What’s the Story?

poll_tax_bedroom_tax
Where next for Labour?
Andrew McFadyen argues the next election should be a referendum on the Bedroom Tax.

The 2011 election campaign was very hard for me to take. As a Labour staffer, I was responsible for dealing with the media on

Iain Gray’s visits to key seats. As polling day approached, I had seen enough to know that we weren’t going to win. When I walked into the count at the SECC, in Glasgow, I expected that we would lose Kelvin and maybe Cathcart if it were really bad. Shettleston and Anniesland left me stunned.

Before I eventually left to get some sleep on the floor of a conference room at John Smith House, one SNP activist told me, “Labour needs a new story”. That’s not quite right. I think we need to remember an older one.

It is the vision of a better world that has always given the Labour movement its moral force and ability to inspire people. To put it more simply, we need hope and optimism. 2014 is going to be a very big political year and, whatever the outcome of the referendum, the positions that each party takes will shape they way they are viewed by the electorate going into the next Scottish Parliament elections.

Home rule has been part of Labour’s platform since the very beginning and the party needs to embrace its own traditions. Opinion polls consistently show that, while most Scots are unconvinced about independence, they want more power over tax and benefits devolved to Holyrood. It is time to put their views at the centre of the debate.

Johann Lamont could steal the initiative by publishing her own proposals for a stronger Scottish Parliament, including control over most taxes and benefits. This would make the referendum about two competing visions of change for a reformed UK and give Labour something positive to campaign on.

The party also needs to broaden the conversation and learn a lesson from the SNP about how to put pressure on the Tories at Wesminster. Even after Alex Salmond won an outright majority, there were serious legal questions about the Scottish Government’s ability to hold a referendum on independence because the constitution is a reserved matter.

However, all parties recognised that the SNP had won a political and moral mandate in the election and the Edinburgh Agreement solved the problem.

The historic deal agreed offers a roadmap for sorting out other controversial issues and, specifically, the Bedroom Tax. Since the policy was introduced, in April 2013, over 80,000 Scottish households have had their benefits cuts because the government deems that they have ‘too much space’.

A person living alone with a spare bedroom loses 14 per cent. That rises to 25 per cent for anyone with or two or more spare rooms and there is no exemption for disabled people who need extra space to store equipment.

As a result, the sick and disabled have been hit hardest. The Bedroom Tax is even crueler and more unfair than the Poll Tax in the 1980s because it targets people who were already suffering severe hardship. For many families, the impact has been devastating. Citizens Advice Scotland report that in the first six months since its introduction, the number of people approaching them because of rent arrears rose by 41 per cent.

The coalition parties pushed through this policy with the support of just 12 out of 59 Scottish MPs. This is a disgrace to democracy. Labour should respond by making the next election a referendum on the Bedroom Tax, with a clear commitment that it will be abolished wherever the party holds power, whether that is in Scotland or at Westminster.

It doesn’t matter whether welfare is formally reserved or not if Labour is prepared to claim the political and moral mandate of an election victory in the same way that the SNP have done with the referendum.

After 2011, we should recognise that Scottish politics is being played with new rules. Labour’s distinctive contribution must be to speak up as a force for socialist and progressive politics.

Follow Andrew McFadyen on Twitter @apmcfadyen

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  1. Peter A Bell says:

    The referendum CANNOT be about “two competing visions of change for a reformed UK”. How often does it have to be repeated that THERE IS NO “MORE POWERS” OPTION ON THE BALLOT?

    The choice facing the people of Scotland is NOT between independence and some form of improved devolution. The choice is between independence and a bleak future for our country (http://peterabell.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/2013-year-of-fear.html). A No vote is NOT a vote for increased powers for the Scottish Parliament, no matter how desperately British Labour and their Tory/LibDem allies want the people of Scotland to fall for this deception.

    And it DOES matter if welfare is reserved. Even if we could trust British Labour promises to return to its founding principles, only independence will guarantee that we don’t get stuck with another Tory government that we didn’t vote for sometime in the future.

    This article is basically an argument that we should use our vote for the benefit of British Labour rather than the people of Scotland. I utterly reject that argument.

    1. steven luby says:

      Spot on. This argument would appear to be the only ‘positive’ that the Unionists can come up with,and blow me down, what a surprise……..this option doesn’t exist.

    2. Personally, I would have welcomed a question on ‘more powers’. But the referendum could be about two competing visions of change if Labour set out its alternative in the event of a No vote and promises to legislate if it win the next election.

      My broader point is that the SNP won a mandate in the last Scottish election for a referendum on independence. Why shouldn’t this apply to other issues too? Labour should embrace the mandate argument and use it to make the case for social justice.

      1. muttley79 says:

        But Labour are highly unlikely to win the next general election with Ed Milliband as leader. UKIP will team up with the Tories. We have been here before with promises of Jam Tomorrow in 1979. The Tories are not interested in giving Scotland any more powers. The truth is that unionists like yourself in SLAB would prefer to be ruled over by the Tories at Westminster, than have been ruled by a fully independent Scottish government at Holyrood. Ian Smart has already admitted this. Labour are Red Tories, and have been for a considerable amount of time. That is why LFI is gaining support.

      2. Just to be clear, I have never described myself as a unionist. In rejecting one form of nationalism in the SNP, I have no interest in picking up another. What matters most to me is how Scotland is governed, not where from.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          To imagine that the locus of Scotland’s government is irrelevant to the way in which Scotland is governed is, frankly, idiotic. No British government will ever serve the people of Scotland as well as a Scottish government.

      3. Peter A Bell says:

        This is just wrong in so many ways. In the first place, its not just British Labour. In order for any “more powers” offer to even begin to be credible it would have to be a common proposal adopted by all three British parties.

        Then there’s a grammar problem. You used the words “Labour” and “promise” in the same sentence. If British Labour can turn its back on virtually all of the party’s founding principles, how much difficulty do you think they would have in reneging on a promise to the people of Scotland?

        What would such a promise be worth anyway? As I say, there would have to be a committment from all three of the British parties in Scotland. But any proposal for further devolution that was worth considering would almost certainly be vetoed by the party bosses in London. After the referendum, of course.

        And how would any of them guarantee delivery even supposing they did come up with a proposal that some voters might be foolish enough to imagine offered an acceptable alternative to independence. Without the weight of the electorate’s mandate behind it there would be nothing to bind any future UK Government.

        The whole “more powers” thing from the British parties is a charade and a deception. Think about why they were so vehemently opposed to having a devolution option on the ballot. I mean the REAL reasons. Not the least of these is the fact that if 60% or more of the people of Scotland voted for that option it would be politically near-impossible for them to refuse to deliver what they promised rather than some Calmanesque sop.

        Forget devolution. It is over. It has served its purpose. Time to move on. Voting No on a false prospectus would be the most unforgivable folly. The ONLY way to guarantee more powers for the Scottish Parliament is to vote Yes. In fact, the only way to safeguard the powers we have already is to vote Yes.

  2. Michael says:

    What’s the point of this nonsense?

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Looks like a healthy debate Michael…

      1. What’s the point? Well, I want to see Labour gets its mojo back and this is my tuppence worth…

      2. Comments read more like a tar and feathering than a healthy debate…;-)

        There is little on the table from UK or Holyrood parties promoting (or should be promoting) socialism that doesn’t have an air of tokenism about it.

  3. Labour cannot regain its ‘Old Story’ as long as it has to appeal to marginal votes in SE England. That is why Malcolm Chisolm’s point on Thursday was wrong about ‘only threatening a Tory win will help the SNP’. As long as it is Blue Tory or Red Tory the result will be similar??

  4. muttley79 says:

    “Johann Lamont could steal the initiative by publishing her own proposals for a stronger Scottish Parliament, including control over most taxes and benefits. This would make the referendum about two competing visions of change for a reformed UK and give Labour something positive to campaign on.”

    Lamont is not interested in having a strong Scottish Parliament.

    “As a result, the sick and disabled have been hit hardest. The Bedroom Tax is even crueler and more unfair than the Poll Tax in the 1980s because it targets people who were already suffering severe hardship.”

