RICHARD MACKINNON tells Scottish Labour to rethink its strategy towards fighting the independence referendum.
I think this piece may not be easy reading for Labour supporters but I have tried to be factual and objective and I do believe the subject is predominant amongst Labour activists in Scotland at this time. And that the future of the nation depends upon the outcome of the debate.
It appears to me that the Scottish Labour party is not facing up to the reality of the up and coming referendum on Scotland’s constitutional future. Rather than take the opportunity of formulating and articulating a stance that Labour believes is right for Scotland, and in so doing advance the position of The Party in Scotland, it seems to be placing itself against all it has fought for simply because to argue for more powers for the Scottish Parliament would be to create a safety net for the SNP.
The only arguments I hear from opposition politicians is ‘Salmond and the SNP are obsessed by independence’ and the ‘the delay (in calling the referendum) is damaging to the Scottish economy’. To argue that a nationalist party is dangerously obsessed with independence is so much of a contradiction it insults the intelligence. Also the SNP are now the government of Scotland and therefore have a mandate and it appears that there are those in Scottish Labour who are in denial of that fact. With regard to damage the delay (in holding the referendum) is doing to the Scottish economy, 2012 is 4 weeks away.
The referendum is to be held in 2014/15, and the signs are that Salmonds’ offer of a second question has already been rejected; that Labour is adopting the position of a straight forward one question ’yes/no’ even although, the majority of the Scottish people and Scottish Labour probably want a middle way. When the Scottish Parliament was reconvened Donald Dewar said ’devolution was not an event it was a process’, he was right, nobody who sits at Holyrood can argue against tax raising powers; you can’t have a parliament that spends money without the accountability of raising it.
If however Scottish Labour do see the logic of this argument and instead take the lead in shaping and campaigning for a second question, then I have no doubt that that is the option that will win in a referendum. Labour would do very well post referendum.
On the other hand if Scottish Labour does not push Salmond for a second question, what will Labours’ campaign be? The choice is between a positive pro-union (‘look what the union has done for us’ during the worst recession for 80 years) campaign or a constantly negative campaign rubbishing the nationalists and trying to spread fear amongst the electorate.
Richard MacKinnon is a retired engineer, living in Glasgow, who was brought up in socialist family with politics in its marrow. He believes the Scottish Labour party is at an ideolgical crossroads and that they hold the key to the constitutional future of Scotland.
155 thoughts on “The Referendum”
A good article, perceptive, short (rarely a Bad Thing) and to the point. One aspect I’d take issue with though, “if Scottish Labour does not push Salmond for a second question” …. You’d be pushing at an open door. It’s not up to the SNP to frame a second question, it’s up to those who would prefer Devo-Max, or whatever label you want to put on it. The SNP will be campaigning 100% for independence, if anybody wants a question on Devo-Max then let them define Devo-Max clearly and propose the form of words that should be on the ballot paper. Salmond has already said he is not opposed to a second question but do not think for a second he will waste any more time on it, if you want a Devo-Max option, do the work and sell your proposal to the Scottish people. By engaging directly with the people on this Scottish Labour might, just might, not disappear.
If Devo-Max is your preferred option, get cracking and tell us exactly what you mean by it. And if the MPs cannot be bothered doing the work, then why should the SNP? After all we know whose salaries and expenses are at risk……..
Richard, they don’t want to hear the truth.
Labour seems to think it’s the party of the union.
As far as it goes – it’s the conservative and unionist party – not the Labour and unionist party.
There is no reason why socialism cannot be created in an independent Scotland.
An independent Scottish socialist nation is better than a Brit nat right-wing subserviance to the Tories in Westminster.
A good article – hear hear!
The problem is, while Labour can ‘support’ an alternative to independence (e.g. the ‘mythical’ devo maxx / FFA), they are not in a position to offer the Scots an alternative as they are not in government.
This is what I find most perplexing; if Labour support only a straight Y/N question on independence – for which they will campaign for a No vote – they are effectively asking Scots to accept a London Tory Government for the foreseeable. The conservatives could be in power for another 2 decades+ for all we know. Scots will not suffer that again – too horrific a prospect to contemplate.
Labour have 2 options:
1. Support independence, or at least do not oppose it
2. Negotiate with the Tory+Lib Dem UK government to put forward a solid Devo Max/FFA alternative to independence that Scots believe will be delivered (Scots are not trustworthy of Westminster, so it better be rock solid). A Federal UK with Scotland taking control of all its resources (inc oil and gas) is the only option on this really.
Oh, and the SNP bashing needs to stop. It is not helping and is really counterproductive. Just because a party is not in power does not mean it has to oppose the government on everything. Labour would win a lot of support by siding with the SNP where they really should be.
Perhaps I am missing something but has not Salmond said given more vote yes than no to Independence then the fact Devo Max gained more votes Than the yes vote Would be irrelevant.
As full independence gives all you want under Devo max and more, so from Salmonds perspectives the Yes to Independence wins and its game over for the Union.
Shame RICHARD MACKINNON doesn’t know who the Scottish people are dealing with
Yes or no to Independence Plain and simple Devo max can be asked for through the Holyrood Parliament there is no need for a referendum as the Calman proposals show.
At last an article of sense and purpose, if Labour do not grasp, shape and offer an alternative then I believe that Scotland will vote for independence. I don’t believe the polls that say that only a about third support it… I have voted Labour in every election since I was 18 apart from in last May… and I will vote for independence if no other option is put forward… The scare stories don’t wash, a small look across the water shows us what Scotland show look similar to… someone should tell Ian Davidson… They build more than a few warships in Norwegian ship yards. Sadly for labour I don’t see any Scottish leader on the horizon who has the strength of will and political intellect to steer this alternative path and thus the demise of this once proud movement will now continue. I cringe each time a Labour representative uses the word separation…is our political language so impoverished that we are scared to acknowledge that Independence is a viable option for the Scottish people but that our beliefs and movement is about more. I feel all the years of spin and political smoke and mirrors have really obscured what Labour ought to really stand for… The more I think about it and the more comments I read on this sight, the more I realize that the prevalent view in the labour party actually sadly doesn’t fit with my idea
of how this party ought to fight for and protect the weakest in our society. I don’t suggest that the SNP stand for most of my views, but at least they are seen to be trying and are offering political competence and resistance in some of the most difficult times ever faced by this country… Every week as I watch first ministers questions I often ask myself…who write Ian Grays Qs… I don’t wish to view a slanging match it’s what makes Westminister politics so pathetic… Perhaps a more constructive approach would be more effective… and perhaps a positive case for the Union ought to be put…if one can be put…the continued negative attacks are absolutely pathetic and I for one don’t buy them. Sorry rambling now.
The Scottish Government cannot deliver any changes to the devolution settlement, only Westminster can do that. Therefore, only Westminster parties can offer any sort of promises of devo-max-type changes to devolution.
If Labour want devo-max Labour is going to have to define it and be in a position to deliver it before it can be put to the people in a referendum.
Before I reply I want to congratulate the ‘labourhame’ website for allowing such an open debate.
Davey Johnstone : I think we are in agreement. If the labour movement in Scotland does not reailse its historical responsibilities, which have been distilled by a SNP administration with a democratic mandate then the consitutional future of our country will be decided by the through of a dice.
Let me try and say that agin for my own good’
There is going to be a referendum.
The snp are entitled to hold it.
The Scottish people want a government with real responsibility for raising taxes and spending. Proof ; in the last referendum Scotland voted overwhelmingly for a parliament with tax raising powers.
Scottish Labour can either take the next step, use its influence to untie the bonds, amicably, or stand back and be witness to a messy divorce/unhappy marriage.
The decision lies in our hands.
Absolutely spot on Richard I agree with all the above… I would also like to congratulate Labour Hame for allowing all opinions to be expressed… Freedom to express ideas as well as freedom of information would sorely help this debate and allow the Scottish people to make an informed choice… A little fairness and balanced reporting in the media wouldn’t go a miss either. I feel that is where sites like this can help it could actually be used to put all the facts (truthfully) about the options to the wider public… Any Labour MPs or MSPs care to step up to the plate?
I totally agree with the article and Davy & David’s comments above. Only Labour can define the second question Scotland is a two party country now and these two will define those questions – if Labour define the second question they will be seen to own it.
Positive politicking will then once again be seen in Scottish Labour, rather than being nicknamed the GLUMS.
Wouldn’t a Y/N referendum be a gamble though, if you want the status quo? I have no doubt that devo-max will be the preferred option (independence but with shared defense & foreign policy) and so if you want the status quo, you may want to leave it as a Y/N and gamble that there isn’t enough people to want independence.
Whether or not Scotland will actually have full independence is another question. Even if it is voted for in a referendum, will the Nats deliver full independence and have their own armed forces? and foreign office?? Or will they just stick with “devo-max” anyway?
I personally would like to see more devolution in England as well as set out in Carswell & Hannan’s “The Plan” which will allow northern England to compete directly with Scotland.
David Scott, I know how deep the bitterness is between Labour and the nationalists, but when the opportunity arises to have an open and honest debate then I welcome the chance.
All three unionists parties realise that politics in Scotland have changed and that their approach to the way they operate has to change. Don’t tell me that Scottish Labour can reorganise itself and give its leader the responsibilty for the whole party structure in Scotland and not see the parallels with the country as a whole.
I know that amongst Labours’ 49 Scottish MPs there are those that would close down Holyrood tomorrow but the Scottish Labour movement doesn’t think like that. If independence is good enough for The Scottish Labour party then its good enough for Scotland.
Holyrood is the creation of the Labour Party, Donald Dewar realised it was going evolve through time and when the leader of the Scottish Labour Party is appointed his/her own boss the realisation of which parliament is prevelent will quickly become obvious.
Frustrated Socialist, I agree.
Nikostartos, I’m struggling to follow the logic of your argument, but I do know who the Scottish people are dealing with and so do they. I trust the Scottish people in their judgement and I think that is why some unionist politicians are in for a big surprise.
