Jamie original picJamie Glackin, Chair of the Scottish Labour Party, says though the UK party seems mired in strife just now, Labour has always been a broad church, and it must stay together in order to succeed.


So, we are finally on the home straight in what has to be the most tortured election process I can remember. And I remember when the Tories ditched Mrs Thatcher, so that has to be saying something. For months we have aired our dirty laundry for all to see, and all the while the Tories and the Nationalists have put their feet up and watched in disbelief that a party was so capable of self-harm.

I might not be popular in saying it, but all four of the UK Labour leadership campaigns bear the responsibility for this. As does the UK Labour Party for allowing the more unsavoury attacks to go seemingly unpunished.

But I get that tensions are high because the stakes are incredibly high. I just wish that we didn’t look like two completely different parties whilst we all slugged it out.

The fact is, the Labour Party has always been, and always will be, a very broad church indeed. The tension between left and right has been there since day one, and it will continue long after this contest. Some less discerning contributions talk of vengeful retribution on X, Y and Z for daring to oppose their candidate of choice. I suspect that outcome is unlikely. When push comes to shove, most people will get behind the new leadership team, whoever it is. We will have had our say and we will, in the main, respect the decision. Because that is what we do.

And it looks like that new leader will be Jeremy Corbyn. I don’t know him personally, but nobody can deny that he has lit this contest up. He is filling venues across the country and talking directly to people in language that they understand and can believe in.

Personally, I always regarded Mr Corbyn and the ‘awkward squad’ of which he has long been a part as the conscience of the Labour Party, rather than its leadership. There is a whole different set of qualities required to lead the Labour Party and to be seen as a credible alternative to the Conservatives. But maybe Jeremy Corbyn has them. So far it seems that the party membership, affiliates and registered supporters think he does. What is clear is that a Corbyn Labour leadership looks set to be quite unlike anything we have seen in recent history. And just maybe that will give the party the opportunity to renew itself.

In Scotland, the situation for Labour remains critical. Our new leader, Kezia Dugdale, has to work closely with the new UK leadership once it is in place. It is crucial that they give Kezia and Scottish Labour the support we need to stabilise our party and to communicate our message to the people of Scotland. Because at this time, the majority have stopped listening.

Yesterday, Kezia’s first major speech as Scottish Labour Leader focused on her values, and made clear that equality and opportunity will be at the heart of our programme. Pointing out that from next year we all become Scottish taxpayers, she had no difficulty in asserting that those at the top of the scale would have to pay more to help improve the life chances of those at the bottom. She also set out a clear and widely supported objective that life chances must not be fixed by the time a child gets to nursery.

Kezia’s enthusiasm to build bridges with the trade unions, businesses and civic Scotland also shows that she is serious in getting Scottish Labour back to a position where people will give us a hearing.

There is a long way to go, and a lot of hard work to do, before we can achieve that. And one thing that will be crucial in achieving it is party unity.

When all is said and done in the UK leadership contest, we all have to return to what brought us into the Labour Party in the first place – our mission to improve the life chances of working people. We are unlikely to be in a position to make progress on that if we are still fighting each other rather than the Conservatives.

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12 thoughts on “We must find unity after strife

  1. ‘Personally, I always regarded Mr Corbyn and the ‘awkward squad’

    Jamie, I think you will find that Jeremy is traditional Labour the way it use to be in Scotland before New Labour and the Scottish Labour Party ex MPs who where absorbed into it and became careerists.

  2. Its my view, people in Labour were looking for someone, anyone, who did not reek of the values of Blair, Brown and Mandleson. That would obviously include those who stood shoulder to shoulder as they postured and pranced round the wealthy and powerful, at sleep-overs, garden parties and as Godparents.
    I suspect Cooper and Burnham regret their ties to that period.
    However, it is doubtful if Labour’s marching band will all be in tune with Corbynism, and there will presumably be a day of reckoning to come—not least in Scotland where the Party Leadership has been somewhat lukewarm.
    The Party infighting has been done in the public eye—sometimes that can be good, but not here and now, while the Tories are triumphant with their underwhelming election victory.
    There will be fighting still to come. Can Labour keep it indoors?

  3. I believe Mr. Glackin is the chair of the Labour Party in Scotland. Can this fundamental fact not be rectified every time the ” Scottish Labour Party ” is mentioned / written about. There is no Scottish Labour Party. Yet.

    Kezia is the Leader of the Labour Party in Scotland and subordinate to the Leader of the UK Labour Party.

    1. Mr Glackin is in fact Chair of the Scottish Executive Committee, the body which is in overall charge of the Scottish Labour Party. I’m sorry you don’t think it exists, but I can assure you it does.

      If you are still troubled by the fact that the Scottish Labour Party exists while also being part of the UK Labour Party, perhaps you should consider the fact that Scotland exists while also being part of the United Kingdom.

      Hope this helps.

  4. Duncan, thanks for that information I have copied the paragraph below from Wikipedia it looks as if the The Scottish Labour Party is the name of a section of the Labour Party so it is not really a party it is as it says a section of the Labour Party. Hope this helps.

    The Scottish Labour Party (Scottish Gaelic: Pàrtaidh Làbarach na h-Alba, Scots: Scots Labour Pairty;[4] often branded Scottish Labour) is the section of the Labour Party which operates in Scotland. Until 1994 it was called the Scottish Council of the Labour Party.

  5. I am not a party member, but am going to join if Corbyn is elected leader. With respect, and I mean that because it is clear you are trying in good faith to pour oil on troubled waters, your suggestion that all 4 candidates are to blame for the rammy seems to me to be absolutely extraordinary. Corbyn, from the outset, has banned personal criticism from his campaign, and has won plaudits across a very wide spectrum for his civil tone and courteous debate. The current difficulties stem from those who thought it wise to have former leaders use the very lurid language which discredited them and rebounded on their candidates. In short, what you say – on that score – is just not true.

  6. ‘civil tone and courteous debate’

    Joe, I think you will find that if and when Jeremy Corbyn goes toe to toe with David Cameron at PMQs it’ll be a different story, when old ham-head Cameron winds Corbyn up just wait and see how muesli muncher Corbyn reacts.

  7. ‘Nice to be nice’ – what a pathetic excuse for an analysis from one of our leaders ( I have just voted for Jeremy)

  8. I just wanted to agree with Jamie’s comments and add that, frankly, we are acting like children at the moment and we should be ashamed of ourselves. I did not join this party to spend years fighting with other members over who is more pure and left wing. I joined to make sure that everyone gets a fair a deal in life. The Tories have just won a general election, people! We are about to get a whipping in the Scottish elections by a party that are pretending to be us! Why are we wasting our time and energy fighting ourselves? If we don’t get our act together now there will not be a labour party, Scottish or otherwise, to fight over. We have survived 2 world wars, monetarism, Thatcherism, and a cold war. We have survived repeated assaults on the values we all hold dear. And if we don’t stop this, what we are doing, right now, the thing that is finally going to do us in is ourselves.

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