What next for Scotland?
An argument is now being raised that Labour needs to get into the ring promoting Home Rule without delay in a three way contest between outright Nationalists and Unionists, because we won’t be listened to unless and until we recognise that is where the divide in Scotland now lies. But that would be accepting the finality of Scotland just being different, changed and changed for ever.
Wiser counsel would argue that Labour’s position on the constitution needs time to develop, following a full reflection, and a considered understanding of the implications for people before any view is taken.
The Scottish Parliament has acquired major new powers. Let’s try using them first before coming to conclusions.
Meanwhile, public debate in the media about where Labour should stand on the constitution amongst “senior” politicians in the party is not helpful and is frustrating for the members, supporters, activists and local councillors. It is not these politicians’ preserve. The party has a structure and a democratic system for decision making and it should be respected.
There are some who argue that none of that matters because the Labour Party is dead or dying.
The pundits said Labour was dead in 1910, in 1931 when Ramsay MacDonald split the party, and in 1959 when Labour had lost three general elections in a row.
And now, unbelievably, it’s being said despite the notable successes in England and Wales, particularly in London and Liverpool. I begin to feel Labour has something in common with Mark Twain, who famously noted that reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated.
Flag waving cannot wave away people’s concerns about jobs, their children’s education, the health of their families, and the whole impact of austerity budgets on the working poor, the disabled, the frail and elderly. Austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity. That’s where Labour has a task to fulfil.