We can achieve for Scotland again

barrieBarrie Cunning says, as the council elections approach, Labour should remember its proud history and work to embody the country’s aspirations again.

 

2016 will go down in the history books for being the year when global politics took a nosedive. Being anti-establishment was an overused soundbite on both sides of the Atlantic that sadly resulted in gains for right wing populist parties.

Thank god 2016 is behind us. The question that all politicians and political pundits will be asking is: what does 2017 have in store? What we do know is that the Conservative government is hellbent on activating Article 50 by March, which would see the the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, but at what cost? The Conservative government is strong on rhetoric and nothing else; “Brexit means Brexit” which in turn means very little to most people, myself included.

This soundbite is a vague attempt to sound authoritarian on their weak bargaining position on Brexit and further illustrates that they have no plan post triggering Article 50. If anything the Conservative government is constitutionally confused and bewildered. This has resulted in them engaging in a petty squabble with the judiciary, and in turn questioning the UK’ Parliament’s supremacy. Wasn’t parliamentary sovereignty and taking back control a key feature of the Leave camp’s argument? Quite simply this has become a political farce that has more in common with a Carry On film than a developed nation trying to forge the best deal for a country and its people.

Since 2014 Scotland will have participated in two referendums, one UK general election, one Scottish parliamentary election and, come May this year, the local council elections. Perhaps in 2018 it will be strange to not have to participate in some form of election. That said, there are rumours that Prime Minister Theresa May could call a snap election, but if the by-election result in Richmond is anything to go by I don’t think calling a snap election is at the top of her list.

There is no denying that as a party we face huge challenges, and there is no point burying our heads in the sand. Let’s be honest, Labour has been through a tough time in the last three years. We had a change of leadership in both UK and Scottish Labour and subsequently a second leadership challenge to UK Labour. Irrespective of what side of the party you see yourself with, I honestly believe that the people of Scotland still have an expectation that Labour will come through and as such give them a reason to vote for us again.

Historically the Labour Party has always been about the collective, but we have to acknowledge that within that collective is a group of unique individuals who all have different aspirations. I don’t believe that aspiration only applies to a certain section of society. For instance a young person may want to go to university but could be deterred from doing so due to the rising costs of tuition and student debt; another young person may want to become an apprentice and learn a trade and in turn set up their own business.

The UK has a growing housing crisis which has resulted in many people across the country not being able to get on the property market. In 2016 we had a strong manifesto that addressed key issues such as this and in turn we pledged to build 60,000 homes over the course of the next parliament had we won the election, of which 45,000 would have been for social rent.

The SNP rely on strong rhetoric and grievance style politics and when challenged resort to the usual nationalist rhetoric of “if we had more powers we would have done it better” or “Scotland’s voice isn’t being heard in Westminster”. (Try telling that to the bar staff at Strangers.) Everyone knows that the SNP’s end goal is independence, and the way they convey their core message is about creating a better and fairer society; yet the rhetoric and policy making don’t match up.

The power is in the narrative. This is how we convey to the people of Scotland what we stand for and what our vision is for the country. We have to be the party that addresses people’s concerns but also gives people hope. We have to be the party that says if you want to go to university, get an apprenticeship, start a business or buy a house then we will help you achieve that.

Likewise we have to be the party that ensures that the most vulnerable in our society are looked after. I honestly believe that when Labour is in power the country moves forward. Unlike the SNP we have a track record that they will never be able to compete with. It was our party that created the welfare state, it was our party that created the NHS, it was our party that established the national minimum wage.

In the lead up to the local election polls we should remind people of what it is our party has achieved, but most importantly we need to address the local issues. It’s all too easy to want to engage in a conversation on the door step about macroeconomic policy or what fiscal policy we should be adopting, but from my own experience it’s the local issues that matter to people and if you’re not in tune with the local issues, then you’re not in tune with the electorate.

We need to engage in a positive dialogue with the communities that we seek to represent, and from the offset we need to lay out what our vision is for the country, and why people should give their first or second preference vote to a Labour candidate. The SNP have successfully portrayed themselves as the progressive party in Scotland and have hijacked the language of socialism to suit their own needs, but the cracks are starting to show.

Clement Attlee once said “You will be judged by what you succeed at gentlemen, not by what you attempt”. After ten years of over-promising and under-delivering, the SNP will be judged as the government that lacked the ability to govern.

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18 thoughts on “We can achieve for Scotland again

  1. The only honest thing in this article is when the writer says “then you’re not in tune with the electorate”, the whole of the article screams you & labour are not in touch with the electorate.

    Its hard to believe anyone would come out with all this old labour pish, its absolutely full of the magic money tree promises, and the guy doesn’t even know their are no tuition fees in Scotland.

    Scrapping the bottom of the barrel or what.

  2. ‘The SNP rely on strong rhetoric and grievance style politics and when challenged resort to the usual nationalist rhetoric of “if we had more powers we would have done it better” or “Scotland’s voice isn’t being heard in Westminster”.’

