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Herald Scotland

New old Labour

Herald Scotland:

Reported by Tom Shields

Columnist

Published / News
Updated

IT was interesting, and heartening, to observe a relatively little-known political species raise its profile in the independence referendum debate.

We are talking about the lesser-spotted Labour Yes campaign.

Labour Yes has been lesser-spotted because the people's party hierarchy has firmly put its weight behind the Unionists who say No.

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Labour for Independence has been ignored or sniped at by the ruling Stalinist Labour-for-getting-into bed-with-the-Tories faction. As far as can be ascertained, no Labour MP, MSP, or even lowly councillor has come out in favour of voting Yes. Mostly because they have been told such a rash statement of principle would instantly curtail any future as a Labour MP. MSP, or lowly councillor.

So Scottish Labour for Independence (SLFI) has no endorsement from party big-hitters. Apart from Jimmy Reid, pictured, who is of course dead. But the institute set up in his memory takes a positive view of Scotland's prospects after independence. Some may find the ethos of the deceased Mr Reid more inspiring than most living politicians.

The Scottish Labour leadership's reluctance to recognise SLFI may stem from the fact that it a rank-and-file movement which has emerged from a Facebook page. They may regard this is a dangerous development when ordinary members start having opinions of their own. Even worse when they act upon these opinions.

A recent poll showed that 20% of Labour voters are in favour of independence. No majority, but not an inconsiderable figure.

SLFI say a Yes vote is not necessarily a vote for Alex Salmond and the SNP. It may be a vote to bring about "an independent, socially just Scotland with a real Labour Party at the heart of it".

Policies may include a return to transport, gas, electricity, and other services run for public benefit and not for profit. Health and welfare provision taken back out of the hands of private companies who, it appears, may have been stealing money by charging for services not actually provided.

The Scottish Labour for Independence activists are brave enough to say they want to go return to the core values of the 1918 Labour constitution but in a modern, progressive and innovative way. Mostly they want to stop the Labour Party tailoring its policies to suit south-east England.

It is an intriguing prospect. Vote Yes. Vote New Old Labour. Not that I would ever presume to advise you dear readers how to cast your ballot.

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