped globally by social democracy.
      What seems evident from the victors is they speak with one voice and irrespective of the message the electorate vote for it – Get Brexit Done; Independence; Make America Great Again.
      The shallower the slogan the more attractive it would seem, everyone knew exactly what each of these political parties is saying. You couldn’t say that about the Labour party recently and going forward.
      The ‘red wall’ is no more but the problem for Labour is more widespread, just take a look at the south of England.
      It has to engage with a broad spectrum of the population.
      It has to garner a new vision, in 2020 of all years.

      1. Thanks for your response, Ronnie.
        I joined the labour party more years ago than I care to think on, but somewhere along the line I left—losing trust in its highly flexible claims of “socialism”—its “promise” always better than the reality . So, I feel greatly saddened by Labours demise, and appalled that its foot soldiers are once again let down by its generals. Nor is there a John Smith figure on the horizon.
        Independence is no mere slogan, and most of the world is now self-governing. Nor will it be easy: it will be a hard road for years to come, but I believe it to be worth it.
        I honestly cannot think a country, with everything based in, and on, the prosperity of one mega-city, with it doling out “poor relief” to the rest, is a model we should be involved with in the 21st century. And I see no SERIOUS proposal to end this state of affairs from any UK-wide party.

  9. Ronnie, I respect the views of people like you who regard the UK as a single political entity and still believe in the unity of the working class across the UK. However, perhaps you will have noticed that while large numbers of the working class in England have moved across to support an anti-immigrant, anti-European hard right Tory Party, the working class in Scotland have largely chosen to stand behind a party that is pro-European, welcoming of immigrants and seeks to deliver progressive change to our country. This new reality requires new thinking.

    1. Graeme,
      Thank you.
      I don’t use the term working-class, the demographics of voting habits is one that might benefit from in-depth analysis. Over one million voters in Scotland voted to leave the EU. I don’t know anymore than you do about who these voters were and their social classification – it might come as a surprise to those Scottish independence supporters who claim to represent ‘social change’. I have my own suspicions but nothing that would stand a rigorous examination.
      This new reality does require new thinking, erecting barriers with your nearest neighbour is hardly new or innovative and unlikely to be the driving force for social betterment.

  10. I agree, Richard. The so called Scottish Labour Party should drop the Scottish and It’s candidates should stand as “The Labour Party of Great Britain”. (It can not call itself “The UK Labour Party” as it refuses to stand candidates in Northern Ireland – for some reason it does not believe that the unity of the working classes should extend across the Irish Sea.)

  11. I think this is a beautifully written article and obviously very heart-felt.

    I’m afraid my disagreement with it is that when you look at anything from voting patterns to the social attitude surveys there are radically different views in what the people of England and the people of Scotland want.

    Boris Johnson has been elected with a huge share of the vote, following a referendum to end European norms. Scotland has not voted for this (and indeed hasn’t never given the Conservative party a majority since its foundation in Scotland from the old Unionist Party).

    Fundamentally the choice is between probably at least another decade of hard right Conservative rule or for something different.

    I’m not in any sense a nationalist but if I look rationally at the options putting aside any British or Scottish nationalism I come to the view that an independent Scotland would be a better choice.

    1. Thank you Andrew,
      Your comment is appreciated.
      The EU vote was a UK decision- there are many areas throughout who were dismayed by the result. Scotland didn’t vote as an entity.
      I don’t believe the response to a huge Conservative mandate to somehow break away from the rest of the UK.
      In the 2016 presidential election California voted 62% against Trump yet there has been no clamour to accede from the union.
      This England views versus Scotland views is an arid cul-de-sac.

  12. The reason Tony Blair won 3 elections in a row and appealed to traditional working class and middle class voters alike is that he was one of the few Labour leaders to recognise most people, irrespective of class or background, are aspirational. They want good schools and hospitals, pay their rent/mortgage/bills and have money left over for the nicer things in life which sometimes includes cars, gadgets and holidays. Socialism and most political ideology is for the history or sociology classrooms only.

    There are many people left behind but those in the middle decide elections. So Labour have to appeal to Spam Valley (new build housing estates which cover swathes of the country). Council estates have largely been sold off and trade unionism is in a state of decline (outside of the large public sector unions).

    I’m a soft nationalist. I don’t particularly care if Scotland is independent or not but as long as the SNP adopt the centre ground and act as a lobby for Scottish interests, I’ll keep voting for them. The risk of another independence/referendum keeps Scotland on the ‘to do’ list of any London government and keeps the public money flowing north. (No coincidence the Barnett formula was introduced around the time North Sea oil was discovered and the SNP started winning seats in elections)

    But if a Tony Blair type Labour party, one modeled on the Democrats in the US, fiscally conservative but socially liberal, was to emerge that could bring about sensible measures to tackle poverty but appeal to aspirational voters too, I could easily vote for them.

  13. Ronnie thankyou for your comment to me .We should have won in 17 we did not we should have won on Dec 12 did not .
    Labour are not connecting with millions of ordinary people there was no loaning of votes to Boris they voted for him .
    In Scotland people who should have voted Labour voted SNP could it be because at Holyrood they are competent the NHS is miles more competent than elsewhere .England got the Labour vote collapse we in Scotland got in 15
    To earn the right to govern we need to look and sound like an alternative competent government in waiting we are neither at UK or Holyrood .
    It looks as if we are in for a prolonged period of backstabbing by people wanting to be leader .
    We have to be more professional and competent we need to have a team and plan in place that people can identify with and vote for .
    In Scotland as in the UK the party needs a complete overhaul if we don’t we wont exist .
    Scotland did not vote Labour and has not done so for some years .we need to look at why and rule nothing out
    Give people a reason to vote Labour again Rule nothing out we don’t have long

  14. Ronnie, I’m afraid your essay comes across as a rather sad cry in the night, a nostalgic yearning for some glorious past of labour solidarity across our precious union. I think most former Labour voters in Scotland (if that turn of phrase is acceptable to you) have had enough of this and want to move on and establish a fair society in Scotland where they can have a reasonable chance of putting this into effect. It seems you would rather perpetually wait for the right circumstances to occur in England. Good luck with that.

    1. Thank you Micheal,
      It wasn’t meant to be ‘a sad cry in the night’.
      I think the UK is a fair society, on the other hand Holyrood is doing a good job of unravelling the social gains in, education for example. I’ve provided evidence that ‘equal access’ is being diminished. A fair society is built on consensus and nothing to do with waiting for the ‘right circumstances to occur in England’. This obsession with ‘England’ isn’t healthy.

  15. Drew you are correct we have got to reconnect with people give them a reason to vote Labour again its vital we get the Labour Leadership vote right and end the public bickering we need to recognize the SNP have the right to pursue Indy 2 although we don’t have to agree .
    I think we need to use our right to make separate decisions even if it flys in the face of UK Labour
    All those new MPS especially Tory ones did you get elected to change employment laws that will affect your new constituents how about reducing legal protection for refugee children living in Europe trying to reunite with UK family members .Or if you retire or lose your seat get sent to the Lords and keep your cabinet seat .
    Then Kenny MacAskill telling the SNP concentrate on protecting public services its more important to voters than a second Indy push .And its hard to see Indy ref 2 coming anytime soon .

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