Labour right to offer voters a clear choice on independence and politics in general – Scotsman comment

In its finest form, democracy is supposed to be a clash of ideas, not a tortuous process of electoral calculus as we work out how best to ‘game the system’.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said party candidates will need to support the Union (Picture: PA)
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said party candidates will need to support the Union (Picture: PA)

So Anas Sarwar’s view that Labour councillors should not be “looking at coalitions with any political party” is the right message to send. Parties should stand on the principles they believe in and we should vote for them on that basis.

If people want Labour councillors, they should vote for them; if not, they should vote for the party that they think best represents their views. Going to the ballot box with an eye on a possible coalition with another party risks disappointment.

While there are arguments for tactical voting, if everyone does so, we would end up with parties in power that no one particularly likes. Hardly a good idea at a time when cynicism about politicians is so high.

And, of course, to inject a little cynicism of our own, showing a reluctance to enter coalitions might strengthen Labour’s hand in any future negotiations about doing just that. If the other party thinks they are not very keen, they may make an offer that’s too good to turn down.

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Anas Sarwar says Scottish Labour councillors should not form coalitions with SNP...

Sarwar also stressed that Scottish Labour election candidates will have to support the Union, denying reports that some would be able to stand under the party’s banner despite backing independence.

Again, this is good for our democracy, given the importance of political parties in our system. Voters need to know what a party stands for and one that sits on the fence on one of the great issues of the day risks annihilation.

Labour appears to be moving towards support for ‘devo max’ or home rule for Scotland and this could provide an alternative to independence or the status quo.

Establishing it as a third option with a genuine prospect of success will take a considerable amount of work. If the party does go down this route, it will need to flesh out in significant detail how the system would work and why it would be better for Scotland than our current level of devolution or independence.

But more ideas and greater choice for voters should always be welcomed.

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