Sort yourselves out, please

arbrownAR Brown, a former Labour voter who bitterly resents the party’s stance in the 2014 referendum, says Scotland’s radical progressives will be in a knife-fight with the UK’s radical conservatives over the next two years, and Scottish Labour needs to pick a side.


So, here’s the thing. For a long time I voted nothing but Labour, but I stopped doing that, and in 2014 I not only voted Yes but, for the first time in my life, I knocked doors in that campaign. It’s likely that I’ll be even more involved if there’s ever another chance to secure self-government for Scotland.

I don’t doubt that a fair proportion of Labour Hame’s readership after reading that first paragraph aren’t reading this one. We all know that there’s an impressive set of fortifications separating the Labour Party from those who voted Yes, and the guns on that bastion point both ways. Maybe there’s even a few people who will doubt my right to write anything on a site dedicated to progressive politics when I’m clearly a small-minded, parochial, anti-English bigot with no grasp of economic reality.

The problem with that is that I’m trained in academic research, I’m typing this in England, I build financial models for the banks and insurance houses, and I’ve never been a member of any political party – not even that one. And as I mentioned before, I used to be a Labour voter and a big part of my commitment to the Yes side was a strong desire to protect the remnants of the 1945 social democratic settlement secured by your party. In other words, apart from a difference in opinion about where the border should be a couple of years ago, I ought to be one of you.

We may not live in dark times yet, but the sun is going down and the stars seem shy in coming out. Progressives need to stand together now or be swept away by the tide of unpleasantness exemplified, not by the Brexit vote, with which I disagree but understand, but by the clear lurch of the UK to the authoritarian, nativist right in response to that vote.

I want the Labour party to function well in Scotland. I want your candidates for First Minister to be plausible and I want every constituency to be hard fought amongst as many parties as possible including yours. I don’t share the tribal disdain for your party that some of your opponents do, but I do resent some of the things that you have done to a degree that I can only describe as visceral. I’ll come back to that.

After the Westminster election of 2015 I heard Johann Lamont on Radio 4 asking for anyone who had forsaken her party to get in touch and making clear that she would listen. I got in touch, offering to talk all she liked but all I got was a baffled response from her office that led nowhere. My interpretation was that she clearly wasn’t expecting anyone to actually get in touch, she just wanted to appear to be open to ideas, to give the impression of listening.

After the Scottish general election I thought again about offering my tuppence worth, and indeed after a talk by your former staffer Simon Pia I thought I’d try again, so I sent a polite e-mail offering to talk at any meeting of my local CLP about bridging the gap between Yes voters and the Labour Party. I never received a reply, although I know the email was received, which only intensified my worry for your future.

So this is my third and final attempt at reaching out to you, and here’s what I need you to hear.

I was horrified by our attack on Iraq, I was exasperated by the grubby municipal politics of the early years of the last decade – especially by the usurious PFI programme – and I was aghast at Gordon Brown’s proposals for a national identity register, but the summit of my fury at your party is the way you approached our referendum of 2014. That was the decision in my life to which I have applied the most intellectual effort. I felt privileged to be trusted with the future of our country and keenly aware of the solemn weight of that responsibility and, perhaps subconsciously, I expected everyone else to feel the same way regardless of which way they decided to vote.

If you consider the notion of Scottish self-government absurd, impossible or criminal what comes next won’t make sense, but neither – to my mind – will the existence of Denmark as a self-governing entity of five and a half million highly educated, well organised, energetic, happy people.

From a party political point of view the referendum put you in a fantastically powerful position and with this power came, axiomatically, commensurate responsibility. The Tories couldn’t win the vote on their own. They relied on you to win it, and you could have extracted any price you cared to in return for your help. You could have demanded the reform of the electoral system, abolition of the House of Lords, reform of trust law or reform of company ownership rules – any one of which would have counted as massive forward movement for progressive politics. You could even have done something about the British class system. Demanding Crown dependency status for our country would probably put independence in the shadows for several generations, leaving the party-that-must-not-be-named as an etiolated seedling desperately seeking the sun rather than taking root in the limelight of European affairs.

Instead, as far as I can make out, you gleefully joined in the campaign to make the referendum itself a wretched, dumbed-down, tribal trench war with the ultimate aim not of improving the lives of ordinary people but of defeating your opponents. You behaved as if it was mathematically impossible to find any benefit in self-government, yet failed to explain why the last part of the UK to become self-governing, despite all its troubles, has never contemplated attempting to re-join that Union. Arguments presented as absolute and un-nuanced tend to fail basic reality checks and yours did just that. To make matters worse every single one of the skeletons you rattled at us two years ago has since clambered from the grave to dance a grinning Charleston round the country despite us voting as you exhorted.

So what can you do?

First off you have to decide if your approach in 2014 was a potentially fatal error or not and declare that decision loudly. If you decide that you’d do the same again then I really do think that you are finished, but that’s your call to make. Every human being has exquisitely tuned antennae for sincerity. If you do decide to apologise for the course you sailed during the referendum campaign then it has to be truly heartfelt and it has to have consequences that will initially be painful for you. There can’t be a hint of rebuke or grievance. Some of your recently retired representatives and former employees have hit this tone, but none of your actual elected officials’ public statements do – there’s calculation, triangulation and deference in every word.

Secondly, you need to live up to the ‘Scottish Labour’ name and become an actual party, or drop it and campaign proudly as plain Labour. We need to know who’s in charge, and even those of us who pay attention just don’t. As things stand your candidates for First Minister will have a leader in another nation to whom they answer and who is unaffected by decisions here. If you have a notion of our nation as having its own unique needs, that situation is ultimately untenable regardless of the qualities of the leaders involved.

And lastly – federalism. If you really want to keep giving CPR to that constitutional corpse you need to tell us what the complete end-to-end mechanism is for its delivery. If that process includes Labour winning a UK general election and a vote in the House of Lords then I think it’s only fair to say that we’re going to need atomic-level detail on how that situation might come about.

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that this is an emergency. Forces are afoot now that might see not just the post-war settlement but all the subsequent social advances swept away within a few years. Scotland’s radical progressives will be in a knife-fight with the UK’s radical conservatives over the next two years. There will be no place for moderates. James Wilson’s 1820 slogan seems likely to fit 2018 like a glove – Scotland Free or a Desert.

This is the time for decisive collective action and I’d love Labour to join in, but if you can’t, if you really think this is the moment to squabble about income tax, then you will have placed yourselves firmly and permanently in the opposite camp to mine.

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146 thoughts on “Sort yourselves out, please

      1. A good, sincere article.

        Have you seen Ms Dugdale’s New Year message? As far as Scottish Labour is concerned, the baw’s oan the slates.

        SNP, Greens, LibDems and Tories have all occupied the spaces in the political landscape that Scottish Labour used to fill. The internal party polling indicates that most of the former Labour voters have nderstood that and are moving to the parties who best fit their individual political philosophies.

    1. Nice to see a reasoned argument. With more of that sort of intellect and wit we can finally say goodbye to Labour(!) in Scotland. Keep it up L5 – you are doing us all a favour.

  1. We need a solid Scottish Labour party. I will be genuinely so disappointed if it goes for ‘Billy Brit Naw Referendum ever party’ over being the progressive flank of Scottish opinion.

    I also think it would be a mistake. Scots may vote union. But that doesn’t mean a majority feel British unionism trumps all or that it is our primary or even an emotive motivator.

    The SNP has the Labour voters of the future.

    Labour can hold on by maintaining the oldies that still vote for them or reach out to soft Scots nationalists. Competing with the Tories is a slow death.

    People want a positive agenda for Scotland. Not laughing up their sleeve at the GERS figures.

    I literally am open to an alternative progressive opinion. I don’t trust Labour at the moment to stand up for Scotland.

  2. Duncan, Kudos for allowing what is an excellent summation of where most Yes voters are in Scotland in 2017.

    It is too late for Labour to ever recover in Scotland but like minded folk can still ensure Scotland is a liberal democracy in the European Union for decades to come.

    It is your choice.

  3. Well said, but I fear it is too late. “Scottish” Labour has become a distraction to progressive politics in Scotland. Modelling oneself on the Northern Ireland Labour Party was always doomed to failure and similarly it is only a matter of time before it is wound up.

