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Showing posts with label Iain Gray's speech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Iain Gray's speech. Show all posts

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Iain Gray’s speech to the Scottish Labour Party conference

Iain Gray's speech in full

Over my working life, I have attended many farewell events for people leaving an organisation, most of them because of the normal reasons – retirement, moving to another location, moving to another company, another country, and some, regrettably because of ill-health. 

But there was the other category, those who were leaving because they had failed, or had lost a contest with another for the post they were vacating. In these difficult circumstances, there was a well-understood protocol – the leaving speech must avoid bitterness and resentment, must avoid recriminations and blame, be generous, and focus positively on the future .

One always went to such events with a certain feeling of trepidation, with the possibility always existing that the speaker would explode into self-justification and blaming behaviour. Although some hardy souls in the audience for such a speech actually enjoyed the spectacle of a defeated man making a fool of himself, for most of us it was an agonisingly embarrassing experience.

In his speech to the Labour Party’s Scottish conference, Iain Gray embarrassed himself and, I am sure, at least a few of his audience, with an outpouring of bile and resentment against his political opponents that has few parallels in such speeches. It is the more astonishing because he must have known that the Labour Party would release a full transcript of the speech, indeed, gave evidence that they were proud of it.

In this speech, Iain Gray demonstrated, with awful clarity, the lack of political nous and statesmanship that lost Labour the 2011 election and lost him the leadership of his party. It is, sadly, evidence that neither he nor his party have learned anything from their humiliating defeat.

I won’t reproduce the sad outpouring of bile and bitterness, but here are a few quotes that speak for themselves, even though the truths contained in them and the lessons that can be drawn from them are evident to everyone but Scottish Labour and Gray himself. They are revealing in a way that he clearly did not intend …


“Well we have not wasted this crisis. Sarah Boyack and Jim Murphy have led a review which has laid bare our failure to modernise our party in line with the way in which we modernised our country – our failure to recognise that the centre of gravity in Scottish politics shifted to Holyrood when we made that happen in 1999. “


“These recommendations do not come from Sarah and Jim, they are informed by the participation of thousands of party members, hundreds of submissions they made, and dozens of meetings they attended.

They are marked by the honesty forced on us by the searing experience of May 2011. “


“We have confronted the reality of what happened, and we should.  But we should not let others rewrite the story of the election.  It was bad enough.”


I have heard it said that we were beaten by a better campaign.  And you judge campaigns by their outcome, so that must be true.

That is not the Scotland I know, the Scotland I love, the Scotland I want.  That is why a year ago in Oban I said ‘I love my country too much to be a nationalist’.”


“It is not the lack of our own army which might stop my grandchildren and yours making it to the 22nd century. It is the postcode lottery of life expectancy and the fact that we drink 25% more than our neighbours down south - and that is nothing to do with the price of the drink – or the lack of a border – its something to do with too many of us feeling alone in midst of a crowd, poor in the midst of prosperity, and passed over in the midst of progress.”


“I do not believe that a strong fair and equal Scotland in a strong fair and equal Britain is the only possible future for Scotland – but I am sure that it is the best possible future for Scotland.”


“We must engage in that debate now not to save the Union but to save devolution.  Because it is not the union of 1707 the SNP wish to destroy.  That is long gone.  It is devolution they wish to dismantle.  “


Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Iain Gray – First Minister in-waiting?

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The speech that Iain Gray should have delivered at Oban to the party faithful.

NOTE: Iain Gray didn’t say this – but he should have …

The speech to Scottish Conference that Iain Gray MSP, Leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament should have made.

Thank you, conference …

You know conference, we meet this week in troubled times, troubled mainly because of what New Labour did over thirteen wasted years.   But it is in troubled times that Labour people turn their face to the wall and put their bums oot the windae – not an easy feat, even for me, conference.

For 13 years, Labour councillors, MSPs and MPs across Scotland were the only protection working people had at UK level against the assault on their living standards, their services and their very future – and they failed them, monumentally and disgracefully. (Only the SNP were able to limit the damage, but I’ll swiftly move on past that inconvenient point …)

Labour values, Labour principles and Labour people the only bulwark against the Tories and their fellow travellers - and the bulwark collapsed as New Labour turned into Tories Lite under Blair, Brown, Mandelson and Campbell, with Scottish Labour acting out the role of supine cheerleaders.

So where stands Scotland now? Well, I looked at map, and it seems to be wee country somewhere north of England, in fact, I think I live in it …

The global financial crash - for which the Labour Government were woefully unprepared - left our country with huge debts to pay. The collapse of our two biggest Scottish banks shook our confidence and required a rescue package that has almost bankrupted the nation. The Labour government held our economy together with the kind of panic stricken action that only Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling were capable of, demonstrating that confidence of Labour supporters in them was woefully misplaced. They hung a millstone of debt round the nations neck, and ensured that only the poor and vulnerable would pay it off, and the likes of Tony Blair and his wife, who had become extremely rich (estimated fortune £60m) and who got the hell out in good time before the bubble burst, would escape unscathed.

We are past masters at the rewriting of history, and we deliberately sabotaged the chances of a Rainbow Coalition because we were terrified to clear up our own mess.

