davidgowDavid Gow says that all the options for Labour’s and Scotland’s future should be on the table – and we need to have a vigorous debate, not a quick consultation, to find our way forward.


So, it appears Henry McLeish’s idea of a wholly independent Scottish Labour Party has bitten the dust little more than a few days after he floated it. It is reported that independence has been ruled out – and even greater autonomy ruled in. This follows a consultation in which many of us (perhaps) took part and which, we’re told unofficially, showed little or no appetite for independence a la Ramsay MacDonald (not a good precedent) among members.

But that may well not be the end of the matter – just as, pace Tom Harris, Brexit may not mean Brexit at all when Article 50 has not even been lodged and may not be until well into 2017 if ever. These are politically more than volatile, more likely tumultuous times when a cowardly, loud-mouthed bigot and bully is in serious contention of occupying the Oval Office and a serially mendacious braggart is the UK’s foreign secretary, just to mention a couple of things.

As I’ve argued here before, I’m in favour of greater autonomy for Scottish Labour – and would even contemplate a German-style arrangement (CDU/CSU) for it with UK Labour. It may even be the party’s sole route to survival and/or recovery now that we’re in third place in Holyrood and even our sole MP and “Westminster spokesperson”, Ian Murray, might lose his seat if Theresa May calls a snap general election.

The Brexit vote, the more or less looming prospect of #indyref2 (less right now) and the virtually certain prospect that Jeremy Corbyn will be re-elected UK Labour leader on September 24 all heighten the uncertainty and insecurity that Scottish Labour faces. It would be foolish to rule any option out in these circumstances. In the immediate aftermath of the #EUref result on June 24, I changed sides and argued for an independent Scotland inside the EU and that remains my favoured option – if asked to choose between the UK and the EU – but it’s not party policy and many people, including (probably) Kezia Dugdale, passionately oppose it.

But we should at least discuss it. The same goes for the degree of autonomy we want from a Corbyn-led UK Labour party hellbent on mutually assured destruction even with a membership of half a million. Jeremy, my old colleague Seumas Milne, Andrew Murray of Unite, Momentum et al, they may all want a mass party but it’s one run by an elite corps of cadres – and seeking MPs as delegates of this inner party core and its ideas rather than as representatives of constituencies of varied citizens and often conflicting interest groups. They may even want to be in government but, as a host of departing economic advisers to our great leader are telling us (and here and here), have little or no idea what policies they could enact there (oh yes, the £500bn investment plan and the NIB) – and which MPs would actively implement them as ministers. (Unless, of course, all those “Blairite” rebels, aka Corbyn opponents, are subjected to mass de-selection for disloyalty.)

We should also certainly discuss the fall-out from #EUref in a way that goes beyond the Brexit Action Plan set out by Kez and Jackie Baillie and/or the meagre measures set out here by Harris – minimum alcohol pricing, repatriation of procurement policy (not as cut-and-dried as he suggests: ask the French and Germans) and consulting farmers (set to lose hundreds of millions) and fishermen about their future. As if one can airily dismiss any recessionary threat (despite plenty of evidence) as pure invention on the part of disgruntled Remainers. Or the existential threat – potentially – to Scottish financial services if we exit the single market. Scientists are already seeing EU finding drying up – and so are high-tech start-ups as well as witnessing a flight to Berlin.

Scottish Labour needs to do a proper SWOT analysis of what this troubled, sometimes dark economic and political environment might mean for its recovery. This should involve the membership in more than just a knee-jerk consultation that can be left to gather dust in a cupboard in Bath Street. We should all be part of the more than ever vitally necessary debate about what it takes to reboot European social democracy – in Scotland and elsewhere.

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12 thoughts on “No options off the table

  1. Is the cringe so bad within Labours Scotland branch that they would consider all manner of semi autonomous proposals in order to avoid the most sensible global approved most fought for option in the history of the world ever “Self Determination”!?

    I ask again WTF is wrong with you people? I know you know that the ideas and schemes you dream up are pitiful and moronic standing next to the only obvious solution for Scotland.

    Jesus H Christ It doesn’t matter how autonomous your worthless proposals looks on paper the reality is they will always be subject and held ransom to a Westminster establishment who can take away as well as give levels of autonomy at any time!

    All you CAN offer is a temp measure of dubious autonomy for the length of a single term in office as an alternative to full autonomy for the foreseeable future and beyond!

    Its as clear as day that your only concern is for the UK wide Labour party and not for the people you’re supposed to be serving throughout the UK.

    If you want to self serve then fine but stop bare face lying yer worthless arses off by pretending its all for Scotland and the voters. People are sick of it!

