We did not lose Texas because of the hat joke

DH cropDuncan Hothersall, editor of Labour Hame, says the posturing in the conference hall yesterday over who we are prepared to work with to defend the UK against nationalism was self-indulgent and wrong.


Good morning from Perth, where Scottish Labour is gathered for conference.

Yesterday was a splendid day of comradeship, and I was particularly proud to be part of the delegation from Edinburgh Southern CLP as we saw our first-time conference attendee youth delegate fearlessly address the full room and urge our party to listen to young people’s voices.

Conference also gave fulsome support to the leadership’s proposals for a UK-wide constitutional convention and the plan for a federal future to secure this United Kingdom. It is a proposal that seems to chime with both the right and left of the party, although accompanying this unanimity was an underlying theme that we don’t want to be talking about the constitution any more. Needs must.

Unfortunately another recurring theme ran through yesterday’s debates, and here’s where I have to stand apart from the apparent unanimity for a moment. Several speakers in the constitutional debate and in fringe meetings expressed the forceful view that Scottish Labour must never again share a platform with the Tories should a second independence referendum take place. Each time this sentiment was expressed conference erupted in applause.

Conference, you are wrong.

In 2014 I was proud to be a Labour man setting aside party differences and working alongside people of all parties and none for a crucial constitutional debate. Better Together was not perfect by any means, but it was both necessary and successful. The reason the Nats crowed about it at the time was that they knew a united campaign would have a better chance of beating them. And we did beat them. Remember? We did it.

Compare and contrast to last year’s EU referendum. The Remain side was fractured. In Scotland we refused to share platforms with the SNP. In the UK we refused to share platforms with the Tories. We allowed party politics to dominate a constitutional debate and the result was a confused message, especially from our UK leadership. What should have been an unassailable argument about our country’s best interests became mired in internal disagreement. The ultimate result was that we lost to the lying Leave side – a catastrophic result for our country’s future, and an indictment of a divided and disorganised Remain campaign.

We have to learn our lessons. When we set aside party differences to unite in our country’s best interests we can beat the forces of nationalism. If we are unable to rise above the party political fray at such a time, we will lose.

I know the argument goes that it was a result of our working with the Tories that we suffered so badly subsequent elections. I don’t buy that simplistic explanation. Apart from anything else, it is confounded by the fact that the Scottish Tories in the same time frame have enjoyed an almost unprecedented surge in popularity. We did not lose in 2015 and 2016 because of Better Together. We lost because the erosion of trust which had start in 2007 and continued in 2011 was never abated. We lost because in the aftermath of a divisive referendum we ran away from our principled position and pretended to be all things to all people. No-one was ever going to buy that.

Labour is not a unionist party. But in stark constitutional times, our commitment to solidarity and wealth redistribution means we are right to be firmly a pro-UK party. We should be proud of that stance and those principles. We should not indulge in back-slapping and posturing about never working alongside others who are firmly pro the UK.

If there is a second independence referendum, I will share a platform with any mainstream party which is prepared to work together to fight against nationalism. Our party should grow up and make the same pledge.

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30 thoughts on “We did not lose Texas because of the hat joke

  1. Duncan I’m not sure if its just you or its Labour in general but the idea is not to chime with yourselves but with the electorate. These so called “Federation” proposals once again fall very short of what people outside of Labour deemed to be sufficient to qualify as Federation or Home Rule or Devo significant.
    Reserved Defence and Foreign Affairs ONLY all else Devolved will signify a genuine attitude towards Federation Home Rule and Devo Max.
    These grudging forced through gritted teeth proposals of Devo a tiny bit more is not going to get Labour anywhere but 4th or 5th place in Scottish Politics.
    And to actually pretend its anything like Federation or Home Rule is once again proving Labour cant be trusted to deliver anything.
    When are Labour going to stop stupidly blatantly deliberately lying to the electorate?

