CatherineCatherine Stihler MEPjpg Stihler MEP sets out why she’s backing Andy Burnham to be Leader of the UK Labour Party.


Labour’s defeat in Scotland in May was devastating to watch. We knew we faced major challenges, but could not anticipate being left with only one UK MP sitting north of the border.

The Scottish people delivered the Labour Party a harsh message, and we need to hear it. Labour lost in Scotland because we stopped listening.

As we go about rebuilding ourselves as a party and think ahead to rebuilding trust in Labour in Scotland, there is no task more important than selecting the right leader.

I believe there is only one candidate whose voice can reach out to all four corners of our country – who can rebuild that emotional connection that we have lost with our Scottish voters.

Andy Burnham is a principled, decent man and a talented communicator. He has shown he has strength in government and a capable, assiduous voice in opposition.

He has never lost touch with his roots, and he knows the Labour Party needs a good shake, pulling it out of Westminster and into the real world.

Most importantly, he’s a listener. He has listened to what voters told him on doorsteps around the country, including in Scotland, and he knows the party needs to change if we are going to win again in 2020.

He is in no doubt about the challenges we face in winning back support in Scotland, and has no intention of lecturing Scottish people as we start to rebuild our party.

Donald Dewar said the Scottish Parliament would allow the Scottish people to find ‘Scottish solutions to Scottish problems’. Andy wants Scottish Labour to find Labour answers to the problems Scottish people face, without interference from Westminster.

But he also wants to make sure our Scottish members can continue to play a central role in creating Labour’s solutions for the whole of the United Kingdom.

I have confidence in Andy to get the balance right between independence and unity.

When Scottish voters went to the polls in May, they didn’t just vote against Labour; they voted against a brand of politics that seemed increasingly distant from their lives. Against policies and soundbites that didn’t connect with them.

Andy is already talking about the things that matter to people up and down the country. Opportunities for young people when they finish school, getting more young people onto the housing ladder and building more homes to rent and buy. Devolving more power to local councils and communities, helping everyone to get on in life.

This week, he’s launched a campaign for a fair wage for every age, arguing that there can be no justification for limiting the increased minimum wage to the over 25s, when younger people are going to be hit just as hard by slashed tax credits.

And he can lead with a strong voice in Europe, too. Andy is passionately pro-EU. He knows it needs reform, but he won’t let renegotiations turn the clock back and weaken employment rights. At the same time, he will offer a strong Labour voice on key issues, such as the need to prevent the undercutting of British workers by paying lower wages to migrants.

Labour’s campaign to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom was undermined by the platform we shared with the Tories. Andy has called for a Labour campaign to keep us in the EU, to make sure we learn from our mistakes and take Labour arguments for EU membership to the electorate.

If we’re going to win in 2020, so we can change our country for the better, we need a leader who can prove Labour has the strength to put its principles into practice. And that competence and compassion can go hand-in-hand.

For the future of our country; for the future of Scotland; for the future of the EU and for our future prosperity, the Labour Party needs Andy Burnham.

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5 thoughts on “What Scottish Labour really needs

  1. Ok so simple question.

    When is Labour in Scotland going to get the bit where you cant appeal to the people of Scotland by supporting Blairites?

    Actually 2 questions.

    How long are you going to keep deluding yourselves after you lose every constituency seat in the Scottish Parliament next year?

  2. What Scottish Labour really needs is to become an Independent Labour Party free from all you Red Tories.

  3. You’ve done yourselves no end of good by accepting a 1% cap on public sector wages the two child tax credit limit and the benefit cap. Is there anything you won’t accept?

  4. The Labour Party NEEDS Andy Burnham? Duh !
    Actually the Labour Party needs someone with vision and honesty.
    Someone who can unify a fractious Party for a start—and he/she isn’t visible among this lot.
    And in Scotland its leader No8? No9? Who knows?
    Someone who is an actual leader, who will move the focus of Government away from the City of London to manufacturing and innovation.
    Someone who sees the need for UK-wide investment/ high speed rail as a connector for the entire country, not just the south of England.
    Someone who believes in fairness and equality, not as a slogan for election time, but as an objective to be worked toward over a one term parliament. A parliament with no House of Lords.
    Someone who wont just ape Tory economics, and stigmatise the poor —-because its the path of least resistance.
    But we can watch these two leadership elections in place, right now. We can judge the merits of the candidates. We can make a guess at how many doorsteps in Scotland Burnham has been there, chapping—and we know its not been very many.
    If these squabbling few are Labour’s finest, then they will struggle for many years to recover, and may never do so. The electorate have few alternatives in England, bar UKIP, but Scotland wont revert back to old habits with what is on offer here.
    Catherine Stihler should start upgrading her CV—she might need it ! Her horse, Burnham, might fall at the first.

  5. Hi Catherine,

    Do you think that the EU Referendum is an opportunity to reconnect with historic Labour voters and those who have never voted?

    I appreciate the experience of immigration is markedly different in parts of England to up here, but the Scottish Independence referendum has shown there’s a largely untapped, and historically apathetic electorate which is receptive to a more progressive “message”. I dont agree that the SNP’s offering at GE2015 was at all more progressive, fiscally, than Labour’s. Nor do I treat their record in government as an endorsement of their progressive pretensions.

    But there’s no doubting their message was articulated with more confidence, clarity and conviction than we often saw from Ed. My opinion of course.

    The manifesto was decidedly redistributive in aspiration and effect. The message? Hmmmmmm…

    My real hope is that the opportunity of the EU referendum, which will in my view inevitably awaken political consciousness, is grasped fully; there are 100,000s of voters who may not even know what political message they want to hear.

    The lesson from Scotland is that once they start listening (and they will) we’d better be clear what we’re saying to them, and clear as to why. My prediction? They’ll listen to traditional Labour messages. Champion what the EU has done for worker’s rights, health and safety, holidays, mat leave, parental leave. Do it honestly and with passion. They’ll listen.

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