Margaret Curran: Labour offers way to better Britain

THE referendum campaign only finished four weeks ago, but the call for change we heard in the early hours of 19 September still rings out. Let’s be clear about what people voted for.

Across Scotland, a majority of people backed remaining in the United Kingdom. Picture: TSPL

Across Scotland, a majority of ­people backed remaining in the ­United Kingdom. They rejected ­nationalism and voted to carry on pooling and sharing resources across our country, with a stronger Scottish Parliament and full representation for Scotland in the UK parliament.

And they said the best way to ­tackle the problems we face is together, with people across the UK.

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With the referendum behind us, in the 200 days between now and the general election, the Labour party will show how we are going to change the UK so that people across Scotland are better off.

We know the old ideas aren’t going to cut it anymore and there is no ­consensus about how our country should be run.

That’s why we can’t be anything but bold and radical. Being timid won’t win us any supporters. We need a ­response from the left that responds to the conditions of people’s lives.

A third of Labour supporters ­wanted rid of the Tories so much that they were willing to take a leap into the unknown.

We need to understand why people feel so let down they wanted to opt out of the country entirely. And when we see a country divided, we should not be satisfied. It should make us work even harder to bring our ­country together.

That’s why I am going to the ten constituencies in Scotland with the largest number of Labour-supporting Yes voters. We need to listen. But what people say also needs to shake us into action and we need to change.

I am confident we are already changing. The Labour party of today is not the Labour party of a decade ago.

We have a leader across the UK who has learned the lessons of Iraq and opposed military action in Syria, who refuses to kowtow to vested interests like the banks and the energy companies and who believes that ­politics is about building a movement of working people to change our country.

And in Scotland, all through the referendum campaign, Johann ­Lamont has kept Alex Salmond ­focused on the reality of the lives of people across Scotland.

The socialist principles of equality, redistribution and social justice need to shape our politics as much today as they did when I joined the party.

So if you voted Yes to get rid of the Tories and you want to build a fairer and better country, don’t do it by fighting the battles of the past. Face the future and join us to build a ­better Scotland and a better Britain.

Because in May, we will present radical policies that will change ­people’s lives.

If I am Secretary of State for ­Scotland next May, my number one priority will be a Scottish Jobs ­Guarantee, to get our young people back to work.

And, for those in work, improving their conditions so they don’t have to work two or more jobs just to make ends meet.

That means ending exploitative 
zero-hours contracts and starting to increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour.

And we will show exactly whose side we are on by freezing energy prices and reforming the energy ­market once and for all.

Even with less money, we will change the country for good.

The referendum question is settled, and, no matter what Alex Salmond says, Scots don’t want another ­referendum anytime soon.

Nicola Sturgeon deserves congratulations for becoming the SNP’s new leader, but when she becomes First Minister next month the first thing she has to do is act in Scotland’s ­interests and rule out a referendum for another generation.

No triumphed last month, but Yes and No voters have a stake next May.

The choice is clear. The constitution will not be on the ballot paper, but the hopes, aspirations and futures of Scots will be. «

• Margaret Curran MP is shadow secretary of state for Scotland