By Allan Grogan of Labour for Independence
“Someone in Glasgow is no different to someone in London or Cardiff and I think it’s really important to remember that.”
If this comment above sounds familiar it may be because you heard it on the video launch of United with Labour. But it is more likely that you will hear it from a Labour member voting no in 2014.
In the past year I have been very critical of the Labour Party, particularly in Scotland. But I want to make it clear that my criticism has been based not on the members of the party but of the direction or lack thereof of the current leadership.
Since 1994 the Labour Party has continually shifted further away from the founding principles of the party and further away from the reasons why most in Scotland vote for the party. Through habit or lack of choice many have continued to vote for Labour, myself included. I truly believe that a real Labour Party is best placed to deliver the needs and aspirations of the people of Scotland. I also believe that independence will be the best avenue to give us a real Labour Party and the powers for that party to change Scotland for the better.
There are a great many guid comrades left within the party and many of them will vote no in the referendum. They do so mainly due to the original comment. The belief that we have a duty to stand side by side with our comrades south of the border. I respect their beliefs but I question the sentiment.
Of course someone in Glasgow is different to someone in London, other than in the metaphysical biological sense. We all have different ambitions, desires and beliefs. Perhaps the most glaringly obvious fact to prove the difference is this …
Shortest life expectancy for males in London is Islington at 75.4 years.
Shortest life expectancy for males in Glasgow is Calton at 54 years.
However if we follow the true meaning behind the comment, does this mean that a socialist in France is different? Are our brothers and sisters in Venezuela so different to us? Should we all be part of one socialist community in which borders and immigration are irrelevant? Why then is such political hay made of border controls and Romanians coming in “to take our jobs”?
I digress. My point is, would independence suddenly remove our comradeship towards the machinist in Manchester or the plumber in Plymouth?
The real sentiment behind it must be, if we leave the union we will be subjugating Labour voters in the rest of the UK to a lifetime of the Tories. This is an honourable notion, but we have to look beyond this to an uncomfortable truth that many in the Labour Party are slowly waking up to. In order to be elected at Westminster, the Labour Party must move towards the policies and beliefs of the power base, namely, Middle England and London. These beliefs come nowhere close to the issues and needs that Scotland face. Nor do the policies reflect the vast potential and pitfalls which inhabit our nation.
Ed Miliband himself has admitted the shift in direction.
“There is no future for Labour in not being a party of the middle class.”
The real question we in the Scottish Labour Party should be asking is do we stay with the union and have a Blue Tory government we didn’t vote for, or a Red Tory government we did? Or do we choose another way.
Do we choose an independent Scotland with a Labour Party free from the power base of Middle England, one representative of the people of Scotland, not just the middle class. A chance to return to the basic foundations of this great party while constantly reaching out to do better . A party in which Keir Hardie, Bevan and Smith would be proud to call home.
The Westminster system has been tried and it has failed. While we have worked together for a better society it is now clear our dream will not be realised within the current structure. We should not feel we are abandoning the Labour vote in the RoUK, we should look to set an example. To show them and the world how possible it is to be a socially just, economically vibrant, fair and equal society, one which puts the whole of the people before the sum of the parts.
United with Labour claim independence will build barricades between a family, but our cultural ties with them will not be broken, we only ask to have the chance to decide for ourselves what society we want to have.
Independence is not about wanting to get away from the union. The United for Labour video was right, we have achieved a great deal as part of the UK – the Welfare State, the NHS. We fought off the threat of fascism standing shoulder to shoulder together.
But these events all occurred more than 60 years ago. This union has taken us as far as we can go. For Scotland to move forward to face the challenges we have, to make full use of our potential, we must break free from the bounds of this partnership.
Comrades we have a choice to make. Join United with Labour and forever rewind the glories of the past, a boundless reproduction of history as the walls come crashing down around. Or join Labour for Independence and face the challenges of the modern world with invention, pride and solidarity typified throughout this great nation. Moving forward together, for Scotland.