paul bislandPaul Bisland, a Labour member who voted Yes in 2014, says in the light of the EU referendum result Scottish Labour should support independence.


If the late nineties and the noughties were the glory days of the Labour Party, then the tens have been the hangover. As the dust from the EU Referendum settles, and we find Labour on the end of another defeat, we once again must confront the question of how Labour will reconnect with those who we assume to be our core voters.

Essentially the question comes down to what the Labour party are for. Put plainly, the SNP are for independence, the Conservatives are, as ever, for themselves but they have cornered the unionist position in Scotland. If Labour did not exist in Scotland, then nobody would invent us.

Parties need a niche to differentiate themselves from everyone else. The UKIP success (I appreciate that they only have 1 MP but they did cause this whole referendum) was built on this, the same for the Lib Dems in 2005 and 2010 based on Iraq. Right now we have no niche, the SNP are wearing our clothes on the (albeit very moderate) left and the Tories are defending the union to our right. It is incumbent on the Scottish Labour party to make ourselves relevant and to reconnect with the people our movement was established to represent.

Our forthcoming removal from the EU, against the will of those who voted in Scotland, represents a monumental change in Scottish politics. It has raised the question of independence once more and this time we should grasp the chance to secure our place within the European Union by giving up our place in the UK.

A Labour commitment to independence could transform our party and galvanise our former voters. It would be in line with the prevailing view of our biggest city, a traditional Labour city, and with the sentiment expressed in several forums as the day unfolded following the EU result. Our friendliest newspaper, The Daily Record, is calling for a referendum on its front page. Henry McLeish says the EU result has changed his mind on independence. Even JK Rowling has suggested that Brexit will force her to look again at the issue.

In the aftermath of the result, Kezia Dugdale said that Scottish Labour does not support a second referendum. She continued by saying the following,

“However, on the question of independence, many of the fundamental questions that were unresolved and unanswered in 2014, remain so.”

It is on this quote that the Labour Party in Scotland can find her niche and make herself relevant once again. We must change our thinking away from the SNP vision of independence, which does still contain unanswered questions, and present a Scottish Labour vision of independence. We should not be a hostage to fortune, we should take a lead role and provide Scottish Labour answers as we argue for independence. 

Let’s show some leadership. Let’s present our vision and answer the questions ourselves. Scottish Labour should present a vision of a socially just, independent Scotland, with EU membership, which would espouse the Labour values of internationalism, solidarity and fairness. We should take a position on all the controversial issues; our currency, our border situation, our NATO membership, Trident and the rest.

We can be an opposition to the SNP from the position of the same objective. After all, the next Scottish Parliament election looks increasingly likely be the first of an independent Scotland and we should keep that in mind. To oppose independence would make us irrelevant post-independence whilst to advocate independence, but with significant policy differences to the SNP, would put us in a good position to fight the first independence election based on the policy issues of the day.

Calling for independence would put us in conflict with the Labour party nationally, but that would only be good for the sincerity of our independence credentials. The inevitably leaderless central party, who will be caught up replacing Corbyn, are in no position to treat Scottish Labour as a branch office, and by simply ignoring their calls to drop independence the Scottish party would be in control of her own destiny, whilst being seen to be in control by the Scottish people, addressing a central criticism of Labour in recent years.

The SNP have fallen short in many areas over their nine years in office, but many are willing to look past this to secure independence. Only by offering independence to these people, many of whom are our traditional voters, can we expect them to judge us on the other issues.

May and June of 2016 have shown that the constitution is the only show in town. We would be wise to realise that Scotland has changed, that independence is an inevitability and that only by supporting it will we play any part in shaping it in the years to come. Let’s answer the unanswered questions and lead Scotland to independence with Scottish Labour values.