    I think this sums up potentially where you are going wrong. If criticising a Conservative led UK Government is seen as ‘grievance’ then what is the point of the Labour party anymore?

    You do realise many people across Britain, including large parts of the North of England, think Westminster is self-serving and out of touch too don’t you? Is this grievance too?

    Labour used to be seen by many (including myself) as the rebels that could shake up the British establishment and the UK’s class ridden society.

    Watching various key New Labour figures end up in the House of Lords and line up alongside the Tories in 2014, the right wing press, land owning elites and big business during the referendum was a pretty dispiriting experience. Alistair Darling attending and addressing a Conservative Party conference in Scotland to a standing ovation was for me, a last straw.

    Whatever else you can criticise the SNP for and they have many faults, they will never be accepted into the British political establishment properly and the Home Counties elite that run Britain will always hate them. Which for many people in Scotland is what makes the SNP so appealing.

  3. “In the lead up to the local election polls we should remind people of what it is our party has achieved, but most importantly we need to address the local issues. It’s all too easy to want to engage in a conversation on the door step about macroeconomic policy or what fiscal policy we should be adopting, but from my own experience it’s the local issues that matter to people and if you’re not in tune with the local issues, then you’re not in tune with the electorate.”

    Absolutely.

    In my Labour/Tory coalition local authority, what’s the legacy of the last 5 years that voters are likely to remember? Based on conversations with my family, friends and workmates, it’s:

    * The authority partly funding an Orange Walk.

    and

    * The authority proposing to spend £20M on a new council headquarters building, spending around £1M on pre-contract work for the new HQ before the political penny dropped and the plan was shelved. All this against the

    That and we’re in bed with the Tories.

    How do you sell that to an already sceptical electorate?

    1. you are right you cant. I would be interested to hear why they did it . and well done on actually talking to people

  4. Yup, it would be interesting to hear the views of the bar staff in the Strangers bar ( and the many other drinking dens ) on how much the takings have gone down since Scottish Labour MP’s left the scene.
    Though they wont get as many laughs at the pathetic drunken “fisticuffs at five paces” between the “Brothers”!

    No election in 2018? I would have thought Dugdale’s job would be up for grabs. No? Creepy Sarwar seems to think so.

  5. “Labour should remember its proud history”

    Labour today only has a history dating back to 1997 and it isn’t one to be proud of at all.

    “What we do know is that the Conservative government is hellbent on activating Article 50 by March, which would see the the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, but at what cost? The Conservative government is strong on rhetoric and nothing else; “Brexit means Brexit” which in turn means very little to most people, myself included.”

    And yet Labours only response to the ONLY alternative plan so far proposed that could save Scotlands position within the EU single market and retain free movement is “SNP BAD”. A plan that allows a compromise from Scottish Independence for the duration of Brexit and holds all the ideals and political positions Labour told us they had during the EU ref campaign.

    “The UK has a growing housing crisis which has resulted in many people across the country not being able to get on the property market.”

    Didn’t Labour only build 6 affordable homes in Scotland during the period they were in power with the Lib Dems? Seems if your idea of voting is to get somebody in who builds homes then clearly Labour or the Lib Dems are NOT the party you want in power in Scotland.

    “The power is in the narrative. This is how we convey to the people of Scotland what we stand for and what our vision is for the country. We have to be the party that addresses people’s concerns but also gives people hope.”

    Seems Peoples concerns and hopes include not going to war enough, not paying enough for tuition, not paying enough tax, not having their pay frozen often enough, not enough rendition for torture, Not enough WMDs sitting outside their homes, not enough Nuclear power stations polluting the place, Not enough Tory Governments in power often enough, not paying enough for prescription charges, Not enough privatisation in the NHS, Not enough public funding going to PFI PPP spivs, not paying enough in bridge tolls, not earning enough from illegal arms deals to despots.

    Aye the power of the narrative right enough.

    “Likewise we have to be the party that ensures that the most vulnerable in our society are looked after.”

    And our answer is Targeting austerity directly at them with a 12 billion cut to welfare and benefits.

    “Unlike the SNP we have a track record that they will never be able to compete with”

    Unlike the Tories who not only compete with it but barely manage to surpass it.

    ” It was our party that created the welfare state, it was our party that created the NHS, it was our party that established the national minimum wage.”

    No it wasn’t! The party that created those services died in 1997 and was replaced by a New Red Tory Labour party the party you’re now proud to
    serve.

    In the lead up to the local election polls we should remind people of what it is our party has achieved

    You’re exactly where you are today because the people already know and have judged you on your “achievements” since 1997. We don’t need reminding.

    “but from my own experience it’s the local issues that matter to people and if you’re not in tune with the local issues, then you’re not in tune with the electorate.”

