Gordon Matheson, standing to be Deputy Leader of Scottish Labour, urges all members and supporters to use their vote before close of polls at noon on Friday, and then to unite behind the new leadership team.
During the Scottish Labour deputy leadership campaign, as I’ve travelled the country from Cumnock to Tayport and from Dumfries to Stornoway, I’ve been inspired by the passion of members. It is a passion I share, combined with a record of success.
It’s no secret that I’m passionate about my city. But I’m equally passionate about all of Scotland and how we can make life better for everybody, no matter their background. I’m passionate about our enduring Labour values of equality and opportunity that foster in us a restless optimism.
It’s said I wear my heart on my sleeve. Good. I’m glad about that. Our voters want us to show more oomph. If what we do comes from the heart we’re more likely to be trusted.
I complement these strengths with a solid record of success.
- Winning the 2012 council elections in Glasgow with an overall majority when everybody said we would be swept from power.
- Delivering the best Commonwealth Games there have ever been. The whole of Scotland got involved and shared the pride.
- Signing the biggest city deal in the UK, to create 29,000 jobs across the Clyde Valley. That deal is an example of radical localism, which has been at the heart of my campaign.
Radical localism is about re-connecting with people on the issues that matter to their local communities. It should be a key differentiator between us and centralising nationalism. Labour is the party of devolution. Donald Dewar is the father of the Scottish Parliament, but merely transferring powers between an over-bearing Whitehall and a centralising Holyrood holds Scotland back. Labour must lead the next phase of devolution by moving powers away from Holyrood to our towns, cities and islands throughout Scotland.
And why? In order to grow the economy, tackle inequality and empower communities. In short, because radical localism fits with our Labour values.
Radical localism has major implications for how we regain trust, community by community, and how we empower members and organise our party. It will shape how we campaign locally – across our Labour, trade union and co-operative movement – on issues like bus services, college cuts, digital connectivity and the promotion of the Living Wage.
To achieve this we must once again become a member-led party, and I promise I will be a passionate voice for members in our party’s leadership. What does this mean in practise? As a party we are overly centralised. We should be resourcing our local parties and community campaigning, starting with having a trained organiser in every constituency. We can no longer merely develop central campaigning capacity and then collapse it either side of parliamentary elections.
We must put local members in charge of our policy making, starting with our manifesto for the 2016 Scottish Parliament election. If elected Deputy Leader, between now and our manifesto being agreed I will convene policy discussions with members in every region of Scotland, attended by the Shadow Cabinet, so you have a real say in that manifesto.
And we must ensure that our leadership is always listening to our members. That’s why I have already pledged to visit every local party at least once a year, to listen to you. I will be a strong voice for party members and work with our new leader and never against them. We are all part of the same Labour family and we share the same values.
I’m a bit different from your usual deputy leadership candidate. I’ve never been employed by the Labour Party and I’m not a parliamentarian. These are strengths, because we need to open up. I represent change, combined with a strong record of success as the leader of Scotland’s largest city, at a time when we need fresh blood and new talent.
If you haven’t used your vote yet in the Scottish leadership contest, please do so before 12 noon on Friday. After this party election we must unite behind our new leader and deputy leader and our focus must turn outwards again towards the communities we live in. We must champion their concerns because they are our concerns too. That is how we will regain trust.
With your support we can change our party. Scottish Labour can win again.