    “In 2014 I was proud to be a Labour man setting aside party differences and working alongside people of all parties and none for a crucial constitutional debate. Better Together was not perfect by any means, but it was both necessary and successful”

    Every single claim made by “Project Fear” in 2014 has been proven by time to be a pack of bare faced lies and utter total deception and you’re proud of that?
    You’re proud of your efforts in keeping Scotland subjugated beneath yet another extremist right wing Tory Government? For the foreseeable future?
    You’re proud of the fact that we’re being dragged out of the EU against our Democratic mandate to remain?
    You’re proud of the fact that every claim you made during the Indyref campaign has proved false?
    Jesus Christ Duncan with people like you in Scotland we don’t need ISIS or the IRA its people like you who do the greatest damage to Scotland the country and Nation.

  2. “The ultimate result was that we lost to the lying Leave side”

    Now you understand how the Yes campaign feels. Really shitty isn’t it?

  3. “Labour is not a unionist party. But in stark constitutional times, our commitment to solidarity and wealth redistribution means we are right to be firmly a pro-UK party”

    Not a pro UK Union party but a pro UK party? A distinction nobody but you will understand.

    “our commitment to solidarity and wealth redistribution”

    Aye about this em Wealth redistribution thingy.





    Not seeing much solidarity because of the wealth distribution Duncan. Seems you’re belief in the “Non Union” of the UK is based on a foundation of gibbering fantasy self delusion self deceit and alternate universes.

  4. The Tories are not popular in the UK Duncan Christ they run Westminster with less than 27% support of the electorate and less than 25% support in Hollyrood.
    That’s not popular Duncan.

  5. You appear to be in denial Mr Hothersall. Labour did remarkably well in the 2010 UK election in Scotland, and pretty much maintained its share of the vote in the 2011 Scottish election. It WAS the party’s stance in the Indie referendum that destroyed many traditional supporters faith in it.

    Whether you like it or not, the people of Scotland see the constitution as key to the country’s prosperity. The “Haves” want “No Change” while the “Have Nots” (and those who see the necessity of helping them) want “Change”.

    Labour very publicly sided with the ” Haves” in the Indie-ref, forcing many supporters into the SNP’s arms. That is simply fact Mr Hothersall. Since then, the Tories (and Labour) have never shut up about independence, which has kept the naturally left leaning “Labour voters” in the SNP while unionist “Labour voters” have stuck to their roots and returned to the Tories.

    Labour’s frankly pathetic “Federalism” policy is such an obvious, similarly pathetic, attempt to try and rescue the position by promising the undeliverable and hoping people are too thick to notice, that it only further undermines the party’s credibility.

    Labour either finally admit the Union does not work in Scotland’s best interests and never has (see historic poor economic growth, poverty stats and popln decline when compared to SE England and Europe going back many, many decades) and get behind Independence (NOT Nationalism per se), or commit political suicide by futily trying to out-unionist the Tories. Labour are currently being fataly squeezed between the two.

  6. Just when you think Labour could go no lower… let me say, as an ex Labour voter, branding me as a racist today is the final nail. I hope your party not only carries on a downward spiral but dies completely. Disgusting tactics.

    1. Have not seen the speech but I can assure you we don’t do racialism. I have argued with people who have. It might help if you read Brian Taylors Analysis on the BBCwebsite

      1. Labour refuse to support the very idea of an Independent Scottish State. The people who refused to support the idea of an Independent Israeli State were designated as racist as well as anti semitic.
        Its extremely difficult if not impossible to deny an established Nation of people their right to self determination on constitutional grounds without being racist don’t you think?

  7. “I will share a platform with any mainstream party which is prepared to work together to fight against nationalism.”

    So will you be joining the SNP in its fight against British Nationalism?

    A British nationalism that talks of British jobs for British workers (Gordon Brown)

    A British nationalism that illegally invades other nations (Tony Blair)

    A British nationalism that stands in front of the Union jack and promises Trident renewal (David Cameron)

    And of course, a British, or should I say English nationalism that has just stuck two fingers up to the EU, because they want to keep those damn foreigners out…

    That nationalism Mr Hothersall?

