Independence Is The Only Saviour For Labour

The UK Labour party made a fatal mistake during the Independence Referendum.‭ ‬As a UK party with one set of policies,‭ ‬one ideology across every part of the UK,‭ ‬the Scottish branch of the Labour party had to fight on a platform that was good for the London based Westminster UK Labour party.

At this point it’s worth noting that Scotland is a very different country to England politically. In England, the Tories have a lot of support in enough constituencies to contest every General Election. They’re a contender for government in England. In Scotland, the Tories have around 10% of the electorate, mostly bunched around a few areas. They’re a minority party in Scotland.

This isn’t just about the Tories, it’s about right wing Tory ideology. In England, Labour have moved increasingly to the right to target soft Tory voters in marginals. UKIP have arrived from the far right to contest lots of seats. As a result, both the Tories and Labour have been drawn into a bidding war to combat UKIP. It’s about who can be even more heartless on the poor and vulnerable and who can be more aggressive on immigrants. This is appealing to enough voters in England that all parties chase it. In Scotland it’s a turn off.

Scotland won’t elect a right wing government. We elected Labour when enough of us still thought they were a centre left party, or maybe they were in enough ways at the time. As Labour shifted further to the right, the electorate wanted another centre left party to back. I don’t think you could count the SNP traditionally as centre left, but more of a centre party with some left wing policies around valued public services like the NHS. Any party seeking to win in Scotland has to be at least centre, or centre left. No right wing party stands a chance of winning the mainstream.

The UK Labour party have shown they’re just as keen on privatisation of public services as the Tories, just as keen on austerity as the Tories, and just as keen on Imperial warmongering as the Tories. It’s not about promises or pledges, it’s about how they’ve behaved. It’s about the debates they turn up for in Parliament and how they vote. None of this makes them electable in Scotland.

For a party who burned their reputation and support base in Scotland arguing against independence, independence is the only thing that will save Scottish Labour.

It is only a first step. After that, they can begin to listen to the public. They can examine why the SNP are popular, and devise their own “Scottish solutions for Scottish problems”. They need to start behaving like a responsible political party. It’s one thing to oppose on a policy issue, or to refine legislation to make it better. It’s something completely different to simply oppose it because the SNP propose it.

The only difference a real Labour party has with the SNP is the matter of which Parliament makes legislation. Labour want that to be Westminster, the SNP want it to be Holyrood. Aside from that, you’d think that most of the SNP plans would be backed by Labour, albeit with minor tweaks here and there.

Finally, they need to convince the public that this change is genuine, and not just another stunt. When they’ve shown they’re willing to lie for votes, that’s the hard part. It will take time to be trusted again.

Without all of that, Labour are doomed to oblivion in Scotland, starting with a major shunt down that hill in the 2015 General Election, followed by the 2016 Holyrood Election. There is no other recovery option for Scottish Labour.

Removing Context

The Unionists who keep repeating “it’s over, 55% of Scottish voters voted to stay in the Union” are desperately trying to remove the context of how that 55% came about. The context is about a wall to wall Unionist MSM machine repeating the claims from the Unionist side without checking any facts, it’s about last minute promises of vast new but unspecified powers. It’s about lies and spreading fear. It’s about going from a starting point of around 30% with everything against them, the Yes Scotland campaign managed to get 45% of the electorate and a huge turnout to back them.

Imagine a football analogy. Let’s call them Union Utd. Union Utd fans are celebrating because they won the Champions League 1-0. The result is that they won. On the trophy and in the history books, they won.

Forget that they bribed the referee in every round. Forget that they had 3 legit goals against them ruled out for dubious reasons. Forget that the winner came from a penalty that wasn’t a foul, and was outside the box. That’s context. Forget all of that, and Union Utd fans are proudly cheering that the result is all that matters.

This is why the 45% won’t just go away. We saw not only the result, but how that result came about. A sizeable number of the 55% who voted No didn’t do so because they backed the Union. They heard over and over and over “vote No for more powers”.

Both sides of the campaign fought for more powers for Scotland. One side wanted full control and independence, the other wanted an increased partial control within the Union. To say that 55% voted for Scotland to stay within the Union and without any extra powers is removing context.

The only reason for insisting on removing context is political and ideological; to shaft both Yes and No voters. You want to create the perception that the majority in Scotland are happy within the Union. We’re not. Many of those who voted No have no real love for the Union, they just weren’t convinced to vote Yes. How much of that came down to lies and misinformation?

Remember, No voters are your friends. They voted to stay part of the UK family. By insisting on trying to shaft them, you’re driving a wedge between them and you. As time passes, support for independence will only grow. By removing context, you’re only deluding yourself that Scotland is what you want it to be, rather than what it actually is.

