Why I’m Labour and why I’m standing for the SEC

square-scottDr Scott Arthur, an activist in Edinburgh Pentlands CLP, explains why he is standing for election to Labour’s Scottish Executive Committee (SEC). 

 

I grew up in one of the most deprived areas of the UK – a council estate in Kirkcaldy during the 1980s miners’ strike. My route out of that was to work hard at school and go on to complete a degree and eventually a PhD. This solid educational base has led me to a career which has taken me to dozens of cities right around the world – from Sydney to Rio, Dubai and Tokyo.

My experience tells me that education is fundamental to reducing inequality in Scotland and elsewhere in the world. As an academic who manages one of the UK’s leading engineering programmes, I continually come across students with backgrounds like mine who must leave university in Scotland because they simply cannot afford to support themselves. I had a better deal under Thatcher. This injustice is why I joined Labour.

Since I joined our party in October 2014 it has faced unprecedented electoral “challenges”. We’ve gained a massive number of new members, but lost elections, MPs, MSPs and leaders on an epic scale. The reasons for this are legion, but they can be traced back to long before Better Together was conceived. My own view is that the rot started when Tony Blair took us to war in Iraq – that is where we lost the trust of many voters.

That does not mean the Blair/Brown governments did not do great things. I once had the chance to ask Gordon Brown what his greatest achievement in government was. Although he did not take personal responsibility, he did list a doubling of NHS spending and lifting 2 million people out of poverty. At the same time in Scotland we had a Labour Government that reformed the NHS, rebuilt schools on an industrial scale and banned smoking in public places. What have the SNP and Tories done since then to match our transformative zeal?

In the most recent Holyrood election the electorate listened to our message, but it was overshadowed in the closing weeks of the campaign by the threat of a second independence referendum. The rest is history, a horrible history.

Despite this setback, we should not forget that in the early stages of the debate Kezia Dugdale set the agenda with a cohesive narrative built around progressive policies based on Labour values. This was a policy platform which enabled me, on BBC Radio Scotland, to expose just how close the SNP and the Tories were in tax policy.

Six months after our defeat, the support we lost to the nationalists is beginning to wake up to the SNP’s indifference to social justice, but the constitutional arguments and a lack of trust in Labour remain barriers to them supporting us. There is no sign of the tide of popular support returning as quickly as it left us. Indeed, the real risk now for Labour is that when we expose SNP failings the Tories and the Greens will benefit.

If everyone in Scotland is to have the chance to reach their full potential, we can’t afford to fail or weaken further. We can’t let the challenges we face wear us down. We can’t abandon the people the Labour party was established to protect who are trapped right now between two forms of ugly nationalism.

Although their politics are dissimilar, both the SNP and the Tory Brexiteers are fighting for different forms of independence at any cost using turbo-charged nationalist rhetoric. Like Trump, both are intent on blaming others for the problems they face. Both assume the moral high ground. Both will destroy public services and hold back a generation to reach their hollow ideological goal.

The need for a Labour Government in London and Edinburgh has never been greater. As Kezia Dugdale said in her IPPR talk:

“The Tories want Scotland in the UK and out of Europe, and the SNP wants Scotland in the EU, but out of the UK. Continuing to pull our country in each of these directions risks breaking the Union once and for all. Only Scottish Labour can stand up for what the majority of Scots want – maintaining our relationship with Europe and securing our place in the United Kingdom.”

We have no option to do anything but build support around our excellent elected members – from our UK and Scottish leaders down to our councillors who are at the front line of defending public services against Tory/SNP cuts.

To do this the party must fully engage with ordinary members like you and I to ensure we can make an effective contribution at all levels to the Labour movement’s fight for social justice. This will be my goal if I am elected to the SEC. I will aim to change it from a body which members often don’t understand into one which we can engage with to support and inform our party’s leadership.

If elected, I pledge to deliver the following for you:

  1. Transform the SEC’s relevance by consulting directly with members on the decisions it makes.
  2. Publish my notes of each SEC meeting – I’ll summarise the discussion and tell you how I voted.
  3. Engage your CLP and trade union branch by offering to attend its meetings and involve it directly in policy making.
  4. Convert the lessons we learn from our successes and defeats into winning tactics.
  5. Do all I can to ensure Labour is returned to government in London and Edinburgh.

We must remember that being part of the Labour movement is only the start. Success will only come when we work together.

You can learn more about me and why I’m standing at DrScottArthur.Scot

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33 thoughts on “Why I’m Labour and why I’m standing for the SEC

  1. Just what the SEC needs another self promoting fantasist.

    “I continually come across students with backgrounds like mine who must leave university in Scotland because they simply cannot afford to support themselves”

    Labour drones once again ignoring the fact that Labour support the idea of Tuition fees. Still pretending they didn’t bring them into Scotland in 1998.