    On a serious note, where’s your pride man? How long are you willing to be a stooge, a dupe, a patsy, a useful idiot for a bunch of Home Counties English nationalists who have not, and will never give two hoots for Scotland?

    Do you really want to be chained to a UK that will sell this nation out to Trump and the Americans? One that will take any crumb from the table in order to secure a trade deal?

    Federalism? Labour are going to talk Federalism when one part of the UK is 85% of the UK? Don’t make me laugh.

    It is deluded, pie in the sky nonsense from a Labour Party that will be smashed to pieces in 2020 by the Tories.

    So, being generous, Labour at the very least won’t be in power til 2025. Add two years of committees and waffling to get Federalism into law, another year of red tape before it hits the ground running and we’re looking at 11 years before we get Dugdale’s federal vision.

    That’s your grand plan for Scotland? We MIGHT get Federalism in 11 years, and in the mean time, we suffer from austerity, poverty, more food banks and a UK in the state of decay post Brexit?

    Scottish Labour is unfit to lace Keir Hardies’ boots. Somebody put an end to this ghastly mockery, this farce of a so called socialist movement.

  8. I completely agree Duncan. The Scottish party has learnt part of its lesson, I think, of the 2014 referendum and has ceased either avoiding or equivocating its position on the Union. You simply cannot avoid or triangulate on such a prominent and divisive binary issue. The Party also has a coherent, progressive and distinctive message on devolved responsibilities. These are welcome developments, and may make a few ex Conservative MSPs and MPs of a now nationalist hue a bit apprehensive for elections to come.

    We do agree with the Tories on a number of issues though and should not “other” them, particularly since we would like some of their votes back! Forget what in my view is the tactical electoral imperative of a grown up approach to political engagement with our opponents, compelling enough a motivation as that should be for the approach you suggest. The more compelling argument against demonising political opponents is what it does to society itself. We should all, especially on the mainstream left, be doing all we can to counter the divisive rhetoric that has come to influence politics. It doesn’t sound as if conference rose to the challenge yesterday.

  9. Sorry Mr. Hotherstall but this article really is a form of satire; surely? The first 5 paragraphs read like a particularly turgid report back bulletin, to a local party branch, from an attendee at some obscure late period USSR party congress. You even have the re-writing of history which was such a feature of those events.

    SLAB’s decision to act as the, paid for by Tories, shock troops of Better Together hung your party out to dry in Scotland. Sure, Labour had been losing support for a very long time but the 2013/14 campaign finished your party in Scotland.

    At the time I tried to explain to some of our Unionist southern cousins in both Tory and Labour oriented publications from London that Salmond had an each way bet on. He would either get his number 1 goal of independence but, if he didn’t, he’d get a very good second prize of watching SLAB destroy itself and that second prize was what he got.

    SLAB spent the best part of a year talking down its home area and long term supporters. It lined up with the UK establishment and local Tories to, essentially, tell people that they were incapable of doing things that other small nations, all over Europe could do. It fell in with what were outright threats to the Scottish economy and society from the Osbornes, Macphersons and Balls of this world. Well, you got your reward in 2015. You still didn’t learn from 2013/14 though. When the Tories ran their nakedly anti-Scottish (It wasn’t just anti-SNP. I know Scottish Tories who acknowledge that. Even Michael Forsyth did.) campaign as part of GE 2015 Miliband not only did not call the Tories out over that campaign but ended up falling over himself to agree with it.

    We then come to your peculiar take on SLAB’s and wider UK Labour’s role in the 2016 EU referendum . It wasn’t that Labour didn’t co-operate with other parties and groups: it was that Labour was most effective in campaigning for Brexit. Who were Labour’s most effective campaigners in the referendum? Gisela Stuart, Kate Hoey, Graham Stringer, Tom Harris etc. All Brexiteers. Where were Corbyn, Macdonnell and the rest of the Labour leadership? Where have they been while parliamentary permission for triggering Article 50 was pushed through the Commons?

