There was a debate tonight at Dundee University, at which Allan Grogan made a speech. I guess many people who would have liked to have gone were unable to do so. Here is Allan's speech for the event.
Tonight I’d like to talk about the impact that the Labour party, and more specifically its supporters can and will have in the independence referendum. I’d also like to talk about the reasons why independence is so important for the future of Scotland and for the Labour party.
Firstly I’d like to briefly explain a little about Labour for Independence and how we came about. As a student at this university, I attended many debates prior to the 2007 Scottish elections. One of these was on the independence movement. I asked the Labour party delegate about supporting Labour and Independence and was fobbed off with the line,
‘If you want independence vote SNP.’
Now I can understand his logic behind this, of course in order to have the referendum we did need an SNP government. But this was the standard Labour line whenever I asked the question to the higher ups in the party.
I began Labour for Independence to see if I was alone in my thinking, to see if there were other Labour voters who felt we would be better as an independent nation. Well as we have seen with our continual and growing support that there are many more of us who feel this way within the party.
As our group evolved and the more I spoke with former voters, we came to realise that Labour, in particular the Scottish Labour party no longer reflected real Labour party ideals, nor the needs and ambitions of most people in Scotland.
Now from a political point of view this is understandable, It is unfortunate for us, that we are such smart voters. In Scotland the SNP hold the majority partly due to the dissatisfaction of Scottish Labour. But in General Elections, Scots will vote for Labour in a straight choice between them and the Tories. So It’s hardly a surprise when the Westminster Labour party see Scottish votes as safe ones and introduce policies that appeal to needed voters, mainly Middle England and London.
But for a Scottish Labour party to peddle these policies out, flying against the traditions and fibres of the Labour party in Scotland is a disgusting act of political careerism. And for the Leader of the Scottish Labour party to come out and say we have a ‘something for nothing society’ was desecrating the memory of Keir Hardie.
So it is clear to us, that the only way for our party to return to our founding principles, to return to being the party of the people of Scotland, is to be removed from the shackles of Westminster which can only happen in an independent Scotland.
To return to the Labour party we believe in we must have Scottish independence, and to have a strong, successful, socially just Scotland we must have a real Scottish Labour party at the heart of it.
Labour for Independence will play an important role in this referendum, we show that this is not a nationalist issue. The decision on independence shouldn't be about whether you liked Braveheart or not, it should be deciding what kind of society you want to be.
So let’s look at the Scotland we live in today.
-Run by Westminster we have a society in which the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.
- We have CEO’s of banks which destroyed our economy taking bonuses of millions of pounds while allowing small business’s to collapse and family homes are foreclosed.
- We have a government in London, handing out an allowance for us to spend while taking far more from our resources and trade.
- We have a Tory party in power which won one seat in our country. 1.7% of Scotland’s MP’s running our affairs in which 9% of the politicians represent Scotland.
- We have a Westminster Parliament slashing financial help to those who need the most help, while the Scottish MP’s voted unanimously against it. (Editor's note: Labour and the SNP voted against it. The Liberals and the Tory voted for it).
- We have a Parliament which while cutting benefits to the country’s poorest called for a 32% pay rise. Apparently £65,000 isn't enough to survive.
So much so that Tory MP Andrew Bigden said
“ I know MPs who will say in private that every year they are getting poorer.”
“A man or a woman who’s very capable, doing very well in their profession, whatever that may be, with a family, are they going to be willing to take that pay cut, look their children in the eye when it’s Christmas say you can’t have what you normally have because Mummy or Daddy wants to be an MP.”
We’ve all heard of wife swap but maybe Mr Bigden should go on Benefit swap and see how it is for mums and dads on benefits or minimum wage to tell their kids that they won’t have anything this Christmas.
Most importantly, this is a society that is the 4th most unequal in the world. A society 1 in 5 Scottish children are living in poverty. Parents are going without meals to make sure their kids are fed okay, pensioners are having to decide between heating the house and eating dinner.
Independence is our best chance to change this, to shape our nation making it fairer, more equal. Giving our children the chance of a better future.
So what kind of Society do we want to have? Following a yes vote the Scottish government has promised that all parties will play a role in the negotiations for an independent Scotland.
Because of this it is important for all parties to set out their vision of an independent Scotland. In light of the refusal from Labour HQ to do this. Labour for Independence will set out what we believe are real Labour policies.
One of the biggest changes we promise to make is that we will never object to proposals based on our core principles for the sake of political gain. As we have seen so many times these past few years.
The first policy that we have already announced is something I care about very passionately. We, like 80% of the Scottish people, support a complete removal of all nuclear weapons from our land. We believe that a nuclear arsenal on our doorstep is both dangerous and unwarranted in this nation. We hope that we will lead the way forward as an example to all nations to remove such weaponry.
Now, I have a little confession to make, and I’d like to get it off my chest. In the Scottish Labour leadership elections I voted for Johann Lamont. There was no great merit in any of the candidates, but the one reason I voted for her was her opposition to Trident. Well all I can say to her is I hope that seat at the shadow cabinet meeting was worth it. The fact she went against her own beliefs, the safety and financial security of the Scottish people for a hoist up the greasy pole of the Labour party tells you everything you need to know about her.
LFI will adhere to the founding principles of the Labour party of fairness, equality and justice. We will also strive to keep in place some of our greatest creations in the NHS and the Welfare State. We will seek ways to improve, but we will never remove our belief in free education and healthcare for all at the point of service.
An abolition of a minimum wage and in its place a LIVING wage. One which reflects real living costs and prices. A living wage will protect the most vulnerable, removing most from the poverty line and costing the country less in Tax Credits, and other forms of income support.
We support a simplified version of the Welfare system. With real incentives to work. This system should be fair and support those who can and do work. The welfare system must again return to the basis of its creation to support the needy and most vulnerable. That is why we support the removal of means testing on disability allowances.
We are also open to the possibilities of nationalisation or re-nationalisation of energy, transport and care work. We are not a political group which promotes nationalisation for the sake of it. However in tough economic times we believe companies which are making a profit in these areas are doing our nation a disservice. The profit from these industries would and should be returned to the Scottish people as lower prices or placed into the country’s finances.
These are the visions of a socially just Independent Scotland and they are the visions of a real Scottish Labour Party.
Labour for Independence, Yes Scotland and all pro-independence movements will work hard to promote a positive message for independence. We know which society we want for our future. We believe in Scotland, we don’t think were too wee, too daft, too stupid to run our own affairs.
The vote on the referendum next year will be the most important of our lives. While the Tory back benchers claim their EU referendum will be the first time in 40 years for our voices to be heard. Our referendum will be the first time in 300 that our voices will be heard.
Scotland is probably the most frustrating place in the world. We have so much to offer, so much to be proud of, so much still left to achieve. If we can only just believe in ourselves.
I believe the people of Scotland will make the right choice, the choice of hope, the choice of change. The choice of a better nation.
I urge you all to think differently, Think Labour for Independence, Think Yes!
(The emphases in bold are mine - Tris)-