After the Referendum – What should Labour Do?

After the Referendum – What should Labour Do? 

STUC, 333 Woodlands Road, Glasgow

Saturday 25th October 2014



This conference is for members of the Labour Party.

10.00   Welcome from Elaine Smith MSP, Depute Presiding Office Scottish Parliament and Convenor of the Campaign for Socialism (CfS) and Neil Findlay MSP, Shadow spokesperson on Health, leading discussion on the consequences of the Referendum decision.

10.45   Break

11.00   Industrial and community policies (based on STULP document)  –  a short introduction  from Jackson Cullinane (Political Officer Unite) and then group work.

The manifesto is available here:

12.00   Local Democracy – policies and powers. Councillor Gordon Munro (Edinburgh) will provide a short introduction and then there will be group sessions led by Councillors Matt Kerr (Glasgow) Angela Moohan (West Lothian) and Kenny Selbie (Fife)*

13.00   Short lunch break

13.30   What powers and what democratic structure do we need to deliver a winning agenda – introduced by Richard Leonard (Political Officer GMB) and Dave Watson (Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, Unison)

14.15   Concluding session with group feedback and agreeing a working committee to take the ideas forward – Pauline Bryan CfS

15.00   Fraternal greetings John McDonnell MP


*Not all of the invited councillors have responded yet

The Citizen, the Journal of the Campaign for Socialism, will be available at the event.

8 thoughts on “After the Referendum – What should Labour Do?

  1. Well it looks like the totally negative Westminster coalition, TORY, LABOUR, LIBERAL, supported by the establishment, the great, good, greedy, plutocrats, City, non-Dom’s, celebrities and multitudinous white collar thieves (everybody but the needy) will get their way on Thursday after scaring the Scottish people that the world will end – if like New-Zealand, Norway, etc. they were foolish enough choose independence.

    And Miliband and his safe little team of (one nation) wannabe ministers, waiting for buggins-turn, will be able to breathe a sigh of relief insofar as the forces of the status quo will have triumphed and it’s back to business as usual. So that’s OK then!

    Well no, not really – despite the VOW – it is a vote that will have little to do with democracy, fairness, social justice or inclusion and every-thing to do with corporate and vested interests and the self-serving influence of Labour politicians like Gordon Brown, the Miliband brothers and Lord John Reid, Baron of Cardowan, Lord John Leslie Baron Prescott, et al who have history and who despite all the warm words and marketing spin unashamedly promoted PFI and wider the privatisation agenda, the outsourcing of public sector work and jobs, who lauded the city and light touch regulation, risk takers and wittingly or otherwise the venture capitalists, bond traders, city slickers, and all those who’s overarching greed brought about the world-wide financial crisis and austerity to millions of working people who they claim so earnestly to support and represent.

    While these Labour Leaders are more than happy to take the trade union shilling, none of them would demean themselves on a picket-line or unambiguously voice their support (and incur media and establishment wrath) for those trying to escape the dole and who, like thousands of miners and engineers before them, might never work and receive a living wage again. .

    And while on Wednesday evening Gordon Brown was making the speech of his life and a passionate defence of the union – it turned my stomach to hear him finish with the siren cry “ Let us tell them what we have achieved together.”

    Well friends, if you want to see what the union, Labour and our Gordon have achieved together, over decades, just visit his constituency home of Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath and the other staunchly Labour supporting (Fife) towns of Leven, Buckhaven, Methil, Glenrothes, etc, and see for yourself the shocking dilapidation and general disrepair and lack of investment. But Gordon did find money, Billions if tillions, to pump to bail out the banks and the city and via Quantitative Easing to support the bond traders and those people responsible for the credit crises and austerity.

    That’s why a local poll in Fife suggested that some 60% of voters in Kirkcaldy are turning their backs on Labour and are likely to vote YES.

    But with a No Vote secured and as surely as night follows day, come Friday and into the foreseeable future the good people of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath will be left to rot and survive as best they can while their sons and daughters compete for zero hour, minimum wage jobs and the unemployed are forced to onto hideously expensive workfare programmes, work for nothing in Poundland and/or spend five day per week, writing and rewriting CV’s and searching databases of jobs that often don’t exist. That’s some achievement that is Gordon.

    And we all know, don’t we, that if Racheal Reeves takes over from Iain Duncan Smith at the Department of Work and Pensions, next year, nothing of substance will change.

    And things are about to get worse much worse with the coalition government and EU leaders in the process of widening the democratic deficit exponentially with poison pill privatisation contracts that will ensure companies get a minimum of 10 year profits no-matter how badly they perform and rip off the public; and should a future government dare to terminate the contract. But there is not much danger of a Miliband government doing that.

    And a primary reason for such pessimism from a life-long 76 year old trade unionist, Labour Voter and one-time Labour Party member is because despite all the warms words, political spin and one nation talk, Miliband has no credible alternative economic strategy nor even a vision of what a more egalitarian, democratic and inclusive society might look like.

    So if Unison, the GMB and John McDonnell MP and assorted No Vote supporting lefties want to discuss After the Referendum – What should Labour Do? – I say you don’t need to be a clairvoyant, because it’s the status quo and more of the same.

    Instead have a day out with your families, or in the garden, a bit of DIY maybe but please don’t kid yourselves that the self-serving Blairites and neoliberal apologists will listen and that they are about to be agent of change and growing inequality and the working class horror story is going to end anytime soon.

    But dream on if you want to because from where I stand being just a little less nasty than Cameron’s Tories is unappealing.