Democracy By The Numbers

I’ve seen it suggested that the result of the Independence Referendum would have been different had the rest of the UK been allowed to decide what happens to Scotland. It probably would have been, but it has nothing to do with them, so why should they have a vote? The one area they do have a point, is in people born in Scotland, but who now live elsewhere. This is a whole Pandora’s box. It means that you’re using racial lines to decide whether people have a say or not.

If people born in Scotland but who live elsewhere have a vote, why not limit those living in Scotland also? People who work and contribute to the Scottish economy, raise their families in Scotland but who weren’t born in Scotland have no vote. They are directly impacted by the decision. People who left Scotland decades ago, and who’s only connection back home is the odd Skype call with the grandchildren, have a vote. Not only are they not impacted by the decision, they’re often so disconnected to the modern Scotland. Their political awareness is steeped in the time they were last in Scotland. It’s changed a lot since Thatcher, yet if you left in the 70’s you wouldn’t know.

It’s right that the decision to become independent should be taken by the people who live in Scotland, the people who raise their families in Scotland, the people who will be directly impacted by the decision.

A Competent Alternate Government?

Every major party in opposition should be doing all it can to demonstrate that it’s not only acting in the interests of the country by holding the government to account when required, but supporting the government when they do right. They should also be demonstrating that they’re a credible and competent alternate government at the next election. I’m now officially baffled at Scottish Labour’s incompetence on a really basic point.

Scottish Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale challenged the new SNP leader and FM to a few policies. All OK so far, but there’s a problem.

“Take on the big six energy firms, forcing them to freeze bills and
rein in eye-watering profits earned on the backs of working people.”

“Bring back the 50p tax rate for top earners, so those with the
broadest shoulders carry their fair share.”

“Tax [bankers’] bonuses and use the cash to create jobs for young
people.”

The problem is that none of these powers are devolved. They’re all reserved at Westminster. On the surface this just seems like Labour’s usual standards, but look a bit deeper and it exposes a much more serious issue.

As a major party in both Scotland and the UK; one of the only two capable of winning government both sides of the border, don’t you think any competent alternative government would at least know what powers they had, so they could convince us they had a plan on how best to use those powers?

If Kezia Dugdale is re-elected in 2016, and if a miracle happens in Scotland that Labour win government, she, as one of the high profile Scottish Labour MSPs will likely be in a cabinet position. She doesn’t know what powers Holyrood has. She expects voters to reject the party that actually listens to them, and offers competent policies the electorate want, to choose a party offering a product the public don’t want, and who don’t even know what powers they have to improve Scotland.

A first step would be for UK Labour to send a memo out to their branch members in Scotland with two lists; devolved and reserved. It won’t change their fate in Scotland, it’ll only save them some embarrassment.

George Orwell’s Scottish Labour Party

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four gave us a glimpse of a totalitarian future. It has rightly entered popular culture with concepts such as Big Brother and the Thought Police. I’ve discovered another parallel however.

Try reading the novel again, but thinking of Winston as a Scottish Labour Party member. Blind loyalty to the party is the only way to succeed. Anything the party says or does is beyond your understanding, but you know it’s for the good of all. Big Brother is the office of the UK Labour Party leader and his or her cronies. Any dissenters, or thought criminals are denounced and ostracised. Look at how they react to the people who try to tell Labour that their aping of the Tories makes them a hard sell in Scotland.

Look at how they react to the SNP. Their visceral hatred of all things SNP and Alex Salmond makes you wonder if they don’t have regular minutes of hate where Big Brother prepares a tirade of smears and the party faithful all gather together to shout and swear at images of Alex Salmond the dictator eating babies and kicking puppies.

Winston’s job is to edit past news items with updates, often it’s either complete fantasy designed to please Big Brother, or it’s a prediction after the events are known, so as to portray Big Brother as all knowing. All previous versions of events are destroyed, and everyone in the party takes the current version as absolute fact without hesitation.

Think that’s exaggeration? Remember during the independence referendum, Scottish Labour lined up to insist that the NHS was safe with a No vote and that the idea that it was under any threat of privatisation in England was just a nationalist scare story? The week after the result was announced, Labour had their party conference. The NHS under serious threat of privatisation was both their conference centrepiece, and recruitment drive.

Not one of the Labour Party seem to be aware that they were saying the exact opposite a mere week before in Scotland. Events are what the party need them to be at any given time. During the referendum, the party needed the NHS to be safe, after the referendum they needed it to be in serious danger.

The difference is that while Big brother and the party were all powerful in the novel, the Scottish Labour Party are a badly discredited organisation among large parts of the electorate, and are oblivious as to the reasons why they’re shrinking into irrelevance fast. Winston had no escape from Big Brother, the electorate have an escape from the Scottish Labour Party; and seem increasingly keen to take it.