  2. Gerald Selente (RT ‘Trends in the News’) and Max Keiser (RT Keiser Report) are both at their very best in dealing with the really big issue – the current demise of Free Enterprise (Episode 949; Keiser Report). Surely it’s about time we raised our game here in Scotland and dealt with the huge crisis which is about to engulf oor ain wee world..

    1. Russia Today is Putin’s mouthpiece and the Keiser Report is a conspiracy theorist fan site. Are you seriously citing them? What a complete joke.

      1. Duncan Ive seen you quote the UK Government as a source! And the BBC!

        You still haven’t got a hang of this self awareness thingy yet have you?

  3. Insightful article, pity Scottish Labour won’t do it though. Anything that raises the prospect of independence being seriously discussed will be shut down.

  4. David – the problem for Scottish Labour is that we have lost much of the patriotic Scottish vote to the SNP. So the remaining members and politicians are more likely to be unionist leaning and not keen on an independent Scottish Labour party, even within the union.
    But unless we change we aren’t going to get those voters back.

    The problem with Kezia is that she is seems inflexible and resistant to change.
    My theory is that because of her dad being SNP, and that nasty leak about applying for an SNP job when she was younger, she is now hardened to any sort of change that could look pro-Scottish.. or the accusations will start.. It’s like she has to go out her way to prove she is ‘extra unionist’ and against the SNP even more than the Tories.
    It’s unfortunate, because imo, the two parties have far more in common than not.

    I think its just a waiting game for Labour now.
    Corbyn is a disaster, and the next UK election seems a write-off to be honest. The EU repercussions haven’t really started to bite. There seems to be a false sense of security at the moment as we are still in the single market for now.

    Incidentally, I still don’t think the majority of the general public are aware of what is coming if we leave the single market, and it will only start to bite once companies actually start moving jobs and operations. I consider myself pretty politically aware, and I think I have learned more about EU politics since the Brexit vote than I was ever aware of before.

  5. “Brexit may not mean Brexit at all when Article 50 has not even been lodged”

    David it is oh so pitiful and sad that yet another Brexit denier as yourself bleats on in a world of complete fantasy Brexit means Brexit and Artice 50 will be lodged as soon as the UK negotiating strategy is formalised. Meantime the UE is holding up the process as they have to decide who will be in charge of their negotiation, I expect a howl of anger from you in the not to distant future when the process officially starts.

    1. The EU decided over a week ago: https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/news/michel-barnier-appointed-eu-chief-negotiator-brexit

      “Former European internal market and services Commissioner Michel Barnier has been appointed Chief Negotiator in charge of the preparation and conduct of the negotiations with the United Kingdom under article 50, it was announced today.

      Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty provides the legal basis for formally exiting the EU. However, the UK, which last June voted to leave the bloc, has yet to invoke the article, with British Prime Minister Theresa May saying this would likely not happen before the end of this year. EU heads of state, as well as the European Commission, have warned that there will be no negotiations on Britain’s new relationship with the EU until it formally triggers article 50.”

      The EU is ready. The UK is not.

  6. David,
    A bit of honesty would not go amiss here.
    Labour in Scotland is split, not down the middle, but badly damaged, probably beyond repair. You admit yourself “In the immediate aftermath of the #EUref result on June 24, I changed sides and argued for an independent Scotland inside the EU and that remains my favoured option “. This I would reckon is the position of not only most Labour supporters but the vast majority of the Scottish people, but your leader is not one of them. Kezia believes in the union, country and party.
    So what are you going to do? Kezia is going nowhere. The Party or your beliefs?

  7. Labour in the UK is split from top to bottom with no solution to their differences identifiable.
    Scottish labour is also split on the Leadership of the Party, whether Scottish Labour should run itself but also on the constitution.
    Kezia Dugdale, has, with the best will in the world, played a stinker. She keeps dropping hints in the media, which when noticed, she then denies. She is constantly being “played” by Ruth Davidson, who has no policies but lots of Media savvy.
    If no one knows where Dugdale is going, and they don’t, then her following will drift away.
    The SNP are going to offer a clear solution, independence, the natural constitutional basis of countries.
    The Scottish Tories will waffle about the Union( forgetting they are now a Separatist Party).
    But Scottish Labour has forgotten Keir Hardie and their roots, it seems—Home Rule for Scotland?

  8. ScotLab’s position seems to be ‘the Union at any cost’ even at the very high cost of a shambolic London Labour being in no position
    to challenge the Tories for many years, thereby inflicting a Tory government on Scotland for the forseable future.

    So what ScotLab are actually saying is that if a Scotland under Tory rule is the price we pay for a United Kingdom, so be it – Wow…

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