    So why continue to support Westminster rule over Scotland then?

    “The coalition parties pushed through this policy with the support of just 12 out of 59 Scottish MPs. This is a disgrace to democracy.”

    There is a simple solution to this. Vote for independence in the referendum in September. A Yes vote means Scotland will get the government it voted for all of the time.

    “Labour’s distinctive contribution must be to speak up as a force for socialist and progressive politics.”

    Are you seriously arguing that Westminster is going to deliver socialist and progressive politics after the last 30 plus years of neo-Liberalism on steroids? You would be better joining with the likes of Dennis Canavan, Jeanne Foreman, SIr Charles Gray, Alex Mossan, Tommy Brennan, Bob Thompson, Mary Lockhart, Allan Groggan and John McAllion in supporting a Yes vote.

    1. I would seriously argue that the Labour movement has made Scotland a better country. Labour won the right for workers to organise in trade unions, built the first council houses and created the NHS. I am certainly not going to pretend that the party is perfect, but neither do I think it is a lost cause. And by the way, I am proud to be a member of the same party as Mary Lockhart.

      1. muttley79 says:

        You are talking about things that happened around 60 years ago. Those days are long gone. The NHS in England is being privatised. The welfare state is being dismantled as we speak. Labour has changed dramatically in the last three decades. It is going further and further to the right to counter the Tories and UKIP. Are you seriously suggesting that the south east of England, including the City of London, is going to be converted to socialism in the near future?

      2. Even Tony Blair’s government delivered the Scottish Parliament and the national minimum wage. Do I think the City of London can be converted to socialism? Probably not, but they might want to reflect on how many of them might be out of a job if the banks had not been nationalised.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          The Scottish Parliament was delivered under duress and purely because British Labour saw this as serving its own narrow interests. Their first loyalty is to the British state. Devolution was always intended to be a device by which to fend off the challenge from the SNP and maintain the structures of power and privilege to which British Labour is committed.

  5. Michael says:

    And of course Lamont can no more offer a reformed Uk than the guy running the woman selling the sausage rolls in Greggs can. Because only the UK government can legislate for reform – they couldn’t even change their stinking voting system with the Lib Dems in power. First you need the UK parties to commit to reform, second you need Middle England voters to support them and then you need legislation. So if ME voters reject Lab which is quite clearly going to happen what are you left with – Clegg, Cameron and Osborne delivering change? I mean come on, how idiotic do you think Scottish people are. Clegg as a guarantor of the more powers promise. Grow up.

    1. In the case of electoral reform, the dominant party in the UK Government is a Conservative Party that didn’t want it. The very fact that we have a Scottish Parliament shows that the UK is capable of reforming itself if people fight for change.

      1. CW says:

        It took about a century for the labour movement to deliver a Scottish Parliament. Keir Hardie was talking about it in the 1880s. That’s the pace of reform in the UK – absolutely glacial – and we always end up with a botched compromise. I’m not willing to wait that long. There are people I care about who deserve a better future in their own lifetimes. The Scottish Parliament should have had far more powers from the beginning, and most people in the Labour Party who campaigned for it will admit this privately.

  6. steven luby says:

    Stopped reading the article when it mentioned JL could steal the inatiative. JL is unworthy of leading a classroom of children into the playground never mind ‘D’ Class Labour Politicians as a majority in any form of a Scottish Government! It really is time for Labour to look at itself and understand it has driven off the road of any socialist beliefs. They have to have a bloody good cleanout and start afresh due to the out right lies it not only openly supports but are creating themselves. They are not to be trusted,they can no longer be trusted and in a very short time they themselves will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can’t even trust themselves.

  7. Dougie McCann says:

    The problem Scottish labour have is, to appeal to voters here they have to be left of centre but the bedroom tax is popular in the south thus the disgrace of labour not bothering to show for a vote which they could have won.
    A yes vote would give Scottish labour the chance to regroup and be a political force again if tories win again they are fiinished in Scotland but it was labour who came up with AToS assessment, & bedroom tax was on there agenda too.
    So labour tory not much difference.

    1. You are wrong to accuse Labour of ‘not bothering to show’. The MPs who didn’t take part in the vote were paired with Conservative or Liberal Democrat MPs. Now, there is a good case that on an issue of such importance these arrangements should have been suspended. But sadly the end result would have been the same.

      1. From memory, it would not have required all of the paired libdems to vote in favour of scrapping the tax to change the outcome. There is no excuse for Labour’s repetitive apathy.

      2. muttley79 says:

        What is the excuse for Labour MSPs voting against free school meals last week in the Scottish Parliament, when various anti-poverty groups, and the likes of the STUC, were wanting into to be introduced then?

      3. There is a well-intentioned view held by many within the Labour Party that when resources are scarce they should be targeted at those who need them most. They would argue that it makes no sense to offer a free school meal to the children of millionaires. As for me, I agree with Unison and the STUC on this issue.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          Universalism makes perfect sense so long as there is a truly progressive tax system. By abandoning its commitment to universal benefits British Labour has signalled that it is unwilling to tackle the appalling shambles of the UK tax system. In this, as in so many things, they are as one with their Tory allies.

      4. Derek Coghill says:

        Does that mean that you are proposing means-testing, rather than having a system of universal benefits?

      5. andygm1 says:

        You know Andrew, although I don’t agree that there is a cat in Hell’s chance that Labour could deliver meaningful powers to the Scottish Parliament (and I wrote a long post on the Herald to say why) I greatly respect you for coming on here to argue your case. However, to say that Labour opposed free school meals because of all the millionaires children who would benefit is stretching credulity a little too far. How many millionaires are there in Scotland and how many of their children would be queuing up at the local primary for their free fish fingers?

        I would respect you even more if you stated the true reason, let’s face it, we all know what it is anyway.

      6. Derek – Did you read my final sentence? I agree with Unison and the STUC on the issue of free school meals.

        Andy – Thanks for the supportive comments. Okay, maybe not many millionaires, but the broader point still holds that free school meals will go to children from well-off families as well as poorer ones. I respect the integrity of those who argue that resources should be more closely targeted at people in need. And in the specific context of free school meals, Labour said the money would be better spent on child care. Let’s be honest, the SNP were also playing politics with a motion that linked the issue to independence and Labour fell for it.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          More British Labour dishonesty. The SNP motion referred to did not link the issue of free school meals or the issue of childcare to independence. It mere;y stated the incontrovertible fact that the Scottish Government’s plans for extending childcare require independence. Since an explanation appears to be required I will point out that the policy is to be funded by increased tax revenues generated by employment growth. That is not possible so long as the additional tax receipts are siphoned off by the British state to pay for its WMD, foreign military adventures and tax-cuts for the wealthy.

          British Labour at Holyrood not only voted against free school meals, they refused to accept a statement of the bleeding obvious.

          And please don’t give me any of that pious tut-tutting about British Labour’s obsession with the SNP and vacuous platitudes about how they need to move on. They’ve had nearly seven years to come to terms with the fact that the electorate rejected them in favour of an administration whose quiet competence contrasts so starkly with the puerile politicking of those who are posing as the opposition in the Scottish Parliament. If they haven’t managed to get over it and learn some lessons by now, we are perfectly entitled to assume that they never will.

  8. alharron says:

    “Home rule has been part of Labour’s platform since the very beginning and the party needs to embrace its own traditions. Opinion polls consistently show that, while most Scots are unconvinced about independence, they want more power over tax and benefits devolved to Holyrood. It is time to put their views at the centre of the debate.”

    No, Mr McFadyen, the time was before the signing of the Edinburgh Agreement. If indeed it is the will of the Scottish people to remain in the UK but with greater powers over tax and benefits – as has been clear for decades now – then Labour should’ve done their damnedest to make it a two-question referendum. But it is not, and so the Scottish people are forced to choose between an uncertain independence with the might of the UK’s propaganda machine working to dissuade them, or continued union in a country slipping ever deeper into debt, Barnett being challenged with abolition, ever more frightening attacks on the vulnerable, and increased resentment from the rest of the UK.

