Young Labour is live and kicking

ronnie mcgowanRonnie McGowan attended an event organised by Scottish Young Labour at the weekend, and reports back on a varied set of discussions.


With 130,000 members disenfranchised from a leadership election and another 300,000 under instruction not to hold any constituency meetings, Scottish Young Labour did what any self- respecting young person would do – ignore their elders.

Last Saturday, at short notice, they put together a varied open forum that would try to address some of the issues arising from what looks, to a younger generation, like the collapse of social democracy across Europe.

The invited speakers included Alex Rowley MSP, Leith Councillor Gordon Munro and Richard Leonard MSP.

Before an audience of thirty five in Glasgow’s John Smith House, Rowley, deputy leader of the Labour party in Scotland, set out an analysis centring on how political discourse has switched from one about class to one of identity. Within his own constituency he was still being frequently confronted with questions about the constitution but at the same time he stressed that anti-poverty, housing and spending cuts were crucial areas of policy needing to be brought into sharper focus.

On matters of the constitution the deputy leader believes that Westminster is broken, and an alternative in the form of Home Rule would be a way forward. How this would differ from the Holyrood model wasn’t elaborated on. He also felt that in the light of Brexit the arguments for independence were now weaker and he proposed that one of the central reasons for the Brexit vote was a genuine concern on immigration with the resulting downwards pressure on wages. In this he called for an honest discussion and an honest debate. However, Rowley’s analysis wasn’t met with universal agreement when the discussion was opened up to the floor.

Councillor Munro gave a resume of the problems the Edinburgh administration faced when implementing the council tax freeze. He felt one of their major success stories was the extensive public bus service provided.

With a view to next year’s crucial local elections the councillor gave an insight as to how the Labour party was making efforts to regain the electorate’s respect after candidly admitting to a period of neglect. With the support of councillors and MSPs, ‘litter-picks’ were organised and publicised – a simple campaigning tool to complement the more traditional practices of door-knocking and street stalls. The challenge is undoubtedly present for the Labour party to come up with creative measures to persuade voters across many parts of the country to return to their traditional voting pattern.

During the open forum on how councils can campaign positively in 2017 there was recognition of the difficulty there will be in breaking the electorate’s habit of voting SNP, but at the same time Labour councils should not resort to the blame game when debating about cuts to council budgets. One thorny issue which did raise its head was the concern about Glasgow council’s record on conflict management with its employees and the trades unions, in which it was felt there could be a negative impact on voting intentions.

Small group discussions tried to develop some ideas on such things as local taxation, local democracy, infrastructure and how to encourage a wider cross-section of the population to become involved within the Labour Party. The lack of diversity was evident as generally those in attendance were white and middle class.

Richard Leonard contributed a piece on building a worker’s economy which chimed with a few of the ambitions expressed by Scottish Young Labour, like public ownership of utilities, and workers’ control allied with high wages and safe working conditions.

In framing the day Lauren Gilmour, a Young Labour representative, made a plea for greater community involvement, more campaigning and a programme of political education classes. She asked that the party reach out and put the social back into socialism, a sentiment John Smith would surely have echoed. He would also have welcomed the future of the Labour Party showing such initiative in organising this event.

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33 thoughts on “Young Labour is live and kicking

  1. “Young Labour is live and kicking”

    Indeed! All 35 of them. That’s 35 less that will have to be bussed up from London to deliver propaganda during Indyref 2.

    1. To be fair, that’s almost one young person per Scottish parliamentary constituency. (Ok, I’m exaggerating….I realise there are 73 constituencies…!)

      1. Lewis,

        Thank you for your contribution. A meeting of 35 young[ish] people on a sunny Saturday morning isn’t a bad turn-out. I don’t think they were expecting to see anyone travel from the northern or western isles so your ratio might have to be calibrated upwards!

  2. “in the light of brexit the arguments for independence are now weaker”, “a form of home rule would be the way forward”, what planet are labour dreaming of now !

