I have been following a little of the Labour Leadership debate, I know, why bother, but it has been somewhat interesting in relation to Scotland. I suppose there are actually two contests as the Scottish branch office is also holding an election for a new Chairperson but that’s the wee vote.
Many Labour bloggers are talking about how Labour needs to change to win in the South, how they go about getting votes outside London up to Birmingham. Milibands declaration during the general election that he would rather have a Tory Government than work with the SNP has possibly been one of the worst comments ever made by a party leader going into a general election, and I believe allowed many Labour voters in Scotland that final understanding that Labour was no longer the party of Scotland. It is also worth acknowledging that this process has been going on since the inception of the Scottish Parliament and Labours, Conservative and Liberal Parties, failure to understand that Scotland has been on a road to change.
However they just don’t get it with Andy Burnham saying that “Labour will fight nationalism on every corner and won’t work with the Tories again, they will be rooted in the communities” but then they abstain on a vote that would have defeated the Tories on Europe, and he doesn’t bother to vote on the amendments to the Scotland Act. Hardly putting Scotland first. Yvette Cooper talks about fighting “against the politics of separation and how she worked with John Smith”, as if the whole debate in Scotland is about independence and nothing else and rehashing the same old Labour names somehow blinds Scots to the realities they see everyday around them.
David Cameron during the referendum talked about a respect agenda. He has since imposed an additional 100 million plus of cuts, has said there will not be a second referendum, has pledged that if England votes to leave the EU Scotland will be leaving also no matter how it votes, has reneged on the pledge to make the Scottish Parliament permanent, has ditched most of the Smith Commission proposals and retained a Westminster veto over Scottish legislation. Hardly a respect agenda and an agenda that shows, again, Cameron is another politician who does not get it.
Willie Rennie MSP and Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats who has just presided over the worst Liberal Democrat general election result in a long time in Scotland talks about “how the Liberal Democrats will listen to the people of Scotland, to the people on the doorsteps and to the increasing numbers of people backing the party.
As the Tory government continues with its illiberal plans to curb our civil liberties and tack the UK further to the right, the role of the Liberal Democrats is more important than ever.
And in Scotland, the SNP has taken its eye off the ball on day to day public services. Their disregard for the voice of local communities and for liberal values continues to create divisions”.
Again this is just missing the point and smacks of the SNP bad mantra of both the referendum and the election and one that voters in Scotland from all parties have switched off from. Labour said they would listen, the Conservatives are listening and Liberals are listening. The problem is they are hearing but they are not listening, they are talking, but to whom, they are blaming without accepting.
The debate in Westminster this week on the Scotland Act was a huge unionist own goal, they made a huge mistake in disregarding the will of the Scottish Voters. The debate was poorly attended by the House but they amazingly all turn up when they want to vote down the amendments put forward on making the Scottish Parliament permanent, on Full Fiscal Autonomy, on ensuring that Scotland cannot be dragged out of the ECHR etc. But what this week demonstrated to the Scottish voters clearly is that their vote just does not count.
I think the unionists made a huge mistake this week I really do, Scotland has moved on and you had better catch up or everything you say you hold dear about your union will be gone and you won’t even see it coming. I joined the Liberal Democrats because I am a Liberal, but I am not a unionist and I am not stupid, neither are the Scottish voters.
I believe that we have to fight for every single additional power we can get for Holyrood as it is one more step closer to the federalism that I believe many in Scotland would happily accept. Unionism is both failing and dying for many in Scotland in my opinion. If Labour and the Liberal Democrats in particular don’t understand that Scotland has moved on then they will find themselves finished in Scotland along with the conservatives with no way back. Scotland has moved on and you had better get on message, the times they are a changing.