    “Johann Lamont could steal the initiative by publishing her own proposals for a stronger Scottish Parliament, including control over most taxes and benefits.”

    This would be the same Johann Lamont who, in March 2012, said ““I question, for example, whether we should devolve a power like corporation tax, not because I don’t think we are capable of using it, but because I want to see the detailed evidence that will tell us whether it would be in our interests or not.””? Does that sound like the sort of person who has any interest in pushing a stronger Scottish parliament – a person who questions whether it is in her parliament’s interests to have power over ANYTHING?!?

    “The coalition parties pushed through this policy with the support of just 12 out of 59 Scottish MPs. This is a disgrace to democracy. Labour should respond by making the next election a referendum on the Bedroom Tax, with a clear commitment that it will be abolished wherever the party holds power, whether that is in Scotland or at Westminster.”

    And this is, of course, the same Labour party which did not even see fit to ensure every voter possible turned up to vote for THEIR OWN MOTION on the Bedroom Tax, who decided protesting against independence was worth depriving children in poverty of school meals, and who finally betrayed the unions by failing to turn up to vote against a new motion to remove union powers.

    “It doesn’t matter whether welfare is formally reserved or not if Labour is prepared to claim the political and moral mandate of an election victory in the same way that the SNP have done with the referendum.”

    Milliband has said, on record, that they CANNOT repeal ANY of the Tories’ cuts. Milliband’s confidence has plummeted in countless polls, both in terms of trust and in terms of competence, where less than a quarter of LABOUR voters think he’ll be the next Prime Minister.

    I sympathise with the position of Labour supporters and activists who are desperate to see some, any, sign of socialism in New Labour. But if it wasn’t clear when Blair went to war, then it’s clear now with Milliband and Lamont chasing the anti-welfare, anti-immigration, anti-EU voters of middle England. Labour need a change, but it will take seismic shifts to do so, and none of them will be made with the current roster of champagne socialists and red Tories.

    1. Let’s take a closer look at Corporation Tax. Personally, I support the devolution of this power to the Scottish Parliament, but I have a lot of misgivings about it. The reason is simple: I just don’t buy the SNP’s argument that cutting Corporation Tax will increase growth. Nobody on the left should want to see Scotland leading a race to the bottom from which the only beneficiaries are big business.

      1. alharron says:

        I’m glad you support the devolution of Corporation Tax, but it doesn’t do us a lot of good if your party leader doesn’t: regardless of whether you think it should be cut or not, it’s pretty clear that until it’s devolved, it’s out of all our hands.

      2. muttley79 says:

        How many times did Gordon Brown cut Corporation Tax?

      3. Michael says:

        There is no connection between corporation tax and equality. That is a complete red herring. You use the phrase ‘corporation tax’ like a spell. It’s infantile politics and is based on the notion that repeating mindless incantations will make the SNP go away.

  9. gordoz says:

    Every election that British Labour wins is hard for real Scottish socialists to take !

    Typical view from British Labour in Scotland – muddy the waters, distract attention and avoid the bleedin’ obvious.
    Andrew your lot invented private Bed Tax missed a vote on socila housing Bed Tax already at westminster (shameful) and didn’t cover themselves in glory of free school meals either ?. So no lessons from Labour & less said the better.

    Only real socialist change possible for Scotland is with Independence – ever thought of lending your support to Labour for independence Andrew ?? A no brainer surely.

  10. Some people may have forgotten Iraq. I haven’t

    The problem is not which Tory party is in power in London: it is systemic and inherent. The UK is the most reactionary state in the western world and imagining that having the Red Tories in charge is going to change that is simply deluded

    1. I haven’t forgotten Iraq either. I have spent time in the country on assignment for Channel 4 News and I see the ongoing consequences of the war every day in job with Al Jazeera. What we did there is simply appalling.

      I also remember Syria. Without 59 Scottish MPs at Westminster, David Cameron would have had a majority for bombing Damascus.

      1. Albalha says:

        Have you written anything on Aljazeera/Al Jazeera (the island) since May 2013? I’m confused who do you work for?

        Of course maybe you have a non writing post, ‘every day’?

      2. Albalha – My day job is with Al Jazeera. I am a Programme Editor. If you switch on the TV and watch our news coverage on any given day there is a reasonable chance I will have been involved with putting it together.

      3. Albalha – For what it’s worth my day job is with Al Jazeera. I am a Programme Editor.

      4. Albalha says:

        Assuming you’re in London not Doha?

      5. No Doha. I spend a lot of time in airports.

  11. Paul Wilson says:

    There is no alternative but a Yes vote the only thing that does concern me is that if yes is declared and the electorate then puts Lamont in then after her something for nothing speech we won’t feel or see any benefit of that Yes vote.

    1. Rab Knox says:

      But that’ll be the Scottish peoples will and no-one will be able to argue with that decision
      We might not like it but that’ll be what the majority of Scotland wants

  12. Jim O'Rourke says:

    New Labour is not a socialist party in any way. The party discarded its socialist soul when Blair became leader and sealed it with the removal of clause 4.
    There is no Scottish Labour so Lamont cannot do or say anything without the express permission of London. Toom Tabard as it were.

  13. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    It is distressing to see a politically informed person like Andrew in denial.
    He may think we have not noticed Ms Lamont’s sorry efforts in the Scottish Parliament to bring the Scottish politcal narrative into line with that which Labour needs to win power in the UK but we have.
    The Bedroom Tax is actually showing majority support in English polls and a majority of Labour supporters support it in the south east so there is no chance of a tax which was invented by the Labour Party and extended by the Tories becoming a feature in a UK election.
    Labour cannot win a UK general election on a programme that has wide Scottish support, though we can rely on our media to do its utmost to confuse the voters about this. Better Together is relying on confused voters (that is a euphemism).

  14. It is not just about changing “the story” – Scottish Labour, insofar as it even exists other than as an outpost of British Labour that cares mostly about winning Westminster seats in the south east of England, has lost the way completely.

    Labour should not just be presenting a different story, which will come across as simply yet another shallow PR exercise. Labour has been responsible for some great things in the distant past, but recent decisions have been calamitous for Scotland and others (some of these things are noted by other commentators above, whilst for me, lying in order to attack Iraq, the torturing of prisoners as evidenced in the last few days, and the continued devotion to WMD are probably the most egregious).

    Until the party is able to do some real soul-searching and – in what some might say is a very old-fashioned thing – repent publicly of these mistakes, they will continue to haemorrhage trust. In the independence debate context, decisions such as not supporting free school meals, people like David Martin actively working against Scottish interests, and taking Tory money to campaign against independence (I wrote about this latter issue here: http://michaelmarten.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/some-thoughts-on-the-labour-party-in-scotland-and-why-i-wish-things-were-different/) mean that Labour is seen by many as being a destructive and negative force, not one that has their interests at heart. That needs more than a change of story – that means a totally renewed party, which probably means ditching the present leadership clique completely.

    (Incidentally, I asked the Scottish Labour party to explain their decision on the free schools meals vote to me, but they never even bothered writing back. Perhaps they don’t think they need to be accountable to the electorate? They’re in for a rude awakening…)

  15. James Morton says:

    “Johann Lamont could steal the initiative by publishing her own proposals for a stronger Scottish Parliament, including control over most taxes and benefits”

    She could, but she won’t. She won’t because she can’t. She can’t because she has no vision. The limits of her vision have been laid bare for all to see. She can’t because she and her party have no ambitions for greatness: Her party are talking of means testing, as the UK descends into a cruel & heartless place that projects its greatest failings on to its victims. She can’t because she offers no alternative to the Scots to consider: She rather point her finger at Alex Salmond and shrilly shout “Squirrel”, thinking this passes for statesman like oratory. She can’t because, quite honestly – she is not First Minister material. Scottish Labour made a bad choice in picking her for leader. She is a lightweight. She can barely pass muster as a councillor and is the living embodiment of the peter principle: This is all too easy to see when she is directly challenged of Scottish labours policies with her feeble deflection of “We need to have a debate about that”. She and her advisers may very well think this makes her look plausible, but in reality it is screaming “I have not got a clue what I am going to do about any of this”. Her ignorance in terms of policy and the obvious lack of a coherent road map for Scotland is compounded further by her idiotic attacks on the SNP and its voters. The speech about nationalism as a virus gave me cold chills. I never for one minute ever considered the day when I would look at Labour and feel the same revulsion I have the conservatives.