    “That does not mean the Blair/Brown governments did not do great things. I once had the chance to ask Gordon Brown what his greatest achievement in government was. Although he did not take personal responsibility, he did list a doubling of NHS spending and lifting 2 million people out of poverty”

    Except they didn’t! What they did instead was take us to war, privatised our public services, took public spending from the NHS and gave it to Private consortiums via PFI PPP contracts, expanded the House of Lords, decreased the House of Commons, increased our tax burden, lowered out income standards, and betrayed every voter who voted for them based on their manifestos.

    “rebuilt schools on an industrial scale”

    Using PFI PPP contracts once again handing public funding over to Private contractors which has resulted in our schools having to close down for repairs and needed maintenance overhauling because of shoddy work practices.

    “What have the SNP and Tories done since then to match our transformative zeal?”

    The Tories have carried on with Labours “Great work” while the SNP has kept Labour from doing more harm to Scotland by removing them from office.
    The SNP haven’t taken us to war have abolished PFI PPP in Scotland abolished tuition fees lowered our tax burden increased our income standards and have kept faith the people who elected them on their manifestos.

    “In the most recent Holyrood election the electorate listened to our message”

    Indeed! And now you’re deservedly lying third and heading for fourth place in Scotland.

    Delusional drivel once again from Scott Arthur.

    1. Mike,
      let’s start with university funding. We know that under the SNP university education has got cheaper for the richest (the single payment ~£2000 graduate endowment, not fees, was abolished), but the poorest are worse off (the SNP cut their grant). I’m sure we both agree that’s a bad thing. Your point appears to be that the situation in Scotland today is justified because Tony Blair introduced fees in England in 2001. That’s bonkers.

      As for PFI, the SNP did not abolish it… they renamed it NPD. The Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital is being built right now using SNP PFI.

      The Oxgangs school wall did collapse due to PFI. A non-PFI school built by the same company suffered the same problem.

      What do you mean when you say the SNP have “lowered our tax burden”? Do you mean they’ve cut public services?

      Scott

      1. Gibber gibber gibber. Not a single word of actual truth in that gibbering post of yours Scott.
        University got cheaper for everybody in Scotland under the SNP that’s the first fact you lied about.
        How the fuck can anybody be worse off with a grant? Really how?
        Tony Blair didn’t just introduce fees in England he introduced them into Scotland as well.
        NPD is not PFI nothing like it. Another willful bare faced lie.
        The company responsible for the faulty walls were employed by Labour Scott.
        The SNP have lowered our tax burden relative to Labour by not increasing our taxes and freezing local taxes.
        Labour have pledged within their manifesto to raise taxation.
        Are you done being willfully ignorant?

  2. Sorry Doctor Scott, but I’m even prolier than thou. Father, the illegitimate son of a domestic servant. Mother, the daughter of a Scots/Irish Traveller family brought up in the High Street in Edinburgh. I spent my early years in post war austerity at the top of the Dumbiedykes until being slum cleared to Oxgangs. I expect the living conditions I experienced during the 50s and 60s were a good deal worse than anything you came across. I then got on and got out in exactly the same way you did though when I made it into university I was one of 8% or 9% of the population who made it not the 15% or 20 odd %. when you did it.

    I then worked in teaching for 30 odd years and was a specialist in getting pupils from all socio-economic backgrounds into HE for the best part of quarter of a century. Now here’s the thing, the main reason I came across why pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds didn’t make it into and finish university courses had less to do with finance than with what schools they went to. The most culturally and economically deprived pupils in the Edinburgh area tended to come from areas such as Wester Hailes, Niddrie/Craigmillar and filled up the catchments of WHEC and Castlebrae. The university uptake figures from schools such as those were pathetic as were their examination pass results. At a time when ‘bog standard’ comps like those I worked in were sending 60-80 pupils a year to HNC and above courses, WHEC and Castlebrae would struggle to send any to such destinations.

    The answer to the problems of schools like WHEC and Castlebrae is quite simple. Close them down. Disperse their pupils to other schools to give better social, intellectual and academic mixes. In that way the sense of ‘dead-endness’ and hopelessness which too often permeates schools such as those could be ended for both pupils and staff and results might improve. All sorts of other things need doing as well but start with my suggestion above. One last point. Which political party set us on the road to neighbourhood comprehensives which virtually guaranteed schools such as WHEC, Castlebrae and has been the most tenacious defender of the system ever since.