Public spending in this country prior to the global financial collapse was not just out of control under our stewardship, it was totally corrupted by large scale rip-offs on expenses by Labour MPs and ministers under the protection of their shop steward, Michael Martin, now the noble Lord Martin of Something or Other, and by a combination of incompetence on defence procurement at the MOD, and obscenely fat profits for armament companies, which contributed significantly to the fortunes of former members of our government who were also directors of such armament companies, or consultants to them. Meanwhile, our brave soldiers died because of equipment failures.

That misspending was a necessity to ensure substantial private wealth for those who had toed the party line, and to support the wars, invasions and general mayhem launched by our greatest electoral vote winner and richest former Labourite, Tony Blair. Our public finances were unsustainable, and our spending had little relevance to the needs and priorities of the people – well, the poor people, anyway. Inflation was low and so was unemployment as we waited to jump ship before a bow wave sank the economy. You’d think by the way they are acting now that the Conservatives and the Liberals had counselled us against spending, but of course they didn’t, because they were up to their necks in it at every turn – they knew a good thing when they saw it!

Yes, the bailout of our banks has left us with a deficit that has to be paid down over time, but hey, we’re safe –and rich – on the side lines for the moment, having had a collective lobotomy to forget what we did to the people and the Labour Party.

There is always a space for progress. There is always room for fairness. A time for justice. A moment for peace. The place for equality. But we never found any of them. Our values had vanished like snaw aff a dyke in the toughest of times, through war and depression that we caused with our bosom friend, George W. Bush - our movement has destroyed the lives of millions, impoverished even more, and destroyed hope for the dispossessed and made the weak even weaker.

A Tory government in Westminster putting hundreds of thousands on the dole and cutting the dole when they get there. Putting up rents and cutting housing benefit.  Punishing the poor and caring nothing for our communities, continuing the work that we started, and compounding our folly while in office.

Look at RAF Kinloss – where is that again, Conference? Up north somewhere? The heart ripped out of a whole county at a stroke, but a county safely distanced from Westminster - so we can safely ignore it.  And now they threaten to come back for more with Lossiemouth under threat. 

These are not strategic decisions.  These are doctrinaire cuts, of the kind we would have made, being devoid of any concept of the defence of Scotland except WMDs.

Next Sunday I will join the rally in Lossiemouth to save that base, incognito, wearing a mask and protective clothing in case the good people up there understand what Labour did to them. I will take your message of solidarity and support to those people fighting for their community, and do my best to duck when the rotten apples come at me.

But Conference,  Labour created the Scottish Parliament in the hope that it would defuse the fight for independence and cover up the theft of Scottish Oil by Westminster – we sure as hell didn’t create it for times like these.

There are tough decisions ahead. Our budget has been cut faster and deeper than is safe or necessary. But we must deal with the consequences of that. And we will have to be honest with the people of Scotland, which won’t be easy, because we never have been before. No false prospectus of ever more lavish spending proposals – there’s nae money left, as our outgoing guy jokingly told his successor.

If elected in May there will be decisions we do not wish to make, like telling the truth, or doing things for the people of Scotland instead of ourselves. But we will stoop to the challenge, with our vacuum of values and principles at the heart of every decision.

We cannot avoid the consequences of the collapse of our Scottish banks, although we’ve done our level best to try, by sabotaging the Rainbow Coalition. We cannot avoid the consequences of these Tory cuts. But we can protect ourselves – the Labour apparatchiks, that is and we shall convince the trades unions who bankroll us, and who put us in government that we are on their side, against the massive weight of evidence to the contrary.

But under no circumstance must we show the people of Scotland that there is another way, a better way. We can set a new standard for blaming everything on everybody else, and douse the final glimmerings of light to those who are losing hope. Labour will, with luck, stagger onto the Holyrood bridge and further impoverish the lives of the people of Scotland, something we have done for generations.

First Scotland and then the United Kingdom, when Ed Miliband is elected Prime Minister.

So where stands Scottish Labour now?

In good shape.  In good heart.  In good spirits.  Taking comfort from a general election where one million Scots put their trust in Labour, against all common sense, because of a combination of blind loyalty to a failed party and hatred of the Tories.  Buoyed by a leadership election in which Labour temporarily and expediently acknowledged its worse sin – Iraq - we found a leader who inspired this conference yesterday. We would have been just as happy with his Big Brother David, or even our beloved Tony, but that’s another story, conference …

And ready. Ready conference for an election to come.  Doors we will knock. Leaflets we will deliver.  Arguments we will make.  Lies we will tell. Wool we will pull over eyes. Syntax we will mangle … An election we can win if the Scottish people don’t wake up suddenly. Promises of patronage we will dispense. Residual principles we will dump.

I say this to you not to boast.  Not to brag. I have little to boast or brag about, frankly – but I will bluster.   I leave political analysis, economic competence and common humanity to those to whom it comes more naturally, such as the SNP.

And remember, above all, I love Scotland too much to support it in its fight for the one thing that could transform the lives of the people of Scotland and make our nation great again – full fiscal autonomy, followed in time by full independence. I know which side my bread is buttered on, and who supplies it. I didnae come up the Thames oan a bike, comrade capitalists.