“This leadership election is therefore about the future of the Scottish Labour Party, or more precisely, whether it has one. And it will have, if Monica Lennon wins.”Vince Mills.
By, Vince Mills, Secretary of Glasgow Kelvin CLP and joint editor of the Red Paper
Crisis seems to be an almost permanent state for the Scottish Labour Party in the last 7 or 8 years. Since the massive loss of seats in 2015 following the disastrous ‘Better Together’ campaign of 2014, Scottish Labour has moved seemingly inexorably down the rankings of Scottish politics, threatening like the once famous football side Third Lanark, to be of little more interest than a historical relic.
If this seems like over statement, I suggest a quick perusal of opinion polls in the last few years. With the exception of the Corbyn blip where it managed around 27% Scottish Labour has slid pretty well ever downward since, with some polls suggesting that it may get only 15% of votes in the forthcoming Scottish General Election in May. To put that in perspective, the now defunct SSP managed to get 15% of the Glasgow regional vote back in their heyday.
This leadership election is therefore about the future of the Scottish labour Party, or more precisely, whether it has one. And it will have, if Monica Lennon wins.
Monica’s case is devastatingly simple. Scottish Labour needs to listen to the Scottish people. If the Scottish people demonstrate that they want a referendum that choice should be respected. That may seem axiomatic to most party members. After all Scottish Labour supported the Claim of Right which said that sovereignty lies with the Scottish people. There is unfortunately a blind spot in regard to this issue by many on the right and the left of the Labour Party, north and south of the border.
The main objection is that, yes while the Scottish people might want a referendum, they want it the way that St Augustine wanted purity – not yet. The reason offered for this is that polling suggests that in terms what the Scottish people are concerned about, a referendum is well down the pecking order after a whole list of important things like health and education and jobs. What the advocates of the blind eye to a referendum fail to acknowledge is that many Scots see independence as a route to that better society that the British state has failed to offer them. For a full discussion on what Labour needs to do to address this, read Sean Griffin’s excellent report here: https://www.scottishlabourleft.co.uk/articles–reports/remaking-the-british-state
And it is here that Monica Lennon’s offer is at its most important. She recognises that what the SNP will offer will not address the concerns that the Scottish working class have, quite the reverse, their neo-liberal Growth Commission will intensify them. She understands the need for solidarity across the regions and nations of the UK especially in transferring resources. She is therefore arguing that in any future referendum there must be a third option offering enhanced powers to the Scottish parliament so that it can defend the Scottish people against Tory and SNP austerity. The limitations of the SNP’s case for indepdence and the detailed case for a third option are explored in the current Red Paper: https://www.scottishlabourleft.co.uk/articles–reports/red-paper-on-scotland-january-2021
It is not an exaggeration to say that if the Scottish Labour Party does not elect Monica and instead continues on its present path, it will not only be individual members and voters who will look elsewhere. So will the unions and at that point the extraordinary electoral alliance that Keir Hardie built will begin to disintegrate. However, there is every reason to believe that such is the energising effect of Monica Lennon’s campaign, Scottish Labour will come out fighting with a victory for Monica and real progress in May’s elections.
- For more information see https://www.monicaforleader.org/