A very good article, succinct and to the point. I would also congratulate Labour Hame for allowing open debate.
Nikos point is easily answered however.
If a second question is put on the ballot paper that question immediately becomes moot if the first question, do you want independence yes or no, the yes wins. There is no need for devo max or whatever if independence is won.
For simplification the second question could be along the lines of,
If independence is not achieved do you wish Scotland to have devo max yes or no.
Looks fairly straightforward to me but then Im not Niko.
but how does Independence win with less votes than Devo max but more votes than NO I mean how
‘but then Im not Niko.’
Nah! there is only one Niko
Because it’s 2 questions with a yes/no answer, not 1 question with 3 options.
It’s really simple. I’m surprised so much of the MSM made an issue of it when my 5 year old niece understands it perfectly.
Because it isn’t an either-or vote, just like the devolution referendum wasn’t. “A Scottish parliament” got more votes than “a Scottish Parliament with tax-raising powers”, but we got one with tax-raising powers anyway.
Then with Electoral illegitimacy such as you(and other snp supporters) reveal we will be forced to invoke the ‘UNION CLAUSE’ and Westminster waves the rules (the snp ones) to ensure a free fair transparent Scottish Referendum.
So the 1999 referendum – designed by Labour to have two questions, and in which the option that got fewer votes (but still a majority) won – was “illegitimate”? You presumably want the Scottish Parliament immediately dissolved, then?
I’d like to echo some of the sentiments above in congratulating LabourHame for its willingness to debate this issue which is clearly a matter of considerable internal division within the party. One aspect that I’ve not seen though is any medium to long term strategic thinking in regards to this issue, firstly if devo Max (which polls suggest would be by far the most popular choice) wasn’t to appear in the referendum that would be the Unionist parties fault not the SNP and would almost certainly push more people into voting yes in the referendum and it exposes to attacks of being intransigent and given how close any straight yes no vote would be could be just enough to cost you victory.
Then there are also issues beyond the referendum and its certainly worth considering what adopting the status quo position would do to Labour’s standing with the people of Scotland. First of all it would to at least some degree mean joining team Tory even if you where to run your own No campaign you would still be campaigning for the same outcome. Given that opening words muttered by Iain Gray at the start of the Holyrood election campaign were “now that the Tories are back..” it’s undeniable that anti still Toryism forms a considerable strand of any Labour election campaign. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that the SNP don’t generate their own anti Tory vote ( I believe an often overlooked factor in the SNP’s landslide in May is that they are now seen as the best anti Tory option in Holyrood) the Labour party is more defined by it anti Tory stance historically than the SNP. To fully abandon the anti Tory ground to the SNP would without doubt cost Westminster seat at the following election, assuming of course Scotland still sent MP’s to Westminster.
Finally considering the nature of the no to independence campaign compared to the yes to Devo Max, as it stands no strong positive argument can be put forward for the Union in its current form, let’s face it if there were one it would be the lead news item on the Daily record, The Scotsman and BBC Scotland. That being the case the strongest weapon in Labour’s arsenal would be scar story’s some of these would be legitimate worries (though equally a lot wouldn’t) but my word to go down that route, which might work, would be a pyrrhic victory! Having spent the previous few months attacking Scotland and deigning the countries potential thus going into the next election be they for the UK or Scotland would push voter’s to the SNP in there droves and could in all seriousness cripple the Labour Party in Scotland for a decade. That’s assuming that the No vote wins if you choose that route and lose well that’s it the party dies so in that sense Devo Max isn’t just a safety net for the SNP if full independence fails its also a safety net for Labour in case it succeeds.
Is the SNP really an anti-tory vote? Do comments by their ex-leader today regarding same-sex marrige really expose them as a party with centre-right leanings that they are? Iain Gray’s attack on the cuts being implemented by SNP adminstration during First Ministers Shouted Avoiding of the Questions yesterday afternoon.
When are Labour going to finally stop dancing around the elephant in the room that nationalism IS fundamentally a right wing point? Look at all the so-called “socialist” policies implimented by the SNP adminstration – removing bridge tolls, free prescriptions, free parking at hospitals – cynically targeted towards a dis-enfranchised left while pulling on our national heart strings – all populist measures, all the kind measures employed by right-leaning nationalist parties all over the world.
If the SNP are indeed a left-of-centre party, where are the real social-democratic polices? Look at their shameful record on education since their adminsitration has been in power.
Nationalism creates divisions, creates an “us and them” attitude. Isn’t Labour about equality of opportunity and indentifying our commonalilty between everyone – within and outwith Scotland? – Have a read of the back of you Labour membership card.
Are we any different from people in Manchester, London, Newcaste? No, not really, but the SNP want us to believe that. And they are doing a very, very good job of it.
It’s time for Labour expose nationalism for what it really is- shameful partition of people.I’ve yet to hear one leadership hopeful express this.
I agree with you and so do VERY many Labour politicians. Don’t worry, these people have a LOT of clout!
The same claim about creating divisions can be levelled at socialism, “us and them”, “the haves and the have nots”, “the bosses and the workers”, “the rich and the poor”. etc.
I note, that you didn’t actually answer the main charge, that there is no strong positive arguments for the Union.
Yes, there is no real difference between a jobseeker from Glasgow and one from Liverpool but then, there’s no real difference between a jobseeker from Glasgow and many parts of the rest of the world. Do you propose we jump into a Union with these countries too?
Davy, I found it very hard to understand your post.
Your objection to removing bridge tolls, free prescriptions and free parking at hospitals seems not to be the policies themselves but the party who implemented them.
Surely the best way to combat an “us and them” attitude would be to support positive policy decisions even when they’re popular with the people.
“Are we any different from people in Manchester, London, Newcaste?”
Yes, we are – we don’t have to let the people of England decide our government for us like they do.
It’s a bit daft using the nats’ nutty EX-leader as a sign of anti-gayness. He hasn’t been in the party’s executive for about 20 years, and the SNP are the ones actually bringing the gay marriage legislation forward, after all – despite Souter’s money.
You appear to be criticising the SNP for implementing policies that the people of Scotland want. Maybe thats why the vote in May was overwhelming.
Do you really think that a tax on being sick, either to get the medicine you need, or to be able to park near the hospital where your treatment is, is a socialist policy?
The charge now in England is £7.40 per item, not per prescription. Since the treatment protocol for high blood pressure in Scotland is four different types of tablets that is £29.60 per prescription. Let them keep that in England.
Do you think Labour should go into the next Holyrood election campaigning to reintroduce prescription charges since it is a socialist policy?
Davyv, Gordon Wilson stood down as leader of the SNP over two decades ago. The current SNP leadership are in favour of same-sex marriage: that’s why there’s this debate and consultation going on.
The problem with that argument is that Scotland and England & Wales are already “partitioned” to use your terminology. That is why people in Manchester, London & Newcastle can no longer have their children educated in a comprehensive education system because that doesn’t really exist any more down south in the way that it does in Scotland. And people in Manchester, London & Newcastle are also looking at the immediate prospect of their NHS being systematically dismantled and sold off to the highest bidder – something that will not happen in Scotland because of the “partition” of devolution. If you are actually serious in saying that there shouldn’t be any difference between people in Scotland and the rest of the UK you would be condemning the Scottish NHS to the same fate as its English counterpart.
I will be surprised if leaving defence(Trident?) and foreign affairs (Iraq and Afghanistan?)do not prove to be problematic to any committed radical who has a look at “Devo max” or “Devo Plus”.
The major reason for my committmetn to an independent Scotland is to take Scotland out of such excresences.
And if anybody thinks that Westminster will give Scotland the revenues from the oil fields in any form of devo max they really should see a shrink.
We will be able to take the Labour Party in Scotland seriously when the Labour Party actually allows its membership in Scotland to democratically debate this question.,
To see a Labour Party which was trusted by generations of Scots completely absorbed into the Tory position on this issue is very sad indeed
Time is running out for Scottish Labour.
Without the DevoMax option on the ballot sheet Scots in their droves will vote YES for independence, guarranteed.
In an Age of Austerity, a hostile Coalition, a neutered Labour party and a growingingly dysfunctional UK, Scots will see their future as being an independent nation.
Just to also add my thanks to LabourHame for allowing such an open and honest debate. The really sad thing about the hatred between Labour and the SNP is that , deep down, we probably agree on an awful lot more than what we very publicly disagree about.
I just wish more of the Labour guys would agree to work for socialism in Scotland rather than settling for ineffectively trying to take on the Tories in Westminster…. And sadly unwittingly doing the Tories job for them here.
I’m not sure if Labour really want to tackle this question.It might be easier just to back off from the whole referendum thing.Let people make up their own minds how theyre going to vote.I dont really see how Labour cant lead the No campaign without appearing very anti Scottish.And where will that leave them if YES prevails? In the wilderness,I would think.
I supported Labour at every level for 40 years without question until the disgraceful Iraq war – then I started to question and what I found I don’t like.
Labour’s behaviour in the past 40 years would shame it’s founders and it’s juvenile opposition to the SNP is counter-productive and shameful – especially the opposition to minimum pricing and the proposed sectarian bill. Look at the opposition you have put up to Alex Salmond – hopeless doesn’t begin to describe them. We must now go Independent to avoid being dragged into the financial mire again by London and hopefully a post Independence Labour, led by people like Malcolm Chisholm, Henry McLeish and maybe Hugh Henry could rid them of this feeble and useless posturing!
Totally agree, Bill. If you made a list of the best Scottish Labour politicians, I’d be surprised if more than 10% of that list plied their trade at Holyrood. Makes it too easy to question Scottish Labour’s real motives for being so opposed to independence (or even devo-max).
Add Ewan Aitkin to your list, as well. Now that really would be a Labour party!
Ooops. Labourhame allowing Cybernats to leave comments un-moderated? Next we’ll be hearing “I agree with Alex”!
But, credit where it’s due. Well done & hopefully this can be the start of something better.
To Davyv, I say look beyond the “narrow” Nationalism to what the SNP actually prescribe: Success for Scotland means our neighbours and trading partners also benefit.
