richardimageRichard Baker has been an MSP for North East Scotland since 2003, and here argues strongly against the notion of a separate Scottish Labour Party.


There was a horrible sense of déjà vu as we hurried past the gauntlet of reporters into the meeting at John Smith House to discuss our dreadful election result. I remember similar meetings after the resignations of three leaders and two Holyrood election defeats.

The disastrous result last Thursday was particularly soul destroying, not least for me personally having lost the election in Aberdeen North. In the aftermath of events like this of course we have to learn lessons and discuss how we need to change so we do better.

I know that is what motivates those who in the past few days have called for a separate Scottish Labour Party, both from the right and the left of the party. But it is a proposal with which I fundamentally disagree.

We have to recognise that there is no quick fix to the political predicament in which we find ourselves. Although there have been major events along the way it has taken us years to get to this position. It will require time as well as almighty effort to restore our party and Labour values to leadership in Scotland.

We have also been here before and changes to our party, however merited in themselves, have evidently not persuaded the public to move away from the SNP and support Labour. Rather they have served to confirm we will conduct political debate on the territory where the nationalists are most comfortable, that of national identity rather than progress and socialism.

We have ensured our leader in Scotland leads our whole party, we have made clear our policies are decided by Scottish Labour, we have even changed our constitution to inform people we are patriotic. Of course it was right to reform the party to reflect devolution. But electoral success has not followed.

Despite this we are now counselled that we should break up the Labour Party. I could spend a great deal of time arguing against this on grounds of practicality, resources and complexity but there are much bigger issues at stake. It would mean our party structure would reflect a constitutional settlement of separation not devolution. It would mean once again we would be looking inward as a party at the very time we should be reaching out. It would mean a futile attempt to follow in the wake of the SNP rather than seek to change and lead political debate in Scotland.

I agree staff appointments must be a matter for the Scottish Party and our selection processes should be governed here. But what has been proposed by some appears to seek to go far further than that. If we decide to separate Scottish Labour from the UK party it will delight, not threaten, the SNP because it will only make their job of making the case for nationalism easier. They will argue we have accepted the very logic of their argument. It will weaken our ability to argue for solidarity and redistribution to be at the heart of politics in Scotland rather than grievance against others based solely on geography.

I can’t understand how any socialist analysis would lead us to the conclusion we should break up the party. People may feel we must follow a national mood, but for all the focus groups which were conducted for the referendum and General Election to mould policy and message, the results speak for themselves.

People believe the SNP are passionate and authentic and this has been a big part of their success. Let us not try and be something we’re not or shouldn’t be, a kind of sugar-free nationalism. If we keep running after a nationalist agenda we will only lose sight of our own values, and that will only further impoverish the politics of Scotland.

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44 thoughts on “Separation is still not the answer

  1. People hoping for British Labour in Scotland to deserve a revival will read Richard Baker’s offering and despair. Baker evinces all the follies and fallacies which have brought the pretendy wee “Scottish Labour Party” to where it now finds itself – languishing in the remaindered bin of Scottish politics.

    In the first place, he imagines that there is a “Scottish Labour Party” to be saved. He stubbornly refuses to acknowledge the true subordinate status of British Labour in Scotland. Not a good start for somebody supposedly seeking a way out of its travails.

    We’ll gloss over the bit where Baker tries to present Jim Murphy as a unifying figure on the assumption that it is a regrettably discordant attempt at humour.

    Of more significance is his attempt to portray the superficial, trivial changes to British Labour in Scotland’s “constitution” as if they were profound and meaningful. I have news for Richard Baker. Adding the word “patriotic” served only to make you look more like Better Together and so remind people of your shameful alliance with the Tories in a truly despicable campaign to deny the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. There is planet-weight unintended and unfunny irony in your use of that word that does not elude others as it evidently does yourself.

    The reason for adopting the word “patriotic” is also based on one of the follies and fallacies that I referred to earlier. Richard Baker displays the complete failure to understand the nature of his nemesis when he contemptuously, and erroneously, dismisses the SNP as being “most comfortable” in the territory of national identity rather than progress. I have another bit of news for Richard Baker. The SNP didn’t win the trust of half the electorate by waving a saltire. Or by banging on about how “patriotic” they are. I could explain at length how and why that trust was won. But I’ll settle for two words which, I think, sum up the SNP’s approach and their appeal to voters – principled pragmatism.