  2. Ernie,

    It is sad to see an old comrade for the ILP degenerate into despairing cyncism, who, at a critical juncture in the struggle for progressive politics in Scotland has nothing to say to socialists except that they should spend more time in the garden. That’s your choice. My comrades and I will fight on for a just society, while being crystal clear about the nature of the labour Party and its right wing leadership, something the ILP was a little slow to catch onto around the clause 4 debate. Thank God I don’t have to spend any time at ILP meetings. It must be Leonard Cohen and razor blades all round

    In solidarity


  3. Vince
    Regarding your accusation of cynicism I plead guilty because there is a lot to be cynical about, don’t you think?

    Your comment starting “Thank God” says more about your state of mind than it does about the complex issues and differences over Scottish independence. Also whether or not the Labour Party can be an agent for fundamental change and social justice or conversely is part of the problem? If the later the value of spending time at conferences where the great and the good regurgitate the same old story and political spin?

    On the referendum debate, Despite all the media hysteria and political hyperbole and the pointing of fingers and making-up of motives, to fit a particular points of view and prejudicial narratives, it really was a festival of politics with millions of very good people voting Yes and No on referendum day. I am just sad that the right-wingers and the coalition of the good, bad and the ugly won. And that the little people and the socially excluded and those without money and a voice, the invisible people, lost and will continue to get shafted Labour and the coalition get down to business as usual.

    By the way Vince, as you surely must know, my comments and articles on the Scottish Independence debate are personal and not at all mainstream ILP thinking. But that is democracy insofar as the ILP is not and, never has been, a democratic centralist organisation involved in narrow self-interest Labour Party, Stalinist type machine politics and gerrymandering. Aka Falkirk, where the Labour Party hierarchy and Trade Union leadership engaged in their usual mischief making and the age old practice circumventing one member one vote and internal party democracy and using local members as voting fodder as a means of parachuting their own safe placemen (and women) into positions of power and influence.

    That’s exactly how those self-serving neoliberal apologists and make-believe socialists Blair, Mandelson, Darling, Millband, and Ed Balls (no alternative to austerity) became MP’s and commenced their illustrious careers? In my book Vince, it’s called nepotism and Tammany Hall machine politics and it has nothing to do with democracy and progressive social change. Like you no doubt, I had to listen to Gordon Brown rant on about Labour values and history, solidarity and bragging about the importance of the NHS and welfare state. And although it made for good theatre and rallied some of the Fife troops and he is indeed the best of a bad bunch, it was just another example of self-serving hypocrisy and the very worst platform grandstanding and political spin.

    So if you wish to spend your time listening to that sport of regurgitated hot air and be 21st century Sisyphus, that is your choice.

    But please don’t abuse the ILP comrades, past and present, who on this particular issue are on your side and are always fraternal and gracious and prepared to accept that at times they might be wrong and that there are no easy answers and options. And who would never dream of bad mouthing and having a dig at members of your Red Paper Collective.

    Vince as I don’t believe metaphysics I cannot thank God for anything. And your last sentence is lost on me but I assume it’s meant to be a derogatory comment. If I’m wrong about that I sincerely apologise. If not I’m sad you feel that way about fellow socialist who fundamentally are on your side and want what you want.

    But despite all that, you and your Red Paper Collective colleagues have my very best wishes insofar as it would please me immensely if you are right and I am wrong. I usually am.

    Only time will tell, but as a pragmatist and someone who thought the SNP (who I do not support) were streets ahead of Labour on policy and intentions and from that perspective it would have been nice, had the YES side won, to see an end to Trident and nuclear weapons and to have torpedoed the UK Colonel Blimps (Tory, Liberal & Labour) who pompously love to strut the world stage and have a seat as one of the Big Five, Big Five, UN Permanent Security Council Members, etc. And see an early end to the bedroom tax and the exponential march of free market economics if not stopped, slowed down north of the border and in that bomb-site called Kirkcaldy. But we all have dreams.

  4. Hi Ernie,
    Let’s put this to bed. You are right that your position is not that of the ILP and I was sloppy in my accusation that your pessimism is shared by them. I haven’t read the recent posts on the ILP site but mainly they were supportive of the Red Paper analysis, the last time I looked.
    I am an atheist so take ‘thank god’ as a manner of speech rather than a philosophical underpinning.
    But you are profoundly wrong in seeing populist nationalism as either being, or having the potential for being, progressive. I am not going over all the pre- referendum arguments but for god’s sake (manner of speech) how does the prospectus that wants the crown, NATO, the UK currency, the EU, opposes the 50 pence tax rate, votes against an enquiry into the miners’ strike and votes against the living wage in public procurement, how does that add up to a better, fairer Scotland? And as projected it is the SNP that are the big winners here – look at recruitment figures – not the Yes left. You know these arguments and are not persuaded, so let us watch what happens now if the SLP can shift left which is what we are trying to achieve in the conference you dismissed. (Incidentally it is rank and file members and sympathetic MPs, MSPs and Trade Union officials. Hardly the great and the good).
    As for history, what I was getting at is that during the clause 4 debate the ILP supported changes to clause 4. The change in clause 4 was an intrinsic part of the Blairite attack on the nature and purpose of the Labour Party. So forgive me a little irritation that you now berate those of us trying to deal with the consequences of those changes in the institutions of the Labour movement, by organising resistance, for wasting our time. I note that you haven’t suggested an alternative other than gardening.
    Finally the reference to Leonard and Cohen and razor blades was that Cohen is often seen as profoundly pessimistic and consequently the perfect backdrop to suicide. It was meant as black humour and has signally failed.

  5. Vince

    We disagree profoundly on the referendum issue and must move on.

    Having said that, it was never my intention to have a pop at you personally as I know full well that you and Pauline and the Red Paper Collective are really good people and dedicated socialists.

    If I have said anything to suggest otherwise, I’m sorry.

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