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Showing posts with label Labour Party in Scotland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Labour Party in Scotland. Show all posts

Saturday, 17 December 2011

An open letter to Johann Lamont

Dear Johann Lamont,

Congratulations on winning the leadership of your party in Scotland. I hope that your win gives you a clear mandate among all Scottish Labour supporters, and that it is perceived as a valid mandate to lead the main opposition to my party, the SNP, who received a very clear mandate to govern Scotland last May. It is vital that your mandate is seen in this way not only by Labour supporters but by the Scottish Government, by the SNP, by the other opposition parties and by the Scottish electorate.

The only way to ensure this is to publish as soon as possible the full, detailed breakdown of the votes cast in the leadership election, in the interests of transparency in Scottish politics. (I am confident that you will wish to do so, indeed, by the time this blog comes up, you may already have done so.)

I listened to your acceptance speech closely, because as a committed SNP supporter, voter and party member, I believe that the existence of an effective opposition in any Parliament is vital to democracy. I was a Labour supporter for most of my life, and I will never return to Labour because of the depth of the betrayal of all my hopes and expectations over decades by the Labour Party as constituted up until this election.

But I do believe that you, and at least some in the Scottish Labour Party want to make a new beginning and to place the interests of Scotland first. You outlined in your acceptance speech a vision statement for Scotland. Few Scots of any party would disagree with the bulk of its content, and for that reason, it could have been made by any party leader, at any time, in almost any country.

I don’t want to appear to suggest that it was an empty ‘motherhood and apple pie’ statement – I do believe that you are committed to these ideals and broad objectives, and so am I. And I am delighted that you and Scottish Labour appear to have rediscovered your Scottishness.

But given this consensus on what we all want for Scotland, it is evident that what gives our respective parties their identity is the means by which these objectives are to be achieved. If my memory serves me accurately, you and other members of the Labour Party have accused the SNP of stealing your vision. That was unfair and inaccurate – we have closely similar visions because we are both social democratic parties, committed to a strong, effective public sector and a vibrant, entrepreneurial private sector.

In a certain kind of Scotland, the SNP and the Labour Party could recognise a shared vision while differing vigorously on key aspects of achieving that vision. We both recognise that the Tory vision as presently exhibited in all its uncaring, incompetent awfulness, is inimical to the interests of Scotland, and indeed the peoples of the UK. The LibDem vision has been badly – perhaps fatally – compromised by their poisoned and supine alliance with the Tories in Coalition.

But there is a great yawning gulf between your vision as outlined today and the Scottish National Party’s vision, and that gulf is created by your commitment to keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom. At this moment, this profoundly mistaken policy – the only real one you have at the moment – is main barrier to your achievement of Labour’s new Scottish vision.

The reasons for this are plain to see, and the Scottish electorate understood them plainly last May, and voted accordingly. I accept that not all of that vote was a vote for Scotland's independence, but it was decisively a vote for Scotland holding all the economic levers necessary to transform Scotland, indeed the the pressing need at the moment is to have them to enable Scotland to survive the cold, cold global wind that is blowing.

But there are other great barriers between us while you and Scottish Labour are committed to the UK – they are nuclear weapons, i.e. weapons of mass destruction, foreign policy and the unelected, undemocratic House of Lords, now perceived by many Scots as the lucrative bolthole for failed politicians, including Scottish Labour politicians.

While Scottish Labour is committed to the UK, it will be seen by many Scots as the party that supports illegal or dubious wars that kill the flower of our young servicemen and women, the party that is committed to ruinously expensive WMDs that endanger Scotland by their presence - and pose an ever-present threat to world  peace - and the party that is committed to the undemocratic House of Lords, whatever hollow statements about reform, never acted upon, may say.

A great watershed in Scotland’s history is approaching – the referendum on Scotland’s independence – a pivotal moment in our history that will shape Scotland and the other three countries of the UK for a generation and perhaps for ever.

As we approach that fateful day, it is vital that all parties with a core shared vision for the people of Scotland approach the great debate that will be continuously conducted from now on with objectivity, with facts, with some degree of mutual respect, with the common objective of allowing the Scottish electorate all the information they need to make their great choice.

That need not – and will not – inhibit vigour in debate, but if we can draw on the great intellectual political and social traditions that have always characterised Scots and Scotland, we can offer Scottish voters a real, rational choice.

I wish you and your party well in this new and critical era. I cannot of course wish you electoral success in local elections next year, nor in the referendum when it comes.

from one Weegie tae another – awra’ best,

Peter Curran

Scottish Labour Leadership Results
December 17, 2011 2:59 pm

Leadership result:

Deputy Leadership result:

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.

Iain Gray loves his country, but not enough to claim its freedom.

At the beginning of his Conference speech, Iain Gray predictably and depressingly used the tired metaphor stepping up to the plate, and this was a harbinger of the leaden rhetoric to follow.

Stepping up to the plate is a metaphor derived from baseball, meaning going in to bat. Baseball is at the heart of the American psyche, as cricket once was representative of the English character. American baseball metaphors therefore have little or no relevance or resonance in England, and even less in Scotland, but this does not deter various public figures, politicians, media commentators and businessmen from stepping up to the plate at regular intervals, often oblivious to the origins of the idiom.

(One senior politician, when asked what exactly was the plate he was stepping up to, looked puzzled, then offered “The tectonic plate?”).

One cannot imagine Winston Churchill rallying the people in 1940 by using such a tired and irrelevant phrase.

We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall step up to the plate …”

However, there was worse to come from Iain Gray – much worse …

I will wade my way through his fractured rhetoric and dubious claims in a later blog, but for the moment, his closing quote is enough.

IAIN GRAY: I care too much for the future of my country to see it risked for separation, Conference.  I love my country too much to be a nationalist. Scotland deserves better.

This man aspires to be the First Minister of the nation of Scotland, although he does not recognise it as a nation, but as a devolved, subordinate region of the UK.

Try putting Iain Gray’s statement into the mouth of any of  the Prime Ministers of the great nations of Europe, most of which have thrown off the shackles of one empire or another and proudly asserted their independence.

Try putting it into the mouths of the Premiers of the countries who escaped from the Soviet tyranny.

Try putting it into the mouths of the Premiers of the proud independent nations across the globe who were once part of the blood-red map of the British Empire – India, Pakistan, Canada, the United States, the African nations.

But you will find more success if you put Gray’s quote into the mouths of those who defended their country's subjection throughout history, who collaborated in the subservience of their country, who made their political accommodation with the Empire that had placed its foot on the neck of their country for fleeting political gain.

Their names now live in infamy, but I will not name them here, because I am deeply ashamed that a fellow Scot should number himself among them.