Story below was written by Alex Rowley, a Labour member of the Scottish Parliament for Cowdenbeath, elected at the Cowdenbeath by-election in January 2014. Like many in the Labour camp he feel’s Scottish Labour must disconnect from Westminster Labour and get with the “Free Scotland” game. I said a few times as have many that Labour probably will one day have a Scottish only party, a complete split with no ties. As things stand Labour are dead in the water for all time in Scotland. Will it take a Scottish Labour to take a step towards SNP and Nationalistic thinking to be able to function again in our shores? What do you think? Decent read from the National this. One thing we will all agree on is a one party Scotland is not viable forever, we need a strong 2nd party. What if Labour tore it’self away from it’s English roots and stepped back to the Labout of old and wanted home rule or freedom also? I am just asking the questions, I don’t have the answers. As we head towards the 2016 Scottish Elections Labour will try almost anything to get your vote. Don’t be fooled by them as they stand today
AS I watched the General Election results come in on the television in the early hours of May 8, I was not shocked there was a move away from Labour and we were getting beaten, but shocked by the scale of the defeat.
It was clear we needed a fundamental review of both strategy and practice. To me, it was obvious this defeat was not just a question about leadership, although the strategy which had been followed by the leadership was an issue that did need to be reviewed. I questioned what had happened after the major review led by Jim Murphy in 2011. We could not say the strategy there was sound. We bounced from focus group to focus group making policies up as we went along with no real clarity of what Labour in Scotland actually stood for. We needed then, as we need now, a proper analysis of where we are and what went wrong.
If the General Election result was to be applied to the 2016 Scottish election, the outcome would lead to Labour losing every constituency seat and seven MSPs and the return of a SNP Government with an overwhelming majority. Even with a disastrous low of 24 per cent of the vote, the PR system would be kinder to us than first past the post and we would get somewhere in the region of 31 list seats while the SNP would have around 74 seats.
However, that does not take into account the fact the Greens and others may do better. Thirty-one seats for Labour may well be very ambitious. The prospect means many in Labour who have their sights set on Holyrood are keen to get onto Labour’s list. But this is a short-sighted strategy which will solve nothing in the longer term. If it is the case that by May 2016 we have been unable to progress from the current all-time low, my view is we will just sink even lower. Some may well save their careers for a wee bit longer, but the party will not survive.
So what to do? Some were rather annoyed about Johann Lamont’s comment last year about the UK party leadership treating Scottish Labour as the branch office. I have heard many say this is not a description they recognise. However, I am afraid I do and believe it must be addressed in order for Labour in Scotland to move forward with a more progressive approach that sets the future agenda.
We need to move beyond tinkering with party rules and learn the lessons from sister parties across Europe where there is a strong federal system. It is crucial we take a far greater degree of control of the policy and decision-making while remaining committed to being part of a wider UK party where appropriate. We need to become the party of Scottish Home Rule and our opening salvo to Westminster and the UK Labour Party must be that the current relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK is untenable and will require radical change. Defining what Labour in Scotland stands for is key. Labour exists to advance the social and economic case of working people across the country through an agenda that puts fairness and equality at its heart.
Labour must fundamentally move its approach to one that focuses on issues and solutions that we represent, as opposed to focusing on what other parties do. The party should exist not to oppose the SNP but to address the issues in our communities and bring about a more inclusive and prosperous country. The attack-style politics is not working.
Where we can work with the SNP, such as finding a long-term solution to funding local government, then we should, and where we think their approach will be damaging, such as ending the Barnett formula, then we should make the case. Where we believe the SNP is not delivering, we must put forward our alternative, not simply attack their failure.
On the constitution, we must move away from the politics of fear to the politics of hope and ambition through pressing the case for further devolution and setting out how we will use the powers, both in Edinburgh and in London, to deliver our vision. We must build a radical and progressive movement for change in Scotland that embraces devolution, progresses localism and delivers fairness. We must also encourage open debate, whether that is over the renewal of Trident or over the role of the welfare state.
Labour in Scotland must reflect the views of members and the communities we seek to serve.
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