How did this happen?

It has become something of a tradition for Labour Party members and voters to be disappointed upon the release of the exit polls in recent years. From the 2007 Scottish Parliamentary election to the 2019 General Election, it has been a hard twelve years for Labour, and never harder than last Thursday night. Yes, people will argue that it was only expected that Corbyn would crumble and the Tories would be left triumphant; but even the most pessimistic polls were hesitant to suggest such a disaster.

And what a disaster it was. The worst number of seats for the Labour Party since 1935. Once again all but wiped out in Scotland. The collapse of the Red Wall and the decimation of our traditional heartlands. This isn’t the sort of election an opposition party should be facing after nine years of Tory government. Nor is it the sort of election result that leaves us ‘one more heave’ away from government. The last time Labour suffered a fourth successive election defeat was 1992. In that election, we gained seats. The Tories squeaked in with a majority, but by the end of that Parliament, that majority had been lost. And at the following election, Labour won a landslide. That’s not going to happen in 2024.

During the election night coverage, BBC journalist Andrew Neil said there had been two previous transformative elections. 1945, where Labour won our first majority, our first landslide, and went on to build the welfare state. 1979, where Margaret Thatcher triumphed and tore up the post-war settlement and remodelled Britain in her own image. In Neil’s view, 2019 was a third such election. I think he was right.

Where does Thursday’s result leave us? A resounding Tory majority means an easy passage through Parliament for Johnson’s dreadful Brexit deal. Brexit, combined with Trump in the White House (where he is likely to remain until 2024 considering the dearth of inspiring alternatives offered by the Democratic Party) means a trade deal with the US will all but certainly put the NHS centre of the table. The size of Johnson’s win means he will likely be able to remain in 10 Downing Street as long as he wants. The nature of Johnson’s win, shattering Labour’s traditional heartlands, leaves the potential for a fundamental redrawing of the electoral map from which Labour may never recover. And in addition to all that, there is the very real sense that the 2019 General Election will prove the final nail in the coffin for the union; in Northern Ireland, there are more nationalist than unionist MPs for the first time ever, while in Scotland the SNP swept the board and previously staunch Scottish Labour unionists have swung their support behind indyref2.

How did this happen? Who, or what, is to blame? And where do we go now?

Just as the 2014 Scottish independence referendum shattered Labour’s coalition in Scotland, so too has Brexit belatedly shattered Labour’s English coalition. The Labour Party as an organisation took a stance our voters disagreed with over Brexit, just as the Scottish Labour Party did on independence; on what is perceived as the biggest issue of the day, Labour abandoned its traditional voters and suffered the consequences. Long periods of ambiguity on Brexit were no doubt deeply harmful to Labour’s position here, and when a position was finally settled on – a second referendum – it was attacked on all sides, leaving the Tories to sweep up our traditional Leave-voting heartlands while failing to make gains elsewhere. Perhaps a more strongly Remain stance would indeed have helped make these gains materialise, as some on the right of the party suggested, but I am sceptical; such a strategy would have involved a total reinvention of Labour and what it means to be a Labour voter, a reinvention which was not going to happen, at least not quickly. The Tory’s own Brexit reinvention was not done overnight either, but over many years, and only thanks to inroads in northern seats made by Theresa May in 2017. And ultimately, in order to make the gains necessary in Remain-leaning seats to offset the losses endured in northern Leave seats, Labour would have to abandon its socialist principles entirely. It would be the Labour Party in name only.

But Brexit alone is not the only factor. Jeremy Corbyn entered the election as the most unpopular political leader in history. This was not entirely his own fault; yes, he could, and should, have handled the antisemitism controversy better than he did, and no doubt some of his past associations hurt him, but it must be remembered that Corbyn was under siege from all sides. Attacked by everyone from the Tory press barons to his own backbenchers, Corbyn endured a vicious onslaught that no leader could come out of unscathed. The press, the Tories, and certain Labour figures threw everything they had at him, and eventually some of it stuck. In the end, the public did not get to see the real Jeremy Corbyn, the compassionate socialist who knew this country deserved better. Instead, people judged the man the media presented him as, and we are all suffering for it.

