Labour for Independence

Under what conditions – say, the next 24 months leading up to the most important political event in 300 years for Scotland – could a “Labour for Independence” exist?

One basic argument for the existence of Labour for Independence is the need for strategic thinking about the party’s survival, if a majority for independence is achieved. If the current Scottish Labour leadership’s claim is sincerely held – that is, willing to serve Scotland, no matter the constitutional arrangement – then it seems somewhat reckless for the Scottish Labour movement not to develop some sense of their platform in a future independent country.

Many on the Scottish Left have given the SNP our crucial votes, regarding them as the main instrument towards achieving full sovereignty (though with the Greens, and in past years the ultra-left parties, as other options).

But post the Great Day, would we necessarily wish to find ourselves with a “National Party of Scotland”, to quote Salmond’s words immediately after the May 2011 victory: a party fully vindicated in its mission, and awaiting a electoral mandate which might even extend (according to some recent polls) their current command of the Scottish polity?

I don’t question the talents, commitment and values of the SNP Cabinet, MSPs and wider membership. But one-party dominance would not be healthy for a newly independent country, which would need all available minds and talents on hand to steer us through the rapids of realpolitik, geopolitics and globalisation.

Would Scottish Labour – or at least some significant chunk of it – really want to be on the sidelines at this vital moment? Despite the fury this would cause in the current leadership, would it not be prudent for some groupuscules in the People’s Party to start brewing up some wisdom, strategy and research around their post-independence existence?

Of course, in an earlier, less acute stage of the “process-not-event” of Scottish self-determination, we have seen innovation of this kind from the Labour Party in Scotland. Jim Sillars famously broke off from being a hammer of the Nats to found the Scottish Labour Party, and thence to the SNP itself (his old compadre in the SLP, Alex Neil, is now a well-behaved Enterprise Minister for the Scottish Government).

From the 80’s, the ginger-group Scottish Labour Action once contained both Wendy Alexander and Jack McConnell in its ranks. SLA produced confident pamphlets about Labour’s “home rule” traditions which envisaged much more “fiscal autonomy” than anything proposed by the Party at present. And of course, not forgetting the mavericks of old, like John McAllion, Dennis Canavan and (perhaps) Malcolm Chisholm, dormant volcanoes of “independent-mindedness” in the Scottish Labour party.

In this current vertiginous stage of the “process”, is Scottish Labour capable of the same kind of innovation? Certainly, if the Labour leadership line holds against constructing an answer to the SNP’s “Devo Max” proposition, Labour for Independence might become a necessity for some.

Read the full undited article at Thoughtland and the Scotsman’s version here.

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  1. Morag Lennie says:

    Hmmmm. I wouldn’t be holding my breath.

  2. Jim Dallas says:

    Scotland will never be a ‘one party state’, once the strings from London are cut, parties that have the prefix ‘Scottish’, will indeed need to be Scottish, not an english franchise…

  3. Scottish republic says:

    They are deteriorating as their support leaves them – those that stay are Brit nats and lost causes.

    As far as a single party state – the SNP have always held to the view that the members of the party would after independence join/form other parties… this however would be bad for Scotland because it’s no accident the SNP are doing well – they have the best politicians by far in the UK in their ranks and Salmond is the best politician in the world at the moment.

    It’s no accident they’re doing so well.

    1. mrbfaethedee says:

      I agree it’s no accident.
      I think the premature belief that the SNP wil disintegrate post-independence is just an easy assumption.
      In fact, the truth may be that the drive for independence is the ‘moral equivalent of war’ for indepentisitas of all colours. Isn’t it just possible that the various political flavours within the SNP are held together not by a simple time-limited set of mutual concessions, but that they may actually placing differing ideologies under the service more senior priorities of aspiration and pragmatics.
      If that is what’s going on, and they find the the way to keep the genuine betterment of the people of Scotland as their prime motivation – perhaps the framing of politics will become a circle thatcan no longer be squared by political parties as we know them?
      Perhaps we will begin to move the democratic process closer to individuals and more per-issue than ever.

      Who knows? I do believe though, that politics won’t be be easily framed in the ways we’ve become accustomed to – i expect there are many waiting for independence to open the doors to new dialogues about how we live.

  4. Edinburgh Quine says:

    For me to vote for Labour, post-independence, they must return to what made them great. Care for everyone, not only “hard-working families”; that horrible excluding phrase that the blairites (and now the tories) love so much. We must be able to diferentiate them from the right-wing, and have the courage of their old convictions, which they ditched in the pursuit of power in 1997. They forgot their core support, rushed to the centre – and eventually right of centre – and left people bewildered and confused.
    I have always supported the Scottish National Party because it was the only one that could, or indeed wanted to deliver Independence for Scotland. And the vitriol poured on them from Labour, since the 60’s, was not pleasant to listen to. But once we have Independence, maybe an positive thinking, pro-Scotland Labour Party would be worth considering. But they have a long road to go and the kind of shenanigans in Glasgow that was visited on a woman with a disabled son, and the violence offered to the MP for Banff and Buchan some months ago, is not likely to win any support from me.

  5. Macart says:

    There was a time, a long time ago, when Labour weren’t just the party of the working man but the party of true home rule. There was a time when a Labour party stood for the fight for rights and righted the abuses of the few on the many. The current crop have lived off of the achievements of giants for too long. The modern Labour party is power for powers sake. They bully, intimidate, berate, belittle and oppose because they have adopted the successful tactics of that other morally bereft party of Britain, the Conservatives.

