Margo MacDonald: Mavericks show the path

Scottish Labour Chancellors Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling short-changed Scotland
Scottish Labour Chancellors Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling short-changed Scotland
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Having established Labour for Independence, either you’re trying to cause as much trouble as possible for the SNP or, ditto, for the Labour Party, or, by far the most likely explanation, you’re a decent, straightforward person who understands what the two big parties would rather you didn’t.

The referendum will ask every Scot, regardless of membership of party, religion, class, football, rugby, shinty, hockey or basketball club, to say if they want Scotland to take control of all the services and responsibilities that affect them in order to change them for the 
better, where necessary.

We’re better off than most other countries seeking independence, but we’re still frustrated in developing our talents and resources to greatly improve the chances in life of the thousands of Scots who live the bitterness of poverty amongst plenty. One estimate has 220,000 children being raised in 

While it’s true that Scottish Labour, and other party councils have been the policy-makers for the local services that support education in the Central Belt, Labour and Tory governments in Westminster both tried to break up people’s control over the complimentary services such as housing, health and economic development. This fake devolution of power could achieve only partial, or cosmetic, differences between the services north and south of the Border because the whip hand, and chequebook, remains in London with the Chancellor.

Even Scots chancellors could do nothing – Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown couldn’t change that: they went along with short-changing the Scots as did the chancellors during the 70s and 80s, as recently published papers and books prove.

Allan, as you will now know, some Scots slump into inertia and regretfully accept the description “loser”. Thankfully, the great majority don’t and if their knowledge can be fleshed out, they will gravitate from being uncertain of the details of the changes to their lives that will come with independence to realising that the much-trumpeted “security” of the UK can only deliver less than we could, given independence, determination and an ideas shake-up amongst the political parties.

I think this last point is the one that causes sleepless nights for party managers. They don’t want their loyal party workers flying out of formation for too long because they have an election to fight in 2015. That makes you, Allan, political enemy number one.

You represent a different strategic approach to the referendum and, probably more important in your leader’s plans, a different approach to winning the contest that matters most to most Labour Party members . . . the next general election to Westminster.

You could try rebranding your group as comprising lefties from all parties and none – Socialists for Independence, for example. I’m sure you’ll be finding it hard going and getting going has been made very difficult because of the cack-handed way the SNP has allowed the Yes campaign to appear like only an SNP grouping.

But if you keep trying, form an all-party group instead of a Labour group you may have more success. Socialists and Radicals for Independence has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

You are re-living what a Labour organiser discovered when her party put her in charge of building an all-party and no-party campaign against staying in the EEC, as it was then, in the referendum of 1975. Labour’s Janey Buchan was appointed organiser of Labour’s No campaign, and was body-swerved by people she didn’t like, people who didn’t like her, those who supported the EU and 
people of delicate disppositions.

The Yes campaign had ten times more than the No one. But there was nothing to spend the No money on. In desperation, myself and two others from the usual suspects of dangerously clear thinkers, who were at odds with each other, joined forces even though we were in different parties. We were all agreed for different reasons that it was in Scotland’s interests that we should come out of the Common Market.

We created quite a stir when we fought to get to the microphone first to establish our ideas before the others explained theirs. It was good fun, lively and audiences loved it. But it was only a small part of what should have been the campaign. So, dear Allan, if you want to think again about the kind of group you would like to form, it might be a good idea to speak to one or other or both of my fellow individualists, Jim Sillars or Teddy Taylor.

Best of luck, and invite me to one of your meetings, please?