Why wouldn’t Scottish Independence work for Labour and why aren’t Labour working for it?

Andrew Ben Mckay – Labour Party Member

Image © Worawit Suphamungmee

Scottish independence is a popular position on the left. When the SNP won a majority in the Scottish Parliament in May, this idea was reinforced.

I watched with little surprise as my party took a beating in May after months of failing to connect with voters up and down Scotland.

The SNP came across as a party who are genuinely working in Scotland’s interests and have become the new party of the working class. Categorising Labour, Tories and the Lib Dems as “London parties” proved to be an inspired political strategy.

The 2010 General election has surely had an affect as well. In 2010, Scotland returned 1 Conservative MP to Westminster – so the question must be asked, what mandate does David Cameron have to govern a country that overwhelmingly voted against him.

I will find it very difficult to vote against independence when the time comes. The thought of, in my lifetime, never having to live under a Tory government again is an appealing one.

A friend of mine once pointed out – when discussing Labour – that the problem with “British” parties is that, for the sake of England, they always have to appease to the right.

There is an overwhelmingly progressive majority in Scotland – the same cannot be said for England. And, while republicans like George Galloway may support a British republic, this is not a realistic goal. We have seen already that Europe, immigration, and public spending are issues that the Scots and the English disagree on.

Today, Jim Murphy has just reiterated my fear that Labour is not on the side of the Left. Calling some of us on the Left’s opposition to cuts “shallow and temporary” populism.

Labour should be asking why the poor and the working class are always left to pick up the pieces. The wrong people are paying the price for the mistakes of a very few and, by coming out with such right wing mantra, Murphy has just made independence more likely. The more Labour agree with the Westminster coalition, the more Scottish opinion will turn against them.

I will be at the Labour Party Conference in Dundee in March and I hope that someone raises the question of why we (Labour) remain on the side of bankers and Tories.

Scottish independence is something that Labour shouldn’t fear and the Scottish people losing incapacity benefits and being forced into work may thank us, if we are on the side of the progressive majority.

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11 Responses to Why wouldn’t Scottish Independence work for Labour and why aren’t Labour working for it?

  1. Unquestionably believe that that you said. Your favourite justification appeared to be at the web the easiest factor to keep in mind of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed whilst people consider worries that they just don’t understand about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the top as neatly as defined out the entire thing with no need side-effects , people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  2. What good would a government be if the only Labour thing about it is its name?

    Right-wing appeasing policies are just as painful no matter who imposes them. I had thought that Labour would appease sorrowfully and with deep remorse, but when senior party members like Le Murphy have forgotten the point of a Labour Party, you have to wonder.

  3. Stevie says:

    Over the last 100 years, the Scottish MPs have enabled Labour to form governments (albeit it mostly cripplingly weak and ineffectual governments for a total period of a little bit over 7.5 years in the stops and starts of weak and broken governments. .

    Not a price worth the paying. . MYTH — Scottish Labour MPs are required to enable Labour to form Westminster governments : .

    FACT – they aren’t necessary except in the rarest of occasions but they have occasionally allowed either a weak, failed Labour minority government to form or have allowed Labour governments with wafer thin majorities to form (these governments failed quickly or as in one case – the notorious Jim Callaghan government – allowed a dismal, mess of a government to limp on for a while to its grim end).

    Although it is probably more relevant and more reasonable to only look at Labour’s electoral performance from 1945 onwards to the present day, the whole of the last 100 years of their electoral performance has been considered.

    With the last 100 years in mind, it’s clearly more profitable in a modern political sense to consider the Labour party’s electoral performance post-1945 when they attained their first majority Labour which created the NHS and the welfare system. . PRE-1945 . Minority governments:

    — in 1923 Labour, led by Ramsay MacDonald, and H. H. Asquith’s reunited Liberal Partygained enough to produce a hung parliament. Being in a minority it only lasted 10 months and another election was held in October 1924 (a Conservative landslide victory was the result).

    — In 1929 Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour, won the most seats in the Commons for the first time ever but failed to get a majority. The Liberals led by David Lloyd George regained some of the ground they had lost in the 1924 election, and held the balance of power. Being in a minority it lasted 10 months and another election was held in October 1924 (a Conservative landslide victory was the result). .

