Is it time for Labour to back independence?

Wynn Thorne isn’t a Labour supporter but is a regular commenter on Labour Hame and was moved to write this piece in response to recent articles by Robert Hoskins on the economic case against independence. Wynn supports independence and thinks there’s a lot more to that choice than economics.

For a variety of reasons, many socialists have been displaced from Scottish Labour and now look to independence as a way to achieve a fairer society, and with the party’s share of the vote having fallen from 45% in 1997 to 9%  today, perhaps it is time for Scottish Labour itself to embrace a different approach to independence. 

As an independence supporter it seems that unionists characterise a post independent Scotland as an apocalyptic world requiring ‘turbo-charged austerity’. This scenario points to a decade long, monochromatic nuclear winter for Scots,  but is this what supporters of independence wish for? Is the independence movement a death cult led by the crazed Sturgeon? Or is there more to independence than this scenario allows? Is there something positive in independence that Labour should be striving toward?

I know that a major reason given by those wishing to retain the union rests on economic arguments and that “austerity max trumps any and every argument for independence”, but I do not believe that. Is GERS a picture of what is wrong with Scotland or an indictment of the gross mismanagement of the UK economy at every level during a period of unprecedented oil wealth? We can argue about that but look at how Britain, the 6th biggest economy in the world,  distributes its wealth.  It leaves the rich with their wealth and passes the debts of the country onto the whole population.

But there is more to being independent than not having to endure your economic decisions being taken by someone else who has repeatedly made a mess of it. And if only those decisions were confined to the economy; but no, they’re in everything.

In 1999 Tony Blair promised that the UK Government would reduce the number of poor children in Britain from 3.4m to 1.7m by 2010, and then eradicate the problem completely by 2020.  In 2008 Gordon Brown re-iterated that the government would eradicate child poverty by 2020 but couldn’t meet the 2010 target. On the 30th of April 2009 UK forces lowered their flag over the city of Basra to signify the end of their combat operations. For 13 years, between 2001 and 2014, the UK was also involved in the conflict in Afghanistan. War? Child poverty? It all depends on how you choose to spend your money. With independence you can make those choices.

You can choose when to send your people to war. How many lives were lost for the sake of the UK interests in Iraq and Afghanistan? So far, 179 British service personnel and 3 UK Government civilian staff died in Iraq whilst 456 British Forces personnel and MOD civilians died in Afghanistan. These are the numbers of the dead; Erskine Hospital/House has had to deal with a barrage of new patients because of the bad decisions made by bad politicians at Westminster. In addition to the deaths on our side 111,000 Afghans and 116,000 Iraqis are estimated to have died in these conflicts – almost quarter of a million people.

Why were we involved in those wars? How many of us wanted that? UK foreign policy does not  reflect the views of the population and certainly not the views of Scotland. I had no problem with the Afghanis, I didn’t believe there were weapons of mass-destruction in Saddam’s hands but, there we went ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the USA in our special relationship. Countries such as Norway, Spain indeed almost any country in Europe do not need to go to war to protect their national interests but  the UK does. We have to ask ourselves what is this national interest? It seems to me to be the vested interests of the wealthy, the capitalist system, the ruling elite – just as it has always been in Britain. It certainly isn’t to help reduce inequalities. But it could be.

Independence allows you  to choose what you want to do. Nuclear weapons for example. If every man and woman in Scotland wanted to get rid of Trident or did not want it replaced we could not do anything about it. Even Scottish Labour has had to compromise its position on these weapons of mass destruction to find a fit with the policy of the UK Labour Party. UK Labour itself has had to position its policy in line with what it deems will make it electable. Is this really the way to make moral decisions? In an independent Scotland Scottish Labour could make its own decisions and lead the electorate once more rather then follow ‘public opinion’, media bias and the vagaries of the UK Labour leadership debacle.

Social housing. Scotland traditionally had a high percentage of social housing stock compared to England and Wales. In 1981 public sector housing accounted for 55% compared with 29.1% in England and Wales. However, after the Thatcher, Major, Blair right-to-buy revolution 62.5% were owner-occupied homes in-line with figures for England and Wales. The result of this being a lack of available social housing. Devolution has given Scotland the chance to take a different approach to England with regard to social housing but the UK discourse still focuses on the ‘housing ladder’. “Aspiration”, “the first rung”, there is no escaping the unconscious propaganda emanating from the media controlled by a country that has a different social and political psyche to Scotland. With independence that can change.