    Thatcher made the mistake of thinking she could marginalise and then ignore Scotland. That mistake cost her and her party dear. It also put strains on the ties that bind Scotland to the Union. The Condems are now busying themselves destroying the rUK and reducing it to the status of a banana republic. The UK labour party chose this moment to try and stay to the right of the Tories Since the Tories are chasing UKIP, this means poor old labour is forced to follow. So it fell to Scottish Labour and the all too narrow shoulders of its front bench to defend the Union. Amazingly they decided to use the old Tory play book to shut down devolution. They even went one further and had Alistair Darling attend a Tory party conference to rapturous applause. The union is dying through the ignorant stupidity of Westminster. Scottish labours battle plan for union, is to ape the same disregard that the Tories have for Scotland. Scottish labour under the leadership of Lamont, is making the same mistake Thatcher did & it will cost her and labour dear.

    The narrative that you are looking for is the one Scotland gifted to labour. Labour chose to abandon it. The SNP took it up instead. Things have changed in Scottish politics. If labour can’t or won’t change…then it will become like the conservative party in Scotland. Trapped on the wrong side of History but content to stay there.

  16. Can there be a Scotsman/woman who can look at the unionist camp and think there is our ally ,there is our friend,there is our fellow citizen? What is good for Scotland is not on the agenda of Westminster,only making the people subservient to the self-styled aristocrats of the political class.Make no mistake the class system is there to keep you and I down,not for our betterment but for the betterment of the few.

    1. Are you seriously arguing that a vote for independence will abolish the class system?

      1. Peter A Bell says:

        This would be no more ridiculous than the totally dishonest argument that a No vote is a vote for “more powers”.

  17. Marian says:

    Anyone who thinks that Johann Lamont can head off a YES vote by talking about an alternative is seriously deluded for there isn’t going to be an alternative other than in the imagination of Project Fear.

    Instead there will be more austerity from Westminster and even the status quo at Holyrood is now gravely uncertain if the threats from Westminster politicians and the London based media to abolish the Barnett formula and take back powers to Westminster, are adopted by Westminster if there is a NO vote.

    Westminster had its opportunity to place a further question or questions on the referendum ballot paper and turned it down flat because there is absolutely no way Westminster is ever going to let itself be threatened by a Scotland that has full fiscal autonomy.

    Westminster fully expects to win a NO vote in the referendum by hook or by crook just as it did with the PR vote of a few years back, and with all the very considerable resources it can muster (including its poodles in the BBC and newspapers and MI6/MI5) turned on to the independence movement.

    This is the most unequal fight since David and Goliath but the outcome can still be a win for David!

  18. DougtheDug says:

    Hi Andrew, I think it’s good that both sides of the independence argument get space on Bellacaledonia to put forward their viewpoint but I have some issues with your article.

    Whatever the history of Home Rule in the Labour party it’s only ever offered limited devolution to Scots and that was driven by a grassroots movement in Scotland and a fear of nationalism in the Labour Party. Even in the face of an independence referendum it has offered nothing and all of the current thinking on devolution simply offers the tired old model of Barnett Formula funding with the power to raise taxes above UK levels to protect and to fund public services. The ability for the Scottish Government to raise revenue from alternative sources is not permitted because that would break the principle of fiscal equality across the UK.

    Whether or not Johann Lamont comes up with a different model matters very little because she is not in a position to promise it to the people of Scotland. Even if the leadership of Labour agree to that different model for devolution in Scotland it’s still a spin of the coin whether or not we get it because it will depend entirely on Labour winning in Westminster and to be honest if Labour go into an election with the promise that Scotland will get more resources over and above the UK norm then it’s not an election they’re going to win.

    The Bedroom tax has an interesting history and surprisingly it’s a tax that Labour had the chance to remove when they were in power in the Blair/Brown years.

    The “Bedroom Tax” was originally brought in by the Conservative Government in 1989, Schedule 3 to the Rent Officers (Additional Function) Order 1989, for those on benefits renting in the private sector and then modified by Labour with the 2008 Local Housing Allowance rules. The main change Labour made was that rent was based on average rent in an area rather than an individual property. The principle was the same as the Tories current “Bedroom Tax” in that Housing Allowance was only paid for a certain number of rooms dependent on family size.

    The “Bedroom Tax” as we know it now was simply an extension of this scheme to those on benefits in public housing but the major change was that it was also made retroactive where existing tenants lost benefit if their house was larger than their family size allowance as defined by the legislation. Originally those on benefit already in accommodation when the private sector rules came into force in 1989 and 2008 kept their original benefits until they moved address.

    So here’s a question for you Andrew. Are Labour in their vision of a better world also going to remove the “Bedroom Tax” for those in benefit in the private rented sector as well as the public one?

    1. You make a couple of points here Doug.

      First, I think you play a bit fast and loose with history. After the divisions of the 1970s, the Labour movement and civic Scotland swung wholeheartedly behind devolution during the Thatcher years. This was at a time when the SNP were at a historic low – losing members and polling below 20 per cent. It wasn’t fear of Nationalism that led Labour to support a Scottish Parliament. It was about protecting Scotland from the Tories.

      On Labour’s alternative to independence and more powers for the Scottish Parliament, Tony Blair went into the 1997 General election with a promise (which he inherited from Neil Kinnock) to legislate for devolution in his first year in office. Johann Lamont can’t promise this, but Ed Miliband could and personally I think he should.

      As for the Bedroom Tax, you make some interesting points. I think it is up to those of us in the Labour Party to make the case internally and externally to reverse all of the Conservative Party’s cuts.

      1. DougtheDug says:

        Hi Andrew, thanks for the reply.

        It’s odd that you say that the creation of the devolved Scottish Parliament wasn’t about nationalism it was about “protecting Scotland from the Tories” because it was designed with precisely the opposite intention in mind.

        It was designed to ensure that all Westminster policies on taxation, Social Security, pensions, the economy, interest rates, immigration, defence and the funding of public services were implemented in Scotland.

        The only financial power that the Scottish Parliament has is that it can decide on how it divides the increasingly smaller cake provided by Westminster which is based directly on funding for public services in England or it can try and increase the cake by hitting the Scottish workforce with income tax rise. That was the original model and it’s still the model today and it’s the only model proposed for the future.

        The system was designed to ensure that Scotland cannot diverge from the overall public service funding policies and Social Security policies designed by whatever Government is in power in Westminster.

      2. Doug – If you think back to the 1980s, the issue around which support for a Scottish Parliament crystallised was opposition to the Poll Tax.

        The introduction of the policy in Scotland a year earlier than the rest of the UK caused particular resentment because it created the perception that we were being used as a guinea pig. Devolution was therefore designed to deal with the big issue of the day.

        As you know, the Scotland Act largely took the powers of the old Scottish Office as its template. But this too was no bad thing. Remember when Michael Forsyth ran Scotland from St Andrew’s House with just 10 out of 72 Scottish MPs? Devolution introduced democratic accountability.

        However, I agree that the debate has now moved on. The Scottish Parliament should have much more meaningful tax powers and control over most aspects of welfare.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          It is regrettably typical of the British parties that they see the referendum debate in terms of a party political contest around policies rather than as the fundamental question of democracy and constitutional status that it is.

      3. Peter A Bell says:

        There is no “Labour alternative to independence and more powers for the Scottish Parliament”. Those who pretend that there is are complicit in perpetrating a massive deception on the people of Scotland.