What is being advised to “UK” banks by the likes of Mervyn King is exactly what you describe as “shameful partition”!
Devo-Max may be the favoured solution among a majority of the Scottish population, but I don’t think it has much support outwith Scotland. And without support in Westminster, it won’t/can’t happen. Devo-max means the formation of a properly federal UK, with each representative part of the federation having an equal representation in the fderal authority – not representation based on population. Can you see the Westminster system agreeing to that?
And even if they did, what would happen if the Scottish government decided that they did not wish to pay for e.g. a continuing nuclear weapons programme? Would the UK then have to give up Trident?
But if Labour don’t go for some kind of “more powers for Scotland” campaign in the referendum, they’ll be campaigning with the Tories for the status quo, or maybe even the end of devolution totally. Is that something Scottish Labour is happy to be doing?
Talk of rocks and hard places.
“I think this piece may not be easy reading for Labour supporters”
That is indeed correct Mr McKinnon, especially given the social and economic backgrounds from which Labour draws much of its support. But enough of our literacy skills.
There appears to be no central theme to the opposition to the forthcoming referendum except ‘its bad’. Any pronouncement about damaging investment is swiftly countered by many of the country’s leading industrialists. And almost all of the questions being asked regarding banking, currency, defence, EU membership have the answers freely available on many websites. In fact, there is a whole army of helpers out there correcting many of the misconceptions being put about by the Tory/LibDem Westminster Government on Scotland ability to stand on its own two feet.
In short, telling the truth may hurt, but if you do, the electorate will love you forever.
Firstly congrats to Labourhame for posting this article.
I think the quality, breadth and conviction shown by many of the comments, demonstrates the need to have a full open and frank discussion about where we see our country going. Dont let it be constricted, lets have the real look without fear, where would we like to see our country being in 5 years, 10 years 20 years time, and lets plan the best way to get there. Personally I prefer independence, as then we are completely responsible for what ever decisions we make, for good or ill, but have confidence that we can do an awful lot better than the present unsatisfactory position.
Excellent article and it’s great to see good debate. The way I see it, Labour should go for at least Devo Max, anything less would punish them, if not kill them off.
Labour could do great things in an independent Scotland. Why would a socialist Scot not want to see a socialist Scotland?
Well done LabourHame.
Labour Hame – thank you for allowing me to express an opinion on your site. This is my first visit but not the last. Like many of the posters I have read this evening I am left of centre and want Scotland to be run for the benefit of the people in Scotland of whatever origin. No more foreign wars, no more poverty in one of the richest countries on earth and a bit more respect for neighbours, friends and even potential enemies which may deter them from becoming such.
Labour in Scotland at the moment are lost and schizophrenic (with respect to anone suffering from any mental illness) – they do not know whether to be British or Scottish and their colleagues at Westminster are worse trying to be what they are not because they feel inferior! Which party has the most seats in the Lords? – It’s disgraceful! Labour have an opportunity to become the natural party of Scotland again but it will only be beyond independence. Think about it – our English friends are naturally conservative – that’s why we have such confrontational politics at Westminster even in the teeth of this economic gale. Both England and Scotland will benefit from Independence and we left leaners must first get Scotland out of this confrontational union!
Genetically determined political beliefs and allegiances well who would of thunk it.
Nikostratos – Are you ignoring reality? There are ideals that will never acheived as long as mankind exists! How is an ideal of socialism enhanced by the current Union
That’s right Niko, England didn’t mainly vote conservative while Scotland didn’t many vote Labour. The returning officers were just kidding on.
I agree that it would be a good idea for Labour to come up with a potential devo max proposal but only put it forward once the SNP has indicated the format and timeline for the independence referendum.
This is the first time I have looked at LabourHame, and it’s quite refreshing to see a debate
I watch Scottish First Ministers questions every week and see Labour throwing the dummy out of the pram each time.
It’s time for the labour party I used to vote for put the following priorities in order:
Labour seem to be opposing for the sake of opposing. Labour and the SNP should be trying to find common ground for the benefit of Scotland.
For example the Labour party first said (in 2007 wen the SNP looked as they may get in) that the following may happen if the SNP got in
1. The world would stopp spinning and fall of it’s axis
2. There would be plauge, pestilence etc.
3. The SNP would run Scotland in to the ground – nobody would invest (how wrong was that)
Labour deregulated the banks, bailed them out (without any strings about lending and bonuses).
Labour need to stop opposing for the sake of it- yes oppose if that’s required, but state an alternative idea.
I thought Iain Grey on SFMQ’s was poor yesterday. Labour should have been out on the picket lines showing support and joined the other (non-lib.con parties) in a ‘vote of no confidence’ motion on the CONLAB cuts. It’s about the ‘bigger picture’ – ie SCOTLAND, not about point scoring about crossing picket lines 2 times and making a point of not crossing them one last time and saying “Look mum- aren’t I a good boy”
Now my rant is over- Labour need to think of Scotland and make the case for either the Calamn proposals (dead in the water) or FFA/Devo Max.
If the choice in the referendum is Tory control of purse strings (Calman / status quo plus a little) or Independence then it will be independence by default
Take control- while Labour still has a pulse.
No, sorry, I don’t get it.
More devolution doesn’t need a referendum or a vote. The people have already voted for devolution. Increasing fiscal responsibility, broadening legislative reach can be done by agreement between the two parliaments. It’s not a constitutional issue, and it is not a significant change.
The only proposal which is a constitutional issue is independence, and that needs a referendum.
In a representative democracy like ours I think we need to be very wary of what issues are put to referenda. The process should be reserved for major constitutional decisions where full information on the implications of the options available is provided in a publicly funded information campaign.
Devo Max isn’t a stepping stone on the road to independence, or indy-lite. Devolution and independence are two different paths for our country. Let’s give people the choice to shift from the devolution path to the independence one if that is what the elected government want to do, but we simply do not need to ask about devolution again – we’ve already voted for it.
“Increasing fiscal responsibility, broadening legislative reach can be done by agreement between the two parliaments.”
Not if Westminster flatly refuses to devolve powers which command cross-party support at Holyrood, as is currently the case. A clear electoral mandate for immediate full fiscal autonomy would be much harder for Cameron to resist than the wishy-washy rubbish Calman came up with, particularly if it was backed by both Labour and the SNP, between them speaking for 75% or more of the electorate.
There’s no good reason for Labour not to back those powers, except that it thinks they’ll help the SNP get closer to complete separation. Which isn’t a good reason at all, but a very very bad one.
I think most of us would like to see greater devolution in less than 50 years.
So you’re arguing for a referendum vote in order to deal with a political failure? That’s even worse in my opinion.
I’m not arguing against Labour adopting a strong line on greater devolved powers – on the contrary I’m all for it. I’m saying it has nothing to do with the referendum on independence.
Labour should be arguing for improvements to the devolution settlement in Holyrood and Westminster, and if the SNP wants to see improvements too they should join that push. But shoehorning that political argument into a constitutional referendum would be bizarre, confusing and unnecessary.
“But shoehorning that political argument into a constitutional referendum would be bizarre, confusing and unnecessary.”
Why? What’s wrong with getting a clear democratic mandate for a specific set of policies? Everyone’s going to the polling stations anyway, why not get them to send a clear message to Westminster while they’re there about which powers they want, and hurry things along a bit?
I just don’t buy the argument that the Scottish people are too thick to understand a two-question poll. They weren’t in 1999 – have they got a lot stupider since then?
Given that I didn’t say anything about the Scottish people being thick, I’d appreciate you not pretending that I did. Argue honestly or not at all.
“Given that I didn’t say anything about the Scottish people being thick”
Yes you did. You said the two-question referendum would be “confusing”, which is a massive insult to the Scottish electorate. It’s an extremely simple proposition which they’re perfectly capable of understanding – because it’s the exact same form as the one that was put to them in 1999, and I don’t recall anyone being especially confused by that.
If you really think that me saying the shoehorning of a political argument into a constitutional question would be bizarre, confusing and unnecessary is the equivalent of saying that I think Scots are too thick to answer two questions then there is literally no point in us discussing further. It isn’t, and I have never suggested anything of the sort.
You can’t confuse an intelligent person with two simple Yes/No questions. The only people who would be confused by such a referendum would be thick people, and I don’t put the voters of Scotland in that category. Rather than pretending to be offended, you should ask yourself why you have such a low opinion of the electorate.
Andy, you’ve stopped listening, which is a shame. Once more, I’m not passing any comment on two simple yes/no questions or the ability of Scots to answer them. I’m saying that a political decision should be made by our elected representatives, and only a constitutional one should have a referendum. I cannot be clearer.
“Once more, I’m not passing any comment on two simple yes/no questions or the ability of Scots to answer them.”
Of course you are! You said it would “confuse” them. What else could you possibly mean by that?
“I’m saying that a political decision should be made by our elected representatives”
Yes, that’s fine. I don’t agree on this particular issue, but there’s nothing wrong with having that as a position. So why bring “confusion” into it?
Not true. I said nothing about two questions. I said nothing about Scots’ abilities to answer them. You are desperate to paint my comments as having that meaning, but it’s pure nonsense, and that’s an end to it.
This is getting embarrassing, Duncan. What did you mean by “confusing” if not the electorate? Who would be confused?
Surreal is what it’s getting. And pointless. The confusion of a constitutional issue with a political one was the self-evident meaning, and your determination to make it into a slur against Scots is frankly ridiculous. This is no longer debate. I did not say what you are desperate to paint me as saying, so give it up.
“Labour should be arguing for improvements to the devolution settlement… But shoehorning that political argument into a constitutional referendum would be bizarre, confusing and unnecessary.”
Confusing for who?
“Devolution and independence are two different paths for our country.”
That’s not true at all. It’s like saying the M8 from Edinburgh to Glasgow and the M8 from Edinburgh to Paisley are different roads. Most people want to end that journey in Glasgow, and fewer want to go on to Paisley. It’s perfectly possible to stop in Glasgow and go no further. But that doesn’t make them different roads.