  4. “The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of OUR COMMON ENDEAVOUR we achieve more than we achieve alone.” Or is that a load of old bollocks?

    1. Are you saying that the labor parties of Australia and New Zealand should be advocating union with England?

      Asking for a friend as he is confused by your ramblings on a regular basis.

    2. I wouldn’t put it aa strongly as “a load of old bollocks” but it does seem to be a misunderstanding of Labour’s history. Labour was a party of Home Rule for Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It kept to its commitment to Home Rule/independence for Ireland and stayed out of Northern Irish politics to allow a free run for nationalist parties. However, when it found itself in a strong enough position to deliver Home Rule for Scotland, in 1945, it immediately dumped it in favour of a centralising, all UK philosophy. It continued that philosophy under the post 64 Wilson government and only came back to Devolution/Home Rule in the mid/late 70s when the SNP threatened its position in Scotland.

      Even then it couldn’t deliver as its more Neanderthal MPs sabotaged the Devolution policy. Eejits like Eric Heffer opposed because he assured us he knew Scots didn’t really want it or need it as he had carried out some national service in Scotland in 1941. Others like the awful Tam Dalyell and George Cunningham opposed it out of what was basically snobbery. As a result when the Blair government eventually did deliver Devolution, in 1997, there wasn’t much sense of gratitude amongst Scottish voters. Go forward 18 years and Labour got exactly what it deserved after insulting so many of its Scottish voters in 2014.

  5. Singularly the most intellectually solid argument I’ve heard for Labour taking a Scottish and Socialist stance on the future of the union. I’ve made the same journey for many of the same reasons, but lacked the wit or talent to express my feelings so succinctly.

    My sincere congratulations to A R Brown, and to Labour Hame for having the courage to print it.

  6. Well, well, well at last someone saying it as it is and pointing out where labour went wrong and how they can come back from this. It makes a refreshing change to read something on here that is not full of platitudes and sound bites from labour themselves.

    A guy takes his time to write from an on the street perspective, that’s the place the conversations are taking place in Scotland that is where you hear what the people think of labour in Scotland and how they see and want the future of Scotland to be.

    However will labour take this onboard and act accordingly with the Scottish people or will they be willing to let their party go into the history books. Labour can change the way they work in Scotland but only if they want to, all this talk of federalism has passed that was in 2014 and that vow didn’t materialise in the aftermath of the NO vote.

    It’s time to make up your minds about what kind of party you are. Will you be a Scottish party working for the benefit of Scotland and the people or will continue to be British labour in Scotland, the choice is yours but I wouldn’t leave it too late to decide.

    Time is now on labours side and hard conversations need to take place amongst MSP’s and members, you need to hear the hard facts, like them or loathe them you have to take on board what is being said by the people because they are the ones who put their X in the box on Election Day.

    If you continue to please British labour at the expense of the Scottish people then labour will no doubt be almost extinct in the coming council elections and if that happens there might be no way back for labour in Scotland.

    AR Brown is right in everything he says and most of us on the outside and in the real world agree with him that labour sealed its fate in 2014 and had the chance to do something about it but all that has been forthcoming is that the SNP BAD at every turn and to be honest it’s wearing thin now and people are getting sick of hearing the same old. A bit like Ruth Davidson when all else fails and you have nothing to say shout ‘independence is divisive’ even if support for it has grown throughout Scottish communities.

    You cannot stick your fingers in your ears and hum a tune and expect the people to change, you need to take those fingers out your ears and hear the hard truth from the voters if you are to survive in Scotland even if that mean sticking those fingers up at the union between Scotland and Westminster, it will be hard but it could be worth it in the long run.

  7. Yay! Vote labour. And Scottish labour for the Scotland Labour Party. Yay! They’re the best and some will vote yes. Some willnae, nae bother.

  8. Labour really is a lost cause throughout Great Britain (it doesn’t stand in NI, of course) and is an absolute joke in Scotland. Without a proper leader in Holyrood and something, anything, resembling a political stance, 2016 is the year that Labour ceased to exist.

    It started off a century ago full of bluster about abolition of the lords, the establishment of democracy and equality and egalitarianism.

    It now boasts 204 lords, four of whom are hereditary, and happily promotes the elitism of Westminster.

    You need to look closely at where you want to be, and the SNP model is the starting point. You need to overcome your irrational superiority complex and realise you’re a party of the past. I suspect that the local elections in May might well be your last.

  9. Brilliant, but I don’t think British labour in Scotland will get it. I would support labour if they actually supported an independent Scotland rather than the privilege, patronage and retained power of the British establishment.

  10. AR Brown,
    Unlike yourself I am not an academic, but as you did I voted Yes in 2014. As we all know, No won.
    You seem unable to accept this decision. You have emailed Labour in Scotland and offered to speak at your CLP. You phoned Johann Lamont, presumably to give advice and now this article with your three things Labour has to do.
    This all seems a bit arrogant. Labour is a unionist party. Labour campaigned hard for a No vote, infact I cannot be certain but I am convinced in myself that with out Labour, Gordon and Alistair, lets not forget Jim, remember him, Better Together would have lost the referendum and Scotland would now be an independent country. In other words, Labour saved the union. Labour should rightfully be proud of their achievement. So for you to offer advice to the winners, I think, sounds arrogant.
    One more thing I have to say and there is no way I can say it without causing offence, I dont mean to offend you Mr Brown but this has to be said, it is I believe for you own good; the fact that you are still going on about the referendum over 2 years after the votes have been counted could, and I think with justification, lead to the inevitable conclusion that not only are you arrogant but you are also a bore.

      1. David,
        I know what I voted.
        I think there must be many yes voters that are now unionists. Its a perfectly logical step.
        No won. The union is over 300 years old. Scotland cannot continue with perpetual dissatisfaction of the union with England. We voted in a majority SNP. Salmond had the mandate to organise a referendum. Cameron signed the Edinburgh agreement. We had a 3 year debate. We voted to stay as part of the UK. Its over.
        Infact it is those talking about a second referendums that are out of touch with reality. I would go further, I dont see the point in Holyrood any longer. It looks ridiculous, and our SNP governement in our devolved parliament is now no more than a tool to administer Tory austerity.

    1. You don’t seem to understand the damage done to Labour in Scotland, by Labour. This is literally the last possible chance.

      1. Roy,
        I am well aware of the damage Labour has inflicted upon itself. Labour made the ultimate sacrifice to save the union.

        1. That was so sweet of them, Richard. Thank goodness no one in Scottish Labour agreed with John McTernan back in 2014 that they would be the big winners from a No vote. That would have tainted the self-sacrifice just a tad. Nonetheless, a good thing that Duncan chose to publish the article in the first place.

    2. You are probably correct in saying Labour is a unionist party especially now that they have lost most members and supporters who support independence for Scotland. From the outside looking in all we see nowadays is an obsession with unionism at any price and a total visceral hatred of anything SNP no matter how reasonable it might be. There was a time when I thought that a workable devo max compromise was possible but some leading Labour figures in Scotland seem to think we already have this and the rest, along with their comrades south of the border, would prefer to shoot themselves in the foot rather than do anything meaningful and constructive to make this a real possibility.

      1. Labour’s problem, in Scotland, is that while the party might now be pushing a harder Unionist line after flip-flopping a little bit post the 2015 GE, they seem to have lost most of their harder line Unionist support to the Tories. That was the whole point of Davidson’s monomaniacal emphasis on opposing a second Independence referendum in May 2016 despite the fact that there is no chance of Sturgeon calling one until she’s certain of winning it. It wasn’t an attack on the SNP. It was a successful attempt to strip harder line Unionists away from Labour. It worked. Labour lost about a quarter of its support.

    3. In the sense you mean it, Labour won in 2014. I absolutely agree that without Labour campaigning for the union, Scotland would be an independent country today, in all probability secure in its EU membership. The Labour party in 2014 was prepared to go to any lengths to prevent that, and it won.

      But that victory came at a cost. Pyrrhus could have explained it to them. The cost seems to be the very existence of Labour as a political force in Scotland. Was this anticipated? Was it a price that was seen as worth it at the time – the union continues, but the Labour party doesn’t? I very much doubt it.

