Jamie HeadshotJamie Kinlochan says the budget is our wake-up call. We have a huge fight on our hands, but it’s worth it. The time for mourning is done.


I’ve been a bad comrade, pals. I’m so sorry to say that whilst you’ve been writing thoughtful blogs about the future of our party, and fighting folk on Twitter, I’ve been watching YouTube videos called “Classic Pop Idol Auditions” and “Amy Poehler/Tina Fey Best Bits”.

You see, I’ve been distracting myself from politics since the general election. Our internal politics and most of what’s happening outside. Trust me; it’s easier to watch Rylan be adorable on Masterchef than recognise quite where we are, as a party, as a country.

We’ve all got to wake up sometime though. We had our first Tory budget since 1996, and it was straight out of 1986.

Young people aged 18-21 will now have no guaranteed access to housing benefit. 18 year-olds, of course, shouldn’t need housing benefit. They should be at home with their mam and dad, stumbling home from a night out at 3.30am, waking everyone up with a half eaten kebab.

Some 18 years-olds can’t do that though. Some grew up in care, left with no loving relationships, qualifications or confidence and were “encouraged” into their own flat at the age of 16.

On the other side of the city, people will be inheriting houses worth up to £1,000,000 from their family without paying a penny of inheritance tax

As they were in Scotland, grants for the poorest students in England have been cut and replaced with loans. The debt that a home student in England, claiming full maintenance loan, will graduate with in 2019 will be around £51,000.

That’s just what you do to get on though, right? Take on loads of personal debt? Well it’s not what they did. 48% of new Tory MPs were privately educated.

The poorest in our communities will struggle to get on and the richest won’t even notice that they are there. We’ll continue to see injustice every time we go to the supermarket, passing the food bank donation trolley on the way out. It’ll be another five years of seeing people we love labelled scroungers and spongers.

Which leads me to our party. And the question of what we’re going to do about all this.

First, we’re going to elect a new leadership in Scotland. I’d really like us to elect Kezia Dugdale and stick with her through the 2016 election and beyond. There’s lots of reasons for that: Kez is smart, has proven herself in Parliament, and has excited party members that I haven’t heard from in a while. And she really, really cares about young people being brought up in care and changing the terrible outcomes they face.

Second, we’re going to elect a new leadership for the UK party.

Then we’re going to wonder why it doesn’t feel different immediately.

It’s not going to feel excellent right away. The Tories will be buoyant and vicious. We won’t know what the SNP 56 are for, beyond the general hijinks we have seen, but they’ll still be there. We’ll be a bit unsure of what folk tell us on the doorstep, and we’ll be sore from what happened last time.

But this is so much bigger than us, and we can’t be sad for too long. The budget made it clear to me that the time for mourning is done. The poorest families are having their incomes slashed, the most vulnerable in our society are being made even more vulnerable, and young people are being treated with contempt for daring to exist.

There is going to be a wee minute here where it feels like all we have is each other. It’s okay though. That’s how everything great that Labour has achieved started.

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11 thoughts on “Time to rise together

  1. I really love the sentiment of this Jamie. Thank you for writing it.

    Two Scottish leadership contests in quick succession can make it feel like we are at war with each other, rather than with poverty and inequality.

    We have to have our internal debates, but we really must remember why we’re in this great party to begin with. Not to divide people between rich and poor, like the Tories; not to divide people between Scots and others, like the SNP. We’re here to bring people together to fight for economic justice. Everyone in this party wants that. We have to hold onto this solidarity in the dark days to come.

  2. Comrades?
    And right there you know you’re in for yet another piece of self imposed delusional ranting. The continued self imposed blindness and denial of all reality when it comes to self analysis and identity.
    More lip service to the poorest and most vulnerable followed by a plug for another Blairite. Another London Labour pawn for leader.
    And then it gets the final kiss of death. An endorsement from Duncan the delusional himself.

    Seriously Labour needs a total and absolute clear out from top to bottom. You need a whole brand new party membership because this one is beyond a joke. You cant even do opposition properly let alone Government.

  3. “The poorest families are having their incomes slashed, the most vulnerable in our society are being made even more vulnerable, and young people are being treated with contempt for daring to exist.”

    Well we in the Yes campaign did warn you what happens when Tories are in Government. In fact Labour showed us when they took power under Blair and Brown so I don’t know what any red rosette voting drone has to complain about.
    You asked the people of Scotland to vote No for the continuance of right wing Tory Westminster rule and here we are after a No vote still being ruled by right wing Tory run Westminster.

    You don’t get to complain about it. We do!

  4. Mike, we’ve been down this road before. Whether you care to admit it or not, the last Labour government raised over a million people out of poverty.

