23 March 2008

A response to Change is What We Do: Change and the Way Ahead

These are exciting times in Scotland. There has been for some years a sense of new-found confidence. Walk the streets of Glasgow, Inverness or Dumfries; look inside the offices of Dundee, Stirling and Greenock or the boardrooms of Edinburgh and Aberdeen. You can feel and see the growing confidence. We have more jobs, more modern apprenticeships than ever before, a better infrastructure and fast-growing dynamic industrial and commercial sectors. Our entrepreneurs and their ideas, drive and skills are there for all the world to see.

It is Labour in Scotland, with our strong traditions of radical progressive policies, that has changed this country for the better. Look back at our historic leadership on
land reform, social housing, and hydro power. And in modern times, look at free bus travel, community land ownership, the smoking ban and tackling anti-social behaviour. These are all progressive policies made in Scotland by Scottish Labour, the latter ones only made possible by our championing and delivery of radical constitutional change – the Scottish Parliament.

It's fascinating that this confidence has led to Labour's loss of power, and that she feels that the confidence doesn't and shouldn't extend to the confidence in Scotland to seek independence. It's also fascinating that radical change is acceptable when it's in their hands and only goes part of the way - devolution. Radical change in someone else's hands that goes the full way - independence - is apparently to be avoided at all costs. This pamphlet is riddled with these contradictions, and does nothing to solve the paradoxes at the heart of Scottish Labour. That they are a party of change, that advocated the status quo in 2007. That they see all change as change for the better, unless it involves a change in Scotland's place in the Union. That they don't think Scots really want to talk about the constitution but spend most of their campaigns - and this pamphlet - doing exactly that.

One of the areas where Scottish Labour has to do that is the constitution. We know that when Labour is the party of ideas on the constitution, it typically commands support.

This flies completely in the face of her earlier assertion that:

A better health service, better education, a growing economy with better jobs, safer communities with less crime - these are the people’s priorities.

Why, then, would having ideas on the constitution make you command support?

It means a lot of hard work before the next Scottish election, now only three years away. It means changes in strategies, changes in thinking, changes in policies. That is nothing new for Scottish Labour. Change is what we do.

I cannot disagree with anything there - except the last sentence, as Labour became a party of the status quo before the last election. But Wendy Alexander has to remember that change isn't enough: it has to be the right change at the right time. There are still massive contradictions at the heart of Scottish Labour and this pamphlet only serves to highlight them. They have three years to square the circle. If change is what Labour do, will they have done it by 2011?

Unless Wendy Alexander takes part in the change in thinking she says her party needs, I believe that they will not.

1 comment:

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Unless Wendy Alexander takes part in the change in thinking she says her party needs, I believe that they will not.

Amen to that.