  10. D. Hothersall. Should have gone to SpecSavers. Those rose tinted specs and grey shades you are using are blinding you from red white and blue Unionist Nationalism. A xenophobic and vile seperatist nationalism you want to stand with.

  11. 2014 referendum. A third option on the ballot was offered. It was sneeringly refused.
    Now we are told “federalism” will be on indyref2 ballot.
    A policy which cannot be explained, which cannot work given the size of the constituent nations in the UK, which has very limited support and which could never get through either House at Westminster in any foreseeable future. This is a desperate gambit by Scottish Labour—a straw to a drowning man.
    So what indyref2 will be about is British nationalism, isolationist and chauvinistic—centered on Westminsters economic and political hegemony versus Scottish self government.
    Duncan, you can stand four square with the people who want to keep Scotland in its thrall, the sectarian religious nuts, the marching thugs waving their Union flags, the shadowy sources of “loads a money”—-never to explain where it came from.
    The Tories are probably the least disreputable of your future allies and while you look on them as fellow Brits, they regard you contemptuously as useful idiots at best. Cannon fodder otherwise.
    Keir Hardie stood for Home Rule, very like modern independence. Scottish Labour stands for nothing but waffle. Why would ANYONE in Scotland vote for you?

  12. It’s worth remembering what Philip Hammond said would happen if the UK does not get a trade agreement with the EU (quoted in Welt.de):

    “We are now objectively a European-style economy. We are on the U.S. end of the European spectrum, but we do have an open-market economy with a social model that is recognizably the European social model that is recognizably in the mainstream of European norms, not U.S. norms. And most of us who had voted Remain would like the U.K. to remain a recognizably European-style economy with European-style taxation systems, European-style regulation systems etcetera. I personally hope we will be able to remain in the mainstream of European economic and social thinking. But if we are forced to be something different, then we will have to become something different.”

    Given that it virtually impossible to see a free trade agreement it is pretty clear that the UK – including Scotland – is going to move outside the European norms to being a US-style economy.

    It is impossible to see how this is a “commitment to solidarity and wealth redistribution”. It is the complete opposite.

    Now it is entirely honourable to take the position (as year old father does who lived through the Second World War) that Scottish Labour is a Unionist party first and foremost and needs to stand with the Conservatives on this issue. However it is not acceptable to deny the reality of the situation and pretend that the changes in the economic model aren’t happening.

  13. I w as not going to say anything but I have to. I have wanted a federal Britain for some time. I watched Kezias speech today I like her and I believe she is doing a good job with a bad hand. I did not realize she has only been in post for a short time. I am concentrating on trying to help my comrades keep control of North Ayrshire Council. After they lost a by election the SNP who were in control quit and walked away. Their leader was on holiday. another councillor refused to stand down . He was voted out their have been several SNP councillors will stand down at the next election. Our new Labour Leader Joe Cullinane and his colleagues have done a great job since coming to power. The SNP told us to accept a 9 million cut to our budget. The local NATS thought this was a great deal and would have taken it. Labour refused and got an extra 3.5 million still not enough. This is what can be done. It is also what I wanted the conference to be about. Not the constitution. IT is all but certain there will be another Indy Ref . The FM has marched the troops up to the top of the hill at her conference she wont leave them there. In 14 remain won but we had that daft vow. For me and as an ordinary party member everything I say on comments are my views .The day after the ref 3 things that happened saved the nats . Salmond quit David Cameron gave his English votes and Labour campaigned with the Tories at a national level. I cannot forget what Maggie did to Scotland the UK and me .I can and do get on with people who have different views to mine. Not Tories I cant speak to them without an argument. Ordinary people tell me every day they want to concentrate on local issues. Not a ref still to be called.. When it is we must give a clear lead and not be associated with the Tories

    1. You should be in no doubt though David that Labour are not delivering a Federal UK but suggesting a convention for people in England who have no wish to regionalise.
      Labour are so far from power that a Federal UK can’t be delivered for a generation.
      To tell voters at an independence referendum that voting No will lead to a Federal UK is as dishonest as sharing a stage with the Tories.