Although the messenger was shot, the message he carried was popular. Labour’s policies have proved hugely popular when polled individually, and the 2019 manifesto, like the 2017 one before it, offered a real blueprint for the radical change the UK so desperately needs. Socialism has seen a renaissance these past four years. People support nationalisation of public utilities, a well-funded NHS, a public transport system that works and is affordable, a Green Industrial Revolution, more and better jobs, higher wages, a social security system that gives those who are struggling the dignity they need and deserve. Labour has changed the conversation, and when the focus is on real policy issues, rather than leadership or Brexit crises, we are winning the arguments. It is vitally important that this defeat is not seen as a defeat for socialism and the ideas we have fought and campaigned for. A radical socialist agenda isn’t just a ‘nice to have’, it’s a necessity, and it’s only going to be needed all the more by the time Labour return to power. We did not lose because we were too radical; if anything, we lost because we were not radical enough in our vision for democratic, economic and social renewal.

This is not the time for recriminations and rushed resignations. This is not a time for throwing blame and launching witch-hunts. We must take a step back, reflect on our defeat, and move forward with purpose. People are crying out for change, and contrary to what some on Twitter seem to believe, the change they want is not a return to 1997. People feel abandoned; they feel our democratic institutions have left them behind.

At the heart of Labour’s future direction must be the renewal of democracy and empowering ordinary people. This sense of abandonment and lack of democracy is a key driver in pro-Brexit sentiment, and it’s time we as a party understand and respond to that, and in turn develop solutions to re-enfranchise these people. It is these same sentiments which have driven support for independence in Scotland; this too Labour must respond to. For too long Scottish Labour has blamed its defeats on being ‘too socialist’, or ‘too weak on the union’ – let’s not forget that it was under arch-Blairite and unionist diehard Jim Murphy that Scottish Labour lost 40 of our 41 seats in 2015. The truth is that Scottish Labour’s traditional base has migrated to the SNP because of the question of independence. Being more unionist isn’t going to win them back. It’s past time Scottish Labour sits down and has an open, honest conversation on our future, and on where we should stand on the question of independence. Make no mistake, an ever-increasing number of Scottish Labour members and voters are coming to view independence as the best future for Scotland, or, at least, the least worst. Among Scottish voters as a whole, I have no doubt support for independence is only going to grow further, particularly after last Thursday. If independence is now, as seems likely, inevitable, it is imperative that Scottish Labour can make a positive, socialist, internationalist case for Scotland’s future outside the UK.

The 2019 General Election was a watershed moment. The future of Brexit and the union was set, and the future of the Labour Party cast into doubt. What matters is what we take from this defeat, and where we go from here. If Labour can learn to understand the concerns of the millions of people, from Lands End to John O Groats, who are crying out for real change and democratic renewal, we may yet find ourselves in a position to govern again.

My Speech to Conference

In the run-up to the 2015 Scottish Labour Conference, when the refugee crisis that is still affecting millions today first came to prominence, my home CLP, Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale, proposed an emergency motion to respond. That motion was selected to be debated on the Conference floor and was passed with unanimous support.

During the debate, I addressed Conference, urging the floor to remember our proud history of supporting refugees and making clear my firm belief that we had a duty to do more. The transcript of my speech is below.


When David Cameron announced his plan to accept refugees into the United Kingdom, his headline figure was 20,000 refugees. 20,000. Barely enough to fill one fifth of Wembley Stadium. Two thirds of 1% of the total number of refugees from Syria. Less than 31 refugees per constituency. These are not figures to be proud of.

Britain has a proud history of welcoming refugees. From the tens of thousands of Asians escaping persecution in Idi Amin’s Uganda, to the Jews who fled from Hitler’s Germany, the United Kingdom has led the world in welcoming those who have nowhere else to go. Because, just as with refugees from Syria today, they had nowhere else to go.

Those who flee Syria do not do so from choice. They are not, as some suggest, economic migrants who come to Britain based upon a calculated decision to seek a higher standard of living. They flee Syria, leaving behind everything they know, because doing so is their only chance of survival.

This nation has a duty to do more. When our friends and neighbours across Europe are taking as many as half a million or more refugees, we cannot simply sit here today content with 20,000. There is a moral imperative upon us to do more. That starts with working with our friends and neighbours across Europe to secure a fair, equitable and moral distribution of refugees throughout the continent.