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20 thoughts on “Questions answered

  1. Finally, someone in Scottish Labour gets it. What Paul realises is that independence is a journey and that, for many, the SNP are merely a vehicle for making that journey. Amongst their current membership of 116,000, tens of thousands will re-assess their political positions on the attainment of independence. If Labour can offer a coherent, viable and progressive post-independence programme then they have some prospect of winning back some credibility in Scotland – but only if they have supported independence previously.
    The alternative, of scratching around for support in an independent Scotland, having been dragged – kicking, screaming and naysaying – into the light shouldn’t bear thinking about for any political party that wishes to remain relevant and electable.

  2. I think that the EU is a disaster and the idea that people of Scotland voting for independence on the basis of being a member of the EU is a mistake, if you were to ask the people of Scotland tomorrow to chose between being an Independent country and a member of the EU or part of the UK and not in the EU then I think they would stay with the UK. For those who want an independent Scotland it would be better to gain Independce first and then at a later date have a referendum in Scotland to then ask if the people would support EU Membership.

    1. The EU is far less of a disaster than the UK is. The UK does far more harm to Scotland than the EU ever could if it really tried to.

      The EU hasn’t ever sent our troops to war on a pack of lies before. It hasn’t imposed targeted austerity onto our poorest and most vulnerable. It hasn’t privatised our public services. It hasn’t made the UK the most heavily taxed society on the planet. It didn’t force the UK to adopt zero hours contracting as a means to exploit the desperate.
      It doesn’t kill our citizens through depriving them of necessary welfare and benefits.

      I don’t know what world you live in but I’m sure it has a very small population.

    2. I disagree. There are 177k EU nationals in Scotland who voted no to independence who would now vote yes in order to stay , that’s a 350k reverse in Indy support right there in an instant. Social media shows growing support in the last two days. The daily record have changed their stance(disastrous for Kezia)
      There is NO time to wait , we simply must be negotiating entry to the EU at the same time Westminster is negotiating exit to ensure continuity. We cannot exit and then go through more years of entry.

  3. Good piece Mr Bisland. Scotlab situation laid out fairly and succinctly. Hopefully others in your party will have agreement with you analysis

  4. What fundamental questions remain unanswered? Every single question the No campaign threw at the Yes campaign was answered clearly distinctly and honestly. Just because the No camp decided to pretend they couldn’t accept the answers doesn’t mean there weren’t answers actually available.

    The biggest unanswered question from the indy ref is what is the positive case for UK union? It certainly isn’t the economy 5.5 trillion in debt it certainly isn’t stability as finance groups project UK ratings in the negative it certainly isn’t the known because we’re now in the unknown with no idea what the future holds it certainly isn’t keeping our place in the EU is it?

    In other not only was there never a positive case for UK union there is no longer any chance of a negative case against Scottish Independence either.

    Youll have had yer project fear then.

  5. Won’t happen. Kezia has already announced that Scottish Labour are standing with UKIP and the Tories to take Scotland out of the EU against the wishes of the people. Burnham is, unbelievably, trying to spin the Scottish EU vote result as “58% didn’t back remain, so there’s no mandate”.

    What this means is that, vote-wise, Labour in Scotland haven’t hit rock bottom yet.

    You’re doing this to yourselves.

  6. There is one chance and one chance only for Labour Lib Dem and even Conservatives in Scotland to support the Scottish Government in trying to protect Scotlands place in the EU without compromising their objections to full Independence and that is to unite with the SNP in pushing for an agreement for a 4 country lock.
    No reason why England and Wales cannot negotiate their way out of the EU without dragging Scotland and NI out with them.
    I bet the EU will find a way to accommodate such an arrangement and if Westminster wants to save the UK in the short term they would be foolish not to agree to it as well.

    Lets face it the alternative is the end of the UK and we all know it. Suits me but this is about consensus across Scotland in the face of a decision made by Little Englanders for Little Englanders.

  7. Sorry, I made a mistake in my earlier comment. It is Neil Findlay MSP and not Andy Burnham who is using the “58% didn’t back Remain” spin.

  8. We now have people in London campaigning for a city wide Independence from the UK.

    Don’t tell me the UK is sustainable after this.

