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Positive Reason Needed On Scottish Referendum

Friday, March 21, 2014

On The Scottish Referendum Show People Not Just What We Are Against But What We Are For And A Positive Reason For Turning Out And Casting Their Vote Says GMB At Scottish Labour Conference

We represent the future where the answers to the challenges we face do not lie in nationalism or patriotism but in a socialism which has democracy as its essence and humanity at its centre says GMB.

Richard Leonard GMB Scotland spoke today (21st March) at Scottish Labour Party Conference in Perth on the referendum on Scottish independence. See notes to editors for text of the speech.

Richard Leonard, Regional Officer GMB Scotland, said “Now is the time and now is the hour when we need the vitality and we need the confidence to make our own history. It is up to us, in Tom Johnston’s words, to understand our past to mould the future.

There is a referendum to be won and elections to be fought.  Lets campaign in them showing people not just what we are against but what we are for. Let’s give them a positive reason for turning out and casting their vote.

Let’s show them that we represent the future that the answers to the challenges we face do not lie in nationalism, or patriotism  but in a socialism which has democracy as its essence and humanity at its centre.

If we do that, if we keep the faith and fight the good fight, if we give people hope and once again are seen as the means of realising that hope then we will not only win, we will deserve to win”.

End

Contact: Harry Donaldson 07885 456 726 or Richard Leonard 07703 465 447 or 0141 332 864. GMB Press Office 07921 289 880

Notes to editors

Richard Leonard speech to Scottish Labour Party Conference 2014

“Conference, Richard Leonard GMB Scotland

Voting No in the Referendum - not to stop the change that we need. The opposite - to help bring about the fundamental change that we need.

Comrades this is a historic battle we face. Because in this Movement we have always known

that economic relations determine power relations.

So if we are serious about a real redistribution of power from those who own the wealth to those who make the wealth which is and always has been the decisive struggle for us then we need to organise, pressure governments  and win political power at the level where that economic power rests, not break away from it.

So the stakes are high, not just for our party, but for our class.

It is claimed in the SNP’s White Paper that if we vote “No” and I quote“Decisions about Scotland would remain in the hands of others”. But that’s precisely what will happen if we vote “Yes”

It is true we may not have an elected Tory government in Scotland as the result of a Yes vote

but we’ll have an unelected Tory government that we can’t vote out  running Scotland’s economy  and dictating our public finances

That’s not more independence it is less!

And with this document launched this morning  I believe we have the platform for the kind of radical policy programme that working people are crying out for. 

A new moral economy built on our values of solidarity , equality  and social justice,

A document which at long last recognises our history

Because as Tom Johnston said “It is an abiding and indisputable truth  that a people which does not understand the past will never comprehend the present nor mould the future”

We are the Party of Scottish home rule. That’s our tradition. We delivered it.

So the GMB union for one is not going to sit back and allow Scottish nationalism with its bitter fruit to go unchallenged.

That’s not about our loyalty to the Labour Party,  it’s about our loyalty to our members their jobs, their pensions and the kind of society we want to build.

We have before us a document that shows that in this Movement we understand that tinkering with problems will not work.

That shows that standing still is not an option.

That demonstrates the more we press the more we advance. It is an acknowledgement too that once again the Scottish Labour Party must take the lead. From Robert Owen to Keir Hardie,

from Mary Barbour to Jennie Lee , from John Wheatley to John Smith, these leaders led with ideas and conviction.  It is an enormous honour to be their inheritors but it is an enormous responsibility as well.

And just like them we need to offer new hope, a greater hope than nationalism. So it’s about time we started talking up the Scottish Labour case for a no vote.

The document quite correctly talks about “brave steps” We need to be audacious. And here are some brave steps we should take.

We want to see a transfer of power to individuals, families and communities. But we also want to see a transfer of power to workers and their trade unions in workplaces as well

We demand a Living Wage but we should be demanding a living old age pension too to give our people dignity in retirement. And I hope as well that “the devolution of railway powers that could facilitate consideration of a “not for profit” option in terms of the Scotrail franchise” . It could also facilitate consideration of a public ownership option in terms of the whole railway industry.

I don’t know why we are so tentative in our support for public ownership. We state unequivocally in this document that the NHS is not for sale. Quite right.  But let’s not limit our ambition to the NHS we should be arguing for public ownership in transport, in energy

and in the Royal Mail too.

As Nye Bevan declared in his last ever Party Conference speech “I have found in my life that the burdens of public life are too great to be borne for trivial ends.  The sacrifices are too much unless we have something serious in mind.”

So let’s put before the people of Scotland some serious ideas. Let’s take this radical platform and build on it

Let’s remember we are not the Party of market forces and excessive wealth accumulation. We are the Party of people before profit and the equal society.

It is only when we get confused about that that we start getting into trouble.

Now is the time: Now is the hour:  When we need the vitality. We need the confidence that we make our own history. It is up to us in Tom Johnston’s words understanding our past to mould the future.

There is a referendum to be won and elections to be fought.  Lets campaign in them showing people not just what we are against but what we are for. Let’s give them a positive reason for turning out and casting their vote.

Let’s show them that we represent the future that the answers to the challenges we face do not lie in nationalism,  or patriotism  but in a socialism which has democracy as its essence

and humanity at its centre.

If we do that, if we keep the faith and fight the good fight, if we give people hope and once again are seen as the means of realising that hope then we will not only win, we will deserve to win.

 

 

 

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