On the contrary, devolution and independence are the M8 to Glasgow and the M90 to Perth. We set off towards Glasgow in 1999. It’s quite possible to cut back up the A73 now if we decide we’ve changed our mind, but the two options lead us to quite different destinations.
That’s silly. All the powers of independence are the same powers as devo max, just with a few more tacked on at the end. Devolution of tax-raising? Common to devo max and independence. Devolution of welfare? Common to devo max and independence. Devolution of just about any branch of government? Common to devo max and independence. Both options are clearly in the same direction of travel as we’re currently on, but independence goes that little bit further (mainly in terms of defence).
Just out of curiosity: which powers is it you think that Westminster would handle better for Scotland than Holyrood?
No, devolution of tax raising, welfare etc is no part of independence. Independence is breaking ties, devolution is strengthening them for the future. The argument that independence is like devolution but moreso is one the SNP is desperate to make but it is dishonest. It’s a completely different road.
Sorry, Duncan, but you’re the one who’s dishonest, or maybe just mad.
“Independence is breaking ties, devolution is strengthening them for the future.”
What you personally might read into, say, tax-raising powers moving from Westminster to Holyrood has nothing to do with anything. Mechanically the process and the outcome is absolutely the same either way. Every individual facet of devo max is contained within independence, independence just goes further.
Not wanting X or Y powers to be devolved is one thing. Fine, make a case that Westminster knows best on welfare if that’s what you believe (and good luck with that one). But arguing that powers shouldn’t be devolved purely on the basis that it takes the SNP closer to independence is exactly the sort of reflexive, unthinking, negative oppositionism that got Labour so enormously spanked in May.
Again you’re arguing against things I’m not saying. I’m at a loss as to why.
No, what’s happening is that you’re tangling yourself up in so many knots trying to defend a plainly-silly position that you don’t know what you’re saying any more.
Holyrood control of taxation and welfare is Holyrood control of taxation and welfare whether it happens within a devolved/federal framework or as a function of independence. That’s all I said, but you bizarrely contested it, claiming it as being two different things depending on the constitutional arrangement.
It isn’t, you just see it as opening a door to the SNP and therefore object to it. I don’t think it’s necessarily the same thing at all. I suspect that with devo max, the will of the Scottish people would be pretty much settled for the forseeable future. You seem to want to offer the people nothing now, and a vague promise of jam tomorrow, regardless of whether Labour are in a position to offer that jam or whether it’s the sort of jam people want (since you don’t want to let them have a say, insisting on leaving it to “elected representatives”).
If you go to the Scottish people in 2015 offering them nothing except vague assurances that something will happen someday, all you’re doing is pushing them towards independence.
Genuinely it appears that you’re arguing with someone else, so distant are your criticisms from my position.
I want improved devolution defined now. I want it implemented now. I have no desire to make the Scottish people wait, either for a referendum or for a promised land.
The SNP are playing politics, with the timing, with the question, with the whole shooting match, to desperately try to arrive at an independence vote they can win. They are not interested in the wishes of Scots – why would they be? They are a single issue pressure group with the aim of independence at all costs. I have no criticism of this because it it is as it always has been; I just find it astonishing that anyone believes them to be doing anything else.
“I want improved devolution defined now.”
So define it! Who’s stopping you? I already asked you which powers you thought Westminster should handle, but you haven’t answered, just waffled vague platitudes about taking our time – which don’t sit very well with “I want it implemented now”.
“They are not interested in the wishes of Scots – why would they be?”
That’s an utterly ridiculous thing to say, and exactly why Labour are staring over the abyss of total irrelevance. Are Labour “not interested in the wishes of Scots” because they want to stay in the Union? Agree or disagree, the SNP want independence because they think it’s good for Scotland.
You want further devolution defined now, but you don’t want to define it and you don’t want to let the people have an opinion on it. But here’s the problem – no matter how much you complain, the SNP got a majority, they can do what they like, and the referendum is coming whether you’re ready or not.
Labour has no power to implement any more devolution before then, because it isn’t in power. So you have to decide whether you want Labour to stand on the status quo, or to come up with a more positive option. The clock is ticking. The SNP isn’t going to wait for you. Make your choice.
Are you claiming that the SNP’s pro-independence position is based on a belief that most Scots want independence? It has been held for decades through periods when the number of Scots wanting independence was tiny, through to now when it remains a minority. So my statement is simple fact.
The sheer arrogance of the remainder of your post is telling. Putting a devo max option on an independence referendum is not the ultimate people power! People can express their opinions in a huge range of ways. Your aims are transparent and your tactics are simplistic. Let the SNP fight for what it believes in and let Scots make their decision.
“Are you claiming that the SNP’s pro-independence position is based on a belief that most Scots want independence?”
No, that’s not what I said and you know fine that it isn’t. It’s based on a belief that *the SNP* think independence is best for Scotland, and accordingly they try to convince the people that they’re right, just like every other political party does with its policies. It’s astonishing that you’re still trying to dismiss them as a “single-issue pressure group” when they’re the majority government of Scotland. Clearly the people don’t agree with you, but then that’s probably because they’re “confused”, right?
“The sheer arrogance of the remainder of your post is telling. ”
Yawn. So when challenged to simply say what you believe in – telling us which powers you so urgently want devolved – your answer is to dodge and sulk that everyone else is morally inferior to you instead. Great stuff.
What do you want devolved? What do you want reserved to Westminster? They’re not trick questions, but as long as you evade them rather than answering them, support for independence will keep growing. The referendum is coming. If Labour stands for nothing it will be committing suicide.
A single-issue pressure group in government is still a single-issue pressure group.
Of course the questions you so insistently pose need to be answered. I have written on my ideas for them, others in the party have too. We are mid leadership election and mid party reform. We must come to a consensus, just like the SNP has done, though I hope once we have done so our members are less antagonistic in their expressions of that consensus than are the SNP’s.
When Alex Salmond spoke after May’s victory he talked of the SNP not having a monopoly on wisdom. Since then they have acted in every way as though they think the opposite. Scottish Labour will reach a consensus and present its case; but it will not be bounced into jumping to the SNP’s tune by you, or by anybody else.
“A single-issue pressure group in government is still a single-issue pressure group.”
What pitiful, juvenile cobblers. Polls show that anywhere from 25% to 40% of SNP supporters oppose independence. People quite staggeringly clearly elected them, in unprecedented numbers, on the basis of policies other than independence. The sort of absurd, petulant playground sneering you’re indulging in is, I have no doubt whatsoever, a very significant part of why Labour just recorded their worst election result in 80 years.
“We are mid leadership election and mid party reform. We must come to a consensus, just like the SNP has done,”
I didn’t ask for Labour’s official policy line, I asked what YOU thought.
“Independence is breaking ties, devolution is strengthening them for the future.”
Duncan, that is a political position to take, not one based on facts.
How is the Health Service under a devolved government any less a broken tie than one under an independent government? You might, in your heart, think there’s some imaginary tie between a Scottish Health Service and the rUK one because we’re only devolved but that doesn’t stop that tie being any less imaginary.
Education is the same, as is the police, etc. People who bang on about seperation and breaking ties without facing the current reality of the set up of public institutions both in Scotland and the rest of the UK don’t have much credibility and they’re easily dismissed as simply using negative scare tactics.
After all, how many examples can you actually provide where, say, education in Scotland now has stronger ties with the rest of the UK because of devolution?
If the road to devolution and the road to independence lead to destinations, with devolution, what is the destination? What is Glasgow?
The constitutional structure of Scotland in the UK is almost completely unsustainable in the long run. Its asymmetric, unbalanced and often seen as unfair in many ways to both the English and the Scottish (no devolution to England, no constitutionally protected federal structure, peculiar and non-nonsensical funding arrangements, voting in Westminster), and devolution as a principle is incompatible with the long held belief that Westminster should be sovereign and have no limitations to her powers.
You may say that they are completely different destinations, but unless the issue of devolution/federalism is given a definitive and working solution at a UK level (which I would personally argue is unlikely to happen), Scotland just choosing to continue down the devolution road by its self, without the rest f the UK, will effectively lead to independence. To say otherwise is basically saying to the Scottish people you can have your cake and eat it too.
I agree with much of this. Perhaps Glasgow in this metaphor is a UK with devolved parliaments for all of its constituent nations. I’d certainly like to see that. Perhaps we need patience to let that happen.
Yes, clearly that’s exactly what Glasgow is – a settled position of devo max where people have no desire to travel on to Paisley. I just don’t get why you’re so anxious to get there by walking rather than in a fast car. So far the only explanation you’ve offered is that you don’t want to give the SNP a lift part of the way to their destination, even if you then left them to take their chances hitch-hiking on the motorway.
Jim Chalmers, As I said in the article I think devo max would win by a landslide in a referendum. You question whether it has much support outside of Scotland and that to implement fiscal autonomy Westminster support is necessary. I think its immaterial what Westminsters attitude might be. The way we want to be governed in Scotland is a Scottish issue to be decided by Scotland. The sovereignty of this nation lies in the hands of the people. Even arch unionists agree with that. They would have to negotiate’
Also the idea of fiscal autonomy is not as unattractive a proposition to David Cameron and his party as you might think. Of course more powers to Scotland including tax raising powers would have a knock on effect; the existing level of representation from Scotland at Westminster would be drastically reduced. And that common ground between the SNP and the Tory party south of the border is at the root of the Labour party’s (British Labour) problem. If it gives more autonomy to its Scottish party and Scottish Labour backs devo max/fiscal autonomy/home rule it knows it is signing its own death warrant.
If Scottish Labour throws itself behind more power for Holyrood then I can’t see how the British Labour party will ever form a Westminster government again.
The last three UK Labour governments, and almost every one before that, would have achieved a majority without any Scottish seats.
1966: Labour majority of 96. Excluding Scotland, Lab majority of 4
1970: Conservative majority of 15. Excluding Scotland, Con majority of 40.