      It looks as if there is a possibility of round 2, however. The independence question isn’t as dead as you seem to wish it was, Mr. Yes Voter. The constitutional question still dominates Scottish politics and it’s very likely that there will be another referendum. In this context your smug assertion that Labour won and winners don’t need advice rings very hollow. A lot has happened in two years.

      The decision Labour needs to make is much clearer now. No longer can anyone fondly imagine that “when Scotland votes No, Labour will be the big winners”. The question is, is there anything that Labour can do with this new situation that might improve its prospects of survival as a party? If Labour campaigns for a No vote again, it will be lost irretrievably. Perhaps Scottish Labour people love the union so much, even a post-Brexit union, that they’re willing to see their party die off entirely in order to preserve the union. If that’s their choice, then they’re entitled to make it.

      But they need to do it with a clear eye. Carry on being the Tories’ bag-carriers and pour money into council elections where they think a coalition with the Conservatives might keep the SNP from power if the union is all that matters. But if Labour party members in Scotland have any desire at all so see their party survive, they need to think about viable alternative strategies. Because that one is going to put them six feet under and it’s not at all arrogant of anyone to point this out.

      1. Morag,
        Labour are finished. They messed up the referendum campaign so bad they will not recover. Council elections in May will be a wipeout and Corbyn will destroy them down south. They never anticipated our referendum, to be honest nobody did. They saw it initially as an opportinity to defeat the SNP; as in win the referendum and defeat independence for good and at the same time and as a consequence kill the SNP. It was a reasonable assumption in 2011. But their desperation close to the poll was obvious to all. Brown promised the earth (as he retired). Darling and his standing ovation at a Tory conference. Not a good look. Murphy and Izzard. After September 2014, Lamont and her fair well to the branch office. Murphy. RIP Dugdale. Probably RIP in 5 months.
        Regarding Scotland and the union. Scotland and England have been in a union, for 300 years. Scotland had a wobble in the 20th century. We voted in a nationalist government which arranged for a referendum to settle the issue. Engalnd could not understand why some Scots wanted to break the union but went along with our need to resolve this issue. We did. We voted to stay in the union.
        My position therefore is that we should now make the union work. It is the right thing to do.

    4. You’re a liar..anyone who voted yes in 2014 does not now or ever will defend the winners of the referendum like it was a good thing! The mask of the corrupt U.K. Forever running scotand down is fallen..only the gullible or twisted believe that Scotland should not have the same rights as other Normal independent countries. You sir are one of those.

      1. Edward,
        Mind your language. Im surprised Duncan allowed your comment.
        See my comment 1107 1/1/17.

    5. When did Labour become champions and defenders of the status quo? I thought the party was about striving for what was best for the people. If so, these conversations are valid and necessary.

    6. So Labour saved the union and should be proud if that achievement? Why? Who has benefited from that achievement? Certainly not the people of Scotland who, as Mr Brown points out, have seen every better together promise broken.

      Labour are the ‘winners’ are they? Does 15% support, one mp and fewer msps than the tories feel like victory? Just keep telling yourself that the referendum was two years ago and will soon be forgotten about and everyone will go happily back to voting labour again. Sounds like a winning strategy to me.

      1. Sandy,
        People will not go back to voting Labour. Labour are finished (down south as well by the looks of it).
        Labour in Scotland laid their down their life for the union. I’m sure in private, over a malt, in the committee rooms of Kirkcaldy Labour club there may be those honest enough to admit, ‘we got the referendum wrong’. But there is no denying, Labour saved the union. Fact.

    7. Yeah, ‘cos Labour really look like winners.

      Politics in Scotland is viewed through the prism of the constitution; it’s not going to go away because the No side won. It’s not over, 45% of the voting population won’t just shut up and accept the consequences of that result.

      But it’s typical Labour thinking to expect that they should.

      1. Stoops.
        I dont speak for Labour but No won and it was Labour that won it. Their unquestioning single minded determination to defend the union during our referendum has broken the LP beyond repair. It was a massive misguided arrogant assumption by Labour that their core vote would automatically follow the party line when instructed to do so. But that is for the anoraks.
        As far as whether its over or not I dont know but I think it should be. We had our chance and were too feart to grasp it. I think the 45% should accept the result and now embrace the union, but I know this view is not shared by others.
        The last throw of the dice is the possibility that if you give an all powerful Tory government enough rope, it may hang itself, but who knows whats going to happen over the next couple of years? Journalists and politicians, are required to make predictions. Charlatans and the deluded will definately know. The rest of us should sit back and enjoy the show.

        1. Richard, Labour might have won in the sense that it played an important role in the No victory but, contrary to your wishes, the independence debate did not end on 19th September 2014.
          One of the consequences of Labour’s unionism has been its rapid decline in Scotland and, with Kezia’s current federalist “strategy”, that decline is predicted, even by the party itself, to continue. That is winning the battle but losing the war in anybody’s book.
          Whether you agree with it or not you must know that the drive towards independence will continue and Scotland will become independent when Scots want it to happen. They didn’t want it in 2014 and until they change their collective mind we have Brexit and a government we didn’t vote for and that doesn’t care about us. But that position is unsustainable.
          Political activists do not “sit back and enjoy the show.” They re-group, learn from past mistakes and begin again and that’s what the Scottish left is doing now. Progressive Scottish socialists (and judging by what is written above they include AR Brown but not you) seek a better society and a better Scotland and their loyalty is to these ideals and not just to a party or country. We will keep fighting till we win and the small set-back of losing a referendum will not stop us.

  11. You just said everything I could ever have to say to Labour about where they are, why, and the choices they have before them. I voted Labour in all WM elections and most HR elections before indyref, but for all the reasons you outline I can’t imagine voting for them ever again. Although I think there are many like you who would like to, if they ever managed a response to the constitutional question that was authentic, thorough, and rooted in what’s most representative of Scottish voters’ wishes, and what’s best for voters – as opposed to party/career always coming first. This would be a major shift if it ever happened, and lets face it Labour has lacked competence and has to do a lot to build trust even just on that score, so whilst possible I’m not sure how likely it is that the party can save itself at this point. Indeed they seem to be relying on Tory votes in May to be able to form unionist council coalitions with them, which if they go ahead with will undoubtedly herald the end for the party as any kind of serious electoral force beyond Tory lackeys.

  12. The Labour party has it’s first loyalty to the people of the UK. If the writer feels his needs are better served by the SNP and right wing fanatics who attach themselves to that party them so be it,he is not needed in Labour.
    Scotland is not Denmark and simply doesn’t have the knowledge or experience to exist on a world stage, can you imagine Jimmy Krankie Sturgeon meeting world leaders ,it is just bizarre.

    1. oh my word, you actually believe that Scotland is unique in the whole world in that it is so incompetent that it cannot manage its own affairs, are you seriously that downtrodden, has you spirit been so stamped down that you believe your country incapable of running itself. That’s just so sad to read, so sad. Remember to hand over your wages to your nextdoor neighbour so they can spend your earnings on your behalf, it’s all you’re capable of !

    2. Exactly the kind of comment that totally sums up the rump of Labour in Scotland. When Krankie gets a mention we all know that reasonable discussion is futile.

    3. Oh dear! Denmark, New Zealand, Slovakia, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Slovenia, Iceland, Luxembourg and so on ….. and if you think Scotland is uniquely incapable, then you’re already voting for the right party.

    4. I think you need to get some help for that cringe. Maybe travel a little. You don’t sound at all well.

    5. Right wing fanatics, all I have to say is Tony Blair…… As for your Scottish cringe, that says more about you than it does about Scotland. You are right, Scotland is not Denmark but we could be like Denmark, a sovereign nation looking after our own people and not a timorous beastie waiting for the crumbs to fall from Westminsters table. Can you imagine we Kezia acting professionally on any stage, world or otherwise, no thought not.

      Your labour party in Scotland needs to die, it has been populated for decades mostly by people whose only aspiration is to take a wage and look after their friends. My politics are left but I could never vote labour because they never had a candidate worthy of my vote so for 20 odd years I never voted but now I have a party and candidates who are working for Scotland.

