Friday, 5 September 2014

Why Labour supporters are voting 'YES'

Thousands of people who have traditionally supported the Labour Party over many years will vote ‘YES’ for independence at the referendum on September 18th.

There is even a very active and growing organisation called ‘Labour for Independence’ (LFI), which is comprised mainly of Labour Party members and activists.  On its website, LFI explains, “We exist because the Labour hierarchy rejects independence and is in bed with the Tories.”

Last week I came across an anti-independence ‘Better Together’ street stall in North Ayrshire.  Standing behind it were three men – the district’s only Tory councillor, a former Tory councillor and, between them, a Labour councillor.  I assume the Labour man can justify to himself why he was helping the Tories, but I really cannot believe he was initially motivated to get involved in politics so that he could campaign shoulder-to-shoulder with the party of Margaret Thatcher, the party that is hammering working class people by imposing devastating cuts to public spending, social security and the benefits needed to support society’s most vulnerable.

The incredible position of the Labour Party is that it would rather see the Tories continue to govern Scotland from London than have a Labour Government in an independent Scotland.  That is the party’s official position, but more and more members and supporters are rejecting the leadership’s stupid argument that it is better to leave Scotland in the hands of David Cameron and his posh-boy Tories rather than restore full sovereign power to the people of Scotland and allow us to govern our own country.

Of course, the pro-British Union official position of the Labour Party has been dictated from London.  Despite campaigning at elections in Scotland under the name ‘Scottish Labour Party’, no such political party exists.  Every political party has to be registered with the Electoral Commission in order to contest elections.  The ‘Scottish Labour Party’ is not registered with the Commission.

The London-based Labour Party has registered ‘Scottish Labour Party’ as a ‘description’, which allows it to call itself ‘Scottish Labour’ when fielding candidates in Scotland.  We are told that Johann Lamont MSP is the leader of Scottish Labour, making her the leader of a ‘description’ owned by the Labour Party, which gives its address on the Electoral Commission register as “One Brewer’s Green, Buckingham Gate, London SW1H 0RH”.

Last week the real leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband MP, visited Scotland for the day to tell us we should reject independence.  Mr Miliband said, “Frankly it is an SNP con,” adding, “They [the SNP] are going to continue Tory policies if they have independence.”

It would appear, therefore, that the leader of the Labour Party believes the people of Scotland are very, very stupid.

In government, the SNP has delivered free personal care for the elderly, a living wage for all public sector workers, increased childcare provision, abolished tuition fees for students, scrapped prescription charges and introduced free bus travel for the over-60s, to name just a few of the social democratic policies the right-wing Tory Party wouldn’t touch with a bargepole.  In fact, it is Ed Miliband’s Labour Party that has promised to continue with the Tories’ austerity and cuts programme if it were to win the 2015 UK Election.

Under the last Labour Government, in which Ed Miliband served as a Minister, the rich got richer while the poor got poorer.  One of Tony Blair’s close political allies, Peter Mandelson, infamously declared that Labour was now “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”.

While erroneously linking SNP policies with those of the Tories, it appears to have escaped Ed Miliband’s notice that, actually, it is his Labour Party that is campaigning shoulder-to-shoulder with the Tories against Scottish independence.  It is Ed Miliband’s Labour Party that is telling Scots we should stay within the British Union, even though that would mean Scotland having future Tory Governments imposed on us by the voters of England.  It is Ed Miliband’s Labour Party that defends the ‘right’ of the Tories to run Scotland from London, even after we have rejected them at the ballot box.

It is for these reasons, and more, that thousands of ordinary Scottish members and supporters of the Labour Party are turning their back on the party’s British Unionist position and will vote ‘YES’ for independence in the referendum.

Those grassroots Labour supporters know that independence will lead to the creation of a real Scottish Labour Party, returned to the left-wing policies favoured by Scots.  They also know the SNP is not guaranteed to form the government in an independent Scotland: it is for us, the people of Scotland, to decide which party we want to run the country – and with independence, we will always get the government for which we vote.

Independence can be the catalyst to create a new and vibrant Labour Party in Scotland.  A real campaigning political party, not simply a ‘description’ owned by an organisation based in London, and not a sub-section of a Tory-clone party led by someone who ‘visits’ Scotland.

The referendum and independence isn’t about the SNP or Alex Salmond: it’s about delivering to the people of Scotland the full powers we need to radically transform Scottish society and build a better, fairer, more prosperous country.

Ironically, one of the organisations that can benefit most from independence is the Scottish Labour Party, and it will have its rank-and-file members and supporters to thank for it - those who voted ‘YES’ in the referendum while the party’s MPs, MSPs and councillors were campaigning with the Tories and voting ‘No’.  

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