1974a: Labour largest party, no overall majority. Excluding Scotland, Labour largest party, no overall majority.
1974b: Labour majority of 4. Excluding Scotland, Lab largest party with no overall majority.
1979: Conservative majority of 44. Excluding Scotland, Con majority of 71.
1987: Conservative majority of 101. Excluding Scotland, Con majority of 153.
1992: Conservative majority of 21. Excluding Scotland, Con majority of 71.
1997: Labour majority of 177. Excluding Scotland, Lab majority of 137.
2001: Labour majority of 166. Excluding Scotland, Lab majority of 127.
2005: Labour majority of 65. Excluding Scotland, Lab majority of 43.
2010: Conservatives largest party with no overall majority. Excluding Scotland, Con majority of 20.
“As I said in the article I think devo max would win by a landslide in a referendum.”
Yes, you’reprobably right. But who is going to propose asking the Scottish people that? The SNP won’t unless someone else proposes it. The SNP will campaign all out for independence. Maybe the Tories do, but there’s no sign of them suggesting that they may be interested in putting the question in a referendum. IMHO only Scottish Labour can add that question to a referendum. Are there any signs from Labour that they might be interested?
One possibility is leave the A9 at Perth and head west along the A85 before turning south at Lochearnhead on the A84. I would then vere left along the A821, which the joins A 81 to Glasgow.
Opinion polls show a consistent majority for Devo-max/FFA over either independence or the status quo – given the choice of all three.
However, what will Scots vote for if Devo-max/FFA is not on the referendum ballot paper? Independence with a future of social democratic Scottish governments under Labour or the SNP, or more tory government from London under the status quo?
If Labour don’t want to have a Devo-max/FFA option in the referendum, it won’t be there. The Tories and Lib-Dems sure won’t be fighting for it.
I reckon Richard Mackinnon is someone who has thought about what an independent Scotland might look like.I dont think he sees a Brigadoonian Albania.
What is it about Social Democracy and Egalitarianism that terrifies Labour so?
Duncan , disagree on your conclusion, a referendum is required for more powers and it makes total sense to give the people the choice. if labour were convinced their option was the best, then they should be confident enough to argue for it against independence. If we wait for Westminster to decide, then we will be waiting a very long time. Duncan is thinking very much like a party bureaucrat, where change can only happen if the high heid yins in london allow it. We surely have moved on from there.
Well I disagree with your characterisation of my thoughts. And a referendum is self-evidently not required for more devolved powers as Calman has proved! A referendum is only needed for separation.
That’s what you think Calman has proved? Calman has proved that minority parties cobbling together a weak package of measures which will be further emasculated by Westminster is likely to result in a bill the Scottish Parliament will throw out, giving us nothing but five wasted years. A clear popular mandate for a clearly-defined set of demands would be infinitely harder to sabotage, either for Westminster or the SNP.
Duncan, if labour engage with the snp (difficult I know) very much like the SNP did after 1997 labour victory, and present proposals, then this would be the right thing to do. Labour has the time to develop proposals, debate them and put to the vote by members on their preferred option.. on Calman and referenda,.The political reason I suspect calman did not go before a referendum was simply, it was not something they could sell, to the layman , it is, to quote dave cameron, a ,`damp squib`,and under the spotlight of debate would have looked utterly regressive.
Labour are going to be outmanoevred in the referendum in many ways but the most critical is this-by opposing independence they are declaring that they prefer Tory led government of Scotland by Westminster over an independent Labour government in Scotland.
That is not really a winning stance is it?
This is a welcome article and it seems to have generated the most comments in a short time. I want independence because I believe in Scotland and have faith that we have the right people and resources to make it a fair and prosperous place to live and raise a family.
We have the natural resources, the ability to produce most of our own food with enough to export as well, indeed there was an article that the farming sector was booming in this weeks press. We have the large international operators like the Wood Group, First Group and others but we also have the small wide range of companies exporting all sorts around the globe.
Years ago I had a long online debate with a guy who dismissed the idea of an independent Scotland and who based his whole arguement on the strength of the UK on the city of London and the finance sector, well look where that got us.
Aberdeenshire has a relatively high quality of life, as have other parts of Scotland but there are also parts with high levels of poverty and unemployment, which it has to be said are mostly in Labour heartlands. I want the whole of Scotland to enjoy a better quality of life and to me the only way is to take decisions and choices that put the people of Scotland first.
A major problem with westminster is that they still see Britain as a major world player and are wasting billions trying to prove it, Trident, wars etc, I see an independent Scotland finding it’s own place in the world.
Just because we are a small country does not mean we are insignificant, travel anywhere in the world and you will see a link to Scotland or talk to people who are aware of Scotland.
Labour need to put Scotland first for a change, I do not agree with every utterance or policy from the SNP but I still vote for and am a member of the party because right now they are the only party offering real choice and real change.
The debate is welcome as is the relaxation of moderation. Changing times need more open discussion.
The start point should be a grasp of the difference of strategy and tactics.
At the moment much of the thinking on display is tactical. Eg. reorganise and devolve to face the SNP in Holyrood. Tactics extends to all issues where an organisation/party is directly engaging an opponent. Much of what people conventionally regard as ‘strategic’ choices and decisions are actually short term, narrow focus, partial, adhoc, tactical ones. The distinction is important because different fields of forces and different levels of logic apply when issues are tackled on a long term, wide view, fundamental and structural basis of strategic thinking.
Here are some fundamental strategic forces that should be taken into account, just as starters. (And of course these are sweeping generalisations open to ‘yes but/no but” rejoinders. Brevity precludes a nuanced picture)
When empires swell, grow, then implode, the implosion continues until the nation-state building blocks that comprised the empire re-emerge. The Austro-Hungarian empire extended across Balkan nations, all now independent, including Austria and Hungary at the core.The Austrian Anschluss did not survive the Reich and there is no movement for a voluntary equivalent today. The Swedish Norwegian unequal Union ended in 1905 with separate Scandinavian nations and there are no regrets. Czechoslovakia, S Sudan etc etc.
Britishness is in accelerating decline, n&s of the border. A healthy Scottish identity is replacing the Harry Lauder provincial “wha’s like us, tartan and shortbread emasculated caricature of the imperial provincial past.
Factor in that all parties start off as radical, turn mainstream, become part of the system and end up reactionaries defending an increasingly indefensible status quo – as Labour has been painting itself into a corner by doing re Scottish independence.
As part of national rebirth, the SNP needs redefined in Labour minds. The current assumption is that it is just another political party and conventional politicial rivals, an upstart competitor to be seen off with conventional party political tactics (note the term). Wrong. The SNP is a national independence movement embodied in a party. National movements have different drivers, different logics and different motivational force to ‘just another party’. They are part of the broad sweep of history.
Fighting such a movement puts Labour on the back foot, wrongsides it and generates the internal contradictions and hypocrisies of supporting any and all national causes – except their own. The redding up in May is nothing compared to what is coming unless Labour strategically repositions – thoroughly and fast.
At core there are fundamentals of what being human is all about. Serious students of modern politics had better get a grasp of some fundamentals of modern human psychology such as Emotional Intelligence and Glasser’s Control Theory/Reality Therapy. Control Theory puts the case that each and every human has four basic needs. A need being a driver that happens regardless. Not an optional choice; a need just as powerful and essential as breathing etc. Those needs being Power, Belonging, Freedom and Positives. A need becomes apparent when not met. Eg. Labour MSPs years of monumental snit at being rendered powerless. The SNP is on a winning trend because it taps all four individual and collective human needs: growing demand for power and control over own destiny, yearning to belong to own nation of a size and nature with which we can identify readily and with whom we can belong. The SNP provides the viable alternative to chafing at the increasingly irksome constraints of being tied to the chariot wheels of bankster SE England and exemplifies the positive case for building a better Scotland. To all of which Labour replies: “Yer wrang, ye cannae dae it!” Talk about trying to splash the tide back with your foot.
Tacticians think focus groups, press releases, sound bites, debating points, smartarsery and nitpicking negativity. Think Holyrood Qs time. Strategists recognise that history goes in tidal movements, waves, ebbs and surges, with temporary splashes and retreats of momentary attention but the surface does not matter. What counts is the overall trend direction. So, in the last few decades has Scottish identity and demand for control been fading into more ‘cosmopolitan Britishness with the SNP dwindling? Nope, the trend is flowing the other way and is not going to fade, but advance in increasingly powerful waves (Coming municipals, next GE Tory re-election, Referendum, UK pigheaded obstructionism, lost patience and UDI is my prediction. That is what the big powers – USA, China etc are positioning for.
Assume a list of another 30 or so strategic trend patterns. (Too much, too long for a blog, preaching to the unwilling etc etc).
So strategic, big picture options for Labour.
1. Die in a ditch doing the Tories dirty constitutional work for them; as reactionary Unionists. Win and be detested on an ongoing basis by a big part of the Scottish nation. Lose and be labelled as unelectable pariahs in independent Scotland.
2. Support Calman. Too little, too late, a tactitian’s smart-arse, ever so clever poison pill that is a non event in terms of electoral appeal, impact on social and economic control and likely to be flatly rejected.
3. Campaign for DevoMax, FFA or the like.
Divisive, unwelcome as a prospective solution in England, does not unite the Scottish party elements, no clear definition, no groundswell organisation to embody the undoubted public appetite, not in power to deliver it. In the too hard basket.