      I look forward to the coming council elections and another nail hammered into labour’s coffin.

      1. It seems my comments have upset some of the right wing SNP.You align yourselves with failed states like Ireland and Iceland and look up to them despite the fact they cannot feed their poor and are defenceless.
        No one would take an independent Scotland seriously ,all blue paint and shortbread.
        The Labour party are having a difficult time however the majority remains for the union and if that means working with fellow unionists then so be it. The prize of destroying the racist SNP is a big one.

        1. Mr Wilson, your language and your tone are so bitter and, as has been pointed out, so full of the Scottish cringe that I cannot believe that you are actually a Labour voter. You must surely be a ‘plant’ – your aim being to create even more ill-will towards Scottish Labour.
          I hope, for the sake of Scottish Labour, that that is the case.
          If, in fact, you are ‘real’ and honestly expressing your views and, perhaps, the views of others within your Party, then you clearly demonstrate the problems outlined by AR Brown. If there are more like you within the bosom of Scottish Labour, then that Party is not dying but already dead.
          Atrocious stuff.

          1. As a postscript, I’d like to commend Duncan for publishing this contribution.
            I know he’ll disagree with the sentiments but it will reverberate with so much ‘truth’ for those of us who would, under other circumstances, be natural supporters of Scottish Labour.
            One wonders how many earnest, dislocated voices have to be heard from the bowels of Scotland before those at the top of Scottish Labour finally wake up and take notice.

        2. Jim – is it not even dimly apparent to you that the only thoroughgoing “racist” on this thread is precisely yourself? Such cringing self-hatred is perhaps the most damning indictment imaginable of the unionist spirit in Scotland.

      1. After a very interesting article, you’ve let yourself down a bit with this comment. Compare her to other ” leading” politicians in the U.K; May, Johnson, Farage, Corbyn, Dugdale, Farron or any other. She stands out a mile above them, to the extent that she gets plaudits from south of the border. She seems to have no problem in meeting foreign leaders. And I haven’t even mentioned Trump yet.
        I think you need to rethink

    6. Jimmy Krankie Sturgeon seems to get on rather well with every European official she meets, which is more than can be said for Theresa May. Thankfully folk with your “I’m afraid I’m Scottish” views are dying out. Maybe you could give the Daily Mail or Express a miss and try thinking for yourself.

      1. It is the SNP who are racist. The Labour party is an internationalist party while the SNP want to build borders and lock others out.
        It was the Labour party who gave you your parliament,in hindsight that was a mistake . It allowed the SNP to set Scotland against England despite everything that England gives to Scotland.
        Bring on another independence referendum,you will lose again as what unites unionists of whatever party is greater than the racist SNP.

        1. “The Labour party is an internationalist party while the SNP want to build borders and lock others out.”

          What’s Labour’s position on freedom of movement post-Brexit then?
          In fact, what’s their position on Brexit?

        2. “internationalist party”——the SNP want Scotland to JOIN the world.
          Labour has joined the narrow nationalist, separatist Tories and UKIPers in Brexit isolationism.
          Good luck with your Greta Garbo impression.

          By the way, Keir Hardie, who founded the Scottish Labour party wanted Scotland to have Dominion Status—hardly a Unionist.

        3. The Labour Party didn’t “give” Scotland a parliament. They were forced to concede it by 70% of Scottish voters, a large number of whom were labour supporters. The rest of your post is utter drivel.

        4. No, you are a racist; pure and simple. You are putting forward exactly the same argument used by racist imperialists against decolonisation of the old British Empire from the 40s through to the 60s. Put simply ‘ The d.rkies (Substitute Scots in your case.) simply weren’t up to running their own affairs.’ As I noted earlier racism, pure and simple.

    7. “Scotland is not Denmark and simply doesn’t have the knowledge or experience to exist on a world stage……” We’ll put it on your gravestone, Scottish Labour.

      1. That would make sense if Scottish Labour had said it. Since they haven’t, it would just be yet another lie.

  13. I suspect nothing will save labour in Scotland unless they adopt a purely Scottish mantra and treat any communication with London through a well equipped firewall.

  14. As a voter who has never voted Labour either in Scotland or in England, I find the comment above to be both a clarion call to the Labour hierarchy and a warning to voters that unless things change, Scottish Labour are going to become a has-been shadow of its once glorious socialist past.
    This is down in part to a combination of reasons. Apart from the obvious fixation with SNPBad no matter the actual outcome of a policy enacted, even ones previously supported……

    These issues relate specifically to the type of party SL has become, whether through default or design. Sadly, there are very few competent capable politicians within the party these days. Those that are, are eclipsed by the self-serving, clique-manipulating, low-cunning wannabe’s. These are backed by people who have as their main interest a desire to be seen to be influencers and to also grab a bit of the limelight for themselves.

    Their poisonous intransigence by some within the heirarchy to those Labour members who think they should take a less SNPBad line and a more cooperative governance model is remarkable in its delivery. This despite claims about unity being the way forward.

    I don’t doubt for a minute that Labour will die and be consigned to history, unless it actually spends time reviewing its policies, recruitment processes etc with some urgency. That will be bad for Scottish Politics, Scotland and Scots were it to happen. Scotland needs a strong viable opposition. It doesn’t need 3 shades of Toryism arrayed against the SNP.

  15. Well said – Labour needs to get a grip and fast. Are the Tories the best safe haven for Scotlands interests really ??

  16. Well said sir. Labour have been decimated in Scotland repeatedly over the last few years. Doggedly sticking to SNPBAD will be the death of this once great party.

  17. I’m sure most people still minded to vote Labour will disagree with most of this. Maybe when the Labour vote shrinks into single figures, they might begin to accept that perhaps people such as the author of this piece were on to something.

  18. Cracking article. Scottish Labour have lost their way, they only seem to have a unionist message and nothing else. It’s a sad state of affairs. In order to push their unionist views, they only seem to be able to say “Scotland bad”.

    Do they even have a positive view of Scotland ? Do they see Scotland as a strong country brimming with opportunity, on the very precipise of seizing a bright future ?

    How can they think that by framing Scotland as “too wee too poor too stupid” that they can win support amongst voters. Scotland must be “bad” so that they can what, rescue it ? They’ve had so many opportunities to do good things for Scotland, and they didn’t.

    I’ve voted Labour in the distant past, until they see Scotland they way I see if, then I’ll never vote Labour.

    Be radical, let your Scottish members vote on Scottish Labour’s position on Scottish Independance. I dare you.

  19. My father in law votes Tory. He’d actually vote UKIP if there was a chance of them getting anywhere in Scotland. He was for the Iraq war and pro-Trident, so he’s happy Labour supported those issues. He is against what he calls “workshy benefit scroungers” and he approved when Labour didn’t block the Tory Welfare bill. He loathes the EU like you wouldn’t believe, and went on a massive campaign during the Brexit referendum, putting up posters everywhere. He hates Corbyn and slags him off all the time.

    I admire Corbyn but I won’t be voting Labour. And I will certainly never vote Tory. My father in law, on the other hand, will certainly vote Tory (he’ll probably campaign for them). Not only that, he will continue to ridicule Labour. He thinks you’re pathetic. But he will give you his second vote.

    As he puts its, he won’t see Labour on the throne, but he doesn’t mind letting them hold the drinks tray.

    It seems that that is where Labour aspires to be now. Holding the drinks tray for the Tories. You’ll get a certain, limited, level of support doing that, but it will never win you respect.

    I used to vote Labour, by the way.

  20. A well thought out article; I think you sum up the feelings of many former Labour voters and members like me. They one thing you omitted, or at least under emphasised, is that Brexit Britain is going to be no picnic. Quite apart from the social dislocation alienation and nasty
    Chauvinism which is becoming more and more apparent, there is the imminent economic catastrophe. Thanks to the decimation of the manufacturing base over the past 35 years, the U.K. is now over dependent on financial services and fiscal transfers to what the Westminster/Whitehall elite describes as “the regions” of the U.K. I have absolutely no faith in said elite to make a success of it.As you say, Labour are soon going to have to choose.

