Thursday, 1 August 2013
Back To The Future
The current leadership of the Labour Party in Scotland (Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Joanne Lamont) opposes Scottish Independence. They are against universal benefits (Ed Miliband And Ed Balls Under Fire From Labour Left Over Cuts To Universal Benefits - Scottish Labour Plans To End Free Universal Benefits), support overseas military interventions (Ed Milibands Newfound Opposition To The Iraq War What His Voting Record Shows - Iraq War Wasn't About WMD Claims Lamont) and they want to work with the Conservatives and Liberals and nearly anyone else to resist Scottish Independence (Cameron and Miliband unite to oppose Scots independence - Labour's Lamont says Taylor donation was appropriate).
It is one or the other I'm afraid...
But this wasn’t always the case with Labour. When the party was founded at the turn of the twentieth century its purpose was to represent the interests of working people. Keir Hardie, their first MP, wanted to abolish hereditary power in the House of Lords (which, despite successive Labour Governments, still continues to this day), free education (which Tony Blair removed for University students in England and Wales, with Barnett Consequences for Scotland) and Home Rule for Scotland.
Ramsay MacDonald, Labour’s first Prime Minister, was the same. He was one of very few politicians who spent time on the Western Front during the Great War, but suffered discrimination for his pacifist views. A supporter of Scottish Home Rule, Mr MacDonald attempted to bring a degree of self-governance to other nations within the empire, including India (http://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/usbiography/mac/ramsaymacdonald.html).
When we consider the values and principles of these two people, as well as the Labour Party Manifesto of 1918, and compare them to the current leadership, it is difficult to find much in common. Peace abroad, universal support for the people at home and the right of self determination of nations have all appeared to have been lost amongst the desire to attract voters in the South East of England. Indeed, we don’t even need to go back as far as 1918 to see the difference.
Image is from http://www.politicalcompass.org/
Independence would give the Labour Party in Scotland a chance to return to its founding principles. Scotland can lead by example, and provide an inspiration to groups and movements around the world. Social justice, the rights of unions and a peaceful foreign policy are just a ‘Yes’ vote away, and the lurch to the right by those who have high jacked the party can be reversed. What appears radical today, can become reality tomorrow.
There is an appetite for restoration. ‘Labour for Independence’ wants fairness, equality and justice at the heart of Labour policies. They want a living wage to replace the minimum version, with the aim of lifting thousands out of poverty. They want our welfare system to be easy to understand, with means testing on disability allowances scrapped. And they want Trident, the largest concentration of nuclear weapons in Western Europe, to be removed from Scotland and to inspire other states to work towards disarmament (http://www.labourforindy.com/).
The Independent has noted that there’s ‘a hair’s-breadth between Labour and its Conservative and the Liberal Democrat opponents in several key areas’ since 'Red Ed' Miliband became leader. That just isn’t right. If we want a functioning democracy, if we want choice, if we want parties based on values and not valuations, then we need independence.
And it is the only way to bring the Scottish Labour Party back to the future.