Voters no longer believe that Labour stands up for Scotland. That must change, says MATTHEW LITTLE
No matter what claims some may make about the “Scottishness” of Scottish Labour, that it was the Labour Party who delivered the Scottish Parliament is a fact that can never be taken away from us.
The idea that six SNP MPs somehow were the real driving force behind devolution is a claim that doesn’t stand up. It was the Labour Party that was given the mandate to govern in 1999, not the SNP. We were rewarded for daring to dream big, and after years of Tory rule in Scotland, despite a minority of Scottish MPs, it was the Labour Party that put in place the frameworks to stop this ever happening again without the say so of the Scottish people.
It is something that all Scottish Labour members can be proud of: we stood for Scotland.
However it is at this point that that the patting of the backs must stop. Fast forward to 2007 and we went into an election still relying on the glories of the past. We lost our radical edge. We had nothing new to offer the people of Scotland, and so in Alex Salmond they elected someone they thought would look to the future. In 2011 we made the same mistakes all over again. It is time for us to remember why the Scottish people elected us in 1999. It is time for us to be radical again.
However before we can put policy to the people we have to make them listen again. Our big problem is that we are seen by voters as not standing up for Scotland. This might not be true but it is the image the Scottish people have of the party and the onus is on us to change that. People who do not support independence voted SNP because Alex Salmond was seen by them to be the man most capable of standing up for Scotland. We must prove to them that the Labour Party is just as capable of speaking up for Scots. We know we can because we did in 1997 and in 1999.
We can start by attacking the poor coverage of Scottish politics by the broadcast media. Scots pay their license fees like any other UK citizen, yet we receive so little coverage of the affairs that affect our daily lives. We should back the SNP calls for greater fiscal powers as most Scots believe it is the right thing to do.
We need a voice within the UK parliament who will lead the Scottish Labour MPs and speak for the people of Scotland, whether they speak against Tories, Lib Dems or English Labour. A Shadow Scottish secretary will not cut it and perhaps we should look into the need for a Scotland Office? The Scottish people want someone to speak up for them. We have to remember we have a voice. We need to remember we have something interesting to say.
If we allow Alex Salmond to continue to have a monopoly on the claim to be the voice of Scotland, we will never be elected to government in Scotland again.
Matthew Little is studying physics student at the University of Edinburgh. Having recently joined the Labour Party, he is looking forward to a NO vote in a future independence referendum. Follow him on Twitter at @matt_j_little.