    Those tax credits that Osborne slashed, that eveeybody is writing about? They didn’t exist before Gordon Brown was chancellor. We voted no for many, many reasons. One of which was solidarity with the rest of the UK. It’s not good enough for my socialism to have a government that tackles glaswegian poverty, but which is impotent as regards its identical mancunian or liverpudlian variety.

    I’m also not falling for the nationalist conceit that it would be easier for an iScot gov’t to tackle poverty, as if the money doesn’t matter. Scotland would be worse off if we were independent. Considerably so. And with a legacy of middle class bribery, duplicity and populist divisive constitutional obsession to characterise nearly a decade of SNP rule, I’m far from convinced by your own politics.

    If you want to keep tax credits funded at current levels, what tax system does your party propose to introduce once the Scotland Bill becomes an Act?

    1. Labour is now stating it will NOT oppose cuts to welfare in the Tory budget.That OK, Gerry?
      Labour, internally, is also using the Party machine to oppose one contestant as being too left wing. That OK, Gerry?
      Yes Scotland is now poorer than the UK average. Poorer than was forecast by McCrone if we had had access to our own revenue. But Labour said NO, we should share. No new car plants for us. We got screwdriver assembly factories in competition with low wage economies.
      So Scotland stayed poor—–thanks, Labour.
      . Gerry had his British Nationalist ‘Socialism’ kept safe from greedy Scots from Govan ,Wester Hailes etc, etc.

    2. No Gerry they didn’t! The claim of lifting people out of poverty is just another idiotic bare faced lie! It is unsupportable! You couldn’t name a single person or family Labour has lifted from poverty. NOT ONE!
      Look at the latest Labour stance on Osbornes budget. They are opposing virtually NOTHING!
      They want the SNP to support them on fox hunting but want to abstain on welfare and benefits.
      When are you going to stop lying about your no longer existing Social democratic credentials and embrace your true Blue Tory beliefs?
      If you cant be true to yourselves nobody is going to believe a word you tell them.

  5. In other words, apart from to complain about the constitution, what is actually the point of the SNP?

    1. Self Government—–where Scots decide what their political and economic priorities are
      . Not the Tories or the House of Lords, or the right wing media—–why, no future Blair or Brown would ever need to fly round the world to offer obedience to a Murdoch figure.
      Sounds fine to me, Gerry!

  6. Gerry, this is the old “median income threshold” lie from Labour. It has long-since been exposed as economic sleight of hand. In short, using 60% of median income as a measure of falling poverty levels is invalid. It can be attained, for example, by simply dropping the income levels of those just above the 60% threshold.
    Here is a section of the summary of an IFS report on the matter which basically says that the whole thing depends on how you measure poverty but more realistic analyses show that there was no real poverty decrease under Labour.
    “Reference to a wider selection of possible measures of severe poverty (based on expenditure, material deprivation, absolute poverty and persistent poverty) show that trends depend on the measure chosen. Since 2004–05, however, measures based on relative income poverty (that used by the Conservative Party), absolute income poverty and material deprivation have all showed a
    meaningful increase in severe poverty, although persistent poverty (i.e. being in poverty for an extended period) fell until 2007 and expenditure-based measures of severe poverty have not increased since 2004–05.”

  7. To answer the points above:

    (1) not happy with Hariet Harman’s announcement in the welfare proposals. I’m hoping to hear a different approach from leadership candidates, and think most party members are. I think we will. What does the SNP propose to do with new tax and welfare powers in response?

    (2) One of the principle reasons I’m disappointed is that it supposes to undermine the considerable efforts of the last Labour government to alleviate the economic circumstances of the working and non working poor alike. I go back to my point, neither the minimum wage nor tax credits existed before the last Labour government. If you think those measures were meaningless in advancing the economic circumstance of millions then ask yourself why there is so much anger and opposition to their erosion. Also, look at the last manifesto and the IFS analysis. Their conclusion was that lab/Tory were miles apart. The manifesto was targeted at reducing inequality and improving living standards. Its fiscal proposals were cut and paste wholesale by your own party.

    (3) industrial policies in the 1980’s are not Labour’s fault. Rehearsing the arguments of the 1980’s gets nobody anywhere. Indulge in (rightful) anger all you like. I agree with your analysis. But being right about what happened in the 80’s doesn’t in and of itself achieve anything.

    (4) you’ve concluded independence is the only way for Scotland, and fair enough. I don’t agree. Whatever happened in the 80’s, in the here and now we’d be considerably worse off. How long and by how great a margin would economic growth need to outstrip rUK to get us back to fiscal starting point? The money matters. It’s not the Labour party selling moonbeams to voters in Govan or Westerhailes.

    (5) My source for the figure on poverty reduction is the IFS. Google new Labour poverty and you’ll get it.

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