We Want The Same Thing

The Yes Scotland group was always very small and centrally organised. The campaign decisions started there created a fertile ground for the much wider and much more diverse Yes Movement to grow and flourish. The Yes Movement became a self sustaining, all encompassing group of different groups. It had people who identified with lots of different organisations, and people who identified with none.

On the morning of September the 19th, the Yes Scotland part had run it’s course. It was an official campaign set up to run until the ballots closed on the 18th. Due to how the campaigns were run, the media bias, the last minute broken promises and a whole lot of other little contributing issues, we felt we’d won the argument, and lost the referendum. The Yes Movement were not going to just accept defeat and go home.

The other motivator in the Yes Movement, is that Yes Scotland asked us to examine the case for the Union, and Scotland’s place in it. They asked us not to just assume that because we’re in it now, that it must be good for us, or that we can’t be better if we left it. As a campaign tactic this was genius. Not only does it let us see what we can’t now unsee, it imbues it with a positive future. We now have 1.6 million people who can’t just accept that being in the UK is in our best interests. We know it’s not. The fact that independence is delayed hurts, and the thought of independence being a one shot deal that we blew will never even be considered. So where do we go from here?

In the days and weeks after the vote, lots of Yes Movement people chimed in with their own ideas, many of those were about keeping the Yes Movement together to keep fighting for round two; for that we needed a name, a Twitter hashtag to prove we’re still here and going nowhere. We have awoken. One of the hashtags that sprung up was variants on the 45% number. It took off. Many people have that in their avatars, and tweet using it.

Initially I thought that was a bad name. I still do think it’s a bad name. For me, it’s a built in class system. It refers to those who did vote Yes on September 18th 2014. We don’t have time travel, so nobody can change their votes. Those who did vote Yes then are thr real 45%, those who voted No and later regretted it, will always be a lower class of member. I doubt they’ll be treated as a lower class member, but the name insists they are.

Initially I added my voice to the others in trying to settle around a more inclusive name, something that encouraged and welcomed those regretful No voters into the fold. I felt it’d be a mistake if the 45% name became the established one, so I decided not to RT any tweets with the 45% hashtags in them. It’s a minor protest, but a protest nonetheless. I’ve since came to a different conclusion; we’re on the same side.

The Yes Movement was a wide community consisting of lots of unofficial groups with their own niche concerns and focuses, who all realise that Scotland’s independence is a major improvement. We all come under the Yes Movement banner. Why should that have changed? We lost the referendum, not the argument. How things have played out since the 19th has only given us more motivation for round two, and more evidence to show that the UK is not acting in our interests.

I suggest we use whatever label we want, and accept each others choices to do likewise. We need to keep our eyes on the much bigger prize; an independent Scotland.

A Controversial Leader

If Labour think Jim Murphy is the man to lead them to salvation in Scotland, I really hope they elect him. The Scottish Labour bus is heading rapidly for a cliff edge. They need a new driver to slow down and turn it around. Jim Murphy will lock the steering in, and stomp on the accelerator.

He’s a controversial character. That in itself isn’t a problem if you have enough things going in your favour. He doesn’t.

Alex Salmond is a controversial character. Certain sections of the public, mostly hardcore Labour people hate him. Neutrals neither love or hate him, but they can see he’s a good leader and ambassador for Scotland. His own party love him too, as do SNP supporters and members. The SNP are offering policies that the mainstream want, such as protecting the NHS from privatisation. I honestly don’t understand why people hate Salmond but some do.

Jim Murphy by contrast is hated by the now growing number of SNP supporters, and a large chunk of his own party. He’s an Iraq war supporter and friend of Israel. He’s the epitome of London led UK Labour, and their shift to morph into the Tories. Scotland rejected the Tories and Tory policies, they won’t accept any party offering Tory policies. When Johann Lamont resigned because of a lack of autonomy from Westminster, is the solution, a Westminster MP?

When you have half of the electorate who won’t give you the time of day, you need someone capable of reaching out well beyond your usual base. Jim Murphy has a nationalist paranoia that won’t let him do that. He sees nats everywhere, even when they’re actually disgruntled ex Labour folks demanding Labour get back to their roots. While the party is a branch office of UK Labour, they can’t change anything, meaning the people berating him will simply increase in number.

Scottish Labour have been exposed as a branch office of a UK party willing to lie to the people, and who put their own party ahead of the people. No matter who the candidate is, they’re fighting against that backlash. Many people have passed a death sentence on Scottish Labour, while many others are waiting to see if it can be turned around before they’re willing to buy back in.

What I find really funny in all of this, is that Labour have bought into their own lies. They think the SNP are scared of Jim Murphy. I don’t see that at all.

A Baffling Poll

I’ve just seen a poll stating that if there were to be a General Election tomorrow, that the SNP would take 54 of the 59 seats in Westminster. Labour would shrink from 40 to just 4, and the LibDems from 11 to 1.