Conference, it cannot be said that refugees, or indeed immigration in any of its forms, have negatively affected the UK. In a time when our population is aging, an influx of the young is essential in ensuring the continued success and prosperity of the economy, and the stability of our welfare system. Nor can it be said that refugees will harm community cohesion: examples throughout our history suggest otherwise, and I firmly believe that modern Britain is more tolerant than ever before in our history.

Conference, we are all human. Each and every one of us, be we Scots, Syrians, refugees or British citizens, share within us those essential things that make us human: compassion, kindness and solidarity. It’s time the United Kingdom stood up and said this. It’s down to us to make that happen.

Conference, I urge you to support this motion.


For reference, the text of the motion debated is, I believe, as follows:

That Conference rejects the Government’s proposed imposition of a restriction on the number of asylum seekers received in the U.K. to 20,000 during this Parliament as a denial of their rights of refuge from violence, oppression and poverty and an abuse of the traditional right of our citizens and humanitarian organisatons to provide asylum to those in need;   calls on the National Executive to demand that the UK join in and support the EU Agenda Programme on Migration;  and for that purpose undertakes, through the Labour Party Task Force on Refugees, the research and preparation needed for a planned programme of refuge, welfare and opportunity to reside and contribute to Scottish society to all asylum seekers, whether in camps around Syria or in transit in Europe or in Northern Africa.

Why I’m Standing

(From the 2017 SEC Youth Representative Campaign)

Scottish Labour is at a crossroads, and the choice before us is a stark one: do we embrace a modern, boldly socialist vision that can and will lead us back to power and change Scotland for the better, or drift onto the vague road to electoral irrelevance, clinging to the past instead of moving with the times? It may sound dramatic, but these are the issues which face us today, and the time for a decision is now. There is no doubt in my mind which path we must follow.

Throughout history, it has always been the young who are at the forefront of change and progress. It has always been the young who push boundaries, challenge established wisdom, and ultimately make change happen. The Scottish Labour Party today is in a rut, and only by ensuring the voice of young Labour members across Scotland are heard can we hope to escape this. The importance of the youth positions on the SEC are therefore of vital importance.

Today, young Labour members are overwhelmingly of the Left. Across Scotland, and indeed the UK, young people are being mobilised by the politics of Jeremy Corbyn, the politics of equality, fairness and socialism. The youth of today have grown up in the crisis of capitalism that has shaken the very foundation of the economic system that for so long was seen as unassailable and so today’s youth does not see politics anywhere near the same as those who grew up twenty or thirty years ago see it. As has been proven time and time again in recent years, there has been a fundamental shift in the way politics works. Scottish Labour must catch up, and young Labour members must be at the heart of that.

The significance of these youth SEC elections is therefore clear. It is essential that the elected youth representatives be able to clearly and passionately articulate the views of the majority of young members on the direction that Scottish Labour must take. It is vital that they are committed to the boldly socialist ideals that must be at the heart of Labour’s future success. And it is crucial that they have the determination and grit required to fight for the bold, socialist Labour government we need to change Scotland for the better.

I believe I fulfil those values.

I joined Scottish Labour on my 14th birthday. Since then I’ve been fighting to advance the socialist Labour values we all believe in. From speaking at Conference in defence of refugee rights, to standing up for the interests of young members in my constituency, to campaigning for Labour candidates both in my constituency and across Scotland, I have proven time and again my commitment to our socialist values.

I have experienced first-hand the fundamental economic inequalities which are at the heart of the growing gig economy. I worked on a zero-hour contract, with irregular, short-notice hours making planning a proper work-life balance all but impossible, and the painfully low wages that go along with such work. I know the vital importance of trade unions in fighting for the rights of young people against the bosses who seek to take advantage of our perceived inability to challenge them and I completely believe in the necessity of the whole Labour movement, party and trade unions both, working in tandem in order to transform the status quo to make work pay for everyone.

Ultimately, I want to take my commitment to and involvement in the Labour Party to the next level. It’s time for a boldly socialist Scottish Labour Party to stand up and make our voices heard. I want to represent all young members across Scotland on the SEC, to put our shared values into action so we can build Scottish Labour into a radical force for change once again. That’s why I’m asking you to vote for me to be your young SEC representative. I hope I can count on your vote.

