Greg Williams cuts through the media distortions and calls up the real Scottish Labour Party, alive, ready and waiting for a new leader.
I don’t recognise the Scottish Labour Party that has had its innards plastered all over the news this weekend. That’s not our party.
Our Scottish Labour Party is about people, not politicians. It’s about the champions in red jackets pounding the streets, delivering our message on inclusivity and progress to the people of Scotland.
Our party is the huddled thermos cups of tea shared out of the car boot, and the stickers that always fall off our jackets. It’s the stories shared, real and less so, about that house with the dog, or the time someone opened the door with your hand stuck in the letterbox.
It’s about the meetings, and the meetings about meetings, where we argue vehemently about this policy and that prat, we pick apart leaflets and local newsletters, and then we close as colleagues, resolving to fight onwards, and outwards.
Our Scottish Labour Party is also a hotbed of ideas. Equipped with a membership of a not-too-shabby intellect, and empowered with a punctual policy process, it draws on the experience within its ranks to form and mould policies that resonate with the Scottish people.
Our Scottish Labour Party doesn’t care for a divide between the House of Commons and Holyrood. It treats its elected representatives as members and demands the most from them. It wants to throttle them, sometimes, and tell them to get on or get off. But it respects the sacrifices they make, the drain on their personal lives, and the burden of the example they are expected to set for others.
We don’t recognise the image of a party of entitlement; a party that did and therefore shall again govern Scotland. No, our party – and most certainly our activist base – is full of members who joined after 2007. There is not one election our party has taken for granted or hasn’t had to work for.
We know nothing of the sepia stained recollections of greasy men in smoky rooms. Our party doesn’t need to move on from the era of Thatcher and fiefdoms because the majority of us are simply not of that political epoch.
Our Scottish Labour Party is also a party that doesn’t recognise nationalism. It is anathema to us and our aims, our beliefs of collectivism and joint endeavour. This has hurt us, most recently, when nationalism has been allowed to set the terms of the debate. Of course our party doesn’t ‘get it’, because we just don’t get nationalism. We abhor it, and that has caused us to come across at times as angry and disconnected.
Yet the sands are shifting. Further devolution will be delivered and those who built their parties on the pillars of nationalist sand will soon see their walls crumble. Our party now realises that our vision, our drive beyond nationalism, is our strength.
None of us joined the Labour Party to fight constitutional battles. No, we joined to deliver social security and justice, wealth creation and redistribution. The referendum campaign has taught our party many things, and in particular it has clarified Scotland’s aspirations.
Scotland wants to be a better country. It demands a fairer society, and a better politics. That is our party. That is what we joined the Labour Party for. Now, is this not our time?
Our party is very much alive. Our party is hungry, our party is eager. We want a leader for our party – the Scottish Labour Party we know exists in root and branch. One without hackneyed ideological contortions, redundant metaphors or media slanted aspersions. Our party is ready, waiting, and yearning to get out there and fight for, deliver for, the people for Scotland.
And we await a leader to step forward and lead us. Lead our party.