    But the greatest obstacle of all to Richard Baker being the one to discover a path to redemption for British Labour in Scotland is his fervent British nationalism. His main argument against British Labour in Scotland taking the logical first step on the road to becoming electable is that becoming a genuine Scottish Labour Party would involve sacrificing its status as part of the British establishment.

    Avoiding any concessions to the distinctness Scotland’s of Scotland’s political culture takes precedence over even considerations of political survival. The voters have sent British Labour in Scotland an unmistakeable message which says that there is a new political reality in Scotland. Richard Baker responds with the dumb denial that has characterised British Labour in Scotland ever since the SNP’s first Holyrood administration and despite the message being repeated ever more forcibly in 2011 and again last week.

    If British Labour in Scotland are listening as intently as they constantly assure us they are, how have they managed to miss that message from the electorate? When the political map of the UK slaps them in eye with the blindingly obvious fact of massive political divergence between Scotland and the rest of the UK, how can they remain so stubbornly oblivious?

    If Richard Baker is speaking for British Labour in Scotland then we might as well give up on them completely. They are beyond rehabilitation.

    1. “Principled pragmatism” = holding down council tax (with consequent decline of services to the poor) and hypocritically campaigning against “austerity”. Are you a member of the SNP propaganda outfit which spent a lot of money on Saltires, a once-only deposit of food in shopping bags in George Square (not replenished), balloons, expensive banners demanding the sacking of a reputable TV reporter, a helicopter for Yankee-style razzamatazz etc. etc.?

  2. All completely laudable and understandable BUT it appears that London Labour is looking reboot New Labour Blairitism because it was Labour’s last big success

    In keeping London and Scottish Labour tied, Scottish Labour representatives would have to re-sell this tainted philosophy back to the Scottish people.
    They may be prepared to do that but again it will seem like ‘well that didn’t work, now let’s push this’ – even more credibility would be lost.

    New new Labour will be an almost impossibly hard sell in Scotland (if that’s the way it goes) and I’m not convinced a UK Labour ‘one size fits all’ approach is tenable between Scotland and the rest of the UK any more however much you may want it to be.

  3. I’m rather divided in terms of separating the Scottish Labour Party. On one hand, it is in many ways pandering to nationalism – surely something we don’t want to do, and as you say, Scottish Labour policies are already decided by Scottish Labour. On the other hand, it would allow both Scottish Labour to adopt a more strongly and openly socialist stance, something both many in the Scottish party and public strongly want, and for Labour in England to remain relatively central. That way, Labour can both appeal to Middle England, and reclaim our Scottish heartlands, in General Elections in particular.

    Whatever Scottish Labour decides, there is one thing I’m sure we can all agree on; in the aftermath of this historic defeat, we must take a long hard look at ourselves, and what has happened to us as a party over the past several decades. In the pursuit of power, we have forgotten what we once were, forgotten what won us Scotland in the first place. It’s time we rebuilt that party. And in my personal opinion, Jim Murphy is the last person who should be leading that rebuilding process. It’s nothing personally against Jim – he’s done a far better job than I expected he would in terms of campaigning, if not in winning seats – but he is part of the New Labour establishment that so many in Scotland now despise. We need an open, democratic discussion, not just amongst ourselves, but with the people of Scotland, and that discussion must start with a new leader – be that Kezia, Neil or someone else.

    1. Grow up and get over these silly notions about “pandering to nationalism”. It is a matter of what works best. It is a matter of how British Labour in Scotland can best serve the people of Scotland. Clearly, it cannot do that as a mere branch office of British Labour. We know that for an absolute fact because that is the very nature of the failure that the pretendy wee party is supposedly seeking to address.

      The people of Scotland have given their verdict. That should be all that matters. The message is simple. British Labour in Scotland is unelectable. A genuine Scottish Labour Party might be.

      1. Scottish Labour as a force in British politics is finished for the next five years (save for Ian Murray), so it many ways this is the easiest time to set a Scottish agenda without having to worry about what’s happening in rest of UK. It’s obvious the Scottish people want a left-wing party, and Scottish Labour will have the freedom to be that party in the next election for Holyrood. What happens after that we’ll see but I don’t see how separating completely will do any good right now.

  4. 1) The only Scottish Labour that exists as registered by the Electoral Commission is the one registered by a Gentleman from Fife pre GE2015 campaign and has no link whatsoever with the Labour Party. Members of the Labour Party who claimthe contrary are deceitful. Bad prelude.

