Scottish Labour for Radical Democracy

In December 2019, following Labour’s nationwide defeat, almost 200 signatories signed an open letter calling for Scottish Labour to recognise the people of Scotland’s democratic right for their voice to be heard in a second independence referendum. Labour members from across Scotland formed Scottish Labour for Radical Democracy to campaign for the Scottish Parliament’s right to hold a second referendum. Here’s a statement they released in response to recent positions of Labour and Scottish Labour. Their role may become interesting over the coming year. 

“Unlike the leadership of Scottish Labour, we recognise that there is still a clear appetite amongst the Scottish people for a second independence referendum, registered in consistent opinion polls and election results. With a radicalised Conservative majority at Westminster aiming at a hard Brexit while refusing further devolution to Scotland, we also respect and sympathise with that demand. We believe that our position reflects that of the mainstream of the Scottish labour movement, which is being ignored and let down by its parliamentary representatives.

But Scottish Labour’s leadership aren’t the only ones frightened of democracy. While the SNP claim to speak for the people, they have centralised power at Holyrood and repeatedly sided with landlords and multinational corporations against the demands of trade unions, tenants unions and local authorities. They have often done this against the wishes of the SNP’s many left-wing members, while arguing that real change is only possible with independence. Yet as it stands, the SNP’s vision for independence swaps dependency on Westminster for dependency on foreign investors and NATO, promising self-determination in name only.

The Scottish people are trapped between two political systems: a British system dominated by rentiers, bankers and a right-wing media which barely acknowledges Scotland’s existence beyond the SNP; and a devolved Scottish system defined by self-congratulation and complacency, where radical initiatives are stifled by the need to react to whatever Britain’s dysfunctional government and economy does next. These systems are at odds with each other, but at the same time they reinforce each other, keeping Scotland stuck in two minds, neither of which has any good ideas.

The limited constitutional reforms made after the last independence referendum have clearly failed to resolve this, and we have no faith in the even more limited constitutional reforms Scottish Labour now proposes. The sabotage of Jeremy Corbyn by the British media and political classes has demonstrated just how inhospitable the British system is for the politics of basic human decency. The popular demand for a new independence referendum reflects a deep frustration with this situation. It also provides the best democratic means of seriously discussing and deciding on a way out of it, whether it be through a radical constitutional transformation or Scottish independence.

By setting themselves against a new referendum, Scottish Labour’s leadership are forfeiting any right to be listened to by those voters who once placed their hopes for social change in the Labour Party, and now place their hopes in independence and the SNP. By refusing to allow a nationwide, democratic debate on Scotland’s future, Scottish Labour’s leadership are depriving the labour movement of a voice in the narrow, elite-level debate that does exist.

We know that many Scottish Labour members do not share the tribalism and fear of debate that now characterises party strategy. We also want to move Scottish politics beyond the dull speculation over the timing and possibility of an independence referendum, without denying the popular aspiration for a different kind of state. And we know that we are not the only party where members are frustrated with the timidity of their leaders and the failures of the Scottish Parliament. We will be organising a public meeting in the next fortnight to bring together grassroots socialist activists and trade unionists from a range of Scottish parties to discuss the prospects for radical co-operation across party lines as a new Holyrood election approaches.”

Comments (17)

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  1. aayawa says:

    We need independence to be able to get a different kind of state.

    After Independence, at most in the second term after independence day the SNP will have to change or it will vanish.

    Labour decided to sell out and become Tory-Lite or almost-lite. They are paying the price for that and for opposing independence.

  2. Andy Anderson says:

    As a life long socialist and trade unionist I am determined to fight for Scottish independence, but political independence, without economic independence will not be sufficient to make the radical changes required in our country. The fundamental changes we require mean that, as an independent country, Scotland must get out of sterling and have its own independent full-reserve currency if it intends to address the peoples needs. Those who wish to see such a socialist country need to meet and discuss these fundamental issues.
    I have written extensively on this subject and would be happy to discuss them with other socialists, whatever there political associations. If you would wish to join in such discussions my e-mail address in [email protected]

  3. Robert Logan says:

    I will never trust Labour ever again.

    Former member.