    Independence is the only route left for Scotland, the only way we can remain in the EU, the only way we will ever control our own resources. Get it into your heads, you can not stay in both the UK and the EU, you must chose either an “independent” Scotland or a “tory” controlled Scotland.

    Stop letting your country down and grow up and grow a pair.

    1. Davy, thanks for your response. This was one man’s opinion and it didn’t meet with universal agreement.

      Independence is the only route left? That’s not what over 2,000,000 voters think. You’re in the minority and out of step. The good ship #indyref2 may have sailed with no one aboard.

      1. That’s not what they thought in 2014. Its now 2016 and already many have changed that view by the time Indyref 2 occurs more than the necessary 6% will have shifted over.

        You’re out of step by 2 years you’re going to be out of step by 4 to 5 years if you keep up this level of wishful thinking and self delusion.

        1. Mike,

          You say,’the necessary 6% will have shifted over’

          Can we just have a look at that?

          Based on the 2014 #indyref votes

          NO = 2,001,926
          YES = 1,617,989

          6% of 2,001,926 = 120,115

          New NO vote = 2.001.926 – 120,115 =


          New YES vote = 1,617,989 + 120,115 =


          NO majority = 1,881,811 – 1,738,104

          = 143,707

          Still a healthy NO majority [a city the size of Dundee!]

          The figure you are looking for is a shift of
          9.6% + 1 vote. The problem you have with that is the 1 vote might be mine in which case you’ll be staring down the barrel of #indyref3.

          The maths sometimes serves only to confound self delusion.

          1. Except 55% of the electorate who voted did so to stay and 45% of the electorate who voted did so to end the UK so it would only take a 6% change in the 2014 result to change the result. But you knew that already.
            You knew that the bullshit you put up was meaningless trolling because like me you knew the exact same people who voted in 2014 wont be the exact same people who participate in Indyref 2.
            Some will some wont some who didn’t vote will.
            Some of them will have died some new voters will reach the age to vote for the first time.

            I sincerely hope you weren’t under any kind of self delusion that you were being clever and not moronic and puerile?

            Seems to be a common trait with Yoons. They start off trying to look and sound convincing and when that fails they go off on a troll and try to pretend it was all a wind up to begin with.

            Usually it takes longer to get to this stage you give up too easily Ronnie. Smacks of a lack of conviction and character.

          2. Mike,

            I did caveat with “based on the 2014 #indyref votes”.

            I can’t really base it on who will still be or not be living or on the electoral role at any time in the future.

            I genuinely do not know what you mean by “a 6% change in the 2014 result to change the result”.

            [a 0.5% change in the 2014 result would change the result]

            Your own figure of 6% needs to increase by 60% and that would only give parity of YES/NO based on the 2014 votes cast.

            Percentages can be a tricky concept and when you put out a figure of 6% you have to be absolutely clear that it has to be 6% of a quantity. That’s why I chose the votes cast in 2014 as I thought that is what you meant.

          3. Hate to be bring a bit of honesty to the discussion but your calculations are … shall we be kind and say … inaccurate.

            The 6% swing is of course from among the entire electorate, NOT just the NO vote. Taking the figures from the 2014 total vote (of 3,617,915) that would mean a new NO vote of;

            2,001,926 – 217,195 = 1,784,731

            and a new Yes vote of;

            1,617,989 + 217,195 = 1,835,484

            That is a Yes majority of 50,453.

            I’m sure you already knew that though. Like a true unionist though, you just couldn’t pass up the chance to mislead people. Disappointing but not unexpected.

          4. Me Bungo Pony,

            Thank you for your contribution.

            Can I begin with your statement ”

            “The 6% swing is of course from among the entire electorate, NOT just the NO vote. Taking the figures from the 2014 total vote (of 3,617,915) that would mean a new NO vote of”;

            The entire electorate for the 2014 #indy vote was 4,278,859 yet you proceed to make a calculation based on a figure of 3,619,915.
            Further you then go onto find 6% of 3,619,915, but this figure already includes the 1,617,989 who voted YES. In a sense you are inflating the YES vote.