      4. DougtheDug says:

        HI David, the Poll Tax could not be imposed again on Scotland under devolution as long as it was used as a local tax although it could be applied if it was a national tax. However as the SNP found out to their cost the benefits system can be used as a blunt instrument to block changes in the local taxation system. If the SNP moved to a local income tax system the message from Labour was quite clear that it would not get the council tax rebate from central government to make up for those who only paid a partial council tax. That sum was around £400 Million

        The same system could be used in reverse. England moves to a poll tax and Scotland loses £400 Million because the benefits system will only pay a Poll Tax rebate.

        In any case it’s beside the point. How Scotland deals with its local taxation and public services in its little sandbox is of no concern to Westminster because they control the overall funding via a block grant.

        I’d also be interested in what “meaningful powers” mean in terms of taxation. So far all taxation powers proposed have simply been used to run parts of the block grant through HMRC before it is capped at the Barnett formula level by a final top-up grant from Westminster.

        Remember fiscal equality when talking about tax powers. Scotland cannot get more public funding than any other part of the UK nor access to alternative funding unless that is an increase in the taxation applied to Scotland above the default UK level, the bulk of which will be income tax.

        Unless of course Ed is going to sell the alternative model to his backbenchers where Scotland gets access to more funding or revenue than the other parts of the UK.

    2. Michael says:

      Honestly, I can’t see any point in having this kind of rubbish in Bella Caledonia. The rest of the Scottish press is saturated with it. We are drowning in this drivel already. A space free of this stuff is what’s needed. Somewhere we can have adult conversations.

      1. bellacaledonia says:

        If you want an echo chamber there’s plenty of them about. The values, policies and future of Labour in Scotland are an important part of the independence debate as a key demographic that Yes needs to attract is disillusioned Labour voters. Andrew’s piece was a submission not a commission and seems to have provoked great debate.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          I’m not sure how the debate is enhanced by promulgating the lie that British Labour in Scotland is offering some sort of alternative to independence.

          1. bellacaledonia says:

            I’m not doing that, nor is Andrew doing it very successfully I fear.

      2. More accurately, I am not doing it at all. My article calls on Labour to set out an alternative. I don’t claim it is already there.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          Even to argue that British Labour in Scotland is capable of offering an alternative to independence is dishonest. The terms of the referendum are set. They cannot be changed. It is deceitful of the British parties to now pretend that a No vote is a vote for an option that they refused to have on the ballot, largely because they were afraid that people would vote for it.

          There will be no “alternative” to independence. There can be no “alternative” to independence. All you are doing is encouraging people too think that whatever jam tomorrow promises might be cobbled together by British Labour in Scotland represent an alternative that they can opt for by voting No. This is a lie! There is no other word for it. A deliberate, wilful lie. And the blatant dishonesty of it must be shouted from the rooftops. We must not allow British Labour in Scotland to sell a No vote on a totally false prospectus.

  19. Stewart Glendinning says:

    “Johann Lamont could steal the initiative by publishing her own proposals for a stronger Scottish Parliament, including control over most taxes and benefits”

    Andrew at this moment Lamont is not even part of the debate. There is only one person in the Labour Party which could “steal the initiative” and that’s Ed Milliband. If Milliband were to develop a serious commitment to further meaningful devoloution, outline concrete proposals and commit to those being in the 2015 Labour manifesto he just might (big might!) steal the initiative.

    But he won’t or can’t because the British Labour party and the English electorate won’t countenance any further meaningful devoloution of powers to Scotland. Instead expect Lamont to cobble together some Devo Tax proposals more responsibility rather than worthwhile powers. If she does present such a package expect the announcement to be made to a fever packed Scottish MSM without Ed or any leading UK Labour person with real party clout (ie not Darling or Brown – yesterdays men both) in the room whilst the MSM fail to ask JL if Ed backs the proposals and fail to elicit any form of commitment to include the same in Labours 2015 manifesto.

    Milliband, like Cameron and the rest at Westminster thought it was in the bag. It’s not and they are seriously shitting bricks having left it too late in the day to come up with any form of jam tomorrow that the Scottish electorate might just be tempted with. The debate has moved on. We are already discussing the possibilities that a Yes vote might bring. Long may Westminster continue to be behind that debate.

  20. Iain Ban says:

    This is certainly a very sincere article but based on a false premise. It makes no difference in Labour is elected in the UK because they have already started to try and out-UKIP UKIP. There was some Labour MP on TV this morning called Rachel Reeves boasting about agreeing with withholding benefits from EU migrants and suggesting low skilled workers should keep out. Labour in England are continuing their slide to the right which began decades ago, and in Scotland there is a lack of talent, ambition and direction. It’s a shame but they seem to be heading towards irrelevance like the Liberals after WW1.

    1. Looby Dopp says:

      The fact that a Labour Shadow Minister could joyfully smile her agreement with draconian UK Government measures tells us that Labour have lost it. I’m not sure what “it” is or if Labour ever really had “it” since Ramsay MacDonald became a Labour Gentleman. But whatever Labour have now isn’t worth having.

  21. Douglas says:

    The Labour Party?

    Are they not the guys who led us into an illegal war in Iraq and ditched a long standing pledge to get rid of nuclear weapons on the Clyde, not to mention the reform of The House of Lords? Why would anybody even want to talk to THEM.

    If I met a Labour MP in a bar, I would look the other way out of embarrassment and also because I would be feart to slip on the oil which drips off their 1000 pound suits….

    The betrayal by the Labour Party of the people of Scotland is a disgrace and travesty and ranks up there among the greatest betrayals by a political party of its constituents in European history, a total travesty of the working men and women who built one of the greatest things these islands ever produced, a political party you could be proud of, even if it didn’t win power.

    The cemeteries of Scotland are heaving with corpses turning in in earth, as the Labour Party come out with another false, lame, and opportunist pledge based on the following premise: Vote for us, we’re not the Tories,we will repeal ONE of their policies.

    The Labour Party sold the people of Scotland down the Clyde.The Labour Party should be rejected by the people of Scotland for reasons of self respect, integrity and moral decency…at least the Tories are up front about being a bunch if elitist cunts.

  22. Richard MacKinnon says:

    Andrew McFadyen states “Just to be clear, I have never described myself as a unionist. In rejecting one form of nationalism in the SNP, I have no interest in picking up another. What matters most to me is how Scotland is governed, not where from”.
    That statement suggests to me Mr.McFadyen that you are now undecided about the referendum outcome: or are you going to abstain?

    1. Nye Bevan is just as much a hero to me as John Wheatley. It feels wrong to abandon friends and family south of the border. On balance, what I want is a solution that allows most of the decisions that affect Scotland to be taken in Scotland and enables us to keep 59 Scottish MPs at Westminster.

      1. Douglas says:

        So, Andrew, you and all those NewStatesman like thinktanks have come up with THE BIG IDEA….a totally banal, insulting and vapid Blair, Alistair Campbell concept by the way – which comes down to repealing the bedroom tax, and you come on to Bella and stake your claim to government on that. It’s laughable.

        Do you really think that people can’t see through the total absence of ideas in the current Labour Party? The explanation for that vacuum is not complicated: the Labour Party abandoned its principles. and with them the key principle is that society is more important than making money, and that War is the very, very, very last resort.

        The Labour Party is a spent force, it has bartered its soul away. You want a few Lib Dem votes? Fine. But I very much doubt there are many thinking people on the Left who would waste their time with the Labour Party these days. Been there, done that….

        As for your idea that you are “abandoning people” in the south, it’s precisely the other way around, The Labour Party in the south abandoned Labour Party voters in Scotland, by becoming a Thatcherite party which pursued illegal foreign wars….

        I can’t recall Brown or Blair ever calling to mind the Scottish voters who put them into power to a large extent and who were betrayed by New Labour´s policies for 12 years….instead, you increased social inequality, decreased social mobility and bankrupt the country.

      2. Richard MacKinnon says:

        Andrew,
        That is not practical, and I think you are aware of that.
        The creation of the Scottish Parliament means that we are now represented by politicians at the European parliament, at Westminster and at Holyrood not to mention 32 local councils. Is it any surprise that the different tiers of government are now fighting amongst themselves for control of ‘their piece’.
        It is an unpalatable fact that unionist politicians will not face up to but one of the tiers has to go for the structure to make sense. None of them are brave enough to say lets get rid of Holyrood (although I know some of them dream of it). The old chessnut ‘best of both worlds’ (to describe the present constitutional arrangement) is no longer taken seriously. So its make your mind up time.

