Hugh Kerr: Why I quit Labour to rejoin the SNP

Hugh Kerr, a former Labour MEP
Hugh Kerr, a former Labour MEP
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Former Labour MEP Hugh Kerr took to the letter section of the Scotsman stating that the SNP was the only vehicle for true socialists in Scotland. Do you agree with his letter?

I have been watching the Labour Party Conference on TV for the past three days and I have to say I’m very impressed by the quality of the debates and the genuine socialist hopes of the many new ­members who spoke.

My first Labour Conference was in 1961, when I was a Young Socialist observer. I sat in the observers’ section next to Michael Foot, who was ­suspended from party ­membership for voting against nuclear weapons!

It is clearly a very different Labour Party today and one that gives people in England the hope of change.

The only sour notes in the conference, sadly, came from Scottish Labour delegates who seemed to spend more time attacking the SNP than the Tories, despite the austerity they rightly complain about having been created by their cuts and the SNP government doing its best to mitigate them.

Richard Leonard, the Scottish Labour leader, says they will oppose a second referendum on Scottish independence, yet he is in favour of a second referendum on Brexit! UK leader Jeremy Corbyn has, however, not ruled out another Scottish referendum; I suspect he understands that Labour will find it difficult to form a government without at least tacit support from SNP MPs in the Commons, the price of SNP support may come as a price for their support.

So what are the implications for voters in Scotland? The Corbyn effect in revitalising Labour has not happened, instead Labour is in third place in the polls and seems to spend its energy in attacking an SNP government despite there, in truth, being very little difference in their values, apart from the national question. So for socialists in Scotland the SNP is the only vehicle at present, which is why I rejoined them earlier this year.

However, the SNP must make clear at its conference next week that it understands the historic choices we face in the next few years. Yes, we should vote against the Tory Brexit shambles and, if necessary, vote to remain in a new referendum, however, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon should also make clear that we will have another referendum on independence within the next two years even if Westminster doesn’t agree to it.

The Scottish Parliament has given us the authority to have a referendum and the polls ­indicate that opinion is fairly evenly divided before a ­campaign begins.

Two years before the last ­referendum we only had 25 per cent support for independence.

I’m sure that a referendum which involved us not only gaining our independence but retaining our links to Europe would gain majority support.

It is going to be an interesting two years ahead in politics!

Hugh Kerr

(Former Labour MEP)

Wharton Square, Edinburgh