Drugs. At a time when there is unprecedented number of drug deaths Scotland has to seek Westminster’s permission to tackle the problem in the Scottish context. The approach to law and order in England is markedly different to that in Scotland, the problems are different and so policy is skewed to that of England. In an independent Scotland we could adopt our own health and social approach to the problem to suit our needs and to help reduce the number of drug related casualties and deaths.

Foreign policy. The UK is the second-largest arms exporter in the world and in 2015 approved licences for the sale of £7.7bn of arms. The Department for International Trade’s figures suggest almost two-thirds (63%) of exports go to the Middle East. We know that British weaponry is being routinely used by our ally Saudi Arabia in Yemen killing thousands including civilians. During my lifetime my UK government has courted or supported people as despicable as Pol Pot, Saddam Hussain and Augusto Pinochet.

Still we occupy the Chagos Islands and in spite of a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) vote earlier this year we will still not permit Chagossians to return to their own homeland. This is the ethics underpinning UK government foreign policy. If every person in Scotland wanted to comply with the UNGA vote or halt arms sales to the middle east it would mean nothing if Westminster didn’t. Independence would allow us to create an ethical foreign policy.

An independent Scotland could also make its mark on the world stage akin to any other small nation.  Norway has had an active role in world affairs, mediating between Israel and the PLO and between the government of Sri Lanka and Tamil insurgents. Scotland’s voice and interests are different to those of the UK government and this voice can only be heard through independence.

Scottish Labour used to be the voice of those who could not be heard – it is time for the party to adopt this role again. With an estimated 40% of Labour supporters backing Scottish independence Labour must look more seriously at the aspirations of the people of Scotland. Change creates fear and anxiety in some in the same way as it creates hope and excitement in others. If fear of short to mid-term problems is what defines you, try looking beyond those problems to the positive possibilities of a new independent state for the benefit of future generations.

Thatcher and Blair changed the UK once and for all, this is it. If you have a dream of a better society then independence is the way forward. Economics? As I have said before I find it strange when Socialists look at independence and say “Ach well the economics don’t stack up – lets stay in our box”. Scottish Labour could make a real difference to people’s lives by embracing hope through independence and lead us to  a better, more equal society.

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25 thoughts on “Is it time for Labour to back independence?

  1. A brave article. Glad that LabourHame has allowed its publication. I was a Labour activist and member for nearly 20 years. I’m as much a socialist today as I was then but I’m now active in the SNP entirely because of Labour taking a hardline Unionist position. As long as Labour in Scotland continues to believe that defending the political union of the counties of Great Britain is more important that representing the interests of Scotland’s working people, its decline to complete irrelevance.

    1. Hello Fred, I find myself in a similar camp . I just hope that Scottish Labour will see the light before it becomes marginalised. I also would like to say that I was very encouraged that Duncan put this up for publication as it is on the other side of the spectrum from his own views. Great example from Labour Hame on what online political debate can be.

  2. Wayne, Fred,
    You cant get away from the fact, Scottish Labour Saved The Union. And, and this is the important bit, they are proud of it.. They believe in The Union (even if their supporters do not). They have that one principle and they will never walk away from it.

    That kind of unwavering belief is unusual in modern politics, maybe unique. It is more akin to a religious belief than a political opinion. And for that reason I respect it. I dont agree with it but I respect it. I think it is important that we all respect that type of firm resolve. You dont see it much these days.

    Scottish Labour will be wiped out at the next general election. (Infact The British Labour Party will not survive in its present form, and will probably never recover as a serious force in British politics. But that is for entirely different reasons than those that have brought The Branch Office to its present state).

    The route to Scottish Labour’s demise lie here in Scotland. And the road ends at the terminus.

    Scottish Labour saved The Union but The Scottish Tories took the credit. Scottish Tory voters were proud of winning in 2014. Scottish Labour voters were angry and ashamed of their party after the 2014 referendum result. Angry that the party their parents had voted for and that had helped to shape Scotland had betrayed them. I know that is an emotive adverb but that is what Labour voters felt. Betrayed, and because of that they vowed never to vote Labour again. Scottish Labour lost its core vote for ever.

