by Pauline Byrne, Campaign for Socialism and Red Paper Collection
at the launch of Scottish Labour’s own Referendum campaign: “United with Labour”
There was a packed hall at the new Commonwealth Game stadium for the launch of Labour’s new campaign United with Labour. Responding to the concerns of many in the Labour and Trade Union movement that the only campaigning on the referendum was in Better Together alongside Tories and Lib Dems, the Party has launched its own campaign.
The emphasis has shifted to some extent from simply “a just say No” approach to one that argues for an opportunity to make life better within the Union. Anas Sarwar who is leading the campaign for Labour stated that Labour’s ambitions are bigger than winning the referendum. The suggestion is that he would want to go into the referendum with plans for greater devolution of powers to and within Scotland.
Johann Lamont recognised a hunger for the debate around the referendum. She said that she wants to see social justice and that if she thought independence brought us closer to that, then she would support it. But she doesn’t believe in “fingers crossed politics”. She believes in the redistribution of wealth and wants that throughout the UK.
Gordon Brown was perhaps the most reluctant of the speakers to look beyond the referendum. He concentrated on what could be lost by leaving the UK. He referred to Keir Hardie, Jimmy Maxton, John Wheatley who believed that it was better to pool our resources rather than have a race to the bottom. He will also know, but didn’t say, that they all supported Home Rule within the UK.
Labour urgently needs to be able to talk about after the referendum. There appears to be a real enthusiasm to discuss a vision for Scotland after the referendum. That enthusiasm won’t be met simply by a Devolution Commission. What is needed are opportunities for Party and the trade union members to come together to discuss how Scotland can achieve greater equality and greater economic democracy and how this can happen within the UK and to the benefit of the rest of the UK.