    1. “We now have people in London campaigning for a city wide Independence from the UK.

      Don’t tell me the UK is sustainable after this.”

      This is the problem with the Labour Party UK that they think London is the centre of the universe well forget it and this fantasy of London city wise independence, it was the majority of the people of the UK who voted for Brexit so you will have to abide by the democratic decision of the people of the UK and take Brexit on the weak chin.

      1. And right there is the massive flaw with the UK. There is no 1 size fits all for the UK never has been never will be.
        The divisions are multiplying getting bigger and more widespread.

        All that crap about how Scot Indy was dividing Scotland has really been debunked now has it no?

        The No camp has never been anything other than contradictory. “Better Together” is now a joke term. “UKOK” well wow just fucking wow.

  9. We are heading for Indyre2 wether Labour like it or not. With the council elections coming up, Labour better get off that fence pretty quickly.

  10. Whatever anyone’s individual view on the EU, surely most people can see it is unacceptable for Scotland to be dragged out after a solid majority here want to stay ?

    Kezia should be arguing at the very least for a flexible solution where it is suggested that Scotland and Northern Ireland could stay in Europe as possible federal regions within a reformed EU and UK.

    That would involve co-operation between the UK and Europe, and a proposal to put that to the EU as part of the negotiations. The bests of both worlds ?

    If we don’t get something like that, I will be arguing for Scottish independence, and so will many many more.
    We need our party here to stand up for our rights, not just roll over and tell Scots they must just meekly accept a situation where a small majority of English voters can overrule us as a nation.

    Just look at the map of the result and tell me that is acceptable.

    1. Just look at the map of the result and tell me that is acceptable.”

      The map is irrelevant it is the rules and the referendum law applies the majority of the UK voted for Brexit so the sooner we crack on and get out of the undemocratic EU and get back our UK independence the better.

      1. Well now… the 45% stuck to the agreement after IndyRef1. A 55% majority won so we stayed in the union – on the premise that we stayed in the EU. It seems one nation of the UK now wants to change the rules. ??? 62% of Scotland voted to ‘Remain’ and we are being told that that doesn’t matter? Are you saying that that is of no consequence? ‘Remain’ won with a larger vote share than the ‘no’ voters’ 55%. So – we win this time. Fair’s fair & THAT is democracy. Afraid it isn’t just about what ‘no’ and ‘leave’ want. Time for you to accept it and lets all move on now.

        It seems legally Nicola Sturgeon can, with a mandate from the people, veto the results of the Referendum, as per… (page 19/20)

        But I believe she prefers not to do that. So you just crack on and get out of the EU whenever you are ready – and we’ll go with IndyRef2, thanks just the same.

  11. Finally, is labour (in Scotland) going to grow up and take responsibility for its nation, are you now willing to help your country and its people regain their independence.

    Scotlands waiting for your answer, don’t expect it to wait for long.

    tick tock tick tock tick tock

  12. Scottish Independence is Scottish Labour’s gift to give.

    If they stand for it, then it will happen, if they stand against it, it could fail.

    If the stand for it and it comes to pass then they are a leading light in the new Scotland – how many countless thousands vote for the SNP simply because they stand for Independence but yearn for a alternative set of policies to vote for?

    If they stand against but it still comes to pass then they are an irrelevance in an independent Scotland.

    Scottish Independence is Scottish Labour’s gift to give and Scotland will give back 100 times more generously.

  13. Honestly how thick does Scottish labour have to be ?

    You stood with the Tories against Scottish independence in 2014, what was the result, you now have ( 1 ) MP and only (25) MSP’s who are mostly list including your leader, and you are now the “Third Party” in Scotland behind the fucking Tories.

    What do you think Scotland will do to you if you stand with the Tories yet again against Scottish independence !!! are you really that fucking dumb.

    Wake up and smell the roses, somebody has just stuck a bunch up your collective noses.

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