    2) The idea that substituting the repudiated blairite Jim Murphy with more of the same near tory Labour is insane. Scotland wants a left wing Labour, London wants it so right wing that a wee nudge would turn them Tories. Hame is totally out of touch with the Scottish mood.

    3) Over 100 countries have obtained independence from Britain. Scotland is effectivelystill a colony. The nasty Nationalism is that of the radical British who burn flags and beat children. The same British who in Africa put people in concentration camp shot, killed and beheaded to keep their rule

    4) We don’t need a party that talks our country down and portrays it unable. If you deny that Scotland pays more than it’s way while officials figures confirm the contrary, you’re not acting in the interests of Scotland but rather seeking a ladder to scrumble back onto the Westminster Gravy train.

    Sorry pal. Scots have long woken up.

  5. “we have even changed our constitution to inform people we are patriotic”

    Do none of our remaining politicians see just how patronising and laughable this looks?

    People want more than patriotism – they want a real Scottish Labour party committed to real home rule with real powers to get results – not just saying they are proud to be Scottish while taking orders from London.

    We need a party here that will work in partnership with UK Labour, but isn’t afraid to take a more left wing stance on issues that matter in Scotland.
    How are we ever going to take on the SNP when people can see right through the illusion that is Scottish Labour ?

    Just look at Jim Murphy for an example – he wasn’t credible in the eyes of the public, because he was pretending to be something he wasn’t. And the public slapdown from Chuka on how much influence the Scottish leader had just rubbed it in.

    Look at the LONG TERM rise of the SNP since devolution – all the signs were there, and we ignored it. And still do by the looks of it. They way things are going Labour will be totally wiped out in Scotland before the leadership decides that things have to change. Frustrating as hell.

  6. All the people I have met who raise the issue of Scottish Labour not being completely independent of UK Labour will NEVER vote for us. It is a non-issue on the doorstep. We need to work with UK Labour on reserved issues and choose our own direction on everything else.

    What’s the alternative, become an independent party and claim we can call the tune south of the border? SNP tried that… and it helped the Tories win.

    1. I’m talking about an independent Scottish Labour party working in PARTNERSHIP with the Labour party in England and Wales.
      It’s the only way to regain voters trust, and occasionally that means taking a different stance.

      The SNP won simply because they are seen as the ‘pro-Scottish’ party.
      They would vote alongside UK Labour on issues they agreed with and vice-versa. Anything that hurt Scotland would be resisted.
      Voters liked that position, and I just don’t see why that will change.

      The choice is between obedient Labour MP’s getting whipped into line, or the SNP who portray themselves as standing up for Scotland.

      There is a chance for a third way – a real Scottish Labour party, who will fight for Scottish interests and maximum devolution, but who won’t be constantly agitating for independence.

      1. I like that idea of scottish labour but in partnership with england and wales. So its just like one party but having sub partys branch off but come together. Good idea alan

    2. If all of the seats in Scotland were won by Labour, the Tories would still have got in such was their lead but if you still believe the ‘SNP Baad’ narrative still works (despite all that’s happened to scotlab), you carry on.

  7. I am so tired of the word “nationalism” being branded about by Labour. And, oooh, they inserted the word “patriotic” in their constitution, how quaint. Personally, I don’t give a toss about patriotism and nationalism. I am an EU citizen living in Scotland and I voted YES because it is my firm belief that every country has a right to political self-determination and should not be ruled by another country. This is something that I suspect most Labourites would in theory agree to, because it makes them sound noble, but when applied to Scotland, they suddenly get a hissy fit at the notion of someone “wanting to break up our country.” The only explanation I can find for this behaviour is that they believe Scotland is not a country.

    I’m going to help you out here, Labour, because I have watched your decline for a long time and it seems clear that you have not the foggiest idea where you have gone wrong. That is why almost everything you did to improve your prospects has only made things worse. So let me try to explain, and let me tell you in advance that everyone I have spoken to over the last few days agrees with me. Not because I am so super-clever, but because it is blatantly obvious. Only Labour seem to be unable to see it.

