Blair McDougall is leaving his job with the Scottish Labour Party. He says Labour remains the best hope for change for working people, and we will be the party of the future again.
Later this summer I’ll be leaving working for the Scottish Labour Party for pastures new.
It has been just over four years since I came home to Scotland and in that time I’ve become a dad (twice) I’ve fought a referendum campaign (twice) and parliamentary elections (twice). There’s a window now of a few years without national elections where I have a chance to do something new, but I’ll always be Labour and always be there for the party.
People who work for political parties, all parties, are extraordinary. They work unbelievably long hours for an unacceptably small amount of praise. Despite the public’s disdain for politics, we do it because we believe in what we’re part of.
I’m really proud of what my team has achieved, especially winning the referendum. My only regret is that Labour’s recent election results didn’t reflect the talent and effort of Labour’s team. Labour is like a family to me but, in the best traditions of resignations, I’ll now be spending more time with my actual family.
One of the most important things about politics is that it gives a sense of belonging. You are part of a cause, a community, a cadre of activists. But that cannot be all that matters. Modern politics allows people to turn a sense of dislocation into belonging by being part of an insurgency against ‘the other’. Too often now though politics stop there. Leaders offer an expression of grievance but shy from the complexity and compromise of change.
It’s easier to tell an emotive story that helps angry people make sense of a confusing world than it is to remove the causes of that anger and to change the world. But if people aren’t in power to change things, what is the point of politics?
With Kez, Labour remains the best hope for change for working people. With courage and a confidence that comes from the incredible things we have achieved in the past Labour will be the party of the future again. We must be, because the alternative is that we replace one party of populism and protest for another, piling grievance on top of grievance, rather than progressing as a society.
Of course identity politics is potent and cannot simply be ignored, but Labour is a party that exists to decide the future not to describe the present. To do that we’ll need to work harder, think deeper and be bolder than we have been since devolution.
In the office they tease me that I can’t write anything without trying to slip in a Hardie quote, so I’ll finish with this:
“Perfect your organisation, educate your followers, look to the register, spread the light and the future is yours.”