Monday, 15 December 2014

Boom

Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale make a phenomenal leadership team for Scottish Labour.

It's what most folk in Scottish Labour had been hoping for throughout the leadership campaign, and what most folk in Scottish Labour voted for in the end. A fresh start, with a clear focus on a future Labour government delivering social and economic justice for all Scots.

Today's announcement of a "Clause Four moment", as the leadership asks the membership to endorse a constitutional renewal, is the clearest demonstration yet that business as usual is over. Scottish Labour will be revitalised, re-energised, and relentlessly focused on fair pay, fair tax and fair work.

It is time we moved on from the arguments of the referendum. That issue has been settled, and the Smith Commission process is delivering powers that mean the Scottish Parliament can reshape spending and policy to suit Scotland's needs. The question now is how we use those powers, and as I re-read Jim's speech from Saturday I find it hard to see how anyone could disagree:
"If we are honest, Scotland is one country but two nations. Divided not by how we voted in the referendum, but by circumstances. One, the majority: fulfilled, doing well, getting by or getting on. The other, a minority: falling behind, denied opportunity, struggling to escape the hardship of their upbringing. This inequality is wrong. And Scottish Labour’s mission is to end it."
I was on Good Morning Scotland this morning, debating with a member of Radical Independence about what Jim's election means for Labour's relationship with the trade unions. I fear it was largely a dialogue of the deaf. No heed was paid to the fact that Jim won 40% of the union vote despite 90% of union leaders backing other candidates. No acknowledgement was made of the fact that, for all the spin and bluster, all three candidates were actually backing the same core Labour principles - fair pay, equality and fair taxation. The arguments against Jim were arguments against a caricature, a straw man. What Jim is actually standing for was being ignored.

For too many people, the politics of division has taken such deep root that we are struggling to set it aside even when we find common cause. But there is great common cause here: between those who voted No and those who voted Yes; between the trade union movement and the Labour movement; between all parts of Scotland.

It's about building a fairer Scotland. Jim and Kez have got it. For the first time in a while, the cause of social justice is on the front foot. I'm excited, and ready. Let's go.