    So for example when you’re chapping on the doors around Garelochhead and Helensburgh are you able to explain to them how youd be able to find in excess of 200 billion to pay for the WMDs they don’t want parked next to them while you’re cutting their welfare benefits wages and increasing their taxes at the same time?

    Another prime example of why Labour are going nowhere but down and out.

  6. Barrie,
    I think Labour has to do more than ’embody the country’s aspirations again’.
    Do you not think Labour has a problem with its own leaders? Criticising the SNP and Tories is fair enough, its what opposition parties are supposed to do, but I think the Labour Party has to get its own house in order first. I think that Labour’s real problem is its lack of credibility. This has nothing to do with other parties.
    Jeremy and his lieutenants come across as comic figures. If you measured the credibility of Jeremy, John, Emily and Dianne on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 = not credible and 10 = trustworthy, Labour with its present leaders would score somewhere around -10 = a danger to themselves if allowed out unsupervised.
    That is the problem Labour has. It has elected incompetents to lead the party. People ask themselves, how can we trust labour to run the country if they cant run their own party.
    Barrie, I realise you are trying to lift the spirits but what is required here is a bit of honesty. Labour has to face up to its own mistakes. Labour dug itself the hole it now finds itself. If Labour has a chance of surviving (the situation is that bad) it has to admit the mistakes it has made, learn from them and so avoid repeating them in the future. Carry on the way you are Barrie, blaming others when a bit introspection is required and the downfall will continue to extinction.

  7. The UK Labour party don’t stand in Norther Ireland, where the have an informal alliance with the Social Democrat and Labour Party of Northern. At Westminster they accept the UK Labour Party whip. The SDLP advocate the reunification of Ireland

    Why is UK Labour’s position on Ireland different from Scotland?

    Scottish Labour believe Tory rule is better than self rule, well, for Scotland at least

  8. No mention of labour standing shoulder to shoulder with the conservatives in 2014 to fight for the right of a conservative government to rule Scotland with minimal support within Scotland. One reason, among many, why it is clear that labour no longer stands for Scotland.

  9. Barry is spot on. Labour is in trouble and there is no easy or quick solution. However, no party is more committed to cutting poverty. The last Labour Government took 2 million people out of poverty. The only thing the SNP and Tories have done since then divide the country.

    We need to be proud of our successes and honest about our failings. Above all else, however, we need to be positive and progressive in everything we do.

    1. You keep repeating the same worthless claims and lies over and over. Nobody from Labour can actually name a single person Labour is responsible for removing from poverty. Not one.
      Its a rhetorical claim not based on any real evidence based research.
      Its the Brit Nat state that has divided the UK. They divided Ireland Wales and Scotland by a combination of annexation invasion gerrymandering bribery patronage privilege and corruption.
      Uncle Tams like you are a prime example of that division. Promoting the ideology of rule by a foreign power.

        1. ONLY according to Labour. I don’t see any actual evidence of this drop in poverty from your once again worthless link. All I see is a bold statement of claim.
          Where is the actual evidence? Can you name any of these people? Do you have any addresses where these people live? Can you tell us how much they had when they were in poverty and how much they ended up with when they were no longer in poverty?
          Any of these things would give substance to your claims. A complete lack of actual data and actual real live people tells us that its nothing but bullshit.

        2. Isnt THAT what Labour were in power to do, not just in a short term fix (which this was), but as a longer attempt at finally fixing the bias in the UK society which favours the wealthy? It was noticeable that Labour did not curb the greed and avarice of the Bosses and those at the top as that is precisely where those at the top of Labour wanted to be ( and their wishes came true).

          But you also have to recognise that those in Scotland now suffering through the indifference and vindictiveness of the Tory government, have Labour to thank, as Labour were in favour of the policy of “Austerity” ( yes you were, even claiming the Tories were not TOUGH enough) and would rather Scots were ruled from London by Tories, than running their own country.

  10. How many people did the last Labour Government put back into poverty when it blew up the economy and introduced the bedroom tax.

    “However, no party is more committed to cutting poverty”, oh yeah by wanting to raise your taxes, by objecting to the baby-boxes, by refusing to stand and vote against tory austerity and cuts to welfare.

    ie some commitment to cutting poverty that is.

  11. Don’t……. “engage in a conversation on the door step about macroeconomic policy or what fiscal policy we should be adopting” you say.
    Brexit is a bigger threat to Scotland than Thatcherism was.
    10+ more years of Tory rule on top of economic collapse and we should not talk about it on the door step!!
    We are too wee, too poor and too stupid to discuss how we can reverse decline. Leave all that to the Jim Murphy, George Foulkes and David Anderson (Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/15023469.Corbyn_needs_to_try_harder_in_Scotland__says_Anderson__as_he_decries_anti_Scottish_feeling_in_England/?action=success#comment_17695369).
    There is one policy Labour Scotland can promote that will make it relevant again: retain full accesss to the EU for Scotland.

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