            You us the term 6% swing – I am interested in how you arrived at that figure – it does involves a sophisticated calculation, so I would like to see your calculation assuming we both understand the same meaning of the term ‘swing’.

            As soon as you enter the realm of percentages you have to be crystal clear about what you mean.

            Here is another nuance.

            Electorate = 4,278,859

            YES needs 50% = 2,139,430

            Change required for a YES majority = 2,139,431 – 1,617,989


            In which case YES has to increase its vote by 12.2% based on 100% turn-out.


            YES has to increase its vote by 11.9% based on its actual turn-out in 2014.

            Take your pick.

            If you are stuck in this mind-set of 6% disappointment lies ahead.

            Correct me if I am wrong but you can’t do the maths based on what you would like to happen – there has to be rigour in your calculations and figures.

            The numbers never lie.

            Instead of tying yourself up in a vortex of numerical fallacy the YES task is simple >50% + 1.

            But the reality is the 55/45 split is a substantial majority and it will take something of similar substance to change that.

          5. Mr McGowan, rarely have I witnessed such a wilfull misrepresentation of, not just what I wrote, but actual reality.

            (1) I used the 3.6m “actual votes” cast and not the theoretical 4.3m electorate because;
            a. we cannot assume how the 0.7m who did not vote (or did not actually exist) would have voted. Your calculation above assumes they are ALL No voters.
            b. the 3.6m “actual votes” are what you used in the post I replied to. You dishonestly flip between “actual votes” and the entire electorate to suit yourself.

            (2) The % result in 2014 was 55-45. To win indyref2 would require just 1 vote above 50% for Yes. That is actually less than a 6% swing. This is not just simple arithmetic but actual reality. It does not matter how many people do, or do not, vote in indyref2, the % swing required for Yes to win is <6%.

            Your post is so dishonest (I say ""dishonest" because I think you are too intelligent to actually believe what you wrote) I will happily point to your posts on this thread as an example of just how little faith can be put in unionists use of stats in the independence debate.

        2. Ronnie, did you miss the result of the EU referendum , did the fact that Scotland voted to remain by 62 % escape your notice.

          Guess who’s in the minority now, apart from labour.

          If you don’t want to believe independence is the only route left for labour just have a look at labours figures from nine years back to present day.

          One MP and now third parts in Scotland.

          The figures don’t lie.

          1. Davy,

            You are correct, the figures don’t lie. The Labour vote has been fragmenting for around two decades.
            There are huge challenges for the Labour party.
            The forum last Saturday was a decent effort by Young Labour to get the arguments moving along. They are to be congratulated for that.

  3. An audience of 35. To discuss what looks like “the collapse of social democracy across Europe” Hyperbolic mince! Most young people in Europe are experiencing an expansion of interest and participation in democracy. Look at Labour in England, for goodness sake!
    Alex Rowley is stuck for a constitutional solution for Scotland, it would seem. He should have asked Richard Leonard, who could have informed him of Keir Hardie.
    Hardie believed in Home Rule for Scotland and Dominion Status—-the same as Canada, Australia etc.
    Sometimes the answers stare you in the face. Though Kezia seems to want Scottish Labour as a British Nationalist Party, and that Scotland should be in thrall to the wishes of UKIP and the Tories with Brexit.
    The A pat on the head from the Torygraph, the Mail and creeps like David Torrence will not win Kezia one extra vote.

    1. Gavin,There is a constitutional solution.The electorate voted to remain part of the UK. Even Nicola Sturgeon uses phrases like ‘better together’ and ‘pooling resources’, a late but welcome convert.

      1. They didn’t vote to stay part of the UK for eternity Ronnie. They voted to stay part of the UK until they decided to change their minds and vote to end the UK.