    Forget Blairism. The con Blair pulled off worked once, but it will not work again in our lifetime, because there are things people don’t forget. Blairism gained Labour the support of a certain number of swing voters and that helped you as long as your core supporters loyally stood by you. Whatever made you think, though, that you could give up the goals and values of your real clientele and that nevertheless they would keep voting for you indefinitely? Sure, many people feel loyal to a party and are patient with it, and there is a certain inertia that needs to be overcome before some voters desert their traditional party. But if that party continually fails to represent their supporter’s interests, these supporters will eventually walk away. The sentence I heard again and again and again these last few months was this: “I have not left Labour, Labour have left me.” That is the core of the problem.

    So listen to me well, Labour Party, because if you get this wrong again you will be done for, once and for all: Don’t try to appeal to Tory voters. Tory-leaning voters might vote Labour as a one-off protest vote, but by pandering to them you alienate the people that are your natural clientele. For a few years that might work out, but eventually the Tory-leaning voters will return to the Tory fold and your own supporters will decide you’re just not worth it anymore. If they have any sense, they’ll move on to the Greens, and if not, there’s always UKIP. If they feel seriously conflicted, they might just stay at home and not vote at all. In Scotland, they have serious alternative now. In any case, you’re unlikely to gain back their trust as long as you present yourself as a paler copy of the Tories. Nicola Sturgeon did give you the heads-up in the leadership debate. She said that of course there is a difference between Tories and Labour, but the problem is that the difference is not big enough. It is nowhere near big enough.

    There are several ways in which this failure to be properly Labour instead of Tory-lite has played out.

    1. You have failed to be an effective opposition. Instead of challenging the Tories’ brutal austerity policies, their hair-raising incompetence with the economy, their blatant favouring of the rich elites, you have done little else than bicker about details. You have allowed the electorate in England and Wales to believe against all evidence to the contrary that the Tories have is basically right. You voted with them for more austerity cuts. You voted with them for Trident renewal. You voted with them for more foolish military interventions in the Middle East, even though you must know by now how the Iraq War has damaged you. You abstained from the vote on the fracking moratorium which would have succeeded had you not been so cowardly. You have not been a counterweight to the nasty coalition, you have enabled them.

    2. You have allowed the Tories to determine the political narrative. Instead of countering their agenda with your own agenda, you kept telling us you would do much the same as the Tories, only in a nicer way, and you deluded yourself that this would keep everyone happy. All this nonsense about cutting the deficit by slashing public services and restricting government spending, when it is standard textbook economy that in times of recession the government must increase spending to help the economy recover – you could have called the Tories out on this, you could have presented the figures of how the Tory approach had made the economy much, much worse. Why did it have to be Nigel Farage of all people who pointed out in the leaders’ debate that the Tories had doubled the national debt? That would have been your role, you should have hammered this message home relentlessly instead of letting them get away with their ludicrous claim that they had fixed the economy. You even allowed UKIP to set your agenda: Instead of making it clear, like Natalie Bennett and Leanne Wood and Nicola Sturgeon did, that immigration really, really isn’t a relevant problem, you went about printing “Controls on immigration” on mugs and even inscribing it on your ridiculous monolith.

    3. Instead of fighting the Tories, you fought your potential allies. This wasn’t so disastrous in the case of the Greens and Plaid Cymru, given their small numbers, but I will say that having a big campaign to unseat Caroline was not only mean-spirited but stupid; those resources should have gone into targeting a Tory seat. However, it was your treatment of the SNP that might well have cost you the election. Again, you let the Tories determine the narrative. They crowed about a constitutional crisis, about a second referendum which neither the SNP nor the wider YES movement are seeking within the next few years anyway, about “breaking up our (sic!) country,” about chaos and nationalism and England being held to ransom. They and their compliant media outlets abused the SNP and the people of Scotland on a daily basis in the most despicable terms. And all you did was parrot them. Nicola Sturgeon could not have held out her hand any more sincerely, and yet you sneered at it.

    What you could have done, should have done, was to challenge the Tory narrative. The SNP have been riding sky-high in the polls since September; and you had known for months that you could only form a government with their help. Plenty time to come up with a constructive strategy. You could have pointed out that the SNP are a moderate party of the centre left. You could have pointed out that they have a track record of eight years of competent and sensible and not-at-all-outrageous government in Holyrood. You could have pointed out that they stood for the kind of temperate progressive policies that many, many people in England would have been delighted to see. You could have pointed out that in no imaginable universe would even 59 SNP MPs be able to call the shots in a 650-strong parliament; that you would always be the boss in any kind of arrangement. You could have thrown all your might into convincing the English electorate that a Labour/SNP team effort would be good for the whole of the UK, as it undoubtedly would have been. Instead you declared a week before the election on national television that you would rather see the Tories return to power than work with the SNP. The stupidity of this is mind-blowing. And all under the banner of “not working with a party that seeks to break up the UK.” Tell me, what is your deal again with the SDLP, a party that seeks to unite Northern Ireland with the republic? You don’t even field candidates against them to give them a better chance? If you can work with them, why not with the SNP? But even today you still harp on about “nationalism” when in fact what the people of Scotland have opted for is the moderate social democratic policies which you should have offered but didn’t.

