george-foulkes2The Right Hon Lord Foulkes of Cumnock reminds us who we are, and tells us to get our fingers out – because we can win again as we have won before.


Scottish politics is at a crossroads. Which way we go does not depend on chance or the stars, but on the decisions that we make.

On September the 18th more than 2 million Scots voted to remain part of the United Kingdom but the way forward is now more difficult to forecast than if it had been a yes vote.

The fanatics in the independence movement, with “Anyone but Labour” as their motto, have one clear intention: to “destroy” Scottish Labour.

This is unsurprising, given that such nationalists movements, motivated by one clear goal and a simplistic them and us ideology, invariably seek to destroy those who have the temerity to question the correctness of their cause.

How we respond to the threat is a test of our courage, and the strength of our belief.

Under a plain headstone in Cumnock cemetery lies the body of our party’s founder, James Keir Hardie.

Hardie, a Lanarkshire miner who moved to Ayrshire, then to Wales, and London to get a seat in Parliament, encountered many setbacks in his fight to represent the interests of working people. His courage and beliefs, however, let him triumph over adversity and establish the party we are all proud to be members of today.

In 1976, Jim Sillars left the Labour Party and lead the so called Scottish Labour Party, attracting to his cause many disaffected Labour supporters frustrated by a lack of progress on devolution.

Many of the SLP’s members were on the far left, and when they took control at the Party’s conference in Stirling, Sillars unceremoniously walked out of his own conference. History may have an uncanny way of repeating itself.

More recently in the early 80s, Labour was infiltrated by Trotskyites, Marxists and fellow travellers, and the right split away to form the SDP.

I recall the Jeremiahs in our party, when the SDP were polling over 50%, forcing Labour into third behind Thatcher’s Tories, predicting that our party was finished.

But again men and women with courage and belief fought back, and within two decades we had won three successive election victories, a historic feat the party had never before even come close to achieving.

That is what we need to do again. We have the best Scottish Labour MPs at Westminster in living memory and our team Holyrood is exceptionally talented.

But they need to now to gird their loins, get out into every street, club, factory, shop and town centre, tell people of our record, beliefs, and convictions, and convince them that supporting Labour is the only way they can ensure a better future for the people of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

After all, it was Labour that created the welfare state and the NHS. It was Labour that protected workers from exploitation and ensured they were paid the minimum wage.

After thirteen years in office, it was Labour that left Britain’s public services, our schools, our hospitals, and our police stations, in the strongest position they’ve ever been. Crime fell, schools improved, hospitals had more doctors and nurses than ever before. This is not conjecture, this is fact.

This is even before we mention the Scottish Parliament, which Labour created, despite opposition from both the SNP and the Tories.

And it is Labour who should advance the plans, at both UK and Scottish level, which will again inspire support and change Britain’s constitutional arrangements for the better.

Ed Miliband is the only party leader willing to stand up to vested interests. He’s proved his mettle, taking on the Murdochs, the bankers, and the energy companies.

In Scotland, we have plans to keep the railways in Scottish public or mutual ownership, to decentralise within Scotland and to reform council tax so the rich pay more.

What is needed now is for everyone in the Party to look ahead instead of over our shoulders.

The pessimists must be cast aside, the scribblers in the media ignored and our principles and record utilised to show what we’ve already done for Britain, and more importantly how we will ensure that it will succeed and prosper in the future.

The SNP and the Tories are once again in unholy alliance. They need each other to succeed in order to defeat Labour. We, the people, must not let them.

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2 thoughts on “We, the people

  1. Much of this article is useful but there is a sloppiness of language that troubles, particularly if it accurately reflects an underlying mindset.There’s little to be gained by acting as though the establishment of a parliament, with deep levels of popular support and building on the work of a non-partisan Constitutional Convention, is the same as any other policy to be claimed by a single party. It suggests a sense of entitlement towards the institution that many people will find unappealing. Likewise, it comes across as empty posturing for political parties to claim they are the embodiment of popular will or ‘the people’ as occurs at the end of this article. This was and is patently nonsense when coming from the SNP, it looks just as bad from Labour when it is trailing that same party in the polls and in terms of membership.

  2. I have always considered myself a left leaning labour supporter and voter though never a member of the party, regardless of whether I worked in Scotland or England. My vote in local and government elections has however in recent years always gone towards the candidate I considered most likely to work towards progressive goals and a fairer society. Usually this was Labour but not always, as the day has long since passed that I automatically voted Labour, especially after Blair became leader of the UK party.

    More recently I had another major change of heart, one that is likely to be even longer lasting.

    After spending a week in Edinburgh prior to the referendum, exposed to the psychological warfare of Unionist politicians and the media, I no longer think any unionist party (whether I work/live in Scotland or England) deserves my vote; the lack of scruples evident in all of the major UK parties in their scramble to retain power in Westminster made me squirm with embarrassment when they did not make me angry. Their lies and deceit forced me to reappraise my allegiances and I can readily understand why so many normal Labour party supporters, particularly in the West of Scotland, deserted the party. If they have any sense, should Scottish Labour fail to markedly reform, they will never return.

    Regardless of what spokespersons such as Lord Foulkes have to say (and the fact he has accepted a title speaks volumes in itself) the Labour Party is now clearly as much a party of the Establishment as the Conservatives and Liberals. Fortunately, unlike in England, Scots have a number of alternative parties with policies worth supporting, and a Parliament that, to some extent, protects them from the extreme policies of Westminster.

    UKIP is not one of these parties and, although I detest what the party ‘stands for’ I can appreciate why they are in the ascendant in England if not Scotland (at least so far as the media are concerned) but unless Scottish Labour returns to its roots (unlikely) and breaks all ties with Westminster (equally unlikely) I believe it has no long term future in Scotland and may even be overtaken by a combination of old fashioned unionism/faragism in popularity.

    The SNP certainly serves the middle classes in Scotland well and is content to offer much of what Scottish Labour could do better for working people if it were not tied to London. As a party perceived to be the dedicated defenders of what is Scottish, there is thus little likelihood the electorate will unseat the SNP when faced with another austerity oriented government in Westminster, whether Labour or Tory. If a new Scottish Labour leader is to achieve any of the goals desired by Scottish Labour supporters they will need to break with Westminster and make Scottish Labour an independent party, associated with Labour south of the border but not dependent upon it.

    If such an unlikely scenario became reality, when next I worked/resided in Scotland, Labour would once again receive my consideration. Currently, as I pointed out a moment ago, I find it very difficult to even conceive of voting Labour ever again, regardless of where I am living.

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