    But all is not lost, there are some good hearted and hard working Labour party politicians out there and the vast majority of Labour party members are people who still have faith in the core beliefs of the party I have already outlined. We are going to be at the very least a country with full autonomy and at best fully independent in the very near future, there is no going back on what has been set in motion. We are going to need those people (minus the London masters) to form proper constructive opposition and indeed future government in our country. But opposition for oppositions sake has to stop, name calling and yah boo politics has to stop. This is too important, its self determination one way or the other and everyone, every single one of us has to work to pull this off and by that I mean SNP, Labour, Liberal, Conservative, Green, Independent, all of us.

    There are five million+ reasons for the politicians of Scotland to get their collective thumb out and start working and more importantly caring for this country.

  6. Barontorc says:

    There is no point of any labour splinter home rule group standing on its own for independence first leading to Scot’s Labour next, to do so would be lost in the Brit Labour votes pot. There is only one way to get independence and that’s to vote SNP.

    I have absolutely no doubt that an independent Scotland will flourish and find it equally unbelievable that it will not have the full political spectrum to do so.

    All thinking Scots, of whatever political hue, should have but one focus – vote SNP and get independence. For once, feel confident that we Scots can sort out our own political and social futures.

  7. David McCann says:

    It was nice to see Denis Canavan launch the exhibition Democracy for Scotland- The Referendum Experience on Saturday, at the Edinburgh Museum. There were a few well kent SNP faces as well as Denis Canavan and John McAllion, so there is hope yet that others may follow their lead in the cause of independence. The exhibition was the work of Sarah Bromage and Peter Lynch of the Scottish Political archive at Stirling Uni, and very much worth a visit.
    Unfortunately, only STV reported it, but no surprise there

    1. Albalha says:

      Eh BBC Scotland on Rep Scot did a shorter piece than STV yesterday, it did inlcude a clip of D Canavan but not the part where he said he would probably support the independence campaign if asked.

  8. Pat:

    My take is the SDA are hoping the ‘Tories’, who backed Murdo in the recent leadership election, will bring their seats and financial clout in behind the SDA – that is where I see the dilemma for current ‘devo-max’ leaning Tories, do they give up on their toxic ‘Conservative’ brand and become SDA or will a new party be created by their amalgamation

    For what its worth, I see a Tory / SDA Alliance becoming the home for the Libdems and New Labour diehards but I suggest the new party will reject the more extreme variant of neo-liberal capitalism model current at Westminster and seek the return of Tory ‘one nation’ politics in the Scottish arena.

    Labour’s Scottish Region is to all intents and purposes dead – the growing rankling at the control from London is wide spread, as is the foisting of ‘preferred candidates’ on constituency parties. The manipulators in the background (Murphy and Alexander) failed to understand the message from the debacle in the East Lothian Constituency party over Mowat’s re-selection in 2009. They have carried on with business as usual which ultimately lead them to the 2011 disaster at Holyrood.

    It is clear from the rancour and settling of old scores in Glasgow over the recent deselection of councillors, no lessons have been learned as epitomised by the widespread bullying which is the norm in Glasgow City Chambers and is no longer having the lid kept on it by a sympathetic media (all except BBC Scotland).

    The real question is – Is there anything worth while saving in New Labour’s Scottish region as at all levels it appears bankrupt of ideas, of cash, of political ambition for Scotland and in denial of its roots and the people and values it claims to represent?

    Ultimately I suggest the two main parties will be a right of centre Tory / SDA and a left of centre SNP. Whether the Forsythean Tories create a Scottish version of UKIP to promote their neo-liberal ideals will be interesting while as I have said before on the ‘old fashioned left’ will be the Greens and the Scottish Socialist Party (or a variant there of). What happens here will be dependent on the STUC and who they will put their funding behind, at independence, on the left, while accepting Union backing may yet become a poisoned chalice as they will want something for their investment.

    The reality for me is that the three Unionist parties will be unelectable on independence, die a death and a SDA re-birth the best hope for current Unionist MSPs retaining their seats.

  9. Barontorc says:

    Peter, just who are this SDA? I’ve seen plenty about them/it on NNS, but who are they/it and what is their pitch? Who’s funding them? If they’re an agent for change and help secure independence, I for one, will be delighted, but I don’t like mysteries. Their recent overture to CoE and OSCE to look at the potential problem of abuse over the upcoming referendum was needed from some source and to think it was done on behalf of the SNP would be acceptable, but, the last thing we need is a rogue operator, with God only knows what agenda. Trojan horse or cooperative ally? What may be equally disturbing is the total lack of press interest in the SDA, which in itself is remarkable given the current unionist attack mode. Any ideas on this, given your theories above?

  10. Gerry Fisher says:

    I have felt for a long time that the sensible Scottish Tories, once they have accepted the inevitability of Independence would renege on their Unionist credentials, which they did on Ireland a long time ago. They would want to avoid a second wipe-out like the one which happened when they fought devolution to the last ditch – and would be stronger in both England and Scotland thereafter. The same logic does not apply equally to Labour, in that they believe that they will be weaker in UK terms without the “Heartlands”. But when they see the possiblity of wipeout continuing after an Independence which they fight to the last member of the House of Lords, self-interest and a wish to continue living might just get through to the more sensible.

  11. garry says:

    i am interested in what you haveb to say after becoming disallusioned by the snp of today.just another egotistical party out for personal gain.

  12. Les Wilson says:

    We need to get this out there!
    This is the best dissemination of the UK economy that has ever been put on video. Be prepared to be shocked.

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