    POST-1945 . Slim majorities and minority governments:

    — in 1950 Labour, led by Clement Attlee, held a majority of 5 seats – this government lasted 1 year and 8 months beforea new election put a Conservative based coalition into power.

    — in FEBRUARY 1964 Labour, led by Harold Wilson, held a majority of 5 seats – this government lasted less than a year and a half before a new election put a Conservative party led by Heath into power.

    — in FEBRUARY 1974 Labour’s Harold Wilson, formed a minority government, some 17 seats short of an overall majority, this government lasted 6 months

    — In OCTOBER 1974, formed a majority government having a slim majority of 3seats. Wilson resigned 18 months later and Callaghan took over the PM job. Less than a year later, Labour’s parliamentary majority had gone and Callaghan entered into pacts with the Liberals, the nationalists and this government ended in a vote of NO confidence in 1979 – revenge from ultimately naive Scot nats because the troubled and confused Labour government broke its promise to deliverdevolution — it lasted less than two and a half years.

    And that’s it… to repeat the obvious, a little bit over 7.5 years in the stops and starts of weak and broken governments over the last one hundred years.

    It is more practical and realistic however to consider Labour post 1945, since that is the Labour party that first attained a majority government and is the present ‘Labour’ party’s real beginning. With this in mind, that gives a total of just under 6 years over the last 67 years.

    The relative merits and demerits of Labour governments (such as Blair/Brown) aside, the Scottish Labour MPs have in reality contributed nothing in Westminster that would not have happened without them there anyway. Those fractious governments they did actually help prop up achieved naught but political failure and uncertainty in the minority/slim majority governments with short lifespans.

    All the Westminster governments for the last 100 years have been studied and the election results are available here (or on wikipedia) for those who wish to check the facts.

    Not a price worth the paying for mostly right-wing governments. Not at all…

  4. Labour will never get power in the UK long enough to be progressive,so maybe the should come along and join the independence movement Oh wait they used to be in it they even had it to help them get established! maybe they should try some honesty,for a change.But labour only care for “The Party” never for the people.

  5. Dave Coull says:

    The assumption that, with an independent Scotland, people in England would face permanent Tory rule, is wrong. On the contrary, just think what an example an independent Scotland could set. IMMEDIATE freedom from the House of Lords, from day one. The stark contrast between a country free of the malign influence of Their Lordships, and a country in which the MAJORITY of Members of Parliament remained un-elected, would re-vitalise demand for real constitutional change in England. Scotland getting rid of nuclear weapons would set an example to campaigners in England. Scotland declining to get involved in wars in South America, Asia, Africa, or Eastern Europe would re-vitalise the anti-war cause in England. And the example of a Scotland pursuing progressive employment, health, and welfare policies would also lead to demand for change in England. The Tories would be very much on the defensive in England.

  6. francis says:

    The English voters you refer to are Labour Party supporters. We in North East England rejected a regional assembly. We want an English Parliament with the same powers as the Scottish Parliament.

  7. Laurence says:

    Vote Yes to Independence – Scandinavia Beckons

  8. Andrew Ben McKay says:

    Very good point. I have spoken to English voters (especially from the North) who would joke “can we come with you”, fearing that they may be left to a Tory government for a long long time.

  9. n venkatesh says:

    Well, Labour nationally draws strength from its Scottish votes – which it takes for granted. At the last general election, Scotland actually increased its votes for Labour. If Scotland became independent, it would be a progressive country, and a nice place to live, but the rest of the United Kingdom would see a Tory government returned for another ten years at least whilst Labour would have to make its message even more right-wing, because English votes would be even more important.
    So independence may be good for Scotland, and is the progressive choice, but Labour in England would be damaged, and Middle England would forever hold the balance of power.

  10. Andrew McMillan says:

    Andrew, you are right on the money. I’m a former Labour party voter who is well fed up with sending 40-50 Labour MPs to Westminster in 5 of the last 8 elections and still having a Tory-led government returned at the end of it.

    I have no doubt that Scotland would be a progressive left of centre country. The opportunity for a re-invigorated reborn Scottish Labour party to be at the forefront of that is huge. I cannot for the life of me understand why they choose to settle for a toss of the coin outcome at UK general elections, when they would most likely dominate and lead a post-independent Scotland. I’m an SNP voter but would return to Labour in that situation if they rose to the task. Why don’t they grasp the thistle ?


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