  21. “Progressive” – such a self-regarding, pointless term! The democratic achievements of the late 20th Century are dribbling away world-wide, and all you can do list your favourite causes, irrelevant to and rejected by the millions of ordinary people in this country. Meanwhile, they are being robbed, not only of their jobs and income, but of their rights as citizens and employees. Oh, but we need to do something about the benighted Arabs! Or the planet! Or the millions on the move throughout the world! Meanwhile, the real enemies of ordinary people are transforming the world, while you bang on about the same old coffee-house themes of your youth, obscure then, obscure now. Oh, please, just go and occupy something or protest about something or sign an online petition. That should keep you busy, and out of harm’s way. And good riddance.

    1. You have to be Real Labour. Complain about everybody else, look down your nose and offer no solutions. That is why the party is going extinct in Scotland.

  22. Well said, nice and clear summary of the bad decisions made by Labour with constructive suggestions on moving forward.

  23. Easily the best article I have read on Labour Hame.
    I left the Labour Party many years ago, and have never joined another, so the old loyalties still pull at me—-but loyalties work both ways and AR Brown has struck the nail right on the head here. I have little to disagree with the content, but I am less than optimistic there will be any response from Labour, Scottish labour or any other version of Labour which might (or might not) exist.
    Dugdale has pinned her party colours to the mast of the “good ship” UK, and all that will entail in future years to come. A future which appears to have been gifted in posterity to a burgeoning right wing Tory Party and a gloating UKIP, given their increasing popularity( not least in the print and broadcast media) in the most populous part of the UK.
    So whence Scotland in this scenario? We can be a self governing country or a more northern ( and less well regarded) North. There will be no “federal” solution—unless you actually believe in Santa, and repatriated powers will revert to Westminster control.
    I prefer self governance. We lost much of our indigenous industry in the 20th century and our oil wealth was squandered, but we are not an economic basket case as some would have it. We have a reasonable size population in a sparsely populated northern country with a well educated and industrious workforce. There will be some belt tightening for a few years but then we will prosper.
    C’mon Scottish Labour—go to where Keir Hardie WANTED you to go!

    1. For those who don’t know what Keir Hardie stood for—-
      He wanted Home Rule for Scotland—–of the type that was known as “Dominion Status”, the same as Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc. Independence under the Crown.
      Though I personally would dispense with the Crown element, it is not really important and would diminish in importance as time went on. And it gives the Sooky Up folk something to drool over.

      Where would Keir Hardie be today? Not in Scottish Labour, that’s for sure!

  24. Well there you go branch office, explained with simple clarity, bonus point for posting it but will you heed the actual message or keep screaming SNP bad at every opportunity and losing more and more votes as you do so.
    Your choice I suppose but if my party were polling at 15% I think I’d be calling stridently for major changes in policy and bold thinking to regain some of that lost support.
    Supporting a crumbling union with rUK isn’t helping, Labour are just being dragged down the inevitable toilet with the Tories, everyone can see it, yourselves included but you just don’t want to know.
    Change……. or die

  25. Eloquent stuff Mr Brown. I wholeheartedly concur, as will many other former Labour voters and supporters in Scotland. I fear however that your cri de coeur will fall on deaf ears; given recent history and the tribal hostility evident from the dwindling bunch of NuLabour “bitter einders” who appear to be in charge of what is left of Scottish Labour, perhaps that’s attributable to their tin ear for politics?

    There have been more false dawns of Scottish Labour learning the lessons of defeat, and listening to the voices of those who have abandoned them than there have been predictions of the second coming. As you so rightly point out such promises are about as likely to be fulfilled. Save your breath. There is no future in Scotland for a party so morally bankrupt and bereft of principle.

    Scottish Labour isn’t fit for purpose, nor can it be rendered so; there is no point advocating for old wine in new bottles. The time for Scottish Labour to stand for full autonomy, to establish itself as a separate entity and to actually sketch out a programme of progressive policies aimed at promoting increased equality and social mobility was 10 years ago, not now. We’re not falling for any snake oil sales pitch post “the Vow”; we come not to praise Scottish Labour, but to bury it.

  26. You are not alone in your views. I was an actual Labour Party member and activist for 17 years but like you campaigned for Yes in 2014 and joined the SNP two days after the referendum when I realised that I could not go back to a Labour Party that had stood with the Tories on the other side. The SNP is not nearly as far to the left as I would wish – I am natural Labour through and through – but until Labour moves towards people like me who would vote Yes again but also support socialism, then they deserve to wither and die.

    So good article. Labour needs to confront this issue if it hopes to exist as anything more than a minor party in Scotland.

    1. “The SNP is not nearly as far to the left as I would wish – I am natural Labour through and through”

      The first part of that is true for many people in Scotland, myself included. Also they are miles too socially conservative, but we must remember two things:

      1) For the past few general elections, and right up until Corbyn took the leadership, Labour policies were objectively more right wing, less redistributive and crucially (for me at least) vastly more authoritarian, than those of the SNP.

      2) Independence is not first and foremost a party political argument. No doubt as a leftie SNP member you are acutely aware of this anyway. For those of us on the left who long ago concluded that independence is the only way to rid ourselves once and for all of the authoritarian centre-right which historically rules the UK roost, and whose demographic shows no signs of shrinking, we must always remember that the SNP is the means and not the end.

      For the record, I was a Labour voter until Iraq. The slide towards authoritarianism thereafter, followed by their craven behaviour during the independence campaign sealed the deal for me. Unless and until Scottish Labour is no longer “British Labour in Scotland” they will never have my vote again.

  27. Thank you Mr Brown for your incisive and constructive criticism of where Labour are today. A pleasure to read in its simplicity and should be thought provoking to all Labour supporters past and present.

  28. Wow. Ignore this plea at your peril Labour. Personally I know you wont heed a single word that is written above because unlike AR I know the present cabal of Labour membership in Scotland is now beyond all reason and approach.
    Tory to the core you genuinely would support Conservative Westminster Tory Government over Scotland rather than any kind of progressive left centrist Labour authority from Edinburgh.
    You’re no longer acting in any capacity as a political party movement with an ideology convictions ideals or even ideas. You’re a group of self centred self absorbed self serving individuals fighting for a privileged place at the trough.
    You’ll fawn flatter stoop bow scrape lie deceive and say yes to any proposal from London high command just to get recognition as a faithful party apparatchik.
    Sadly AR faith and hope of any change in Labour North of the border is grossly misplaced unless Corbyn has a serious night of the long knives and axes the lot of you.
    Nothing short of an absolute total clear out of Labour officialdom and officialdom wannabes in Scotland will do.

  29. Absolutely brilliant! I fear however that Labour leadership in Scotland totally lack the know how, ability or imagination to take Scotland and their party forward. Party is all, followed by union. People rate very low in modern Labour party thinking.This struggle for Scottish independence can only end one way and I fear, as a former Labour voter in England and Scotland, that Labour in Scotland will be destroyed in the process!

  30. AR, I think its clear to everyone that the ‘Better Together with the Tories’ campaign was a disaster for Scottish Labour.

    Most Scottish Labour supporters would be happy with a genuine federal UK with far more powers for Scotland, but like you say, the problem is getting it through down south where Corbyn is unelectable for starters.
    I’ve been a Labour voter for years, but the last straw was Jeremy Corbyn’s pathetic Brexit campaign, and the way things are going.. where it’s becoming obvious that Labour will follow the Tories down the road of a hard Brexit.
    It’s all about pandering to UK / English nationalism now, and we will never beat the Tories on that front.

    Where does that leave us in Scotland?
    As Anas Sarwar said “we are not comfortable unionists and we are not comfortable nationalists”.
    That position has brought us to 15% in the polls, most of them pensioners, and no core vote.
    Our ambition for the next council elections is apparently to achieve Tory-Labour coalitions !!
    No wonder voters are disillusioned.

    I’m all for a federal type UK, but it seems like the best way to achieve anything similar is to vote for independence and then co-operate with the rest of Britain from a position of power. Confederation maybe. It seems like the only way we will see the resurrection of Labour in Scotland. Then it doesn’t matter so much if we have endless Tory/UKIP governments down south.