  14. Labour is collapsing in the UK because there is no place there for a socialist party nor is there space for another right-wing party. The UK has moved to the right because its only vision of its future is a return to a vague, mythical past where it was free to expand its wealth at the expense of weaker peoples and nations around the world without the interference of its fellow “developed” countries, mostly in Europe.
    It is collapsing in Scotland because Scottish politics is polarised between unionists, who buy that UK vision and supporters of independence who seek a more progressive future away from the myths and xenophobia. Scottish Labour’s dilemma is that its strength was always its claim that it was our bastion against the Tories but its dominant leadership south of the border had no option but to move to the right as the UK electorate did. As a result its progressive voters and members in Scotland have been deserting to the SNP and other parties like the Greens and smaller leftist ones, What is left is a confused rump that accepts long-term Tory rule at Westminster yet gives standing ovations to conference speakers who declare the party mustn’t share a platform with the Tories the next time it campaigns to strengthen Tory Westminster’s grip on Scotland. So Labour supports Austerity at Westminster but blames the SNP government here because our budgets are cut to the bone. It calls the SNP racist because it wants Scotland to be governed by the politicians we elect but supports Brexit in Westminster knowing it had been achieved by appealing to Britain First type prejudice and hatred.
    I used to tell people that Scottish Labour would be the vehicle that would carry Scotland to independence. I believed that it would reform and rebuild itself before it perished in the British Empire’s crash and burn. How wrong I was!
    Scottish independence alone will not save Scotland. Global capitalism has a tight stranglehold on the world’s economies and a change in the political direction of a country of five and a half million people will not bring the edifice crashing down. But the economic status quo is unsustainable and its demise is up ahead. Scottish Labour needs to start repositioning itself now if it is to have a role in building a better future. Helping to take Scotland out of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland should be part of that process. Sharing platforms with Tories should not.

    1. No Stewart the UK hasn’t moved to the right ONLY England has moved to the right. Scotland stayed left of centre Wales is a no mans land where no ideology dominates and NI is its own political enclave.

      1. Sadly Mike, until we vote for independence, Scotland gets dragged wherever the UK drags us. You are correct that Scotland remains left of centre but my point is that this potential pocket of enlightenment and progress is being squandered by Scottish Labour is being dragged to the right because its UK party in moving to the right to counter UKIP. (I wish I could say it was kicking and screaming).
        In fact, in the by-election in Stoke, there was a debate about Labour displaying the St George’s Cross on its leaflets. Many activists were uneasy about it but pro-Corbyn activist Sam Tarry responded “I have to say this is ridiculous – I went campaigning in Stoke wearing my England shirt. Surely patriotism can be inclusive and progressive?” I wonder where Sam heard that point of view!

        1. I get the point your trying to make Stewart but you said “The UK has moved to the right.” That’s not the correct thing to say in order to make your point.
          Labour since Blair have been trying to be everything to everybody.
          In Scotland they think the way to combat the SNP is to label them with Nationalism in order to try and regain their Socialist clothes that the SNP took from them but their problem is the fact that UKIP using English Nationalism is threatening their very existence in England so they are trying to wrap themselves up as “British” Nationalists South of the border.
          That’s why they cant be seen to be doing deals with the SNP because down South that would upset their new found British/English Nationalist identity attempts.
          Corbyn has the right ideology but he’s too weak to impose or implement it in a party still dominated by Right wing Tory Blairites.
          He wont purge his party so his leadership is totally and completely ineffective.
          Its full on infighting and back stabbing and confusing contradictory messages and proposals and the people who are benefiting the most are the extreme right wing of UKIP and the Tories under Teresa May.
          Soon Scottish representation within Westminster will be reduced to 50 seats in the House of Commons while the House of Lords grows exponentially in seats power influence and English domination.
          Scotland has never had anymore than 16 seats in the House of Lords and never will have.
          So you can see how quickly and how badly Scottish influence is being eroded and that’s without EVEL.
          Imagine how impossible it will be for Scottish representation within Westminster post EVEL?
          The Tories have never been popular in the UK and they never will be but because of the corrupt unbalanced electoral system in the UK they can easily win majorities with less than 30% electoral support which they so often do.
          The left in England hasn’t disappeared its just stopped voting because they haven’t anybody to vote for. Well they have they could vote Green and for the life of me I don’t understand why they don’t.
          Not enough publicity not enough political punch cant get noticed or make headlines or headway. That’s the power of the media for you.

