by Hazel Lewry
The most pertinent question for Iain Gray and his leadership contending successors is what will bring voters “back hame”.
Labour in Scotland has until 2016 to acknowledge and implement the solutions. Failure will relegate the party to fringe status. Labour already knows the answer, for it is clear and simple.
The problem for Labour in Scotland is that London cannot permit them to accept and implement the solution. Labour HQ will not allow it to be voiced therefore Labour across the UK as it exists today is doomed to the dustbin of political history.
To accept and implement the real remedy means the end of Labour UK and the Union, for it involves answering the West Lothian question. Thereafter the route to Labour’s resurrection in Scotland lies in easily accomplished phases.
Labour must first apologise to the electorate of Scotland for all its misdemeanours. Labour must be brutally honest with itself and the voters. Qualifying the apology won’t work. Attempting to explain things merely as issues of perception will not work.
The Labour apology cannot contain spin, they know it. We will collectively accept the apology if Labour in Scotland is proven to be sincere in its desire for change as that will be to our ultimate benefit.
Labour in Scotland must publicly lay bare any instance of past misinformation or duplicity on the part of the UK government or Labour with regards to Scotland. That would be a very weighty document indeed. Even though such information would be downplayed by the mainstream media, it’s unlikely to happen.
In the event apologies are given Labour must promise a full accounting of Scotland’s books, ensuring publication of all cash flows to and from Westminster in order to help Scots decide fairly in the upcoming referendum.
Labour must then apologise to Scots for any time in the past that it may have given the appearance of denigrating Scotland or her people, pledge it will never happen again. They must propose some form of accounting that politicians will be constantly held to this pledge, not simply during elections.
Labour then need to prove to Scotland that they will be constructive and cooperative opposition for Scotland, not simply knee jerk reactionary opposition. They need to undertake to work towards the death of party politics outside of election periods and work solely for Scotland’s betterment.
Labour could propose legislation in the Scots parliament that would hold all elected officials to a higher standard. This would assist claims of Labour sincerity.
Within this broad brush of proposals Labour could include a superior code of ethics where any allegations were promised a speedy resolution. Perhaps automatic dismissal with loss of pensions and rights or a full re-instatement being advocated outcomes. Fraudulent allegations would be dealt with just as stringently.
In this working for Scotland’s betterment Labour must prove they will be held accountable by Scotland’s voters and not Westminster.
Labour in Scotland must drop their dogmatic opposition to independence. Instead they must promise to campaign on a platform of fair debate and defend what they can factually demonstrate is best for Scotland. That may create a bit of a schism between BBC HQ and Pacific Quay.
The press would certainly ensure Labour would be well covered in complimentary articles as they propose these actions. Following through would be all that remains.
There should also be a pledge that Scottish Labour would no longer simply be a springboard for its ablest adherents to leap into Westminster’s grimy corridors of power.
Lastly, Labour in Scotland has to reorganise as Scotland’s Labour party. They must break completely from London at all levels, including the adoption of any “Labour whip” at Westminster. At Westminster they should follow the SNP lead and adopt the policy of not voting on any English only law.
This brings about a change being required in Labour’s UK wide rule book. But Labour in Scotland cannot re-invent itself in a way that would be appealing to the average Scots voter without the agreement of Labour HQ. Labour HQ can’t give that agreement without losing key votes at Westminster.
Labour’s internal difficulties are a microcosm of the UK constitutional conundrum.
Ultimately for Labour to resurrect itself requires a return to its founding principle of autonomy for the Celtic nations over the hegemony of Westminster.
If Scots Labour implemented the above it would again be a credible force in Scottish politics and the average Scot would welcome it with open arms.
It has been ninety years in the coming, but these are the choices faced by Labour in the second decade of our new millennium. Clearly the Scots are instructing Labour at the ballot that the party should not have deserted Scottish home rule.
Labour can return to its roots of Scottish independence or face its impending political oblivion.