Bella Chats – Neil Findlay

Neil Findlay was an MSP in the Scottish Parliament for 10 years until he decided not to stand again in this year’s election. A former local Councillor, teacher, housing officer and bricklayer, he is now an author. His third book IF YOU DON’T RUN, THEY CAN’T CATCH YOU: STORIES FROM THE FRONTLINE IN THE FIGHT FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE is out this month from

Jim Monaghan caught up with him this week to chat about his time in parliament, his books, devolution, Scottish Labour and more.

Comments (10)

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  1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    Is this the same Neil Finlay who had regular pieces in the Morning Star telling its readership that ‘Scotland is crap’?

    1. Iain MacLean says:

      Same guy, along with the rest of labour that is still in denial over the illegal war on Iraq that lit the touch paper for continued and prolonged war in the Middle East!

      Same guy whose party betrayed women workers working for the council in Glasgow, not one word of thanks to the SNP administration that did right by the women!

      Same guy that prefers tory rule over Scotland than a party of the people’s choosing in an independent Scotland!

      Some guy eh?

  2. Willie Lawrie says:

    and is this the same guy whose party supports Trident being based in Scottish waters and also that Scotland should help pay for expensive English projects like HS2 and London Crossrail etc.

    1. Dougie says:

      amazing review, witty inciteful, clearly a deep thinker….nah none of the above – u clearly don’t know Neil

  3. seonaidh says:

    Who next? James Kelly? George Galloway?

  4. Wullie says:

    Scottish Labour sez it all really!

  5. This is the first of a series of articles from across the political spectrum. It’s good (it’s actually vital) to hear from people beyond your immediate political outlook. It was good to hear from Neil, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the series.

    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      Having now had the time to listen to this completely and without interruption, there was much in it with which I agreed and which struck chords with me.

      Having worked in local government and public service for 39 years, I know how important that such services are for the lives, not just of people whose lives are precarious – even when working – but also for the entire community, including the very affluent. So, what he had to say resonated. Undoubtedly, local authorities need re-empowered and they, too, must also devolve power and finance to smaller communities within the authority area.

      I agreed, too, with his view that people need to hold their own parties and governments to account and to challenge them and, he makes a good point about the selection processes and power of the whips.

      He was pretty honest about the failures of his own party and while he decried ‘tribalism’, he admitted to being ‘tribal’ and, while he indicated that he had had meetings with people of similar philosophy in the SNP and Greens, I got the impression that it was only insofar as they agreed with what his vision of society was.

      I hope his project of getting a place for smaller local groups and trade unions in the lobbying of Holyrood is successful.

      However, his view on Barnett and the redistribution of wealth within the UK is an acceptance of subservience and, implicitly, that Scotland is ‘no very good’.

      Thanks for this, and I hope that subsequent pieces are successful, too.

      1. Thanks Alasdair. Yes the point of the interviews isn’t to endorse the interviewees views – it’s to open us all to different perspectives. If we remain closed we remain closed. Hopefully when people see the full series this will become more apparent.

        1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

          On several occasions Mr Monaghan gave Mr Finlay the opportunity to reconsider – as he, personally, has done – his attitude towards independence, but, after a few statements deploring Labour’s strategy relating to 2014/Better Together, he would chang tack.

          Despite his clear commitment to local government and community issues, I still think his mindset is in the old Labour/British benign dirigiste state.

          ‘Britain’ has changed since the days of the Attlee Government and the state has been shaped towards the ends of the land and property owning and global hedge fund clique. He seems to believe, as Corbyn and McDonnell do, that a more benign enabling state, such as a return to the Attlee period (which really continued until c1978) is possible.

          What many of us former Labour voters decided from the time of Blair and Brown onward was that this was not going to happen because enough people in England did not want it to happen and so, we felt that seeking an independent Scotland is the way forward.

          Although Labour had set up the Scottish Parliament – and applause for that – it was for various, incoherent and not-always honourable reasons, and was specifically hobbled so as not to challenge Westminster. We also recognised that by having been in positions of power in Scotland for so long, many Labour Party Councillors and politicians and party people had become comfortable, complacent and, some, corrupt.

          It was classic ‘goal displacement’ . They were using the apparatus of government to foster their own ends and not for the wider good. Of course, many believed they were doing ‘the right thing’, because they believed that only Labour could deliver change and so preservation of the Labour Party and its cliques became the main focus.

          Labour, of course, is not unique in this. All organisations public and private, third sector and religious, working people’s clubs, bridge clubs, tennis clubs, golf clubs, etc are susceptible to it.

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