    But it didnt lose its soul. Because Scottish Labour is a Unionist party.

    And that is my point; Scottish Labour has sacrificed everything for what it believes in. Is there another example in political history of a democratic party making that ultimate sacrifice? If there is I dont know it. A first for Scotland. The only country to refuse the offer of independence.

    1. Hello Richard. I am not quite as pessimistic as you are about Scottish Labour and I really hope that they will come round and embrace independence before it is too late. The party has had a great history in shaping the lives of many for the good it only needs to see that independence offers the chance to shape lives in that way once again. There is little chance of that happening in the UK as we can already see that recent polling shows that even after 12 years in opposition to the three most incompetent governments in living history the party can only muster 25% with Tory and Brexit together on 50% – frightening. (Opinium – CON 37%, LAB 25%, LDEM 16%, BREX 13%, GRN 2%)

  3. An enjoyable read from a Scottish exceptionalist perspective. With the greatest respect to all the admirable points and grievances you have raised, why do you need to inflict mega austerity on the Scottish population by becoming independent to address them? I would be expecting the next Labour govt at the very least to address many of them, especially the foreign policy grievances you raise. And don’t forget we are already making our own horrendous decisions and humungous mistakes on health and education – where numeracy and literacy skills are falling thanks to the incumbent Holyrood administration. If that’s a sample of what we could be like being independent – you’ll forgive me if I pass.

    I do find it ironic that you criticise Blair’s government for failing to eradicate child poverty but appear more than happy to inflict far, far worse child poverty on Scotland’s children through independence. The economics of an independent Scotland is the elephant in the nationalist’s room – the issue that is always avoided at any cost and never spoken about for fear of losing support for independence. The art of deception regards avoiding talking about the horrendous economic consequences of independence is usually demonstrated by the following diversionary techniques such as:- the use of euphemism (economic challenges lie ahead), deflection (other small countries can tackle this, why can’t Scotand?) denial (we wont pay our share of UK debt) and omission (completely ignoring all economic consequences) which appears to be your preferred approach and to be fair the approach of all pro independence journalists.

    You have not attempted to address any of the following major adverse economic consequences of independence that I raised in my last article on the economics of independence.

    An independent Scotland’s finances would be far worse now because of a plummeting oil price than they were in 2014. $100 a barrel in 2014 – today $58 a barrel. Scotland’s fiscal deficit in 2014 was £5 billion. Today it is £12.4 billion – what public services are you going to slash Wynn to reduce it, baring in mind that the Scottish NHS takes £13 billion a year to run?

    The financial impact of Scottish independence on Scotland’s economy would be 8 times worse than the economic impact of a hard Brexit.

    If Scotland becomes independent, it has a £120 billion population share of UK debt to pay off over a 20 year period at £6 billion per year which would cost £5 billion per year in interest to borrow. Again how are you going to pay this off?

    According to the SNP’s Growth Commission Report, Scotland’s banks would move their headquarters down south paving the way for other sectors such as Scotland’s insurance and pensions sector to possibly follow suit.

    A further £1.5 billion would be required to set up the institutions necessary to start a new country;

    A minimum of £40 billion of foreign currency reserves would need to be found to fund our own currency which is the SNP’s favourite currency solution.

    This new currency would be pegged to sterling which would be ripe for being targeted by money markets, resulting in the new Scots currency being worth less than Sterling which would see the value of wages and pensions drop with mortgage payments rising dramatically as a result.

    An additional financial burden on Scotland’s business sector would be transaction costs which would make goods and services being traded in currencies of different values between Scotland and its main trading partner the rest of the UK more expensive as a result.

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————————

    What you appear to be saying is ”It doesn’t matter how impoverished the country and its people become because of independence – especially the poorest sections of the population – because the most important thing which transcends everything else is that we willl be free from beastly Westminster”.Wynn, I’m out. I cannot support an ideology which would quite happily inflict mega austerity on its most vulnerable citizens to achieve its aim and thankfully I don’t think I’m in the minority here and I am certain I never will be.