Of the three Unionist parties, the Tories became a minority party in Scotland with Thatcher, only Labour and the LibDems had a strong presence here. Now, all three Unionist parties are facing oblivion in Scotland, at least in the short term. Think about that for a second. The people of Scotland don’t want ANY of the Unionist parties in power.

If that’s the case, why did people vote No? Those same Unionist parties are the governing parties in Westminster. A No vote followed by this poll says “we still want to be ruled by Westminster, but we don’t want any of the Westminster parties governing us”.

That makes no sense. We can’t make a dent in Westminster politics. We’re 1/10th the size of England, yet somehow we expect to be able to oust the Unionist parties and replace them with humane parties? The only up and coming party outside of that comfy threesome are UKIP; hardly a welcome sign for a left of centre Scotland.

If we don’t want to be ruled by any of the Unionist parties, the only logical solution is independence from Westminster.

Of course you could say that political parties go through ups and downs all the time, and that this plummet in support could just be temporary. The Tories support in Scotland won’t change much, but it will always be at minority levels. The LibDems have been exposed by being in Coalition with the Tories as being excess to requirements, they have no function. Labour have betrayed Scotland with their decisions to lie to the people to get a No vote. When around 50% of the Scottish electorate now see your utter destruction as a lifestyle choice and goal, you’re not recovering from that. All you can do is try to slow the decline.

Since devolution, the Tories have been a minority party, as have the LibDems, now Labour are heading towards being a minority party. They’ll all fluctuate with events, but they won’t peak much beyond that for long. This is the beginning of the end of Unionist party support in Scotland.

An Easy Devo Solution

What powers Scotland has over it’s own future and how they’re funded are two things that have been linked, but they need not be. If we separate them, it becomes a lot easier. For that Scotland needs the ability to raise and spend all of it’s tax revenues. That includes VAT. Next we split the tax up, and send our portion down to Westminster to cover our share of the reserved powers.

On your pay slip your tax won’t be listed as one item, with one figure, but two; devolved and reserved. Hollyrood will be entirely responsible for setting the tax rates, including the fine detail to balance it out among different demographics for both devolved and reserved tax. Their only requirement is that the total per year for reserved UK policy is met by the Scottish taxpayers as an overall group.

That way we can see if one side raises taxes a lot, it will show on their side of the pay slip. People can see what areas are devolved and decide if it’s value for money or distributed fairly. It affects how they choose to vote. The same applies with the reserved side of the payslip. It shows a lot clearer the real costs of constant military adventurism, as it’s the major reserved power. It also ends the idea of a subsidy, as well as any reliance on the Barnett Formula, or block grants.

The idea that only English MPs can vote on the English NHS is perfectly fine. Whatever they do does not affect Scotland in any way, including the money sent to fund the Scottish NHS. It’s the answer to the West Lothian Question.

How much we pay as our share of the UK’s reserved powers should be per capita so we’d pay a bit more than Wales and Northern Ireland, but a lot less than England into that UK shared pot.

After that, deciding what powers to devolve is easy. It’s simply down to which side to the payslip it’s listed under.

Using Semantics To Break The Vow

In the final weeks before polling day, the Daily Record published “the vow” on it’s front page. The image they used had the words of an agreement between the current leaders of all three Westminster parties, in addition to their signatures and images. They even aged the paper so it looks more official. Since the No victory, various parts of all three parties have been back pedalling on any extra promise of new powers, claiming that the offer made no difference, and people would have voted No anyway. In that case, why zip around Scotland with the mainstream media in tow, repeating the offer over and over again? Of course it made a difference. Remember the difference is a tiny 400k votes. If only 201k switched sides, Yes would have won by 51%. It’s not decisive, I’m merely pointing out the small margin of victory, and the last minute impact of “vote No for new powers”.

Ed Miliband’s office have stated that there is no such document. I can believe that, but it’s playing semantics. I ask Dave Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and the Daily Record, if that agreement was real. If it was, then it’s binding in the eyes of the electorate. If not, then the Daily Record subverted democracy. The Daily Record informed it’s readers of a solemn vow made by politicians seeking votes, of something they never said. They invented quotes, invented an act, they lied, to help win a No vote. Newspapers are not meant to do that. Isn’t that illegal?

I can certainly imagine a conference call between all four parties, where they hammer out the agreed text, and authorise the Daily Record to mock up a visual image of it, using Photoshopped signatures. The document would never have existed, but the agreement did, and does. The fact that the document never existed, meaning they never signed it, so therefore they’re not bound to it, even though they agreed is irrelevant.

Pay careful attention to the semantics used by all four parties about “the document” when the real question is “the agreement”. The document is simply a delivery mechanism for the agreement.