4. Do an about face and support ‘Independence in close association with Rest-UK’ to upstage the SNP and ‘deliver’ independence ( in same way as out bidding the SNP on delivering devolution)
Would reap massive positive grassroot support in sheer relief – especially from latent/alienated Labour support leaning to SNP. Clean break with the past and wipes slate clean. Removes the contradictions, hypocrisies and conflicted loyalties of the present stress deadlock. Switches identities from national naysayer – to national champions. Massive political opportunities and some serious potential. downside: emotional separation from British Labour Party; internal power shifts, vested interests, unlearning all the distorted messages imbibed in believing own Unionist imperialist propaganda. Kicking the addiction to ermine and pomp. Money. Need for party rebirthing. Not in power to deliver directly – but could claim the referendum win as a moral victory if not an electoral one. This is the choice I advocate. Be a clean, honest left of centre reformist party in a newly independent Scotland with good prospects of achieving reforms and a role in government within a decade or two. (As opposed to 2/3 decades if staying in the UK)
5.Most likely choice. Continue to frig around like a lot of fractious illtempered old ladies with their ankles caught in their knickers. No clear strategic thinking, no strategy, no leadership to provide such a strategy and no mechanisms for generating the intellectual revolution needed to rethink and remould the entire party. The British party is if anything in even worse state and even less likely to untangle itself. The old adage applies – you end up where you are pointed. Doing nothing apart from rearranging the organisational deck chairs and uniting in concocted hatred of those upstart SNP usurpers making a better fist of doing what Labour should have done in the first place. A slower road to political death from irrelevance as de facto junior Unionist surrogates for the Tories.
The bottom line in strategic analysis is hard strategic choice. Scottish Labour is at a crossroads. The last few articles are the first straws in the wind that maybe, just maybe there is a chance for a breakthrough.
A beautiful analysis of the situation confronting Scottish Labour.
Which of the three candidates for leader do you think is most likely to be a strategist in the way you recommend?
Full Fiscal Autonomy would clearly be a major constitutional shift that people would need to vote for. I see some potential problems with FFA – most notably the one identified above – would a fiscally autonomous Scotland be prepared to remit back to Westminster our ”share” of the costs of Trident or any costs associated with attacking Iran if that is what is going to happen? I could see a lot of arguments breaking out. However, if fiscal autonomy within the UK is what the electorate want then that choice should be offered to them. As the SNP won’t do it, there is an obvious slot for Labour to fill.
What I would say to Labour Party members who resist this is what else are you going to do? Are you going to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Tories in defending the union or what?
I know what the SNP are going to do – campaign for independence.
I don’t know what the Labour Party are going to do & frankly I think you are leaving it a bit late. It will be 2012 in a few weeks.
“would a fiscally autonomous Scotland be prepared to remit back to Westminster our ”share” of the costs of Trident or any costs associated with attacking Iran if that is what is going to happen?”
Yes, it would have to. If you vote to be fiscally autonomous but leave defence to Westminster, that includes the financial aspects of defence – obviously you therefore have to go along with Westminster’s defence decisions and pay your share. Only independence entitles you to determine your own foreign policy.
“Yes, it would have to. If you vote to be fiscally autonomous but leave defence to Westminster, that includes the financial aspects of defence – obviously you therefore have to go along with Westminster’s defence decisions and pay your share. Only independence entitles you to determine your own foreign policy.”
Sorry, but but I don’t think it does. A situation where Westminster is making all the policy decisions about defence and foreign affairs and merely demands the money to do so is entirely unstable, especially when there would be few if any Scottish MPs left at Westminster.
IMHO Devo Max/FFA could only work if a proper federal system was put into place, with Westminster returning to being the parliament for English internal affairs. A new Federal parliament would be needed to run Defence and foreigh affairs and representation in that parliament would need to be equal from each of the federal constituent parts.
I understand that’s how it works. Scotland would have its own revenues & spending & then pay Westminster for what would be reserved functions. But there would be a lot of fuss over paying for Trident as well as any foreign wars, it would be controversial. I think that most people who say they want FFA actually want independence, only they are a bit feart, but the reality of FFA would still be highly debatable.
Ah but without Scotland’s resources could the UK afford or want Trident as there place at the top[ table would come into question by other members.
I am an ex-miner, ex-trade-union official and ex-Labour party member. I was brought up on Labour movement politics, indeed I underand that my fathers family were involved in finding a bed for the night for Keir Hardie when he was a visiting speaker to the Fife Miner’s Union. I left the Labour Party when Tony Blair took it on a lunge to the right.
I am delighted with this open debate about a significant issue, it reminds me of times gone by when healthy debate and discussion was at the centre of Labour movement politics (yes I am that old)
The Scottish Labour Party has a proud history on the left in Scotland one which can never be erased by opportunists; however it is the future which is vital now.
We stand at an important time in history, the world of the mighty financial super-national warlords is in terminal crisis, and it is grasping at the incomes of all the people for its nurishment and survival aided and abetted by the Tories and the Lib-Dems so where will Scottish Labour members stand?
The only way forward which will ensure that Scotland takes control of its natural resources and uses them to invest in jobs and public services for our people is to support the SNP Government while challenging it from the left where working people’s interests require that.
This it seems to me is not only politically wise for Labour in Scotland but is the only course which will allow Labour to survive as a party and to be in a position to play an important political role in future
I would suggest people might look at my article in Scottis Left Review “Marx and the Nation”
You have a good take on it Andy.
I can’t understand the modern labour party fearing Independence when most people (except the headstrong and extreme) know now that Scotland’s independence will bring about far more opportunity, wealth creation and social equality.
How long did we have in power and yet we carried on the same as any Tory government would, more or less. We blew it.
Now Scotland is rejecting us for the SNP who have better organisation, strategy, more ability to manouvre and an agenda for Scotland. We have to rethink our position on the union and stop the bitter knee jerk reactions because the Scots are starting to see that the SNP are right and that we are lead by people wanting to protect their westminster and house of lords positions.
Davy Johnstone says:
December 2, 2011 at 4:52 pm
“… deep down, we probably agree on an awful lot more than what we very publicly disagree about.”
Yes! yes and thrice yes.
Niko – not ‘genetically determined’ – Geographically determined, in that the politics derives from the geography. Scotland has a difficult geography (and weather!!) than the England, particularly the politically significant parts of England, and that has given rise to a more collaborative politics. From the year dot, to the year forever. So sayeth the sage of Yell.
To amplify on this…. If I bumped into Duncan Hothersall (to pick just one guy on here) in a pub and we got to chatting about pensions, gay rights, neo-cons, the Murdoch press, the tribulations of the Palestinians, the folly of Afghanistan, the inadvisability of trusting a LibDem on anything, the crimes in Iraq, a sensible transport policy, renationalisation of the utilities (maybe even the commanding heights etc) and managed to avoid the constitutional arrangements of these islands we’d probably leave well after closing time, pissed as newts and swearing eternal comradeship.
But reading Duncan’s contributions above makes me think I might want this guy as a tactician (maybe) but no way is he a strategist that will advance the interests of the people of Scotland or any other part of these islands. Sorry Duncan, but I’ll still buy you a pint 🙂
There is too much we agree on to fall out about where we actually attempt to implement it. Call us cowards even if you will, but I’d far rather attempt socialism in Scotland where it is do-able than waste another minute heading up the bumpy dead end that is the British Road to Socialism.
And I am afraid I am led to the inevitable conclusion. Those who still want to go up that British Road to Socialism under the banner of the Labour Party as it exists now are far more interested in the salaries and perks to be gained on the way than any eventual destination.
Well. I’ll be glad of the pint at least. 🙂
There is a huge amount to agree on (and it’s striking how much of it can be tackled in a devolved Scotland) but the suggestion that unless someone agrees with writing off the UK entirely they must be in it for salaries and perks? Way out of line. Doesn’t accurately describe me or anyone I know.
Maybe it doesn’t describe yourself, Duncan. We’ll need to have that pint to find out, eh? 🙂
But looking at the actions of many of Labours elected members, whether at Westminster, Holyrood or in the councils, it most certainly does describe them. The Scottish people, to a great exetent, are with me on this and it was reflected at the election. They think Labour Party elected officials are only in it for the perks. Someone further up the page asserted the SNP are a single issue campaign rather than a political party. Exactly correct and as such they are here for the destination, not what can be picked up on the way. Unlike Jim Devine and the others who have yet to be investigated and brought to book, especially in Glasgow City Council.
Then it’s a horrifically unfair view which is not upheld by the facts. In Edinburgh I know most of the local elected members and candidates well, and what you describe simply doesn’t apply to them. Nor do I believe for a moment that the Scottish people think that to any significant degree. I think the SNP won the May election on a positive vision, not on the basis of Labour’s reputation – indeed they took more votes from Lib Dems than they did from us.
The vast majority of Labour folk I know are decent, hard-working and have the interests of Scotland at heart. It’s quite wrong to label them all as gravy-trainers.
There are people in Labour who have exploited their position, that I can accept. But they are a tiny minority, and the party as a whole does not deserve to be judged by their behaviour.
But you think that Westminster is the place to resolve Scotland’s problems rather than looking at resolving those problems with all the tools of Independence. At least you are willing to take on others not like the usual contributors to this site who can only twist facts which does nothing to aid Labour’s missing vision for Scots and go into misguided entrenched positions stifling any debate.
Going on from above – technical point – mods please note – I am not seeing a “reply” button under Duncan’s last post. I’m on Chrome 15.0.874.121 Ubuntu11.10 -end geekspeak.
Possibly it _is_ an unfair view, after all you know the local Edinburgh Labour activists a lot better than I do. In my defence I think I know the Glasgow councillors a lot better than you. I possibly paint with too broad a brush, of course at the election many factors came into play and each voter went into the booth with his/her own set of perceptions. It is my contention that a large number of these voters had the perception that many of the Labour Party were in it solely for themselves. We only need to look at Devine as I already stated, the excesses of Marshall as Speaker, Margaret Curran’s fancy big house on the Southside, despite her loud trumpeting that she lived in the East End all her life, the millions that Donald Dewar left and I haven’t even started on the Glasgow councillors and the ALEO fiddles. All these examples would have been one of a number of factors that each individual voter weighed up and decided where their cross was going to go.
I definitely think a pint or three is needed, as cynicalHighlander notes, at least you are ready to engage in debate. My bottom line of course is if politics is the “Art of the Possible”, it’s possible to achieve more in 5 years in a Scottish Parliament than in a lifetime at Westminster. That’s a quote. if not word for word, certainly in the spirit of what Jimmy Maxton said (the real Jimmy Maxton, not that clown of a nephew) said back in the 1930s. As true today as it was then. My contention would be that those who STILL want to work at Westminster are in it for the salaries and perks, not the results. As a supporter (not a member) of a single-issue movement, results are what matters to me.