      3. Douglas – Vapid, banal and insulting… you should get off the fence and tell me what you really think about my article. You seem to be missing the point. I picked on the Bedroom Tax because I think it is most cruel and unfair of the Conservative Government’s cuts. But my broader theme is Labour’s contribution to Scottish politics must be as a voice for socialist and progressive politics. Furthermore, as the SNP have shown, an election victory can confer a mandate to take on the UK Government on any issue. The fundamental principle that underlies this is a belief that sovereignty lies with the people, not with any individual Parliament. That’s something we should all be able to agree on.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          I can’t quite work out whether you are blatantly dishonest or woefully deluded when you talk about the “fundamental principle” of popular sovereignty. Is it possible that you can be unaware of the fact that a No vote represents a denial of the sovereignty of the people of Scotland and an affirmation of the totally incompatible concept of parliamentary sovereignty?

          I am, frankly, sickened by this kind of pompous, duplicitous cant from British Labour’s faithful retainers. If you have an honest argument for preserving the structures of power and privilege which define the British state then why do you resort to lies and deceit?

      4. BillfaeDenny says:

        “It feels wrong to abandon friends and family south of the border”.
        In the 1960s I had brothers and sisters who emigrated from Scotland to Canada, Australia and New Zealand to find a better life. They kept in touch and I doubt if they ever thought that their betterment was in any way “abandoning ” the family here in Scotland. I can certainly say that I was proud of them and never felt resentment that I had been “abandoned”. Similarly – why should a Yes vote creating an independent Scotland be construed as abandoning friends and family? Surely if said individuals, wherever they reside, were true friends and family would they not rejoice in a loved-one achieving their life goal?
        Andrew, I welcomed your Bella contribution as quite thought-provoking and detected a common vein there that seemed more socialist in nature than mainstream New Labour. However, your sentence about abandoning friends and family down south is something we in Scotland are more familiar with as originating from Project Fear. Perhaps you could provide clarification in case I have misinterpreted your intention.
        As someone who faithfully voted Labour for over 30 years until the betrayal of socialist principles by New Labour I echo the the thread linking many of your respondents, i.e. the Labour way has been tried and found wanting. I no longer recognise the party I gave support to and feel betrayed. With the New Labour train diverted into a neo-liberal siding disillusioned socialists like me have detrained and opted for an alternative means transport to secure our destination.

      5. Peter A Bell says:

        Another argument based on what benefits British Labour rather than what is best for the people of Scotland. We derive little or no benefit from having 59 MPs at Westminster.

        And why only “most of the decisions”? Why not all of them? Only the people of Scotland have the right to decide what powers their parliament should have and what powers should be vested elsewhere. If you are confident that there is a case for leaving some powers with British politicians at Westminster then make that case to the people of Scotland when they have the power to decide for themselves whether to accept your generous offer. Make your argument for the union after independence. See what kind of reception it gets.

        I’ll vote Yes because I see no reason to remain in a union I wouldn’t for one second consider joining.

      6. BillfaeDenny – Let me try and clarify what I meant by that comment. In broad terms, I think that Scotland acts as a positive influence on the whole of the UK. I am not just talking about the Labour Party here. Although it didn’t ultimately make a difference, Charles Kennedy and Alex Salmond, along with George Galloway and Robin Cook, were among the most prominent opponents of the Iraq war. I worry that England, left to its own devices, would become more right-wing and less progressive. The standard response from supporters of independence is that it is up to England to work out its own future, but I am not really comfortable with this answer. Partly because I have a sense of kinship with people in many English cities. And partly because I don’t think it is in Scotland’s interests either. For example, an ‘independent England’ might be more likely to vote to leave the EU, which could have consequences for Scottish jobs and trade whether we were independent or not.

      7. Looby Dopp says:

        What’s the point of 59 benchwarmers in Westminster? What business do they have shoving their nose into English affairs?

  23. Angry Weegie says:

    Scottish Labour are an irrelevance. They have no influence at all on UK Labour policy. Just look what happened when JL suggested devolving taxation matters to the Scottish Parliament. It took minutes rather than hours for this to be shot down by a UK Labour spokesman. In addition, any party going into the next UK election with a manifesto which includes devo-max for Scotland, would get destroyed in the polls.

    For umpteen reasons, it’s not going to happen, and no amount of promising by SLab in advance of the referendum will make any difference in UK Labour’s manifesto.

    Even the slogan “vote no, get nothing”, has been overtaken by recent events. Vote no, get fu**ed is closer to the truth.

  24. gordoz says:

    Clearly Andrew did not like to respond to my question on LABOUR FOR INDEPENDENCE.

    Hope you all noticed that !

    1. Gordoz – I have a deep respect for people in the Labour Party, like Mary Lockhart, who have concluded that independence is the best way to deliver progressive policies in Scotland. There are others who are less well known that have reached the same conclusion. I hope they stay in the Labour Party and continue to argue their corner. I am however pretty sceptical about ‘Labour for Independence’ as an organisation – largely because I don’t know anybody in it who has a genuine record of Labour activism and is still a member (If I am wrong, please correct me).

      1. gordoz says:

        Fair enough Andrew : Presume their all still members ?

        ■Bob Thomson- Scottish Labour Party Chairman (1990-1991) & Treasurer (1993-99)

        ■Sir Charles Gray- Leader of Strathclyde Regional Council (1986-1992)

        ■Alex Mosson- Lord Provost of Glasgow (1999- 2003)

        ■Jeane Freeman- Special Advisor to First Minister Jack McConnell (2001-2005)

        Alex Bell

  25. velofello says:

    “Johann Lamont could steal the initiative by publishing her own proposals and…control over most taxes and benefits…and give Labour something positive to campaign on”.

    That doesn’t read like conviction politics to me, more like “I have policies, if you don’t like them, I have others” ref Groucho Marx.

  26. Peter A Bell says:

    What is the word most associated with British Labour? Betrayal! Always we are asked to trust them just one more time. At long last there are signs that the people of Scotland are sufficiently fed up with it that they will not be taken in again.

    1. Peter – we are getting away from the point now and I want to keep this as constructive as possible. So let me give you the three words that are most associated with Labour and then you can go and splutter into your tea: National Health Service.

      1. Peter A Bell says:

        That would be the National Health Service which is and always has been, to use the term favoured by British nationalists, “separate”.

        British Labour tries to cloak itself in the past achievements of a progressive movement whose guiding principles it long since abandoned.

        If I am “spluttering in my tea” it is because I retain the capacity to be roused to anger by the same things that provoked those early heroes of the Labour movement. Not the least of which is the kind of lies and deceit that you have been spouting here on behalf of narrow partisan interests.

        You will have something meaningful to say when you stop thinking entirely in terms of what is good for the British Labour Party and start giving some thought to what is best for the people that party is supposed to represent.

  27. velofello says:

    Your a bit out of date Andrew McFadyen. Could be a generation thing? Your three words (NHS) refer an undoubtably successful policy initiated some 60 + years ago by Labour. More recent words associated with Labour consist of two words – Iraq War, Bank Collapse, Bedroom Tax. And within the Scottish Parliament four words – something for nothing society.

  28. BillfaeDenny says:

    Thanks for the clarification Andrew. I now fully understand the point you were making but I doubt if anyone could ever sell the idea of Scotland being better off in the Union to disillusioned ex-Labour voters like me.
    I see England at present becoming more right-wing by the hour witnessing the rise of UKIP, virtual privatisation of the NHS, with attacks on immigrants and the poor by politicians and the media. In General Elections the English electorate outnumber Scots voters by 12 to 1 so we in Scotland seldom have our political aspirations realised, in effect we get the government that England votes for. London is a nation state in all but name. This democratic deficit is the main reason why I have given up on this Union.
    One question which came to mind when reading your reply to me was this – Do you think the people of Scotland would be better served as part of a Union which voted to leave the EU, or better served as an independent country with a rUK neighbour who had voted to leave the EU?
    I suppose this is yet another consideration to be pondered by the “don’t knows”. I would be interested to have your view.

