Labour leader Ed Miliband has been challenged to a Scottish referendum debate in advance of his visit north of the Border today.
It comes from the growing band of Labour members who are backing a Yes vote on September 18 in defiance of their Westminster-based leader.
Mike Dyer, chair of Anniesland Constituency Labour Party, said: “As members, trade unionists and activists, we want to encourage debate in our party on the straight question – Yes or No. We know what is the right choice for our party, for the people of Scotland and for the rest of the UK.”
Fiona Cook, a solicitor in Greenock, said: “I joined the Labour Party because I wanted to be part of a movement for social justice. I’m disappointed that we’ve not had a debate about independence in the party, and I can’t thole campaigning with the Tories in Better Together for a Union that has not served the people of Scotland. I believe now that the way forward is for Scotland to be an independent Scotland.”
Cailean Gallagher, executive member of Kelvin CLP in Glasgow, said: “You never know, Mr Miliband might even be surprised by our powerful arguments, delivered here in Scotland away from the panicky, prejudiced atmosphere of Westminster.”
The letter in full:
As you know, committed Labour members on both sides of the referendum divide are working for a better, more equal society. As Labour members who back a ‘Yes’ vote we want to convey some reasons we believe that the Labour Party will flourish and advance social and economic justice in an independent Scotland.
First, Labour is fixated with Westminster and has become caught in a failing system. Our party has sought to govern since its earliest days, but winning power at Westminster has become an end in itself. While we admire your work in London to challenge vested interests, we feel Labour has malfunctioned in a Union and a parliament that are unwieldy and dominated by the narrow interests of powerful elites. A Yes vote would hasten a long-due reform of our party and our constitution, giving us the chance to revitalize a movement that can advance people’s common interests right across these islands.
Second, limits on the Scottish Parliament are hindering Scottish Labour. Scottish Labour has the vision to use full powers for a purpose, taking radical decisions to win trust and support people’s work and lives. But only a Yes vote will give the Scottish Parliament the ability to improve people’s lives through making work fairer and handing economic power to ordinary people. This is the Home Rule demand Keir Hardie made when he founded our party, and is the central reason why an independent Labour Party will flourish in an independent Scotland.
Third, people’s living standards are stagnant because our economy is stunted by London. It seems like the economy is growing, but you are the first to say that our recovery is not shared by the many. To wrest wealth away from the few means spreading economic power across society and giving regions and nations the ability to build industry and work. Across these islands, Labour should heed the call for economic power to be vested in the hands of those who build our society. With independence, Scottish Labour can challenge the richest, consolidate our links with the labour movement, and empower working people and communities to build a more just economy.
These are just some reasons we feel a Yes vote is the best decision for Labour. We do not suppose you will share our views, but ask that you give space to Yes voters within the party to make our case that Labour will flourish in an independent Scotland. In this spirit, we challenge you to a debate about which option, Yes or No, is the right choice for our party and for people in Scotland and the rest of the UK.
We await your reply.
Mike Dyer, Anniesland CLP (Chair)
Jamie Kerr, South Renfrewshire CLP (Vice-Chair)
Stephen Smellie, Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse CLP (Trade Union Liaison Officer)
Pat Kelly, former STUC President
Charles Gray, former Leader, Strathclyde Regional Council
Fiona Cook, Greenock and Inverclyde CLP
Denise Findlay, Dundee East CLP
Cailean Gallagher Glasgow Kelvin CLP (Ordinary Executive member)
Bob Holman, Glasgow Provan CLP
Willie Thomson, Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse CLP
Amy Westwell, Glasgow Kelvin CLP
Rory Scothorne, Edinburgh Southern CLP