    1. Hi Robert
      The article was inspired by an excellent article you wrote ‘Where is the economic honesty in the independence debate?’. I only thought it fair to present my views so that they could be critiqued in the same way as your own views have been on this website. As you know I did respond to your articles on the economy of independence at the time. Indeed, I had written a section on GERS etc in this article originally but it made the article over-long and the subject has been dealt with extensively on here recently. The points I made were not grievences by the way but facts and I would argue that in health we are outperforming the rest of the UK without question – knowing the NHS in England you do not realise how lucky you are up here. I agree on education though, the Curriculum for Excellence has been a disaster, started by Labour, the SNP has been complicit in continuing to inflict it on Scotland’s children. However, this is not party political – it is simply a well-meaning experiment that turned out to be poor in practise. AndEducation in the Uk as a whole though is in poor shape indeed according to The Learning and Work Institute the UK would “fall from 10th to 14th in literacy and from 11th to 14th in numeracy, out of 17 OECD countries”. Not a good picture for the future opportunities of our children from whatever part of the Uk we look at.

      On the other points you have raised, you say you expect the next Labour government to address many of my points including foreign policy but I do not understand why you would have so much faith in an already proven falsehood. It was Labour that gave us the ‘dodgy dossier’ and took us into two wars. Even Thatcher only took us into one. Why would they invoke Robin Cooke’s ethical foreign policy in the future when they could have done so then? How can we have an ethical foreign policy when we are so hitched to US foreign policy and Saudi Arabia is one of key allies? It will not happen, but it could with independence.

      When I responded to your article on the ‘Where is the economic honesty in the independence debate?’ you correctly pointed out that initially I did not respond to any of the points in your article but only pressed a non-economic response – if you recall I then did respond to the issues you once again raise here. Similarly, you only respond here with an economic argument to an article that states that it is not about economics. For my response to economics I refer back to your earlier article.

      Let’s try to look beyond the tennis match arguments we have over the questions around the economy and widen our horizons a bit. You say that in the article I say ”It doesn’t matter how impoverished the country and its people become because of independence – especially the poorest sections of the population – because the most important thing which transcends everything else is that we will be free from beastly Westminster”, but I could equally say that your position is ”It doesn’t matter how many people die around the world as long as the UK’s national interest is protected”. You and I know that neither of these statements are true. We need to get out of this way of looking at our politics.

      No one knows what the future of the UK will look like but it is likely that its economy will hit the floor after Brexit and the direction that the UK will follow is likely to be one that does not match the social and political aspirations (not independence) of the people of Scotland. However, it is my contention that independence will allow us to follow those social and political aspirations.

    2. This comment is also from a Scottish exceptionalist position…. in this case exhibiting the view that Scotland is uniquely unable to run itself successfully. Your analysis also seems to assume that Scotland would be forced to accept a population share of the UK national debt without getting a population share of
      UK assets. I think you will find that Scotland’s share of Bank of England gold and foreign currency reserves will be a significant figure. But I understand that you will not be persuaded by individual arguments as I suspect you are a Unionist from the heart though you suggest it is from the head

    3. Only in the mind of a Scottish unionist could the belief that Scotland and its peoples are just as able as our small, independent neighbours be called “exceptionalism”.

  4. Robert,
    The problem with your argument is: people go on holiday and they look around.
    I dont know about you (Im just back from Hungary and Serbia) but I dont see poverty or bankruptcy. I dont see the smaller nations of eastern Europe begging to be taken back into greater Russia. I see the opposite.
    Am I completely off the rails here?
    Robert, what do you see when you go on your hols? Help me ? Maybe you dont go on holiday?

    1. Richard – this is an excellent point. My first two holidays in decades were to Greece and Spain when they were effectively bankrupt. What did I see? Happy people – none of the doom and gloom the BBC and all told us about. The UK keeps its people in fear and its a false fear. I recall a man from Toxteth being asked on TV how he felt about Brexit and he said it didn’t make any difference to him, he was just a guy with a dog and no money. When you’ve got nothing you have nothing left to lose. Independence offers hope.