As for the job-seeker in Glasgow or Dundee having more in common with the similar job-seeker in Liverpool or Middlesborough than with the banker in Morningside, I’d say he had just as much in common with the job-seeker in Lille, Seville, Thessalonika, Flint, Michigan or wherever. What is it about the internationalists in the Labour Party that the UK is special and indivisible? To me, that “internationalism” is simply cloaking British imperialism.
Why do Labour have to be so hardline in their unionism? It must alienate an awful lot of potential voters.
“I would suggest people might look at my article in Scottis Left Review “Marx and the Nation””
So good it should have a direct link
Scottish Left Review | “Marx and the Nation”
Just for the avoidance of any doubt, that comment above should have gone under Andy Anderson’s comment. It is of course, his article, not mine. If only I could aspire to such perceptive analysis….
Andy Anderson, Thank you for your contribution.
Oh for the day when supporters of Labour and the SNP can work together to make Scotland the country we know it can and should be.
With refernce to Duncan, in particular
I would like to agree that a refendum isn’t needed, and we should wait for the UK parliament to give Scotland what it wants (something aking to FFA / Devo Max)
The problem is that the Tory Party don’t think along these lines- so do we wait until the rest of the UK declines to such an extent that the tories are out on their ear?
If you don’t agree to refenda then are you of the opinion the referendum by Strathdlyde Regional Council (in the face of Tory opposition) was irrelevant as it was advisory?
It made the tories stop in their tracks and listen to Scotland
This was an example of Labour doing what was right for Scotland- not just Labour.Labour need to look to the past for inspiration, not isolation
In tha last 10 years both the tories and labour have suggested a commitment to a referndum and then ditched the idea.
The SNP will have a referendum- are labour in or out?
Labour need to think which options is best for Scotland and which is best for Labour
Labour need to work out- FFA option (for the choice of the Scottish people)
Independence only (dancing to the SNP tune)
Both aren’t best for Labour- if they chose (1) they lose out on a UK basis, if they chose (2) Scotland – and Scottish Labour lose
Thank Richard I was delighted to contribute to this important debate. I’m sorry that I did not put in a direct link to my article in Scottish Left Review truth is I do not know how to. I’m quite new at the type of communication.
It should be understood that that FULL Fiscal Autonomy is in fact only acquired in sovereign independence.
I will be very surprised if any offer of Fiscal Autonomy that does not allow Scotland to remove Trident, to say no to illegal invasions and does not give Scotland the access to its own oil revenues could be considered majority position of the Labour Party membership.
It should be fully understood that the SNP is floating all the various shades of enhanced devolution to allow their evident shortcomings to be put on full display.
StewSpark’s contribution comments on what is “good for Labour”.
This I suspect is what drives Labour’s present position. The fact that what is best for Scotland is the only valid objective appears to have been missed.
I think the editorial in today’s Sunday Mail says it all (or what it doesn’t say says it all ie Labour’s present position on the constitutional position, if it is actually possible to ascertain what that position is)
“Labour’s present position on the constitutional position” in my last post should actually say “on the constitutional question”
Anyway I am very happy to be able to contribute. The political landscape is completely changed and I suspect that the broader membership of Labour in Sotland are much more aware of this than the leadership who appear to be trapped in a position they have wandered into by habit of position rather than by any process of forensic examination.
Almost everybody that contributed to the SNP National Council meeting yesterday would have been in the Labour Party twenty years ago.
Is all this chatt about FFA not a bit irrelevant? Tory/Labour/Libdem leadership have said they want one simple question on the ballot.And Salmond has said there wont be any FFA option unless they coome up with a suitable quuestion.
Its a straight fight now between Independence and Union.
Ruth Davidson,when asked about benefits of union,put Londons seat on the security council at the top of her list.I wonder what the next Scottish Labour leader will put top of the list.
I’d be interested in what Richard MacKinon puts top of his list.
All credit to Labour Hame for hosting this debate.
What a refreshing debate and what a pleasure to see Labour Hame having the guts to allow it un censored, it is long overdue. Thanks.
What a pity the BBC in Scotland are going in the opposite direction with their scandalous censoring, and now locking down of the comments sections on Blether With Brian and Douglas Fraser’ s blogs.
As long as their is no abuse and law breaking posts they should also have the guts to allow a free flowing debate, however they appear to have gone down the Pravda route. Shame on them.
What is Ken MacQuarrie afraid of?
Perhaps they have been forced to prevent comments on those blogs by the abuse used on them by some regular visitors to the blogs.
I’ve always felt commenting on a blog or website is like visiting a pub. If you misbehave, the landlord can bar you. If too many people misbehave, the police shut the place down, and everyone’s the loser.
It may be that Scottish opinion on status quo versus FFA or independence is shifting rapidly. The new Scottish Social Attitudes Survey shows the following:
Question: Which of these statements comes closest to your view about who should make government decisions for Scotland (2010 survey figures in brackets)
• The Scottish Parliament should make all the decisions for Scotland: 43% (28%)
• The UK Gov should make decisions about defence and foreign affairs and the Scottish Government should decide everything else: 29% (32%)
• The UK Gov should make decisions about taxes, benefits, defence, foreign affairs and the Scottish Government should decide the rest: 21% (27%)
• UK Government should make all the decisions for Scotland: 5% (10%)
The answers to the above question are not very consistent with the answers to:
Question: Which of these statements comes closest to your view (2010 survey figures in brackets)
• Scotland should become an independent state: 32% (23%)
• Scotland should remain part of the UK with some tax powers: 49% (52%)
• Scotland should remain part of the UK with no tax powers: 9% (9%)
• Scotland should remain part of the UK with no parliament: 6% (10%)
• Don’t Know: 5% (5%)
However, both these questions mean that Labour policy is now supported by only a minority of the respondents
Is there any chance that these results may cause a rethink among the Labour leadership?
I think the very worst thing Labour (or any party) could do would be to try to chase public opinion. The SNP policy has been supported by only a minority of respondents for its entire lifespan. I doubt you would argue for it to change tack?
According to Prof Curtis and Gordon Brewer a few nights before the election in May these polls that show a surge in any thing positive for the SNP and Independence can be dismissed as “rogue polls.” What a shock they got!
Remember how we were told before the devolution election that Scotland would never vote for it’s own parliament as we really quite like being ruled by Westminster.
And any way if we did there would be a exodus of business south of the border.
Exactly a 180 of what happened.
Then in 2007 a repeat performance of the negative scaremongering added to which there would be an immediate collapse in the housing market, and queues at Gretna to leave, if we voted for an SNP government.
Exactly a 180 of what happened.
Some politicians are slowly getting the message that negative scaremongering is a huge bonus for the SNP and pushed more and more votes to them. I like many Scots detest the blatant patronising tones of the likes of Moore, and his Scotland office cohorts.
“There are companies who are not investing in Scotland , but we cannot tell you who they are.” Is the most juvenile pap yet, and I am willing to bet will have driven another few thousand votes to the Independence fold.
I read your article in SLR.
I am a bit cynical these days about analysing global politics through a Marx dialectic. When the only remaining communist republic becomes the largest, most powerful capitalist economy on the planet then you can understand my scepticism.
What I do believe in is the instinctive decent values of the Scottish people. That natural desire to help those less fortunate, whether they be fellow Scots or other nationalities in the global community. But to be in a positon where we can contribute we must have control of our own affairs.
You ask what benefits I would put top of my list from Scotland being part of the union.
I could write volumes on Scotland and its role in the creation and expansion of the British Empire. The Scots were an integral part of all those pink bits on the old classroom atlas. A lot of Scots did very well out of running and resourcing the British Empire. And there is absolutely no argument over the great sacrifice given from all parts of the union when in the early part of World War 2 the UK and forces from the commonwealth stood alone against Hitler and the Nazis.
There are many benefits from the union but I would say they are all historical.
Things change. The map of Europe is unrecognisable from 25 years ago. There is no reason why Scotland cannot have independence and still recognise the the successes and failures of the 300 years of union with England.
“Factor in that all parties start off as radical, turn mainstream, become part of the system and end up reactionaries defending an increasingly indefensible status quo – as Labour has been painting itself into a corner by doing re Scottish independence.”
That sentence, taken from a very percipient earlier contribtion by Wandering Scot is worth digesting.
Duncan Hothersall’s latest input seems to be contradictory – or is it just me?
In what way Dave?
Yes Richard, you are wise to be sceptical very little in politics or economics can be accepted at face value. I am a Marxist to the extent that I look at what his work “explains” and this helps me to understand the world. I appreciate Marx as I appreciate Adam Smith.
That does not mean that I am obliged to support or defend every country or organisation which “claims” to be Marxist or to defend much of the nonesense produced by the Adam Smith Society.
After all Marx himself during his lifetime was asked to defend the views of the French “Marxists” and made the famous comment “if thats Marxism then I’m not a Marxist”
I would be happy to debate the chinese economy and its role in the world to-day but I am much more interested in the subject of your debate and its implications for our country to-day
It’s worth remembering that Scots suffered disproportionately in the Empire’s military campaigns. For instance, the casualty rate of Scots during WW1 was double that of the English – but the Empire is long gone – it’s time to look to the future.
I have read the post again and I still don’t get it.
By their nature political parties with an objective seek to change public opinion. Political parties interested in defending their own power position very often chase and mimic what they think is majority public opinion.
Added to this people who want to get stuff done but who do not hold a partisan personal political opinion very often gravitate towards and join a political body which is in power. When, however, they start moving towards another political party it is a fairly significant indication as to where the political momentum is.
This very often leaves a reactionary rump defending their own personal power base.
This is what Wandering Scot is alluding to.
Has this happened to an element in the Labour Party is the question?
Implicit in your argument is the idea that Scottish Labour doesn’t have an objective, and is just interested in power for power’s sake. Unsurprisingly I don’t agree with this suggestion!
