The most pertinent question for Iain Gray and his leadership contending successors is what will bring voters “back hame”.
Labour in Scotland has until 2016 to acknowledge and implement the solutions. Failure equates to impending fringe party status.
Labour already knows the answer for it is an utterly clear and simple answer. Implementation is Labour’s self imposed cleft stick.
The problem for Labour in Scotland is that London cannot permit them to accept and implement the solution. Labour HQ will not allow it to be voiced therefore Labour across the UK as it exists today is doomed to the dustbin of political history.
To accept and implement the real remedy also equates to the end of Labour UK and the Union, for it involves answering the West Lothian question. Thereafter the route to Labour’s resurrection in Scotland lies in easily accomplished phases.
Labour must first apologise to the electorate of Scotland for all its misdemeanors, real and perceived. Labour must be brutally honest with itself and the voters. Qualifying the apology won’t work. Attempting to explain any items as issues of perception and not as actually illegal will not work.
The Labour apology cannot contain spin, they know it. A steady procession of red rose wearing jailbirds refutes anything other than abject apology. We will collectively accept the apology if Labour in Scotland is proven to be sincere in its desire for change as that will be to our ultimate benefit.
Labour Scotland must publically lay bare any instance of past misinformation or duplicity on the part of the UK government or Labour with regards to Scotland. Anticipate that to be a very weighty document indeed. Even with the knowledge that such information would be downplayed by the mainstream media it’s unlikely to happen.
In the event apologies are dealt with Labour must promise a full accounting of Scotland’s books, ensuring publication of all cash flows with Westminster in order to help Scots decide fairly in the upcoming referendum.
Labour must then apologise to Scots for any time in the past that it may have given the appearance of denigrating Scotland or her people, pledge it will never happen again. They must propose some form of accounting that politicians will be constantly held to this pledge, not simply during elections.
Labour then need to prove to Scotland that they will be constructive and cooperative opposition for Scotland, not simply knee jerk reactionary opposition. They need to undertake to work towards the death of party politics outside of election periods and work solely for Scotland’s betterment.
Labour could propose legislation in the Scots parliament that would hold all elected officials to a higher standard. This would assist claims of Labour sincerity.
Within this broad brush of proposals Labour could include a superior code of ethics where any allegations were promised a speedy resolution. Perhaps automatic dismissal with loss of pensions and rights or a full re-instatement being advocated outcomes. Fraudulent allegations would be dealt with just as stringently.
In this working for Scotland’s betterment Labour must prove they will be held accountable by Scotland’s voters and not Westminster.
Labour Scotland must drop their dogmatic opposition to independence. Instead they must promise to campaign on a platform of fair debate and defend what they can factually demonstrate is best for Scotland. That may create a bit of a schism between BBC HQ and Pacific Quay.
The press would certainly ensure Labour would be well covered in complimentary articles as they propose these actions. Follow through would be all that remains.
There should also be a pledge that Scottish Labour would no longer simply be a springboard for its ablest adherents to leap into Westminster’s grimy corridors of power.
Scottish Labour should not exclude its members from leadership of a UK Labour Party. Any Scottish Labour candidate should able to be voted in as Labour leader for the UK if they deserve the post. The need for a UK leader would still have to be present.
Members of Scottish Labour would compete with Welsh, N. Irish and English proposed candidates for the job.
Lastly Labour in Scotland has to reorganize as Scotland’s Labour party. They must break completely from London at all levels, including the adoption of any “Labour whip” at Westminster. At Westminster they should follow the SNP lead and adopt the policy of not voting on any English only law.
This brings about a change being required in Labour’s UK wide rule book. The circle is effectively squared because Labour in Scotland cannot re-invent itself in a way that would be perceptibly appealing to the average Scots voter and be part of any future UK without the agreement of Labour HQ.
Labour HQ can’t give that agreement without losing some fifty often key votes at Westminster.
Everything about the current and probable future difficulties within Labour Scotland gives every indication of simply being a microcosm of the more global UK constitutional conundrum.
The argument is simple for why this constitutional fix cannot happen. It would be difficult for the sole conservative and miniscule phalanx of Lib-Dems to assert a moral case for remaining in a vote position on English only legislation.
Without such support then no administration will be able to count on passing English only legislation barring an overwhelming majority of simply English MP’s. Any party in power failing to exhibit such a majority would effectively lead a hung parliament.
With the moral ground for others voting on English only issues being removed there is no valid reason to have English MP’s voting on or meddling with Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish issues. The number of predominantly UK issues will dwindle substantially.
Westminster would quickly become “England’s parliament” and have a minute quantity of core functions with regards to the remainder of the constituent nations of the present UK. There would be no need for a substantially English weighted House of Commons to wrestle with UK legislation and the House of Lords could simply be abolished with substantial savings.
This situation would very quickly be self evident to voters across the Disunited Kingdom who will fast question the relevance of Westminster to their lives.
The forced cohesion of the present constitutional settlements will disintegrate under a groundswell of public opinion North and South of the border.
Ultimately for labour to resurrect itself requires a return to its founding principle of autonomy for the Celtic nations over hegemony for a privileged few.
If Scots Labour implemented the above it would again be credible a force in Scottish politics and the average Scot would welcome it with open arms. It could again proudly fill the right of center slot that is effectively empty in today’s Scotland.
Left of center is now occupied by the SNP, and Labour has solidly demonstrated its center right leaning credentials for almost two decades.
It has been ninety years in the coming, but ultimately and clearly these are the choices faced by Labour in the second decade of our new millennium. Clearly the Scots are instructing Labour at the ballot in Scotland that Labour should not have deserted Scottish home rule.
The longer these issues go unaddressed the more converts to full independence Scotland will see. That is why Alex Salmond waits, watches and ultimately wins.
Salmond wins because Labour can either return to its roots of Scottish independence or face its impending political oblivion. Alex Salmond is holding the two headed coin and the Union has called tails.