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Socialism not nationalism is what should govern the life of Scotland, says Gordon

From each according to his ability to contribute; to each according to his needs. That is the best principle that can govern the life of our country today.”

Thus Gordon Brown, at last and at his best, put socialism firmly at the heart of the reason to vote No in the Scottish referendum. It should have happened sooner. There never should have been a Better Together campaign. Labour and the Tories are better apart. Labour is (or should be) a socialist, internationalist party committed to democracy and solidarity not “unionism”.

Here are some other extracts from his speech:

Let us tell the undecided, the waverers, those not sure how to vote, let us tell them what we have achieved together. We fought two world wars together – and there is not a cemetery in Europe that does not have Scots, English, Welsh and Irish lying side-by-side. And when young men were injured in these wars, they didn’t look to each other and ask whether you were Scots or English, they came to each other’s aid because we were part of a common cause. And we not only won these wars together, we built the peace together, we built the health service together, we built the welfare state together, we will build the future together. And what we have built together by sacrificing and sharing, let no narrow nationalism split asunder ever.”

Let us tell also those people who have been told unfairly by the nationalists that, if you vote No, you are a less than patriotic Scot. Tell them this is our Scotland. Tell them that Scotland does not belong to the SNP. Scotland does not belong to the Yes campaign. Scotland does not belong to any politician – Mr Salmond, Mr Swinney, me, or any other politician – Scotland belongs to all of us. And let us tell the nationalists this is not their flag, their country, their culture, their streets. This is everyone’s flag, everyone’s country, everyone’s street.”

If you’re like me and a million more people who are convinced that the case for cooperation is greater than any case put for separation then I say to you: hold your heads high. Show dignity and pride. Be confident. Let us have confidence that our values are indeed the values of the majority of the people of Scotland – that our principles of sharing and cooperation are far better and mean more to them than separation and splitting apart. Have confidence that people know that our Scottish Parliament and its new powers give people the powers they need and meet the aspirations of the Scottish people. Have confidence, stand up and be counted tomorrow. Have confidence tomorrow and have confidence enough to say with all our friends: we’ve had no answers. They do not know what they are doing, they are leading us into a trap. Have confidence and say to our friends: for reason of solidarity, sharing, justice, pride in Scotland, the only answer for Scotland’s sake and for Scotland’s future is vote No.”

We hope it’s not too late to persuade sufficient Scottish voters to vote for a socialist Britain rather than the risk of separation. If they do, Gordon deserves more credit than anyone else.


  1. Ruth Grace Vizor says:


  2. Robert says:

    That ‘s your feeling sadly it’s not mine.

  3. Rod says:

    “Socialism (…) is what should govern the life of Scotland”

    That’s all very well. But there’s no socialist party with a significant presence in Scotland. We’ll just have to settle for the austerity supported by the EU and all mainstream UK political parties.

  4. swatantra says:

    The fact is Salmond is more socialist than Labour in Scotland; and thats why the SNP are in power in Hollyrood. But when I hear the words ‘socialism’ and ‘nationalism’ in the same sentence, I reach for my smelling salts.
    Scots Labour has failed the people of Scotland.

  5. David Pavett says:

    I listened to the speech. I see where it included any support for socialism.

    It is true that in the context of praising UK pensions and the UK minimum wage Brown says “From each according to his ability to contribute, to each according to his needs”. He adds “And that is the best principle that can govern the life of our country today”.

    Is it not strange to hold up the minimum wage as an example of the principle? Someone who has is receiving it having been made redundant through no fault of his or her own is neither contributing according to his/her ability no receiving according to his/her need.

    And pensions don’t illustrate the principle either since what you are able to put in terms of years determines what you can get out in terms of a pension.

    But anyway, this is a very narrow-minded interpretation of the 19th century slogan. When it was used by by people like Louis Blanc. For Blanc the slogan referred the whole of economic life. It would exclude in principle the possibility of individuals earning absurdly high incomes while others struggle to survive on theirs. There is no reason to suspect that this is what Gordon Brown had in mind either on the basis of his record in government nor on the basis of anything that he has said in the referendum campaign.

    There is such a strong desire from some on the Labour left to believe that the Labour leaders can be persuaded of their views that they repeatedly imagine that there are signs of this happening when in fact there is evidence for no such thing. Better to keep our feet on the ground and just accept that the possibility of winning someone like Gordon Brown to economic principles that might with any stretch of the imagination be thought of as socialist is vanishingly small. Entertaining the idea that such a thing is happening is more likely than anything else to be a bad case of wishful thinking.

    Much more realistic to conclude that the use of this slogan was just a part of the “barn storming” rhetoric that Brown found it useful to switch on for the occasion knowing that it was what people wanted to hear. If there is any evidence that it indicates a deep change in Gordon Brown’s political thinking then I would be keen hear about it. Failing that I have to say that I think that there is no basis for the claim that Brown was saying “Socialism not nationalism is what should govern the life of Scotland”.

    1. joanna says:

      Spot on. It wE pure manipulation

    2. David Pavett says:

      My second sentence was meant to be “I fail to see where it included any support for socialism.” Sorry for any confusion.

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