  15. ‘Conference also gave fulsome support to the leadership’s proposals for a UK-wide constitutional convention and the plan for a federal future to secure this United Kingdom.’

    [foo l-suh m, fuhl-]
    Spell Syllables
    Examples Word Origin
    See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
    offensive to good taste, especially as being excessive; overdone or gross:
    fulsome praise that embarrassed her deeply; fulsome décor.
    disgusting; sickening; repulsive:
    a table heaped with fulsome mounds of greasy foods.
    excessively or insincerely lavish:
    fulsome admiration.

  16. That doesn’t extend to UKIP though?

    During the last referendum campaign Better Together couldn’t take part on the same platform, ironically because they weren’t ‘Scottish’ (I thought we were all British?)

    In the Daily Record, a Better Together spokesman said: “UKIP have asked to join us and we have said no.

    “If they ask again, we will say no again.

    “They are not a Scottish party and this is a Scottish debate.”

    1. None of the Better Together parties were Scottish. Every single one of them were English. Still are.

  17. Duncan, Better Together did not engage, BT excluded. I was undecided in 2014 and sought to attend BT events in order to discuss the most momentous decision my country had faced in decades. BT preferred ‘street events’ to hustings type meetings. I attended many Yes events , but the only BT event I managed to get into was through a friend of a friend in the hierarchy of BT who wangled an invitation. The event was invitation only to those already voting no in a location disclosed via email the night before the event.
    The AstroTurf nature of the BT campaign was an elitist stitch up illustrating the worst excesses of municipal Labour. The architectsof the campaign, Blair McDougall, ably assisted by John McTernan, were then put in charge of Scottish Labour’s 2015 GE campaign and the result was disastrous. The people responsible for ‘Project Fear’ were expected to enthuse and inspire the very electorate they had manipulated through a campaign as mendacious as anything you level at the Leave campaign.
    If you or Tom Harris go anywhere near BT2, then you can look forward to all of those claims made in 2014 being used by the Nats to destroy your credibility. Remember the only way to guarantee EU membership was voting no? Correlation, as we are continually told, is not causation. Why was Labour’s UK wide defeat not of the same order as the annihilation of Labour in Scotland? The Indyref.
    The warnings to Labour were made clear in Glasgow East in 2008, but the party did not listen. The Indyref was a chance to listen, discuss and debate, Labour won the referendum and lost its heartland. Reading this article, you are blind to the dangers of the final death of the Labour Party in Scotland. I hold no brief for the SNP, but you are handing the future of Scotland to that bunch of chancers if you do not learn the lessons of the past.

  18. You clearly wan’t to stand shoulder to shoulder with the party which is about to remove us from the worlds largest trading block.
    Is about to bring in draconian union legislation.
    Is vilifying the sick and disabled.
    Is driving vans round our cities telling immigrants to go home.
    Is cosying up to the racist, woman hating, sex pest Trump.
    Is barking at and demeaning women mp’s in the commons.
    Who are attempting to circumvent our democracy.
    Are in danger of destroying the EU, creating the conditions for future conflict again on the European mainland.
    ..and who are clearly against the Scottish national interesr.
    Penny for your thoughts comrade?

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