      1. So we leave utterly duff schools open within areas so deprived that there is absolutely no hope of improving their results due to the demoralisation of both the pupils and staff? Strangely enough an ex colleague was just at the house and we were discussing this very point. Both of us vaguely centrist/left; with around 70 years teaching experience between us: 20 odd years of that in a pretty disadvantaged school: though not one approaching the deprivation of WHEC, Castlebrae et al, felt that, in practical terms, closure of schools like these was probably the only practical answer.

        Great play has been made of the way schools like these were turned round in London. Some kind of ‘magic’ from ‘hero’ heads to ‘The London Challenge’ is often put forward to explain it. Four things are generally left out. 1) The very high spending on inner London schools that has taken place. Often twice the English average. 2) The presence of the greatest store of cultural capital on the planet on their doorstep. All of those museums, galleries, libraries and concert halls do help. 3) The further presence of one of the greatest job creation machines on the same planet on the schools’ doorsteps also clearly does help. 4) Finally, mass immigration and the virtual replacement of one low achieving population group with a much higher achieving immigrant population. Number 4 is essentially the same as closing low achieving schools down as the catchment demographics of the old school has been replaced by a new one.

      2. Schools are being closed because Labour awarded PFI contracts to dodgy Contractors Scott. Why would voters trust Labour after this shambles?

  3. The two political parties most closely in economic tandem in my lifetime ( I’m well into my sixties) have been the Labour and Tory party—–both fighting for the mythical middle ground—– privatising publicly-owned utilities, cutting State% spending, flattening taxes and fattening up private shareholders.
    Labour in Scotland were losing touch well before Blair and Brown—that is, in my opinion, why their demise has been so rapid. Labour voters being initially reluctant to believe that politicians from a similar background ( also though that had also changed ) to theirs, had turned “native” at Westminster.
    While Labour has been in the doldrums before, I find any route back for them difficult to imagine. They are led in England/UK by a leader who has no traction with the wider public, and in Scotland by a politician who has little credibility ( not all her fault) on the constitution, economics and social issues. There are also alternatives for the popular vote, and the media is largely against Labour ( though an even heavier bias has not stopped the SNP).

    If Dr Scott were right about Labour allowing children to fulfil their educational potential, then Glasgow schools ( where Labour has ruled for decades, with the best per capita funding in Scotland ) would be top of the educational league. Are they?

    1. Gavin,
      I think we both know that the de-industrialisation of Glasgow (and other cities across the western world) has led to social problems which mean money alone can’t deliver the education outcomes we all want. Nonetheless, Glasgow does have some of the very best state schools in Scotland.

      Scott

      1. Scott, I think you should inform your party that “money alone cant deliver”——– as, on all sorts of levels that is true, but Labour don’t seem to comprehend that.
        My father (born 1913, in a one parent family of 12 surviving children) had to leave school at 13 to work in the pits. He went to night school to achieve his mining engineer qualifications. He was not alone in his generation, as they understood how important education was if they wanted to get on.
        In England, a country we are told to emulate, white British male children, especially in the North, do very badly at school, and the achievement gap is growing in that country. This is a recent cultural issue, but is very important to understanding Brexit and the rise of UKIP(in my opinion) to Labours detriment. How to solve it in a country which is now destined to get poorer? It may take a generation or more to get the right-wingers out of government. We in Scotland can take a different route.

          1. Full fiscal autonomy is financially greater than less than full fiscal autonomy right up until you can show it isn’t.

  4. “Only Scottish Labour can stand up for what the majority of Scots want – maintaining our relationship with Europe and securing our place in the United Kingdom.”

    I actually had to read this 4 times just to ensure I got the jist of it. Labour are now claiming they can keep Scotland in the EU and the UK in spite of complaining about the efforts the SNP are making to do just that against opposition from both Labour and the Conservatives in Westminster who are both hell bent in ensuring Brexit goes ahead.
    Both of them once again going hand in hand through the voting lobbies to ensure that no matter how the court case comes out Parliament will ratify Brexit and give the UK Government the go ahead to declare article 50.

    Are there still people in Labour willing to swallow this level of utter deceitful drivel?

    1. Mike,
      you need to read it a 5th time.

      Labour actually forced the Tories to come back to the commons to allow it to “properly scrutinise” the government and its proposals for leaving the EU.

      Scott

      1. So they will scrutinise before ratifying and what happens when they scrutinise and find out Scotland is leaving the EU with the rUK? What will Labour do? What can they do?

          1. Are you now pretending that Labour can stop Brexit if the Conservatives decide to Brexit without ensuring we have a tariff free access to the single market?