  5. Richard,
    I holiday in the UK. Serbia is ranked 80th prosperous country per capita GDP. Hungary is ranked 52nd whereas the UK is ranked 6th. What I suspect you are aluding to is income inequalty which of course rocketed under Thatcher and levelled out under the previous labour government. But as you know the nationalists have been in charge now for 12 years and income inequality is getting worse in Scotland not better https://theferret.scot/inequality-scotland-devolution/. If you think income inequality and poverty are getting worse under devolution where the Scottish government has control of many of the levers of the Scottish economy but refuse to use them, imagine how much worse it would be if we were independent? If Scotland is ever going to become Independent – the SNP must address each and every one of the economic consequences that I have outlined and demonstrate convincingly how they would turn those negatives into positives. The SNP Growth Commission took 3 years to do just that and its findings were trashed in 3 days by economists who argued that the data that was used could not support the conclusions that were madehttp://chokkablog.blogspot.com/2018/05/growth-commission-claims.html . Unfortunately, this crucial message is being lost in the ether of the dominant and seductive ‘hard WTO Brexit + Boris as PM = Scottish Independence” narrative, The economics of independence would suggest otherwise

    1. Robert,
      30 years ago there were 14 members states of the EU. By the end of the 90s there were 28. You are going to have to trust me here, but they are all doing well. I know your charts and league tables have convinced you otherwise but believe me these small nation states, some with smaller populations than Scotland, some without the natural resources we are fortunate to have are all thriving.
      There are things you cant measure. ‘thriving’ is one of them, self confidence is another, a sense of belonging, peace of mind. There are many other descriptions that apply to the new independent countries of Europe that dont fit on a spreadsheet. The one thing they have in common and this can be measured, is, they do not regret becoming independent. 100%. None of them. look back and think it was a mistake.
      Robert, Please, go and see it for yourself.

  6. Wynn I don’t go on holiday anywhere and when I did it was day trips .
    In 2014 how Labour got involved with better together beats me .But it was not the vow that won it .
    For me it was people certainly in my area just did not want to do it .
    They played safe
    Did not matter what politicians said minds were made up. Since then we have had the growth commission which will bring on more austerity .
    Planning for Indy 2 has only just started this year why should have started years ago
    For me Brexit has changed everything I will vote yes next time if we get a ref and Wynn although Nicola has said a vote will be held next year can you point to any evidence that she is going to ask for a section 30 and when the answer is no and it will be what then .
    We can be so much more than anything Boris comes up with when I see gridlock at Westminster I say if we were running things ourselves could it be worse I say we can do things a lot better on our own .
    I never thought we would even need to plan for anything approaching the scale of Brexit going wrong .
    Indy wont be the bed of roses we are told it will be but I believe it can work .
    For a start we wont be sending people back to other countries because they are EU citizens I also believe its imperative we join the EU also when we leave and we are the UK government can and will change benefit and employment laws .
    Is the Scottish parliament safe .
    I will vote to go but how do we get a ref .

    1. Hello David
      it was the same for me most of the time indeed I was lucky if we even went on day trips. I think you are right on the effect of the fear factor on the outcome of the independence referendum in 2014 but I think that is understandable – as you suggest, safety, or the belief that the status quo offers safety, is a big hurdle for people to cross and for some it was too high. I also agree that planning for ‘Indy2’ should have started earlier but I think that Nicola is in a difficult position as the so-called mandate has not actually been actioned yet and will not be until we ‘are dragged out of Europe against our will’. Unfortunately, it is only then that the circumstances that underpin a mandate for a second Indy ref become real.

      Brexit has changed everything for many people – I have friends who are worried about their status here due to the inadequacies of the system and am aware that many folk are trying to find Italian, French or Irish family strains that will enable them to retain their EU citizenship, indeed Ian Paisley Jnr no less – a strong advocate for Brexit – told his constituents “My advice is if you are entitled to a second passport, then take one,” in the same way Nigle Farage’s children now have German passports.

      I do think that Nicola Sturgeon will ask for a section 30 although there are other options open if the answer is no, but it would take up a bit of time to explain. I also think that the reason for the delay is that the terms and conditions around asking for a section 30 have not been met yet, and I totally agree with you that we in Scotland can do things a lot better on our own.