My post was a response to somebody explicitly suggesting that Labour’s position had been supported by a majority and now was not, and that Labour should consider shifting with public opinion. All I was saying is that I think that would be a mistake, and it isn’t how political parties should or generally do work.
In essence I believe in Labour values whether the majority of Scots do or not.
The problem for the Labour party is that Labour did exactly what you say they would not do.
As part of the New Labour rebranding they abandoned many of the old Labour values that the majority of Scots still believe in to become more palatable to middle England.
Duncan, I am sure you do believe in what you believe to be Labour values. Unfortunately for you, for various reasons, what the Scottish people perceive as “Labour values” today are not what you yourself no doubt honestly hold dear. As has been said many times above and in the past few years “I didn’t leave Labour, Labour left me” . This btw is not simply an Old Labour/New Labour problem, its a lot deeper than that.
And for very many of us now, the only realistic way to sort that is independence.
>i>Implicit in your argument is the idea that Scottish Labour doesn’t have an objective, and is just interested in power for power’s sake. Unsurprisingly I don’t agree with this suggestion!
Therein lies the problem just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Your party went way right wing with Blair to get elected and stayed in that political compass position from privatisation, ALEOs not to mention the crippling PFI rip off. Your party is still in denial that the wealthy got wealthier and the poor got poorer over the last 13 years of governance which is being exacerbated by the ConDems.
If Labour dont answer the 300 to one question now, namely why do Scots Labour have so little influence on Scottish politics with 44 mp’s! and only one Tory MP in Scotland to England’s 300! The old saying “It’s the economy stupid” will soon become “It’s the Union stupid”. If nothing else is on offer on referendum day but Scottish Statehood and the present situation then dont expect the working class to stick with long term English Tory rule. They have radical aspirations and little in common with the right wing agenda coming from London.
I see what you are getting at.
The questions are (a)what actual percentage of those in position in the Labour Party believe in Labour values and (b) whether believing in Labour values and believing in Scottish independence are mutually exclusive – which, of course, they are not.
One Tory MP in Scotland -3OO in England leaves Scotland’s working class with a dilemma, stick with the Union and inevitable Tory rule or back full Scottish Statehood. Scottish Labour have to promote Devo Max and agree such a scheme well in advance of referendum day so that it’s seen as credible, and deliverable. If it’s Independence or the Status Quo then the outcome is up in the air, and who exactly will be on the doorsteps campaigning for an option which can only leave power in London’s hand’s?
It is perhaps too late for Scottish Labour as it now stands. The latest SAS highlights how fragile the union has become. Scots are distancing themselves from Westminster and the unionist parties.
What is required is now a radical realignment and restructuring of Scottish Labour and that can only mean breaking away from British Labour and embracing drastic constitutional changem and that includes independence.
Great article, and what an excellent and informed debate!
One question I have is this: if the majority of Scots would vote for devo max, how is it that no party is offering it? Democracy is failing here. The SNP understandably is going for independence, but why are Labour ignoring it? For the unionist parties a yes/no vote on independence is risky. In my opinion they would be safer to offer something they know the electorate wants, and really represent a large chunk of public opinion.
Thanks to Labourhame for allowing open debate.
Duncan, in that case, I`d like to know who`s interests are more important to you, your party`s or your peoples ?
This is my first visit to this site and I I have been pleasantly surprised by the discussion. One point I would add which I don’t believe has been touched upon, but which may have serious implications for Labour, is that if they fail to provide a realistic and sustainable alternative to the SNP through their new leader in Holyrood, then some of their more able MSP’s will jump ship. If this happens the game is most definitely up, a scenario more likely than not to unfold given the paucity of choice on option.
That is an interesting scenario, however I think that it is extremely unlikely that any Labour MSPs would cross the floor to the SNP.
The only possibles would be Malcolm Chisholm and maybe some of the younger MSPs, they have seen what happened to the Lib Dems and may think long term. Most have invested too much time and effort into oppose at any cost anything proposed by the SNP.
The recent opposition to minimum pricing on alcohol being a case in point. To claim as Labour did that it was not alcohol but caffeine that was the problem was regrettable. It is interesting however that when canvassing prior to May the biggest local concern that came up on the doorsteps was anti social behaviour of mainly youths. Most people attributed that to cheap alcohol. I think we can make great headway in the run up to the May local elections by highlighting Labours opposition to minimum pricing and the scourge of caffeine.
Labour have never been in a situation where they have had to defend themselves and be constructive in opposition in Scotland. They just do not know how to handle it. It shows a severe lack of maturity. The ‘leaders’ discussion in Newsnicht was 99% attacking the SNP and 1% about Labour party policies. As an independence supporter I was most heartened to witness the incompetence of the three candidates. Long may it continue.
What a great debate! Lets be grateful to Labour Hame for hosting it, whatever our personal views its important in a democracy that we are able to put them forth in a reasonable manner.
As was mentioned earlier its a disgrace that the publicly funded BBC Scotland has started to censor its site and that no such debate can take place there. No site that is properly moderated should need to stifle comment, especially a so-called “National” broadcaster.
I entirely agreed that we who are commited to democratic politics must have open debate and discussion if we are to develop our ideas, and that this webisite it providing a great service to democracy.
Although I have left the Labour Party “or as has been said in this debate, it left me” I fully recognise that thousands of my fellow Scots, including many in my own family still have hope and trust in the Labour Party.
We are entering into a period of bitter economic class struggle over distribution of wealth, which will be far more severe than any of us have previously experienced I would predict that we will all learn from this experience.
What is beyond doubt is that the candidates for leadership of the Labour Party in Scotland offer no hope for Labour’s future. As was clear from the TV discussion last night which was again entirely negative.
If there are people like Malcolm Chisholm who have demonstrated a principled commitment in the past, and who can see the problems facing people to-day then they need to speak up and take a more active role or it will soon be too late for Labour ever to survive.
Agree totally… The potential Scottish Labour Leaders have neither the strength of will or political vision to chart the course required to help Labour recover it’s position in Scotland. I wish one of the candidates would adopt a vision radically different and outline a real alternative for Scotland… Sadly they won’t because they can’t. The position they have to adopt has already been decided, and that sadly stifles real debate.
I watched the end of the debate on Newsnight and was disapointed to to see all the canditates rule out any other options on the referendum.
The guy with the dark hair (sorry, didn’t get his name) came across best- at least he had the opinion that Labour should not oppose for the sake of it, but only when needed
It looked like same old (new) Labour same (tired) policies and negativity
ALL the relevant parties (by that I mean the ones not in government at westminster) need to wake up, smell the coffee and do whats right for Scotland
They need to be (and appear to be) united against certain policies that could benefit Scotland
It was mentioned that Housing benefit could be changed to help Scotland- why not change the whole social security system to give Scotland a total as part of their block grant and let the Scottish Parliament administer it as they see fit
As an SNP member this is the kind of argument I want to hear from Labour in Scotland. It’s about what can we do to improve Scotland and Holyrood, not what can we do to defeat the SNP and Salmond. The door is wide open for Devo-Max, Indy-Lite, whatever those proposing it desire to call it. Scotland (and its ordinary, working and middle-class people) needs strong political parties and positive, rational voices at a time when, lets face it, the UK is going to hell in a handcart.
Going back 40-50 years, Labour had a good number of members who advocated independence, an extension of the historical home rule policy of the early independent labour party. It seems that any such members were in recent years completely silenced. The strident “unionist” position of Labour (akin to that of the unionist in Northern Ireland) has become the most perplexing part of Labour’s position for many on the Scottish left.
I agree with your comments, and I think this hardline, actually bordering on brutal, stance against Independence and the SNP could prove to be labours nemisis in Scotland, I think we need to take a look at our party and its policy for Scotland and do what the Scots would want us to do, afterall we are not the Labour and Unionist party.
I can testify to exactly what farrochie says. When I started in politics in the sixties (and my first political activity as a teenager was helping at Labour Party Sales in the local Labour rooms)a very common comment among Labour members was
” I’d like to be independent , son, but we’ll never get it”
I couldn’t see why we couldn’t.
And I’ve been trying to sort that out ever since.
I also agree with what you say David and we in Labour have to get off our high horse and look at what Scotland needs, and currently most Scots are wondering what the act of union is all about and why Labour have adopted such a headstrong view of where Scotland should be.
Well done Labourhame for allowing genuine debate. I Don’t visit this site but was directed here after someone mentioned that you had an honest debate here. I won’t comment on this thread about labours independence referendum strategy, but I think that it is interesting that by allowing honest debate about the SNP, this site is probably having it’s own message listened to by people (like me) who had previously stopped listening to your constant negative drivel. I wonder if the labour party themselves will follow your example ? I suppose we will find out once the new leader has been elected.
I do hope the reason no-one is offering Devo Max at present isnt a ploy to use it as a spoiler in the run-up to referendum day! We had this kind of thing way back in the sixties and seventies when Sir Alec Douglas Home suddenly appeared on TV to urge Scots to vote NO in the 1979 referendum as the Tories would deliver a better scheme which of course never happened. We must not be conned again. Those who support Devo Max should promote the idea now or leave the coast clear for a YES or NO to full Scottish Statehood.
Only independence can deliver FFA for scotland,the unionist partys lab,lib,cannot deliver the torys will not deliver,so that leaves independence time to wake up and and smell the coffee scotland.
Beware a pyrrhic victory for the union. Devomax/FFA should not be considered to be a safety net for the SNP. In fact it is a potential game-changer, winning move available to the Scottish Labour party if you have the courage to grasp it. In the event of no devomax/FFA question and a narrow NO majority in 2014/15, all the SNP have to say is “we tried – keep voting fo us and we will pressure Labour to put devomax/FFA on the table” (which I believe you will, eventually). Now if the majority (including many NO voters) actually wanted this option, they may decide to keep the pressure on Labour by voting SNP after the referendum. Labour could be out of power in Holyrood for a generation. The people will not be denied.
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