    4. Having alienated your core supporters and turned your back on your potential allies, and with no progressive track record as an effective opposition to show to the electorate, you have based your election campaign on sound bites, PR stunts and silly gimmicks. Just after Nicola Sturgeon presented her gender-balanced cabinet and promised to work tirelessly on shattering the glass ceiling, you insulted the women of the UK by inviting them to talk “around the kitchen table” about “women’s issues,” proudly brought to us by a pink van. And you didn’t see it coming that people would call it the Barbie Bus and laugh it out of town? You allowed Jim Muphy to run amok in Scotland with one insane “policy announcement” after another – remember the “1000 more nurses than anything the SNP promises?” Why not promise weekend breaks on Jupiter for the over 65s? You wheeled out Gordon Brown at random intervals to make meaningless promises and you expected people to be swayed by the pledges of a retiring backbencher? You had some wishy-washy election promises carved in a massive gravestone and you thought that was a good idea?

    Yours was a hopeless, hopeless campaign from beginning to end, without vision, without structure, without conviction. And yet I, like so many, clung to the hope that surely people in England must be so fed up with the Tories by now that they’d vote for you anyway and that surely once the election day dust had settled you’d see sense and head a progressive alliance with the SNP, SDLP, Plaid Cymru and the lovely Caroline Lucas who is worth her weight in diamonds. We could have turned things around for the good of the many rather than the few. Instead the Tories now have carte blanche to suck dry the people of the UK and grin smugly while they feast on our bones. All thanks to you, Labour Party. Now get your act together and make sure this will never happen again. I cannot spell it out any clearer.

    1. That was wonderful and exhilarating, and with such an empathic comprehension of the thoughts of so many, so perfectly articulated.

      Every Labour member – elected to any position – should read and re-read this before saying or doing anything in our name.

    2. This says so clearly what I have been struggling to put words. Annette, you get to the point far better put than the endless hand-wringing or the pseudo-intellectual look-at-me analysis clamouring for attention since the GE.

      I agree with others here that your comment should be compulsory reading for Labour Party members (like me). If a progressive party can’t make the case to be supported and elected in these times, then we deserve to become a bitter little self-serving Life of Brian-type political therapy group. But success is not at any cost either. A lot of the drivel (from Labour) that came out in the final weeks of the GE campaign could just as easily been a cack-handed marketing campaign for an established but vaguely unpopular soap powder. This is not a PR exercise. This about is survival, relevance and HOPE.

      The progressive centre left is more relevant than ever before. As Annette said, it’s time to GET OUR ACT TOGETHER.

    3. Annette, thank you. I gave up on Labour many years ago and have been voting SNP. It becomes tiresome receiving abuse from a Labour Party that has abandoned its roots and seeks to blame others for its withering.
      You have perfectly summarised the reasons for Labour’s failure, a failure which destroys much hope for all of us who are not rich Tories, and your statement should be compulsory reading for every Labour politician in the UK.

    4. Annette, this is absolutely stunning. I took the liberty of reblogging your superb appraisal, & it’s gone kind of viral…! 5000 views in 12 hours. People are wondering who this excellent wordsmith is! Are you on Twitter? If so, please follow me – @stevetopple Thank you!

      1. Also, if people want to know who I am, I am German, married to a Scot, live in Central Scotland, work as a school teacher and am a member of the Scottish Green Party.

    5. You’ve pretty much summed up precidely how I, and every single person I know, feels about Labour. We are the people who elected 56 SNP MPs and removed the Labour party from our country – Scotland.

      So, the message couldn’t be clearer.

      But will Labour listen to it?

      I doubt it. Labour don’t listen. For some reason, they don’t understand what is happening. They will elect some Blairite as leader, continue to pursue this same course, which will – as you correctly point out – destroy them.