  5. Dr Scott Why limit yourself to SEC when Kezia throws in the towel why not put your hat in the ring and stand for the position as leader of the Scottish Labour Party from what I see and hear you are head and shoulders above the current bunch so are in with a good shout that is providing that MR Hothersall does not stand himself so have a go nothing ventured nothing gained.

    1. Ted,
      You are making me blush!

      I have no plans to mount a bid for the Scottish Labour leadership and I really hope Kezia has no plans to stand down. Re-building Scottish Labour will take years and I am convinced Kezia is the best person for the job… even better than Mr Hothersall. I back her 100%.

  6. “We can’t abandon the people the Labour party was established to protect who are trapped right now between two forms of ugly nationalism.”

    I take it you mean the Scottish nationalism of the SNP, Greens and SSP on the one hand and the British nationalism of the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems on the other.

    The problem for the Labour Party is that it is now ashamed to be up front about its Unionist position on the constitutional question as it does not like to admit that, if given the straight choice, it would prefer to be ruled by the Conservatives within the UK than be the government of an independent Scotland. That is why the party is, deservedly, facing terminal decline. (I say that as someone who was a member and activist for 17 years.)

    1. “I take it you mean the Scottish nationalism of the SNP, Greens and SSP on the one hand and the British nationalism of the Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems on the other.”

      No.

      “The problem for the Labour Party is that it is now ashamed to be up front about its Unionist position…”

      No, the problem is that the Labour party sees the damage leaving the UK would do. If you don’t believe me, check the SNP’s analysis of an independent Scotland’s finances…. oh, sorry it doesn’t exist!

      1. This is essentially the problem for Labour. The argument for the Union now basically boils down to the Barnett formula and UK fiscal transfer. Which is fine as long as the current funding formula is maintained.

        That’s risky on two levels:

        1) Scotland’s under performing economy and massive poor public finances is an argument in your favour. That means there is no incentive for Labour to try and fix it because it risks undermining the case for the Union.

        You are not going to win many votes by hoping Scotland stays poor.

        2) There are no gaurantees the current funding formula will remain in place after 2020. The right wing of the Conservatives are now in control and scrapping Scotland’s over generous funding deal will play well with voters in many parts of England and possibly Wales.

        You are basically relying on the Conservatives for a major plank in your electoral strategy. All the very best with that one.

          1. Great come back, well done.

            Sarcasm aside care to point out why you disagree?

            If Paul Nuttel makes English nationalism an electoral issue ahead of the GE in 2020, which he is already on record as saying he will, and Barnett comes under greater scrutiny, how would Labour defend it while trying to win seats in England?

            Forgive me for saying it but Labour’s messaging hasn’t exactly been slick and disciplined recently.

          2. I don’t think any nationalism is good, bad or indifferent.

            But English nationalism can potentially stop any realistic chance of a Labour government being elected at any point in the future which I think would be a shame.

            As we have seen in Scotland once that particular genie is out of the bottle, it is pretty hard to stop.

            UK Labour can just about survive losing their heartlands in Scotland to the SNP but if the same happens in the North of England and Wales then it’s the end for them.

            Which would be a tragedy for a party that has done so much for working people in the past.

          3. I think Labour should steal a march on UKIP and the Tories and adopt a policy to scrap Barnett and propose a new funding formula for the nations and regions that is based on need as soon as they can.

            This will cause pain both fiscally and politically for Labour in Scotland but it will be popular in many parts of England and Wales who are hard done by the present arrangement. They are perfectly entitled to do this on the basis for genuine redistributive reasons because the current funding settlement is decades out of date and not needs based.

            It will force the SNP to raise taxes and scrap universal benefits to make up the shortfall which could hurt them electorally too.

            It’s a high risk strategy but I think Labour are fighting for their very existence and they need to be bold. If that means sacrificing a fight back in Scotland (which is looking unlikely anyway at the minute), then so be it, needs must.

  7. ‘We can’t abandon the people the Labour party was established to protect who are trapped right now between two forms of ugly nationalism.’

    Where do you stand on Welsh nationalism? Is it less ugly because Labour swallowed their principles and went into coalition with them in the Welsh Assembly in 2007?

    And I take it Irish nationalism is fine too, given Labour have a long standing agreement with the SDLP at Westminster? Ed Miliband even described the SDLP as Labour’s ‘sister party’.

    So is it just the SNP’s nationalism that’s ugly? Oh wait, Labour are in coalition with the SNP in Edinburgh City Council.

    So apart from Irish nationalism, Welsh nationalism and Scottish nationalism within the city limits of Edinburgh, nationalism is ugly.

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