Together We’re Sombre

When I started writing this, I wanted it to be a simple piece on Scottish Labour after our conference this month, but when one thinks about politics it’s hard to shut up about it (maybe that’s just me). The fact is, all of the issues I want to discuss are related, because we can’t take one situation in one country at one certain time, isolate it from the international situation, and claim that ‘this is how it is’. Labour’s difficulty in Scotland is reflective of the labour movement across the world.

As a young student in a part time job, it can be difficult to attend political events (ask anyone in this position and they’ll tell you the same). On Sunday I managed to travel up to Perth as a new member, and first time conference goer, and whilst I have left with a positive frame of mind, I can’t help but question some of the messages we as a party were putting out. Upon entering conference, one can’t escape the ever watchful presence of the buzzwords – ‘Together we’re stronger’. It’s on twenty different televisions, it’s beamed in huge script in the main hall, it’s the repeated mantra of many a speaker, and if that wasn’t Orwellian enough, it patiently awaits you on a television screen as you visit the toilets – no, I am not joking. Continue reading

A Welsh view of Scotland’s ‘No’ vote: the end, or the end of the beginning?

britain‘Settled for a generation’ was the confident assertion of the metropolitan commentariat after Scotland’s referendum resulted in a bigger than expected margin of defeat for independence. An independent Scotland may be off the agenda in the immediate term but we should remember Zhou En-lai’s famous remark about the effects of the French revolution: “too early to tell”.  The Scottish referendum campaign and the vote itself may in time be seen as a sparkling firework, momentarily illuminating the United Kingdom’s gloomy, sterile political landscape, only to fizzle out, or as the catalyst for a process of fundamental change to that political entity. Time will tell whether the opportunities for change presented by the campaign are taken or lost. Continue reading

Greater devolution for a fairer Scotland

IDevo-max Devo plusf the referendum result tells us anything, it’s that most people living in Scotland want a big change in how we are governed so that we can can seriously address poverty and inequality. This means that further devolution has to be more than just tinkering at the edges.

As Lord Smith started his work with the Scottish Devolution Commission, he urged the parties to show “courage and compromise” in reaching an agreement. He also recognised that a lot of thinking has been done on what we could do – now is the time to agree on what we will do. Continue reading

I voted Yes, but I won’t be joining the SNP

Labour_for_Independence_logoI am a Labour Party member who voted Yes in the independence referendum, but I won’t be joining the SNP or any other party.

I voted Yes for a complex array of reasons and it was a close call. Partly out of despair over Westminster politics, not just current Tory policies, I expect them to be wicked, but the whole style of political behaviour. The professionalisation of politics in particular. I work for a third sector organisation and I can see how liberating devolution has been. Admittedly, often stronger on process than substance, but effective dialogue matters if we are to find solutions to the complex problems that face Scotland. I was therefore disappointed with the Labour Devolution Commission report. I also believe independence would be good for the Scottish Labour Party. Freed from the inevitable compromises it makes as part of a UK party it could develop a realistic yet radical policy programme. Continue reading

The view from a Scotland full of flags, few of them red

union-flag-melts-away-from-scotland-e1388694836550It has been an emotional few weeks in Scotland. Many of those on the No side are now hugely relieved after Friday morning’s result as, although you would not know it from the media, lots of ordinary people had been incredibly worried about the massive ramifications of a potential Yes vote. This was a forever vote with no going back.

As the debate intensified those making flag poles must have made a fortune. But as more and more saltires and union jacks unfurled in people’s gardens, none of the flags flying were red.

When canvassing we would often find people in the same households voting different ways. Labour comrades have pointed out to me repeatedly in the last few weeks that this referendum had achieved what Margaret Thatcher had failed to do – in dividing families, communities and indeed the Labour movement in Scotland. In the west coast of Scotland where I come from, the sectarianism of orange and green has been a disturbing feature. Continue reading