Wednesday, 5 February 2014

In the last few months there has been a steady stream of former Labour stalwarts joining the ‘Yes’ campaign for Independence.  To name just a few, Alistair Darling's former boss John Mulvey who was leader of Lothian Regional Council from 1986 to 1990 when Darling was a Councillor. Ian Newton, who used to be Alistair Darling's election agent. Charles Gray, leader of Strathclyde Regional Council from 1980 to 1992.  Alex Mosson, former Lord Provost of Glasgow.  Carol Fox, a former Labour candidate. Bob Holman, a Labour member of 53 years standing, the founder of the Easterhouse Project and someone who has devoted his entire life to fighting poverty.  And the chair of Yes Scotland is Dennis Canavan – a former Labour MP who has spent his life campaigning for social justice.  All say they are voting 'Yes' for Independence.  

None of these key figures of Scottish Labour have taken such decisions lightly.  Converts to the Independence campaign are coming from all directions.  From the Trade Union side has come leading Trade Unionist Lorna Binnie.  Outside of politics, singer Eddi Reader, a lifetime Labour voter, has joined the ‘Yes’ campaign, as have Charlie and Craig Reid  - The Proclaimers. 

This steady erosion from Labour ranks has been going on for a long time as Labour has abandoned many of its core principles and is now a poor relation of a once proud party which was formed in Glasgow in 1888.  I feel sad when I hear in the street that there isn't much difference nowadays between Labour and the Tories;  and when we see Tories and Labour hand in hand opposing Scottish Independence, (with only 1 Tory MP from Scotland), surely something is far wrong. 

For those who say "I have always voted Labour" I would ask them to examine what they are voting for.  It was a Labour Government in London that took us into an illegal war with Iraq, on the false premise that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  That would never have happened in an Independent Scotland where 90% of the population were opposed to this war.  Nor will an Independent Scotland have to pay its share through taxation of a new generation of weapons of mass destruction which, in their lifetime, will cost £100 billion of taxpayers' money.

Whilst many of us are struggling to make ends meet, with food banks having to be set up in many towns and cities, London bankers have voted themselves a massive 35% increase in wages and bonuses.  There are now in this country 2,714 of them, nearly all of them in London, with incomes from bonuses and wages exceeding £822,000 a year, compared with Germany, which has the largest economy in Europe with 212, France 117, Italy 109 and Spain 100.  The Westminster Government is strongly opposing EU plans to cap bankers bonuses to one year's salary, so contrary to the views of the people of Scotland.

Finally, as you know, the SNP Government in Scotland, having obtained only limited powers from Westminster, have nevertheless done a raft of things to help the ordinary people of Scotland, such as free prescriptions, free tuition (compare this with fees of up to £9,000 south of the border), free personal care for the elderly, freezing of the Council Tax, ending of bridge tolls, etc. The list goes on and on.

Now ask yourself why Labour did not introduce such measures during the 7 years it was in power in Holyrood.  The simple answer is that Labour's masters in London will never allow Labour in Scotland to introduce any measure that will show Scotland in a better light than England and the rest. That will never change if we remain as part of the UK.

Surely there is more than enough evidence available to make every Labour voter, vote ‘Yes’ for Independence.  Labour can then once again be true to its roots, and become the party of the people for the people.

[Footnote added 11 April 2014: A Survation opinion poll revealed that 37% of Labour supporters had decided to vote 'Yes']

See also:  More blogs by John Jappy