Malcolm Chisholm’s shift on independence reflects way many Scots are thinking – Kenny MacAskill

Former Labour minister Malcolm Chisholm’s comments about his possible support for independence in another referendum were perfectly sensible and from a thoughtful and principled man.

Thursday, 4th July 2019, 7:00 am
Malcolm Chisholm said he might vote for independence but it would totally depend on what the situation was (Picture: Steven Scott Taylor)
Malcolm Chisholm said he might vote for independence but it would totally depend on what the situation was (Picture: Steven Scott Taylor)

I’ve had good reason to be grateful for his willingness in the past to break with party orthodoxy and do what he sees as the right thing. His reflections weren’t an outright endorsement of a Yes vote, as he caveated his comments, but they were indicative of a drift in his thinking.

Caring passionately about a better and fairer society, he has strived to deliver that throughout his life, whether as a teacher in a deprived area or as a politician.

But if Corbyn or Labour can’t deliver, and Boris Johnson or whoever’s threatening, then the union is no longer sacred but a threat.

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Former Labour minister Malcolm Chisholm says he could vote for independence

In that he’s not alone, a few other Labour politicians have mused likewise over recent years and the journey was made by the great Jimmy Reid many years back.

They were reflecting not just a view of how they deliver the political and economic changes for a better society but also representing the hopes and fears of Labour voters.

What is strange is not Malcolm Chisholm’s view, but the intransigence of the Labour party leadership.

During the independence referendum, I always knew Labour would pay a price for siding with the Tories, I just hadn’t realised how great it would be.

The venom for them in housing schemes was tangible.

Yet historically Labour, not just the ILP, was for Home Rule and some of the Bills proposed by Red Clydesiders were akin to the Irish Free State – only foreign affairs and defence left at Westminster, with it anticipated that even they’d come in due course.

Labour doesn’t need to support independence, just let the Scottish people decide.

In Ireland in 1918, Labour stood aside allowing a choice between Home Rule and Republicanism. All they need do in Scotland is support a referendum. That’s not nationalist, it’s democratic.

Vehement denunciation of independence is seeing not just voters desert them but it’s leading members to drift away.

Labour MPs might be able to thole Boris Johnson, the Scottish working class can’t. Malcolm’s logic’s impeccable, if England won’t change then we need to act.