    1. DougfaeDenny – That’s a difficult question to answer, but I think the UK would be more likely to leave the EU if Scotland leaves the UK. I do concede that the rise of UKIP, and the response of the Tories who fear being outflanked on the right on issues like immigration, is really troubling for anyone who wants to make a case for the Union based on social solidarity.

      1. Peter A Bell says:

        What is the argument for “social solidarity”, British Labour-style? It is the argument that if we can’t improve the lot of everybody everywhere then we should do nothing to improve the lot of anybody anywhere. But the argument is inherently defeatist because it also holds that the struggle for social justice cannot operate across national borders. It isn’t a plan for delivering social justice. It is an excuse for inaction and failure.

  29. Clydebuilt says:

    Andrew

    So you think it would be worth it for Scotland to remain in the UK with the hope that would keep the UK in the EU. So we’ve to fund Trident renewal remain tied to the warmongering Westminister Government and frequently have Scotland governed by parties catering for the South of England. Geeze that’s a hell uva price to pay to keep the UK in the EU.

    It’s more likely that you want Scotland to remain in the Union to keep the Labour party alive, and to hell with what price the Scottish people have to pay, that’s been Labour’s policy as long as I can remember!

    1. For the record, I am absolutely opposed to Trident. Nuclear weapons have no place in a civilised society – whether that is an independent Scotland (which according to Alex Salmond would be a member of NATO) or the UK. I will happily campaign alongside anyone to get rid of them, but I fear voting for independence will not achieve that in and of itself.

      1. Peter A Bell says:

        British Labour’s devoted acolytes are seldom more sickeningly hypocritical and dishonest than when they are talking about the British states cherished weapons of mass destruction. They invariably claim to be “absolutely opposed to Trident”, but they will do absolutely nothing to rid us of this obscenity. Instead they revert to their main obsession. The only thing they really know. Attacking the SNP with smears and lies.

        You take us all for fools when you try to imply that there is more chance of getting rid of Trident if we remain in the UK than if we restore our rightful constitutional status. You surely know full well that the Scottish Government’s commitment to continuing membership of Nato is strictly and unequivocally conditional on all WMD being removed for Scotland. To insinuate that there is any doubt about independence leading to the removal of Trident is plainly dishonest.

      2. Peter – the SNP have created that doubt by signing up to be members of a nuclear alliance. Alex Salmond has also said that Trident won’t be part of the negotiations on independence and will be an issue for the first post-independence election. That means he won’t do any more than talk about it until at least 2020. If I was in the SNP I would be raging about that.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          What is it about the concept of an unequivocal condition that is confusing you? Could your inability to comprehend be something to do with the fact that you are more accustomed to rationalising the self-serving political expediency of British Labour?

          If you were member of the SNP you might just be slightly better qualified to speak for them. As a British Labour apologist you have no credibility in that regard whatsoever. A situation that you might go some small way to rectifying were you to provide some evidence for the claim that the SNP proposes delaying taking any action on removal of Trident until “at least 2020”.

          Any attempt to establish credibility will inevitably be hampered by the fact that you condemn the SNP plan to rid Scotland of Trident on trumped up grounds while commending British Labour who have no plans whatever for removing Trident. It seems that your commitment to a WMD-free Scotland plays second fiddle at best to your party loyalty.

          I note, however, that you conceded the 2016 election to the SNP. That, at least, is realistic.

      3. I referred to 2020 because in the event of a Yes vote in the referendum that would presumably be the first election to take place after the negotiations had concluded.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          In another blow to your credibility you appear to have forgotten that there will be an election in 2016. And that a five-year term means that the subsequent Holyrood election will be in 2021, not 2020.

      4. Will everything be settled by 2016? Possible I suppose, but optimistic. And why a five year term? The normal period between elections is four years.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          I can’t believe that you are commenting in the guise of someone who knows what they are talking about when you aren’t even aware that both the Scottish and UK parliaments have fixed terms of FIVE years.

          Your ignorance of the schedule of events following a Yes vote is every bit as striking. The intention is that independence negotiations will be completed in time for independence on 24 March 2016 with the first elections to the parliament of independent Scotland in May of that year.

          Alex Salmond was doing no more than stating the obvious when he said that final arrangements for removing Trident would have to be negotiated between the Scottish Government elected in May 2016 and the government of rUK and that this would be conditional on the election in Scotland of a government in Scotland that is committed to the removal of this obscenity. So not Labour.

          Having said this, the independence negotiations would be conducted in full knowledge of the fact that a demand for the removal of Trident was all but certain. While Salmond is strictly correct to say that finalisation of arrangements would be a matter for the elected governments of the two nations following independence, it is unthinkable that the matter would not arise during the 18 months of independence negotiations.

          Salmond is also perfectly right to allow that the SNP may not form the first government of independent Scotland. The point he was making is that, if the remnants of British Labour in Scotland take power (nightmare scenario!), then we cannot be sure that they will not betray Scotland by making a deal with the British state to continue hosting their stockpiles of WMD.

          The reality, of course, is much more likely to be as you have already conceded an SNP government continuing in power for the first term of the independent Scottish Parliament. Bearing in mind that much or the preliminaries will have been dealt with in the course of the independence negotiations then the only acceptable reason for any delay in removing Trident would be genuine considerations of safety. CND Scotland has estimated that a maximum of two years would be required between the decision being taken and completion of Trident’s removal. That takes us to 2018.

          Even allowing for reasonable “slippage”, this means that Trident will be gone considerably before 2010 rather than that being the date when talks would start, as you stated.

          Tell us, if you will, what is British Labour’s target date for getting rid of Trident?

      5. Peter – You had better do some fact-checking of your own. The Scotland Act 1998 laid down a four year fixed term for the Scottish Parliament. The election planned for 2015 was delayed by a year to avoid a clash with the upcoming Westminster election. But this was on a one-off basis. There has been no subsequent agreement to move to five-year fixed terms in Scotland.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          You are correct about the Scottish Parliamentary terms. I misremembered that the change to five-year terms had been made permanent to avoid future clashes.

          It hardly matters, however. Your claims about removal of Trident not even being discussed until “at least 2020” are still nonsense.

  30. wanvote says:

    Andrew, You didn’t make it clear how Scotland being independent will “affect your sense of kinship with people in many English cities”. Does this mean you have no sense of kinship with people in other countries? I genuinely don’t get your point here.

    1. Wanvote – if you read the whole paragraph I thought it was reasonably clear. I worry that without Scotland, politics in England will shift further to the right. Do I have a sense of kinship with people in other countries? Of course I do. And that’s one of the reasons why I referred to Syria earlier. Without 59 Scottish MPs at Westminster David Cameron would have won the vote in the House of Commons to bomb Damascus.

      1. Peter A Bell says:

        Politics in England will go where the voters take it. It is no more right for us to impose on the rest of the UK a form of government that they don’t want than it is for Scotland to by governed by parties we rejected at the polls because that is what voters in England want.

        Or could it be that you are admitting that the political system in the British state is so fatally flawed that none of us can expect to get the government we vote for? In which case, why would we want to remain part of such a state?

      2. Clydebuilt says:

        reTrident “signing up to be members of a nuclear alliance”, has only created doubt amongst Unionists. The VAST majority of NATO members do not have nuclear weapons. CND are signed up to Independence, seeing it as the only hope of getting rid of nukes. I’ll be taking their advice on this.

      3. wanvote says:

        Andrew
        As you point out despite 100% opposition by the 59 Scottish MPs, the majority against Cameron was tiny. That fact ought to be the main focus of concern for the Labour Party (indeed all the WM parties) instead of which they stand shoulder to shoulder with the same Conservatives that brought us to the brink of a humanitarian disaster. The toxic better together no campaign reveals the horrible and bitter truth about the UK Labour Party and its *values*. Can you really blame people in Scotland for choosing something better than Westminster.