    6. A fantastic read. This should be printed out and nailed to the door of Labour HQ, and no-one allowed in until they have read and completely understood your sentiments. I am an ex-Labour voter, I expects never to vote for them again in my lifetime. Simply put, if I thought that Labour had your thinking at their heart I would be reconsidering aligning myself to the party once again.

    7. Annette, that was brilliant – I’ve rejoined the Labour Party since last week, after years of fury and disollusion, but can’t pretend I haven’t got reservations. So it was good to read such an articulate and wise analysis of the position. You probably know that its heading its way around Facebook now…

    8. Annette, you should be in Holyrood! A very well expressed piece of writing – send it to Kezia?

    9. Annette, that was a fabulous piece. Labour would be better listening to you than all their highly paid spin doctors and focus groups. You summed it all up perfectly.

    10. Annette – your comments are incredibly accurate. I had been planning to write something along similar lines but you put it so well that I have taken the liberty of reblogging at Please let me know if you prefer me not to.

    11. Annette you have hit the nail on the head with this post.
      I have no idea what your personal circumstances are but I think you should seriously consider a move into Politics.
      I am a Scot residing in England have done for the past 20 years.
      I had no option but to vote Labour in this Election but had I had been living back home my vote would have most certainly gone to the SNP.
      Not because I am a Nationalist you see but because in Scotland there is no real alternative.
      Which is sad.

    12. Oh, so true!
      As an ex-Labour activist (election agent in many UK and Scottish elections, and previous local Council candidate) the Party went a different way from my basic beliefs…..
      The future? Well, it certainly needs to turn left, cut the umbilical cord with ‘London Labour’, reform to one member vote for internal elections, recreate grass root activity, and finally LISTEN.
      Maybe, only maybe, will I then consider rejoining.

    13. Well said, Annette. More coherence in wwhat you have written than anything that has come out of the labour Party for quite some time. Let me assure you, If the SNP could have fielded candidates in England I have spoken to many, pre and post election, who would have voted for them! That, I think, underlines your point.

  8. As an ex-Labour voter who voted for the SNP in the GE, and will do so again in 2016. I have to say that the statement “…we have even changed our constitution to inform people we are patriotic…” only goes to show a complete lack of understanding as to what just happened. And we know that the “constitution” is not worth the paper it’s written on. The whole “Jim rewrites clause IV” story was embarrassing, but he does seem to think that the electorate are idiots.

    It’s not about flag waving. It’s not in anyway racist or fascist (I know that there is “National” in the name of the SNP and that when tired and emotional, some of your advisers like to tweet that the SNP are fascists and Nazis, but theyre not). We know that. It seems that Labour Leadership or the complete incompetents that ran the campaign don’t.

    All we heard was “SNP Bad”. All we got from the Leadership was “SNP Bad”. Silly little newspaper “headlines” made up of lies.

    Jim Murphy was a joke. A joke that stopped being funny and became painful to watch. Everytime he was on TV or the Radio he just reinforced everything that is wrong with the mainstream of UK politics. Never answered a question. Rude and dismissive of everyone else. No substance whatsoever.

    Every time I heard Jim Murphy say the words “patriotic Scot” I winced.

    The performance of Kezia Dugdale at FMQ’s in the run up to the election was painful to watch as well. More of the same, “SNP bad, everything is terrible” no substance. No alternative.

    I honestly do not have a clue what Labour stands for anymore.

    £5000 for every food bank.
    1000 extra nurses.
    No cuts, well some cuts but not bad cuts not like the bad SNP cuts.
    “They won’t rule out a referendum” (the BadSNP).
    “£7B blackhole in an imaginary scenario.”
    Terrible stuff. Lacking substance, so little substance that they are in fact transparent.

    Start a new party. A democratic socialist party. And don’t say that the Labour Party is one, because it isn’t anymore. If your happy with a Blairite-revival tour then so be it, I just hope you have another skillset to use in the job market.

  9. I was most struck by one line in Richard’s interesting article, when he argued against a separate Labour party in Scotland and the grounds that, It would mean our party structure would reflect a constitutional settlement of separation not devolution. This I feel sums up the problems of Labour in a nutshell. Scotland is a separate entity in most of the things that matter to people. We have our own legal system, local government, police, education, health service, sports teams and even a separate religious settlement. Some of these separate institutions date back to the time of the Union. Many were set up, as separate bodies, e.g. the health service, by the Labour party. None have anything to do with nationalism or the SNP. For some reason Labour seems to have got itself stuck in denying the obvious. We need a separate Labour party because Scotland is already to a very large extent a separate entity. This has nothing to do with independence, all these separate institutions and services have been set up within the Union. If Labour is to have a meaningful future in Scotland you need to catch up with reality. Get your own party, have close links with colleagues in England and Wales. Much as you seem to do with your colleagues in Northern Ireland in the SDLP.