      We have to remember that Brexit is a Westminster decision and in terms of economics it is not going to be good for anyone in the UK. In Scotland the problem is that we did not vote for it and that is where the power imbalance in the UK shows itself. There is nothing we can do to stop it. Personally I agree with those that say that as this was a UK wide referendum then we have to leave but with two caveats: first, there was never any opportunity for it to be anything other than a UK-wide referendum and secondly, it was actually advisory.

      What I find very worrying is the UK’s continuation of Theresa May’s hostile environment approach to immigration, and the declaration by Priti Patel that freedom of movement will end the day after Brexit is an especially worrying development in our treatment of people. I fear that this rancid climate is getting worse. As David Lammy (not a favorite of mine) pointed out “…an NHS nurse who is an EU national and happens to be on holiday won’t be able to get back into the UK? Are you serious? What an absolute disgrace of a government.” (18 August 2019)

      We need to get out of this terrible inward looking miasma into the clear, blue sky of independence.

  7. Maybe it is time Labour added Unionist to its name and stand as the Labour & Unionist Party that way it might attract some Tories & save some of their deposits at the next election.

    1. Stewart,
      That is an excellent suggestion. If I were advising Scottish Labour I would take your idea further. Scottish Labour should be honest with themselves and should now campaign to close the Scottish parliament. They never really believed in it from the start and only came up with the idea to kill off the growth in support for the nationalists. True unionists would never dabble in devolution.
      Now that The Union has been saved what is the point of the ‘vanity project’?

  8. It’s interesting that the “left wing Socialist” arguments for breaking up the UK are the same as the “right wing Nationalist” arguments for breaking up the UK. Namely, cherry-pick a few grievances and lay them on thick, deny anything good ever happened in the UK particularly under a Labour Government and ignore the economic threat to working class Scots if we were ever daft enough to do it. Seriously, what real socialist would welcome cuts to the living standards and public services of our families so we could raise a few scraps of coloured cloth a wee bit higher up a flagpole?

    1. Hello Alex
      I waited a wee while before answering your comment as I wanted to give it some consideration. I find it disappointing that you have taken the article in the way that you have as it was meant as a serious article about Scottish Labour’s diminishing position in Scottish society. No socialist would welcome cuts to the living standards and public services to raise a few scraps of coloured cloth a wee bit higher up a flagpole and that is not what I am suggesting. You find it interesting that arguments for breaking up the UK are similar from left and right – I don’t know if that is true or not but if it is then so what? Surely its simply a matter of whether it is a good thing or a bad thing?

      What I find interesting is the use of the word grievance by both yourself and Robert Hoskins in response to a series of facts – they are not grievances they are simply included to show that things could (and I do mean could – no guarantee) be better in an independent Scotland. According to the Cambridge dictionary a grievance is “a complaint or a strong feeling that you have been treated unfairly” – the article lists areas where I see there is a mismatch between the political and social policy wishes of those north of the border and those in power in the south. If you want a grievance I can give you one of mine and that is working on zero hours contracts as I have had to endure for the last few years – as an example, in one case having a travel time of over 3 hours each day to do two ten hour shifts and earn £28.50. Twenty hours and not even 30 quid. Now that’s a grievance. And it has been like that after 13 years of Labour and 12 years of Tory governments. That is one reason why I do not share Robert’s optimism that the next Labour government will do all the things he accepts need reformed because it was back in 1995 that Tony Blair pledged that “part-time employees will no longer be treated as second-class citizens. There will be an end to zero-hours contracts .” Well, I am still waiting. But that is me and that IS a grievance but this article is not about grievance.

      It is unfortunate that the psyche in Scottish Labour at present seems to be stuck in a strange anti-SNP tribalism rather than dealing with real political debate. You mention that critics of the UK never mention any of the good things the UK government has done but that is because this article is not about that – yes, the UK government has done many good things in the past: the NHS, Social Security even the Open University but these are a long time ago in a distant past. That is exactly what socialism is about. Its about changing society, its “a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” Is that what happened under Tony Blair? I don’t recognise it. Was it anywhere near it? Not to me. We sometimes talk about entryists these days but the real entryists were Blair and his ilk. He broadened the church so much it has no ideological heart anymore.

