When Scottish Labour got into bed with the most hated parties in the country, the Lib Dems and the Tories, many members were sceptical and unwilling to campaign for an organisation where the Tories were involved. But there were also many people who were rubbing their hands in glee: the Tories have the money, they said. Indeed, but they do not have the manpower that Labour have. Indeed, the task of getting out on the streets, knocking on the doors and shoving leaflets through letter boxes is bestowed with Labour.
In the last couple of years, there appears to be a radical change in who the worst enemy of the Scottish Labour Party is. It was once the Tories, the 2011 SCOTTISH Parliament election was fought by Scottish Labour like they were fighting an election in the mid-eighties against Margaret Thatcher. It didn’t occur to the SLP that Thatcher was in power over twenty years before the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections; that the Scottish Parliament is slightly different from the UK Parliament; that the Tories aren’t really a big threat when it comes to the Scottish Parliament.
They should have been fighting the nationalistic policies of division the SNP seemed to be propagating in their manifesto. Not policies that(although still affecting people in Scotland, twenty years on) were introduced twenty to thirty years ago. They needed a refreshing change. And it didn’t really come, and so, they relied upon Scotland’s hatred of Thatcher to try and scrape an election victory.
Labour were decimated in the Scottish Parliament election in 2011. They lost seven seats in total which left them with only 37 seats in parliament. The SNP witnessed a historic victory and were the first party to ever secure a majority in a parliament with a voting system designed not to produce majorities.
So, the SLP went on a journey of political discovery and somewhere along the way, discovered that the Tories weren’t really their enemies, but it was the SNP instead. There would be childish exchanges between Johann Lamont and Alex Salmond at First Minister’s Questions every week, personal attack after personal attack. Labour would oppose antything that the SNP introduced, even if it was a good policy, just for the sake of opposing it and because it was an SNP policy.
Labour are on the offensive against the SNP. They attack them left, right and centre, from every angle. They are putting far too much emphasis on the reasons for opposing independence when the reality is, not many people in Scotland actually care an awful lot about the referendum. Not when there are jobs on the line, and the cost of living is increasing. So why are Labour so adamant to keep fighting the SNP? Is it because of their ties to the Tories through Better Together?
The ties with the Tories aren’t the only problem with Better Together. It was my intention to outline the main problems with Better Together in the blog post and why the SLP should start distancing themselves from the campaign.
So, here are the problems with Better Together:
-The Arguments are poor.
You can tell the Better Together campaign is funded mainly by the Tories through the propaganda they have on their Facebook page. It uses arguments like “If Scotland were to become a separate country, the rest of the UK would become foreign.” This may come as a shock but…so? So what if the United Kingdom became a ‘foreign’ country? It wouldn’t matter one jot to the people who lived on either side of the border.
–The glorification of the armed forces and war.
Our Armed Forces do a tough job. No one is denying that. They take a lot of stick and are forced to go into illegal, pointless wars and they deserve our support. However, things like “Our Armed Forces are the Best in the World.” seems to me to be some kind of militaristic love in with the army and the defence system in this country. It’s sickening, given the number of soldiers and civilians who have needlessly died in conflicts in the last ten years. As a pacifist, I don’t support war in any form. We shouldn’t be joining organisation who glorify the killing of millions of people.
-It ignores key anti-independence arguments
Key arguments like solidarity, bigger issues at hand and what happens to the welfare system, NHS amongst others are overlooked in the Better Together campaign. The main reason I am personally against independence is because Scottish Labour contribution to Westminster is needed in a time when the Tories are on a bender of inflicting inhumane living conditions on the poorest and most vulnerable people in society. England is overrun with Tories. Who is going to stand up for the people who cannot stand up for themselves if Scotland leave the United Kingdom? There are also bigger matters at hand right now, such as the cost of living, jobs, pensions, welfare cuts. The independence referendum comes very low in the ordinary Scottish person’s list of political priorities at the moment. The Yes campaign are trying to validate their argument with these matters and that is a slap in the face to the millions of people across the country who are suffering under the Tories.
-Does not sufficiently challenge the claim that Scotland can rely on oil and whiskey.
Man does not live by bread alone, and Scotland won’t stay rich for very long if it relies on oil and whiskey. Believe it or not, but Oil is a finite resource. One day the oil wells under the North Sea will run dry and Scotland will not be able to sustain itself if it relies only on the oil we have. Similarly, Scotland also can’t rely on whiskey exports to maintain an economy. It’s all about supply and demand. What if demand for whiskey falls? Scotland needs a credible economy. The SNP need to, for their independence argument to be valid, come up with another income source for Scotland. Manufacturing would be a popular one. Building houses would be another popular one. But Better Together doesn’t challenge the claim Scotland can be sustained with oil and whiskey. There needs to be more research into the fact that Scotland’s economy is better off as part of a UK economy, especially with it’s contributions of oil, whiskey and renewable alternative energy.
So, in short, there are many problems with the Better Together campaign, that aren’t just to do with the Tories. There are many more problems too, such as where the funding does actually come from and the Better Together “Youth Reps” where you can be as young as fifteen to become one.
Labour would do well to keep it’s United With Labour campaign going and eventually move towards that movement as it’s main campaign against independence instead of the Tory funded, military loving, Better Together.