    1. I was struck with the phrase in Richard Baker’s article about Scottish Labour making the decisions on policies. This points to an identity crisis – an organisation which campaigns as part of a uk-wide party and backs its manifesto. Yet at the same time may or may not seek to implement the manifesto points as its own priority policies. I have experienced that odd identity shift when going from fb pages of Labour and Scottish Labour. I find Alister Rutherford’s case for a separate Scottish Labour Party with strong links to the Labour Party a compelling one. I don’t for a minute imagine this would be straightforward to accomplish and as one who voted to stay in the Union I want whatever choices Scottish Labour makes to be supportive of this. But the key issue to focus on is surely basic survival. What freedom to rebuild and inspire would there be in an organisation weakened by conflicting identities?

  10. Separation is the answer. The separation of Murphy from Labour branch Scotland and the separation of McTernan from blighting our daily lives.

  11. Richard, in an article that lacks insight into Labour’s predicament the last line is particularly noteworthy:

    “Let us not try and be something we’re not or shouldn’t be, a kind of sugar-free nationalism. If we keep running after a nationalist agenda we will only lose sight of our own values, and that will only further impoverish the politics of Scotland.”

    Substitute ‘national’ with ‘Tory’ and you have exactly what the Labour party in the UK are planning; led by the likes of Mandelson and Ummuna. And unless Scottish Labour (whatever that is) extricates itself from the oncoming car crash of Neo Liberalism its reversal last week will look like a minor setback.

  12. Truthfully it’s probably went too far now to talk about a separate party in Scotland.
    The Scottish voting public would laugh if somebody (MSPs) who is Labour turns round and says their breaking away from the UK party.
    As for speaking about the working class even a weegie thicko like me knows Morningside is in Edinburgh South.
    Labour stand for the working class and the only Labour MP happens to be in a seat that takes in some of the most prosperous parts of Edinburgh!!!
    I don’t know if i should laugh or greet at that one.
    Sadly a whole series of bad management has and continues to kill the Labour Party in Scotland.
    I honestly and tragically believe long term a section of Labour might end up joining with Tories/LibDem types in a new Scottish Unionist Party.

  13. Some very interesting contributions, but as a YES voter I have to ask those of you who (thus far) remain Unionists – at what point would you accept that the game is up and that the UK as a political entity is finished? Where would you red (no pun intended) line be, before you cross over to support self-determination for your own country?

  14. Chris, i reckon there’s is no “red line”.
    Not one Labour MP or MSP said a word during the referendum that gave any hint to them being interested in Labour voters on the YES side.
    I’ve finally realised that certain seats in my local Greater Glasgow area are probably lost now for the rest of my lifetime.
    Who actually speaks for Labour in seats were the MP and MEP are both members of the SNP.
    We’re now down to local councillors in swathes of working class Scotland.
    Be grateful there isn’t council elections this week.

  15. Richard Baker mentions socialism. The Labour Party gave up that years ago and Blair removed any trace of it.

    1. Irony klaxon. Blair added socialism into Clause 4. Odd way to remove any trace.

  16. I’m curious. I am an SNP member, voter, supporter etc but since the GE I have continually heard the likes of Alistair Campbell and other political ‘spinners’ talking about how in UK politics it is no longer possible to win a campaign ‘from the left’. It has to be centre left or centre right. Yet everything Annette said above to me screams ‘LEFT’. And I loved it. I was never a Labour voter – always SNP, but if that useless twat Millibland (sic) had come at the GE from Annette’s perspective, I would have still voted SNP (cos let’s face it – Nicola v Ed (pffft!!)), but I would have had so much more encouragement and admiration for those voters in England (and Scotland) who decided to remain/side with Labour and would happily have accepted 36 SNP seats at WM with a SNP/Labour coalition instead of 56 SNP seats and another SNP (Selfish Narcissists Party – AKA Tories).

    1. Sorry, should have said also – my question is; “Have Alistair Campbell and his like got it badly wrong? IS IT still possible to win from the right or left?” because Annette’s piece and the support it has garnered would certainly suggest so.

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