      All I am trying to say is that with an independent Scotland have the opportunity to do things better and shape society in our own way. Indeed we can even create a socialist state – that might not happen but it could. It certainly will never happen in the UK as there is no place for socialism there any more. It was eroded a long time ago when a series of wrong decisions were taken year on year at conference where the party became one so lacking in ideology that people like Chuka Umunna, Angela Smith and Luciana Berger are able to walk over to the Liberal Democrats and not even be on the left of their new party. Society needs socialism to remove inequality and sometimes you have to step out of short term fear for long-term good. Scottish Labour needs to step out of party politics and get a proper ideological approach to the problems facing people in Scotland. That means working with other parties not just reacting especially when there are policies that are good but most of all it means taking time out to reassess its own approach to independence. As I said, with 40% of party members reportedly supporting it – and this after swathes of those who want independence have already left – surely it is time to look at this again?

    2. Keir Hardie (remember him?) wanted a form of Home Rule for Scotland that was the same Dominion Status as Canada, Australia etc. That would have seen us independent many decades ago.
      Hardie was opposed to war, wanted equality for women, wanted to abolish the House of Lords.
      Labour have had many shots at governing the UK, Scotland and various councils. What would Keir Hardie say?—-
      Labour were involved in war after war.
      Labour resisted equal pay for women in Glasgow and many other councils–assisted by trades unions.
      Labour has not abolished the Lords and still puts forward names for the Ermine!
      Every small country round about us, does far better for its populace than Scotland in the UK. We had had more than a century of economic and population stagnation. Why would we do worse by running our own country?

      1. Spot on. From campaigner for a Socialist Republic to Baron Darling of Roulanish in the House of Lords, Alistair Darling and so many of his ilk show how Labour has fallen from grace and become part of the problem instead of the solution. Labour are as much a part of the Establishment as the Tories, the Aristocracy, the City and the “old school tie”. Its why most of their support in Scotland has gone over to the SNP and almost half of what’s left wants independence. Their desire to keep the gravy train to London running has seen them diverge from their working class constituency’s needs and desires and they have paid the price for that. The worst of it is, they have not learned the lesson and continue to defend the indefensible. Hopefully, one day, they will see the light and start putting country before Party by embracing independence. Its the only way for Scottish (sic) Labour to become relevant again.

  9. Richard it was a Labour Government under Tony Blair who set up devolution I am a Labour party member we went on numerous marches. in the 80s to keep the dream alive under Thatcher Then under Blair and Donald Dewar it was delivered .
    The Tories did not want it .And Donald Dewar said it hinged on Alec Salmond getting it through the SNP conference .He did never forget the part he played and today with Brexit its not Indy that’s on every ones minds its Jobs finance medication who would have thought we would be even thinking of Lorry parks riots and the Scottish economy being tipped into recession due to Brexit .
    That is what people are worried about not an indy ref .
    We will think on that if asked .

  10. BBC Friday night Alec Neil an SNP Holyrood majority in 21 if no section 30 will be enough to start Indy negotiations .
    Chris Maceleny will at the start of conference try to get control of the conference agenda to get an Indy plan B discussed .
    Ian Blackford wants the UK government and civil service to stay neutral at the next Indy ref but would not concede the Scottish civil service do the same welcome to the Labour party haha

  11. Well Nicola said in interviews it has to be an Indy ref to stay legal When Chris McEleny spoke in favour of plan
    B few boos overwhelmingly defeated not much opposition .

    1. David l think Nicola is right to stick to a legal IndyRef2 it’s my view that to deviate from this course only muddies the water’s and opens the door for opponents against IndyRef2 to attack the policy on all fronts and cause confusion. From the conference the decision to stick with the previous Gold Standard of the first IndyRef you can see that the SNP are very disciplined, and as Nicola said if there was a quicker way to get to Independence she would have took it so with the Brexit chaos it’s not if but only a matter of time before Scotland becomes an Independent country.

  12. Thankyou for your comment Ted I always enjoy reading comments from you and Bungo.
    You are right an Indy ref has to be legal .Nicolas speech today I thought was good .On Indy ref 2 I always thought what happens if they ask for section 30 and if the answer is no .
    Reading todays papers it appears the answer is go to court .
    I think a big part of the problem is in 14 Alec Salmond and David Cameron came to an agreement without having to test it in court .
    Interesting to find out what the legal advice is .Plan B haha

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