  31. At last, an article worth reading on this Red Tory nightmare of a blog. Unsurprising, though, to find the very first comment to be negative.

  32. Well there you have the comments, apart from one cringing old man who still thinks his country is useless and should be grateful for those clever people at Westminster for keeping us in the style they’ve forced upon us, the rest are all giving you damned good advice i’d say.
    It’s up to the branch office now, throw off the shackles of London, take on board what Scotland wants.
    Put together an actual Scottish Labour party, get yourselves some decent, workable, costed policies that benefit the people of Scotland instead of whining from 3rd place and start working your way back to second place then keep your fingers crossed.
    The big question now is……. do you have the bottle to totally rebuild a real Scottish party or do you want to be irrelevant for the next quarter of a century and then some. Your call !

  33. I come from a very strong trade unionist Labour voting background (and with parents who detested SNP). I will never forget the hope and joy when Labour won in ’97 but that’s where it ended for me and Labour. I flirted with greens and SSP for a few years and gradually drifted towards SNP by the late 2000’s. I didn’t even support independence until the independence campaign started but once the scales fell from my eyes, there was no going back. I have no desire to vote Labour now and tbh I don’t see how that could change. I hate their ongoing negative campaigning that actually feels against Scotland, not just SNP; I hate the fact that they would rather position themselves with Tories than SNP. I hate the fact that they represent SNP voters as racist, flag obsessed idiots when in fact a lot of them, like me, are ex labours voters! It feels like they have no integrity or moral backbone. It feels that they would sell Scotland down the river to preserve the union. Why aren’t they fighting for Scotland to stay in the EU as they voted to? Their cosy alliance with the msm has made it too easy for them and it is backfiring. I do not trust that Scottish Labour will prioritise Scotland and I actually can’t believe that I ever did! I would love Scottish Labour to completely reform to actually represent their Scottish members and to be a credible opposition in Scotland again…but I don’t hold much hope.
    Great article and wonderful comments.

  34. I don’t doubt AR Brown’s sincerity. His analysis of where ‘Scottish’ Labour is and how it got there has the clear ring of truth about it. In particular, his identification of the fact that it was not simply the ‘party’s’ alliance with the Tories during the first independence referendum campaign which so many found offensive, but the eagerness with which they entered into that alliance. In respect of the leadership, at least, there was no sense of reluctance or even, as Mr Brown points out, any apparent consideration or reflection. It simply never seemed to occur to them that they might make their participation in Better Together conditional. To all outward appearances, the leadership of British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) instinctively felt that the ‘party’s’ natural and appropriate place was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Tories. There was the distinct impression that, when the great constitutional question was asked, they were British first, and Scottish only as a matter of electoral expediency.

    I don’t use the terms ‘British’ and ‘Scottish’ in any shallow nationalistic sense, but in reference to two quite distinctive political cultures. When push came to shove, BLiS chose to associate itself with a British political culture characterised by corruption and venality and inequity and injustice in preference to a political culture informed by the needs, priorities and aspirations of the Scottish people. And it did so with unseemly relish.

    But for all its undoubted sincerity and all its insights, AR Brown’s analysis is built on a couple of pretty significant fallacies. Firstly the notion that British Labour in Scotland is necessary. The idea that Scotland needs BLiS. The assumption that there is a place in Scottish politics for BLiS. That there is a niche in Scotland’s political environment which can only be filled by ‘Scottish’ Labour. And, alongside this, the belief that BLiS is capable of being a real political party such as might occupy that niche.

    I find both propositions extremely dubious. And that’s being generous. I ask myself what reason there is to suppose that BLiS might actually change? What cause do we have to believe that this is an organisation amenable to reform? Certainly nothing that has happened to date. There has been much talk of ‘listening and learning’. But, as Mr Brown himself has discovered, the phrase has never been anything more than a platitudinous sound-bite.

    And even if we stretch credulity to a point where BLiS actually becomes the party AR Brown evidently wants it to be, where would it fit in the Scottish political landscape? How would it differentiate itself from parties already occupying the political territory? Even supposing BLiS could convince people it had genuinely metamorphosed into a Scottish political party, what part of the electorate might it address? Basically, how would it compete with the SNP? Because, unless you are so lost to tribalism as to be blind to objective reality, the SNP is self-evidently giving the electorate what it wants. For any party that aspires to effective political power, the challenge is to convince the voters that they can do what the SNP is doing, but better.

    It is important to bear in mind that ‘Scottish’ Labour’s decline is not entirely explained by their role in the British state’s Project Fear. Nor even by the toxic legacy of Tony Blair. Not least among the other reasons is their obdurate refusal to accept that the SNP are winning elections because they deserve to. Because, in the eyes of the electorate, they’re got it right. The voters are not fools. They are not being duped by the SNP. They most certainly are not being roused to ferocious woad-painted nationalistic fervour by watching ‘Braveheart’. Blinded by bitter resentment at the loss of its status, BLiS has been incapable of accepting that voters are making rational decisions.

    The upshot of this failure to recognise the true nature of the SNP and the reasons for its electoral success is that BLiS continues to entertain the delusion that its old place in Scottish politics is still there waiting to be reoccupied. They can’t admit that this space has been taken over completely by their rivals, because that would involve a discomfiting realisation that the SNP is not the grotesque caricature that they have been tilting at. It would involve accepting that the SNP has become what ‘Scottish’ Labour should have been.

    To summarise, BLiS is not going to change. Even if it could change, it is not going to convince people that it has changed. And even if it could both change and convince people that it had changed, the thing it would have to change into already exists.

    It is time to accept that British Labour in Scotland is a British political party. It is part of the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. As Scotland’s political culture develops and diverges, distancing itself from British political culture, it is inevitable that British political parties will become irrelevant. What ‘Scottish’ Labour is facing isn’t untimely death, but natural extinction. Let it go.

    1. Peter, I have to say that I don’t think Labour is necessary in Scotland in any sense, and apologies if I gave you that impression. No political party is indispensable.

      What I do think is that Labour constitutes a great campaigning machine and carries the weight of some pretty glorious history. I’m interested to see what they can become in Scotland if they can first dig themselves out of their present morass. There exist plausible circumstances in which self-government for Scotland becomes more likely if people see First Ministers from a variety of parties. That assumes a long game though, when we may be looking at lightning fast changes.

      1. AR you’re referencing back to a political party that no longer exists. The present day Labour party only has a history which dates back to 1997.
        Don’t go mistaking it for the Labour party of the 1900s that party died in 1997.

      2. A recent Herald article by Stephen Purcell, in a similar vein to your own, also referenced British Labour’s ‘glorious history’. My instinctive response is that I want to make history, not live in it.

        Pondering how different it all might have been had BLiS not been bound by its allegiance to the British state is a bit like wondering what a lion might tell us if it could speak. Just as the latter could impart nothing about what it is like to be a lion – because real lions can’t talk – so the former would have to have been a totally different entity in order to not be bound by its Britishness. BLiS is what it is. Postulating a pro-independence BLiS is as pointless as imagining a talking lion.

        BLiS cannot be part of the Yes movement, because it simply isn’t in its nature. In fact, it is entirely contrary to its nature. There are no “plausible circumstances” in which a BLiS First Minister is electable. The choice made by BLiS to side with the Tories was as fateful as it was unavoidable – their shared British nationalism being the decisive factor. It was a one-time choice. The circumstances in which a different choice might have been made don’t exist. In fact, they never existed.

        If I seem to be labouring (pun intended) the point here it’s because that’s precisely what I am doing. I am desperately trying to rid pro-independence ‘Labour people’ and other ‘righteous radicals’ (although not necessarily you personally) of the deluded notion that BLiS can become an alternative vehicle for the Yes campaign.

        We urgently need to get across the message that we simply don’t have time to develop a different political arm for the independence campaign. We absolutely need that effective political power. We no longer have the luxury of choice as to who wields that effective political power on our behalf. We have to go with what we’ve got. And that’s the SNP.

      3. Sorry Mr Brown, but what is that glorious Labour history? Labour have been ‘dining out’ on the record of the Attlee government for 70 years now. The thing is that most of the worthwhile achievements of that 45-51 government would have been brought in by governments of any party after WW2; even a Tory one. It was in the post war air and virtually every Western European state brought in welfare states and socialised health systems. We also have to recognise that it was Attlee and co who overcentralised the British state to a grotesque extent and refused to make real assaults on aspects of the British class system.