        Oh, and I’m so glad you agree that we can continue to share feelings of kinship with people in other countries, including people in England.

  31. Douglas says:

    Andrew, the notion that Scottish independence is somehow at odds with social justice and solidarity is a falsehood.

    Remember that the most famous anthem of social justice and solidarity was, and still is, the INTER-NATIONAL, which says it all really.

  32. Clydebuilt says:

    BellaCaledonia, yes this is a usefull exercise. It allows Labours arguments to be adressed publically. Andrew Mcfadyen keeps coming back for more. Aye he’s stuborn and blinkered, but it’ takes something out of the ordinary to keep an apparently intelligent individual tied to todays Labour party.

  33. Andrew has been making the case for what policies and commitments the Labour Party could adopt to prevent undecided members and supporters from concluding, as I have, that the principles which attracted us to the Labour Party in the first place would be best served by breaking up the UK. I think he correctly identifies what some of these are. I don’t think he suggests that it is likely that the Labour Party will adopt them – although I notice that some of them at least have been suggested by Gordon Brown, and met with a quick rebuttal from the MP for his neighbouring constituency, Thomas Docherty. However, since I think it likelier that Mr Brown, rather than Mr Docherty ,will play a prominent part in the later stages of Labour’s contribution to the referendum debate, I think Andrew’s article should be welcomed as offering some insight into the arguments which might be successfully advanced to Labour Members and supporter. And insults to the intelligence and character of Labour Members are unlikely to persuade them of the case for Independence.

    1. Peter A Bell says:

      If you are suggesting that we should avoid mentioning the distortions and downright dishonesty that pervade Andrew’s posts then I say without the slightest regret or apology that I am not inclined to oblige either you or him.

      We can’t afford to walk on eggshells while our opponents trample the truth in hob-nailed boots.

      1. C’mon Peter. I can tell I’ve almost converted you.

        1. Peter A Bell says:

          Having read your efforts to defend British Labour in Scotland and sell the notion of a No vote being a vote for “more powers”, I have no reason to doubt your capacity for self-delusion.

  34. Hi Andrew
    thanks for your contribution. I think it is fantastic that you took the time and have shown great patience humour and politeness in replying to posters. I was slightly involved in politics in Glasgow in the early 1990s and came accross Labour and SNP people slagging each other off at the Scotland demands Democracy demo planning meeting, it put me off politics. Then in mid 90s i Ieft the UK for lack of job opportunities and travelled and worked until during a visit in Spring 2011 i was back in Scotland visiting some very Labour people who told me that Labour was certain to win, and how great Ian Gray was etc. I was so astonished at the result. Maybe more astonishing was how far to the right Labour had gone, Not just the leadership but also the Labour people, three things i remember discussing were, their support for the war on terror, their support for cutting benefits to people with large families, and their support for trident. It was confusing i couldnt work out what had happened. How could they have become so right wing and how could they still insist that nationalists are more right wing than they are, that Labour are the only true socialists. Despite a lot of discussion I have never been able to work out what they mean. Good luck with trying to re align Labour, I dont feel that it is do-able, as I said above from what I have seen of Labour people they are not actually very Socialist so I doubt trying to push a Socialist agenda will work. Of the two Labour people at that Scotland demands democracy demo meeting one is now in the Shadow cabinet, voted for Iraq and is for replacement of Trident, and the other is in the Lords.

    Maybe something missing from your recommendations for Lamont is a radical review of regional and local democracy. I live in Switzerland now and one thing that is really different is how much power is at Cantun and Gemeinde levels of government. Cantuns have the power to set taxes, I suspect that business rates of tax are lower than in UK, although clearly people earn more and personal taxes are high. I think mine are anyhows, and most of it is paid at the Cantun (regional) level and the Gemeinde (municipality) level, with a smaller percentage directly to the Federal (Bern) government. I dont mind paying high taxes, there is no expenditure on foreign war or nuclear missiles, services are fantastic in comparison to the UK, and the overseas aid program is well organised and funded.

    1. Thanks Stuart. Much appreciated. I think you make a really good point about local democracy. Whatever the outcome of the independence referendum there should be further devolution from both London and Edinburgh to local authorities. From a personal perspective, I would also like to see a debate about how power can flow down from councils to communities, particularly with regard to issues like the future of local schools. Even small local authorities can sometimes appear remote and out of touch to the people on whom their decisions impact.

      1. Peter A Bell says:

        British Labour’s enthusiasm for devolution is directly proportional to the electoral success of the SNP. The current talk of “localism” is prompted solely by the perceived opportunity to drive a wedge between the Scottish people and their parliament.

        The whole story of British Labour’s belated and grudging support for devolution has been a catalogue of ulterior motives.

      2. No. My enthusiasm for localism, and desire to see decisions taken closer to the communities that affect them, is prompted by the fact that I have spent a huge amount of my time over the past year helping parents fight to save a local school from closure.

      3. Clydebuilt says:

        Quote Peter Bell
        “British Labour’s enthusiasm for devolution is directly proportional to the electoral success of the SNP. The current talk of “localism” is prompted solely by the perceived opportunity to drive a wedge between the Scottish people and their parliament.”

        The Unionist parties realise they will have no success in Holyrood for some time. That’s why Labour and the Tories are in coalition in so many councils. Yeah your spot on Peter. Meanwhile we can’t expect Andrew to admit just where Labour are in Scotland on so many issues. So I suppose we’ve got to encourage Andrew to engage with what’s really going on. It would be cheeky to say “reality”.

      4. Hi Andrew, roughly Cantuns would correspond to the size of a Scottish region, but there is another level of government below that called the Gemeinde, the Gemeinde where I live has ca. 11,000 people living in it. The Gemeinde raises taxes and spends on social services, education, roads etc. Some proposals are decided by popular vote. I think generally the idea to raise money locally to spend locally at Cantun and Gemeinde level is a far more transparent system than sending most of taxes to London (or Holyrood) and then it being decided remotely how much goes back to each area. I travel and work a lot around the world and find the best places to live tend to be the most decentralised, and by far the worse are heavily centralised countries. It would be great if Labour could bring some proposals forward about decentralisation, maybe that would push the SNP to do the same, although I am not aware of any advance from Labour on plans for decentralisation since Johann Lamont said something vague in an interview a whiley back. Or maybe for once SNP and Labour can work together on this, ideas to decentralise and reform that would be put into place no matter the referendum result. I think decentralisation and local empowerment can also be an aid to constitutional change, I was listening to Michael Greenwell’s Scottish Independence Podcast 43 with Lesley Riddoch – I think she gets it right, if you had people more empowered at local level and used to being involved in the political process and making their own decisions then they might be more receptive and confident in changing the status of the country at national level.

  35. gordoz says:

    Deafening Silence from Andrew !

    1. Not quite yet! Let me chuck a stone at your glass house. Have you written to the SNP in Dumfries & Galloway and East Ayrshire and asked them why they chose to form a coalition with the Tories?

      1. gordoz says:

        I thought this was about the lingering death that is British Labour in Scotland ??
        What about the SNP ? I never mentioned the SNP – it wasn’t me genuinely?

        I was talking about members of Labour for Independence who we or are Labour activists ?

        Im not a member of the SNP Andrew but I am convinced the way forward from Scotland is appart from the sinking UK. Im a socialist at heart and sadly UK Labour is not the answer anymore reasons informs that. The only chance for change is via Independence. Its a real shame at this stage you cant see that yourself. UK Labour will let you down as it has for so many now. Thre is no Scottish party appart from those such as Allan Grogan and Alex Bell trying to reform from within. They have realised this is the only way forward in Scotland.

      2. Gordoz – Apologies if I misrepresented you. It’s just possible I’m getting a little defensive. Something I would be interested to know about Labour for Independence is just how much effort they have genuinely put into winning over Labour members. For example, when Scottish Labour Action was formed in the 1980s they quickly won seats on the Scottish Executive Committee. Did Allan Grogan stand? Have they tried to get a motion debated at Conference?

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