Today Allan Grogan addressed the Law Society's fringe meeting at the Labour Party conference in Perth.
According to James the esteemed Mrs Curran has never met Mr Grogan, despite her being a member of Labour for 38 years... and despite him being leader of a sizeable faction of Labour members, opposing their party on Scotland, and her being the shadow Scottish spokesman.
I hope she managed to find time in her busy diary to go along today a listen to him. In cases she didn't make that time, I'll include his speech here, so that she can catch up with it in her leisure time.
I’d like to thank the chair and the Law Society for inviting me here. It is a great honour to speak with you all here today, particularly on such an important issue.
Labour for Independence consists of members, voters, supporters, former voters who felt the party left them not the other way around. Trade unionists, ex councillors, former Lord Provosts and the former chair of Scottish Labour. We believe in the ideals and principles of the Labour Party. But we also believe that independence is the best way forward for the people of this nation.
Scotland is at a crossroads, but it is not one between unionism and nationalism, rather the kind of society we live in today and the kind of society we can have. It is a choice between the status quo and real change for the better.
What is the status quo we live in today? Scotland, in this United Kingdom according to the Scottish Outlook Campaign, is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. We are part of the 3rd most unequal society in the Western World. Life expectancy in some parts of this affluent nation is lower that the Gaza Strip. Most shockingly of all 1 in 4 Scottish children are living in poverty. 1 is too many, but 25% is an absolute disgrace. All of this is happening in a country that is the 14th richest in the world per capita.
These are not just some statistics read out in this hall, this is the reality of the society we live in today. Look about you; it’s happening to friends, family neighbours. Parents are going hungry to put food on the table for their kids, pensioners have to choose to heat their house or cook a meal.
But fear not friends, throughout the deprivation, the poverty and abject squalor we still have enough to pay for bankers bonuses, MP wage increases and find £100 billion to renew an outdated nuclear programme which has no place in a civilised modern society.
We are not better together, we can do better and we must do better. We need to create a society which will look after all of its citizens not just those who can afford to have their say.
Now there will be many here today who will argue that child poverty in Liverpool is just as important as it is in Scotland, and I agree with you. But this is the crux of the argument. This, rather than labelling everyone who votes yes a nationalist is the debate we should be having within the party.
Let me begin by asking the question to all those waiting for the British road to socialism. How close are we to achieving this? I have campaigned for a better society within the UK and there are many here today who have spent a lot longer doing so than I, and yet we seem to be further and further away from making this a reality.
Independence can lead to not only a more prosperous, more equal Scotland. It also increases the opportunities for our brothers and sisters in Northern England and other areas within the UK. Independence can lead to a more federalised Rest of UK. Giving these areas more say and more control in how to make their communities better. If nothing else we can lead by example proving to them that it is possible to be an economically vibrant, socially just, fair and equal society. One which Hardie and Maxton would be proud to call home.
How do we achieve this society within the UK? Are we to pin all of our hopes on a Labour victory in 2015? Even if we are successful, what kind of Labour government will we have? A Labour Government in which Ministers like Chris Bryant blame unemployment on immigrants working in Tescos? A Defence Secretary who has pledged the commitment to maintaining our nuclear deterrent. Most worryingly of all we will have a Labour Chancellor committed to the Tories austerity programme. A programme in which only 10p in every pound of cuts has been endured so far.
Because the reality is that in order to be elected, Westminster Labour are chasing the tail of the Tories who are chasing the tail of UKIP further and further right in a never ending spiral towards darkness. Shackled to Westminster the Scottish Labour Party is going along for the ride.
When did we begin to consider Scotland a something for nothing society, misquoted or not? When did means testing become Labour policy? For each according to ability to each according to their need, a cradle to grave universal system that lies in the very fabric of our party. For the first time in our history we are on the wrong side of this. This can change with independence.
Churchill once said “Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others change their principles for the sake of their party.” Here today in this hall we can say that the members of the Scottish Labour Party need do neither. By voting yes in September we can remove the need to change our beliefs to win votes in the Home Counties. We can return to being the party of the people of Scotland that protects the rights of the workers, stands up for families and individuals who need a helping hand, which protects our unions, our poor, sick and elderly. That’s the party I grew up believing in and we can be that party again.
There is a saying within Labour for Independence. Vote yes in 2014 vote Labour in 2016. We can have Labour Party in the Scottish Government that rebuilds social housing, removes privatisation of energy, railways and Royal Mail. A party which removes the anti trade union laws imposed by Westminster. That uses our finite resources to rebuild our industries and creates renewable energy.
In 1997 we began this journey by voting yes to devolution, let’s complete the job. A real Scottish Labour Party, a Parliament decided by the people, representing all the people, a society which reflects the needs, wants and aspirations of the people of Scotland, these are all within our grasp. The choice is in your hands, continue the journey by voting yes, or be faced with the never ending roadblock of voting no.
I’m voting yes for change, yes for the ideals set out by our party’s founders so many years ago.
Yes for a better Scotland.