        The 64-70 and 74-79 Labour governments achieved virtually nothing and opened the door for the wonderfulness of the Thatcher years. Blair and Brown did some decent things through increasing public spending on the NHS and bringing in Scottish and Welsh Devolution but those were the main, almost sole, gains from 13 years of big majority government. At the same time they abandoned and alienated much of their traditional support, became the custodians of Thatcherite economic policy and allowed Britain’s casino economy to roar ahead. Iraq was the cherry on top.

        That’s it after a 110 year history. Not that glorious really. You can look below to see what this working class boy’s view of his 60 odd year experience of Labour has been. It might be a corrective to some of the misty eyed drivel we get from the more traditional Labour supporters who are left. It’s also probably more reflective of the experiences of people my age.

    2. Yes. Peter’s last para – wrapped-up neat and tidy

      Wondering what type of Scottish political landscape we’d have today had BLiS been given free-reign to campaign for independence in Scotland. Yes, it’s a political contradiction, but allowed to fantasise, would SLab still be utterly blootered today, SNP still in power, rewarded by the electorate for delivering, or would we have a 50/50 type split? One thing’s for certain; a post-independent Scotland – BLiS having campaigned for that independence – would not have countenanced hand-in-hand end-of-days tactics with the Tories as they’re doing today.
      When the post-Ref catch-phrase question has been; ‘What are Labour for?’ the answer is slowly dawning; ‘To side with the Tories and uphold the union at the expense of Scotland’.

      Still curious that the original article and subsequent comments have been ‘permitted’. Something going-on?

      1. I’ve been wondering that myself. Replies to most of the right-wing yoon nonsense “articles” on this blog are usually “selected”, I think, with dissenting voices probably “deselected”. Hey – just like most Labour MP’s should be! Anyway, it’s weird that this article and it’s landslide support is being allowed. I wonder if “AR Brown” is wondering the same thing? And what’s going through Duncan’s mind? Hmmmm. Strange.

        1. It’s all a cunning plot, TB. Either that or just maybe what you think is true of me and Labour Have isn’t true, and never was true…

        2. TB, I’m just pleased that the article was published. The editorial and comment moderation policies on this site are none of my business.

      1. Way ahead of you. The comments I post in places like this are always published elsewhere as well, e.g. Scotto Voce. Not least because I can never be sure they’ll get past the censors.

  35. “The SNP is not nearly as far to the left as I would wish – I am natural Labour through and through”

    The first part of that is true for many people in Scotland, myself included. Also they are miles too socially conservative, but we must remember two things:

    1) For the past few general elections, and right up until Corbyn took the leadership, Labour policies were objectively more right wing, less redistributive and crucially (for me at least) vastly more authoritarian, than those of the SNP.

    2) Independence is not first and foremost a party political argument. No doubt as a leftie SNP member you are acutely aware of this anyway. For those of us on the left who long ago concluded that independence is the only way to rid ourselves once and for all of the authoritarian centre-right which historically rules the UK roost, and whose demographic shows no signs of shrinking, we must always remember that the SNP is the means and not the end.

    For the record, I was a Labour voter until Iraq. The slide towards authoritarianism thereafter, followed by their craven behaviour during the independence campaign sealed the deal for me. Unless and until Scottish Labour is no longer “British Labour in Scotland” they will never have my vote again.

    1. The above was intended as a reply to leewee’s comment from earlier. Not sure what happened to make it appear out of line here. I will attempt to repost as a reply in the proper place.

    2. The SNP may not be as far to the left as some would wish, but it is almost certainly as far to the left as it can be and still be able to gain effective political power. It is not parties that decide how left-wing governments are, but voters.

      Righteous radicals might usefully ask themselves which is preferable – ineffectual idealism, or principled pragmatism.

  36. Here’s a thing- Don’t disagree with much of what the author has penned. I think that it’s time the Scottish Labour Party had a relaunch. Maybe a slogan something along the lines of ‘Take a fresh new look at the fresh new Scottish Labour Party . Think it has to be highlighted that at the recent NEC meeting during conference, Scottish Labour is now autonomous from UK Labour. Sounds good even though we know the intention will be to shout nothing but ‘SNP Bad’ rather than have any policies that will enhance Scotland.

    1. “Scottish Labour is now autonomous from UK Labour”

      Except any labour MP in Scotland will still be expected to follow the UK labour party whip in parliament, irrespective if Scottish labour’s policy on the issue – in other words, autonomy of thought but not of action.

  37. I’m old enough to never EVER vote SNP, but Blair’s illegal war, in the face of enormous public protest, was the start of a slippery slope for me. The likes of Jim Murphy and John McTernan (a man who’s only goal seems to be to resurrect the bloated fetid corpse of Blairite neo-liberalism) openly celebrating with their tory comrades in arms was, i thought, the final straw, and I was done with Labour.

    Admittedly, since then Corbyn offered a glimmer of home but the PLP seem set on scheming and hamstringing him. As it stands at the moment I will vote for Labour in Westminster for as long as there is a genuinely progressive candidate, I’m yet to be convinced that we will still have a progressive candidate by the time 2020 comes around though and, if somehow we do, and labour fail to win that one I can almost guarantee that will be the end of progressive politics within the PLP for a long time because there are too many in the party who are only really interested in keeping their own seats and the lifestyle that comes with them.

    As for in Scotland, without radical chance, the party has pretty much committed itself to a long slow death.Bizarrely the fear tactics employed on pensioners in the referendum has left the party with a middle aged to elderly following, I work with a lot of young people and support for Labour amongst the young in Scotland has never been lower. Dugsdale is widely mis-trusted and other supposed big hitters in the party like Sarwar are viewed with disdain and incredulity amongst young people (this is a man after all who once tried to make a campaign address in the middle of a night at the Sub Club?!?) Dugsdae’s policy of not changing much from the tack Murphy took, without giving any clear impression of what she actually plans to do other than repeatedly play into the hands of the fervent SNP supporter’s repeated “SNP bad” dismissal tactics has seen the party up here slip behind the tories, and it’s only going to get worse. I’m sure the party comfort themselves with the fact that older voters are more likely to vote. Well the kids who were sixteen at the referendum are growing up and the traditional core vte are getting on.

    Without change and a real attempt at dialogue the future is not looking bright at all for Labour.

    1. I’m 66 and come from a traditional Labour supporting, working class family. All through the 50s my parents voted for Tom Oswald whose face was never seen in our area. In fact the only time we ever saw any Labour people was when they came to harvest the local working class votes for Parliament or Council. When my dad died in 1965 it was in the early days of the Wilson government and when we checked out what he had left after war service and a shortened working life we had about enough money to bury him and a decent overcoat.

      A few years later I was working as a young civil servant pretty near the centre of that government as a fetcher and carrier. What I saw then, however, was exactly the kind of infighting that you have within Labour now as the Wilson and George Brown factions worked to destroy each other. For what its worth it was Brown’s view of how the economy should be run that was the right one. As for Scotland: Labour, up here, simply did it was told. It didn’t matter if the policy was right for Scotland or not. Wilson passed the message on to his pet Scottish Dictaphone, Willie Ross, and he whipped the troops into line. It should be pointed out that the Wilson government and local Labour parties were shrouded in sleaze and scandal. Joe Kagan, Eric Miller, T Dan Smith etc etc; not to mention possible/probable Soviet spies.

      We don’t really have to dwell on the behaviour of the party in the run up to and execution of the Devolution referendum in 79. It delivered a helpless Scotland into the hands of Thatcher and pals and then spent the next 18 years tearing itself apart largely unfit for office. The Blair/Brown governments did some good things but they also tolerated the abandonment of their traditional support and got far too cosy with money and power (Stand up Peter Mandelson.). They then thought it a good idea to get us involved in foreign wars for no apparent reason.