    I have watched them lie, work with Tories, and carry on doing this for decades.

    Utterly useless.

  4. Ian McCubbin says:

    So how and where can you safely hold such a forum in lockdown

  5. Susan Macdiarmid says:

    No point in discussing what to do with something when you don’t have control over it. It’s a bit like tutt tutting when the neighbours monobloc their front lawn. If you want to put the grass back you need to buy the house. So let’s all pool our resources so we can get control. After we get our country back we can decide about planting a shrubbery or building an extension!

    1. aayawa says:

      Form a party: Real Labour for Independence – may need to worry about “labour” claiming trademark protection.

      Commit to independence in manifesto.

      Without independence nothing.

      1. John Kelly says:

        What about a mass and very public exit from Labour and joining the Greens?
        The Greens are left of the SNP.
        Their voice and vote would be significantly strengthened by such a move.
        There a very considerable risks associated with creating a new political party.

  6. Doug Hepburn says:

    There is no such thing as “Scottish Labour” as an independent entity, it remains as it always has been and always will be a branch office run from London. They have been devastated at the polls for failing Scotland at every turn. They took the Scottish electorate for granted for decades, they got the we votes we got nothing in return. They still support the unequal “Union” where Scotland (along with Wales and Ulster) are dominated by England. Our resources are drained to pay for Westminsters follies, they allowed this when the were in office. Blair stole part of territorial waters and gave it to England. This supposed Socialist Party has been over run by right wingers. As the Tories have moved further to the right Labour have followed, like the lap dags they have become. Labour are dead in Scotland.

    If there are any actual Socialists left with-in BLIS, the only way to make any difference is to leave. Form your own party, with actually polices that work for Scotland not against it. Abandon any notion that the union can go on. Consign the list of failed leaders, seat warmers, self serving careerists, right wingers and other assorted chancers to the dustbin of history where they belong. There is bright future waiting for us take the steps, stop begging for crumbs from Westminster.

    1. John Kelly says:

      Labour being unburied dead lap dogs, the only option is to stuff them.

  7. SleepingDog says:

    So, casting aside timidity and planting the flag of anti-elitism, should we expect a republican view from radical Labour?

  8. Richard Easson says:

    You plan to bring together a range of Scottish Parties, sorry but there are only two Scottish Parties registered as such with the Electoral Commission and Scottish Labour Party is not one of them. If there was Independence tomorrow, Conservative, Liberal and Labour would have to be excluded as foreign parties and presumably the SNP would have served its purpose (like UKIP) so we would be starting from scratch in so many ways.

  9. John Kelly says:

    Is the SNP drift to the right perhaps part of global process of state capture?
    We should be ending private funding of politics.
    As we should end private ownership and control of the media.
    The media should become an independent organ of state.

    Maybe, as Alex Salmond suggested, the SNP should disband ‘soon’ after independence.

  10. Jell says:

    I’m 75 on Thursday and well experienced in the fight for economic and political democracy. I recognise the difficulties of a ‘Broad Left’ but this attempt is a worthy cause given the direction we are being driven. The Greens general programne on, energy, land and tax is a valid start. In Finland the Broad Left helped the SD’s form an elected goverment in April after the ‘Centre’ party had fallen. Here, it would be wise for a ‘Broad Left’ to meet to formulate a ready made programme for government from the Finnish Government:

    This will show up the meekness of the economic and political strategy intentions of the SNP Cabinet.
    The SNP, in the words of Mary Lou MacDonald, show “By Christ they know how to hold on to power and they won’t let go”. They are happy to stay in a relationship with the British State as long as they are in power in their ‘own kingdom’.

    There are 7 votes in our house even though 4 live away. None are voting SNP but are looking for a more independant socialist government. How many more families and friends?

  11. Kindra says:

    Awesome info, answered all my questions.

  12. Angelina Pflueger says:

    There’s certainly a great deal to learn about this subject.

    1. Jell says:

      And the latest SQA/SNP hard-wired education inequality process is further evidence of the need for the mobilisation for a Broad Left.

      1. Axel P Kulit says:

        As far as I know the SQA and SNP are separate bodies and SQA is independent of Scotgov.

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