      2. Ronnie—-“The electorate voted”, yes indeed it did. It voted to “remain” on certain commitments made, such as “closest thing to federalism”, “modern Home Rule”—– Darling also nodded his agreement to Jackie Bird that we would get “Devo Max”.
        There is also the little matter of the EU. We were repeatedly assured that the ONLY way to retain EU membership was to vote NO.
        It wasn’t just Sturgeon who stated that a LEAVE vote in the UK while Scotland voted REMAIN, would bring on Indyref2. She was joined by Cameron, Major, Blair, Brown, Clegg, Osborne and a huge number of other senior British Nationalist politicians, who made that as a statement of fact.
        They may have made their claims for different reasons than Sturgeon, but they were, never the less put into the public domain, and should be regarded as sequential commitments by them.

        1. Ronnie. Should I now regard you, and others who assert Scotland HAS to leave the EU because of the vote down south, as being a “Separatist” and a “Narrow (British) Nationalist” ?
          What happened to “better together and pooling resources” with our 500 million fellow Europeans who have formed the EU?

        2. Gavin,

          Thanks for your comment.

          I missed the bit where Darling apparently gave the nod to “Devo Max” [perhaps it was fiendish editing]. Although I’m sure like many others who voted NO there are more complex reasons why we voted the way we did [apart from the ongoing currency fiasco]. While YES may claim all the outward passion for their case there is a strong streak of the sense of belonging to the UK family [yes, on personal levels too] which the independence argument dismally fails to address.







            You must blink a hell of a lot to miss reality altogether Ronnie.

            It wasn’t just Scottish supporters of Independence who thought Scotland was being offered Devo Max it was the entire pro Yoon media as well.

            Imagine you missing everything published and broadcasted in the media prior to Indyref 1.

            Ive never heard of anybody missing out on life around them due to excessive blinking before.

            You yoons are certainly a unique breed.

  4. As a former labour member, activist and even council candidate on one occasion, I will never consider rejoining until its changes from being British Unionist party. I voted Yes and Labour no longer speaks for people like me.

  5. Sorry but what is “the blame game” that shouldn’t be resorted to when discussing local government cuts?

  6. “I can’t really base it on who will still be or not be living or on the electoral role at any time in the future.”

    Which only goes to prove you were willing to introduce nonsense deliberately does it no?

  7. Percentages can be a tricky concept and when you put out a figure of 6% you have to be absolutely clear that it has to be 6% of a quantity. That’s why I chose the votes cast in 2014 as I thought that is what you meant.

    Except I gave you the quantity. The electorate in Scotland in relative terms of the result of 2014.

    A 0.5% change in the percentage referendum vote would give you 54.5% relative to 45.5% Cant see how that would have changed the result Ronnie and of course neither can you.

    Like I said you gave up too easily pretending you actually had something to say.

    1. What percentage is 35 out of the number of young voters in Scotland Ronnie? Remember it was you who determined what a young voter was in your article.

    2. Mike,

      You say “a 0.5% change in the percentage referendum vote would give you 54.5%”. Of that I am not so sure.

      0.5% of 2,001,926 = 10,010

      New NO vote = 2,001,926 – 10,010 = 1,991,916

      [1,991,916]/ [3,619,915] x 100 = 55.027%

      So a 0.5% reduction in the NO vote results in a reduction from 55.303% to 55.027%

      What this also illustrates is that even a small percentage change changes the result without changing the outcome.

      It is interesting that the NO vote is rounded to 55%, as a convenience, yet that 0.303% amounts to 10,968 voters – so when you see the figure 55% always remember to add on another 11,000 [rounded to 2 significant figures] or the population of the town of Montrose.

  8. “You say “a 0.5% change in the percentage referendum vote would give you 54.5%”. Of that I am not so sure.”

    You’re not sure that if you take 0.5 from 55 you get 54.5?

    Which is actually really staggering considering how many times you post online with surety.

  9. The numerical difference between those who voted to end the UK and those who voted to keep it was 383937. 51% of that numerical difference represents 5.4% of the electorate who voted in 2014.
    Shifting that 5.4% would be all that is needed to change the result.

    You kind of get the why Labour cant handle economies when they struggle with a basic understanding of percentages.
    No wonder they have to pretend the OBR IFS and GERs are accurate because if they tried to dispute them they would end up displaying their inability to understand basic arithmetic.

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