      Since the establishment of Holyrood the Scottish party has had little idea what to do with it. It became a repository after the first Labour administration for second raters and no-hopers. The party pretty much finished itself off with its behaviour during the 2014 referendum campaign. Labour people flocking to join Osborne in his threats. Darling accepting money (Soliciting it if the stories are to be believed.) from Ian Taylor and getting standing ovations from the Tory conference. Labour activists celebrating with Young Tories after frustrating the wishes of their core support. Who couldn’t see the party in freefall after that?

      I’ve written this to show the party’s decline didn’t just start in 2014. It was going on for a lot longer than that. 2014 wasn’t probably the tipping point. That goes back to 2011 or even 2007. 2014 simply appears to have been the coup de grace.

      1. Yes. The Labour Party in Scotland has been for most of my lifetime (60 odd years), an exercise in arrogant stupidity and a continuous and steady drift to the right, until at the end there came the ghastly sight of Labour embracing the Scottish Tories.

        Scotland leeds a proper and effective left wing party to keep the SNP tethered to leftish policies until independence. Then we need it to try to take power and deliver social justice for Scotland.

        Unfortunately British Labour in Scotland is not that party. It must die and be replaced.

  38. A few months ago KD was telling us that Labour in Scotland were committed to retaining Scotland’s place in the EU and the single market.
    Ten there’s a motion before the Scottish Parliament that called for “Scotland’s place in the single market to be fully protected”, and LiS abstains.
    What changed? The slow realisation among LiS that there was only one way to retain membership of the single market:
    “In truth, membership of the single market requires membership of the European Union. Scotland would need to be an independent country. And would then need to apply to join the EU as a new member state,”
    So said Jackie Baillie, the LiS Economy, Fair Work and Jobs spokeperson.
    There’s a complete lack of any form of leadership as the Party ties itself in knots trying to reconcile 2 diametrically opposite positions. All that seems to be left is sticking fingers in ears, shouting “la, la, la” at the top of their collective voice and hoping it will all go away.

  39. There is an assumption behind this piece and many of the comments that Scotland is a radical, left of centre country. It isn’t. It is a conservative country (with a small c). Scottish Labour had to accommodate that, as the SNP is currently doing. Independence, as the SNP imagined it, is now in the light of Brexit almost impossible to achieve. However, we are also living through a time of fundamental change to the political ‘zeitgeist’ throughout the world. I am sceptical of any attempt to predict what the Scottish or British political map could or will look like in a few years time. One thing that is certainly true is that Scottish Labour will need to reinvent itself. As will the other parties.

    1. The article isn’t really about Scotland – whose nature depends on the collective natures of her citizens and institutions. It’s about Scottish Labour and how they have reacted in the face of the radical right wing forces that dominate the UK, and to others’ attempts to react to those same forces in ways that weren’t familiar or welcome.

      1. Do you actually think there is such as thing as a Scottish labour? Arent they just UK Labour members in Scotland who follow and work for the same party that’s HQd in London?

        1. Whether or not Scottish Labour exists or should exist as a distinct entity rather than a marketing brand of Labour is one of the questions I pose. It’s for the members to answer, I think, not me.

  40. there I was thinking nobody would be doing anything over the holiday. shows you how bad the tv was. unlike you I am a labour party member I voted no in 14. and helped deliver the vote. the snp lost their leader when no won labour members played a huge part in that a lot of them also voted yes. and Scottish politics has not moved on. but the people we are all about to find out in may. labour in Scotland as a party are I think caught between nationalism on one hand and tory unionism on the other. we need to find our way and deliver a clear vision and message have courage believe in ourselves . brexit is a disaster but it was not as our FM would have us believe a Scotland only vote it was a UK vote. sadly the world is moving to the right . look at Trump Germany France etc.i could go on but happy new year everyone.

  41. Good article. As a former labour voter it worries me to see just how badly they are doing in Scotland, to the benefit of the tories. I personally can’t see them getting my vote in the near future if they continue along their chosen self destructive path but there are a few things I believe they could do that would radically affect their fortunes in Scotland for the better.

    – Create a new Scottish labour party that is completely distinct from the UK labour party and which can make its own discisions and vote accordingly.
    – Be seen to work constructively within the Scottish parliament. Mindlessly dismissing every SNP policy just makes labour look petty. Supporting policies in return for introducing progressive labour amendments will let the public see that labour has ideas that could be taken further in the future.
    – Scottish labour have a unique opertunity. Support for Scottish independence is at an all time high and climbing but it is still not the majority opinion. If Scottish labour became a party for true devolution and the idea of a federal UK then I believe they could perhaps delay the seemingly inevitable slide of popular opinion towards independence for Scotland.

    I think Scottish labour is wary of this final point as history has shown us that increased devolution for Scotland has led to increased support for independence, however at this stage I believe that the “devo max” option might be the only way to save the union in the short term.

  42. This is a fantastic article it speaks truths that all former Scottish Labour Party supporters myself included who will recognise, although those who remain with the Scottish Labour Party will not be influenced as the are suffering from the inability to consider to lead rather than be led by themselves they are sorry to say all but extinct and meaningless in today’s Scottish Politics.

  43. I agree with a lot of the article I am a labour party member. when I comment its my views you get. I am sorry that some of the people who commented are former Labour voters. I would ask that in the upcoming local election when you are contacted for your vote tell them why you are not voting for them make sure they understand. I have done phone polling and believe me the public don’t hold back. I am a labour member who ended up defending our FM her own voters were attacking her because she is a woman. yes I am ready for the federal route. the party needs to present a clear vision on what we want to achieve. and up until this morning I would not have said that in North Ayrshire we recently took control of the council it can be done. as I write this BBC are reminding us its 20 years since Tony Blair got elected. and that SNP and Labour members hate each other to mutch to work together. I have been hearing that for years there is rivalry not hatred .we are all unpaid volunteers. Blair won 3 elections people forget that. in Scotland Salmond won 2 quite an achievement the war we spend a fortune on Intelligence gathering. it was a monumental intelligence led failure . remember Gulf War 1 another intelligence failure. the SNP are in control at Holyrood that’s why we go after them. that’s what oppositions do I would love someone to end that daft clapping by all parties. what upset me today Len Mcluskey Dianne Abbott I have always been loyal as are the membership. I am now finding it hard to explain or understand these peoples comments . I was laughed at today because of them. now for something completely different . Maggie did not register for the poll tax got a reminder. the good people of Orkneybrexit are looking for greater autonomy. and they are worried about another indy ref . councillors have passed a motion for a report .it will look at whether they can exercise self determination if there are further national or international changes. they want to consider what engagement wold be required with London and Edinburgh . if they do it. sounds as if they are saying you are as bad as each other . interesting

  44. Good article and kudos to the editor for publishing it. How many can say, hand on heart, that Nationalist blogs would publish many critical pieces of the independence movement on their own sites?

    Personally though, I think Labour should ignore their problems in Scotland for now and focus on England if they want to survive as a political party.

    Scottish, Welsh and Irish nationalism is a problem for the UK but not enough to realistically threaten the Union on their own terms. The biggest threat to the Union is the rise of English nationalism.

    For many years English nationalism had few political friends and was seen as a fringle element. But UKIP has given English nationalism a political home and the ability to organise, give it credibility and a voice.

    English nationalism not only suceeded in ending the UK’s membership of the EU but with it also brought down the Cameron Government.

    English nationalism is a serious threat to Labour in the North of England, which could finish Labour as a political party.

    The Conservatives are already being forced to pander to UKIP in the South and this cost the Cameron wing of the party the EU referendum and their careers.

    For the moment immigration has been the target of English nationalism.

    If UKIP decide to make the Barnett formula an election issue in 2020 by pledging to reform it or scrap it (Paul Nuttel has spoken out several times how unfair Barnett is to English voters) how would Labour or the Conservatives defend it, against a growing tide of English nationalism?

    Scottish Unionists know the main weapon against independence is the Barnett formula. If there is pressure on to reform it or scrap it, then what?

    1. “How many can say, hand on heart, that Nationalist blogs would publish many critical pieces of the independence movement on their own sites?”
      The Nationalist blogs dont need to. The Nationalists are growing stronger and stronger. The nationalists are in Govt and quite frankly doing a grand job! And, I thought this was about the demise of British Labour in Scotland rather than the constitution?

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