Time For A Leader Who’s Visibly From The Left

Originally posted on LabourHame

When BBC News broke the story that Kezia Dugdale had resigned the leadership of Scottish Labour on Tuesday night, I was shocked, and saddened. Perhaps no leader in the history of Scottish Labour has been so brave, so determined, or faced so vast a challenge. When Kezia took on the leadership Scottish Labour had just lost 40 seats in the most devastating general election in our history. To be brave enough to step up and take on what so many saw as a ‘poisoned chalice’ is laudable; to do so at the age of 33 even more so.

Kezia began the rebuilding process that is vital to Scottish Labour’s political survival. Under her leadership, Scottish Conference voted to back the abolition of the Trident nuclear missile system, an important step in renewing Labour’s centre-left credentials in Scotland. Under her leadership, the SNP’s feet were held to the fire, and the Scottish Government’s left-wing mask has crumbled under the pressure of a renewed, vocal and determined opposition. And under her leadership, Scottish Labour began the essential task of rebuilding our parliamentary cohort, with 6 new MPs elected in the June 2017 general election.

This rebuilding process is far from complete. But I believe Kezia was right when she said it was time to “pass the baton on” to a fresh new leader.

For all Kezia has done much to detoxify the Labour brand in Scotland, that has come at a cost. The constant pressure of media scrutiny and public backlash against Scottish Labour’s past failings has naturally, though through no fault of her own, tarnished Kezia’s personal brand. In the eyes of many, she is undeniably linked to the hated New Labour political class, and this perception is only reinforced by her closeness to Murphy’s leadership, and her longstanding opposition to Corbyn’s leadership of the UK party. Kezia’s personal convictions have been a real strength of her leadership, giving her an authenticity that is rarely seen in politics and that Nicola Sturgeon simply cannot match. But it is these very same convictions that has made her position increasingly difficult.

Scotland is, on the whole, a progressive country with a strong socialist tradition. For all people point to the recent Conservative revival in Scotland, it is important to note: over 70% of Scots voted for parties broadly on the left in the 2017 general election. But many among that 70% cannot see Kezia as a true socialist worthy of their vote.

The truth of that perception is doubtful. Kezia has moved Scottish Labour firmly leftward in her time as leader, as was clearly demonstrated through the manifesto on which we fought the 2016 Holyrood election. But like it or not, in politics, perceptions matter. And the perception of many is that Kezia Dugdale is not the sort of socialist people want to see leading Scotland.

Scottish Labour is a party founded on the principles of democratic socialism and that ideology has been central to our success in the past and to what we stand for even to this day. Indeed, it is when those principles of democratic socialism fade, as they did during the later years of Blair as Labour became too accustomed to the excesses of government both in Westminster and Holyrood, that Scottish Labour struggles. Huge droves of voters have abandoned Scottish Labour, many in large part due to the perception, wrongly or otherwise, that we have lost touch with our socialist roots. It is no coincidence that our worst ever general election defeat came under the leadership of Jim Murphy, a man who to many embodied the worst of neoliberal New Labour.

For all the scepticism, Jeremy Corbyn’s new Labour vision has drawn hundreds of thousands, even millions, back into the Labour fold. For all the scepticism, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership transformed an election that many believed could spell the final end for Scottish Labour’s representation in Westminster into an unexpected success. This surely must demonstrate the importance of a perceptibly bold left-wing platform to Labour’s political success.

We are at our best when we are at our boldest. We are at our best when we offer a clear, progressive, and socialist message and can convey the boldness of that message to the public. Kezia has put the building blocks of that message in place but it has become apparent she is not the person to deliver that message to the Scottish public.

We need a leader firmly of the left, who is, importantly, visibly of the left. In the highly-scrutinised world of modern politics, appearances are often as important as policy, and for that reason it is vital that whoever next leads the Scottish Labour Party not only be politically aligned with Jeremy Corbyn’s boldly socialist new Labour, but visibly and vocally aligned with his leadership. Despite the cries of the critics to the contrary, Corbyn’s bold left-wing vision has proven highly effective. One can only wonder what the future might hold were Scottish Labour to fully embrace that vision.


Don’t Let The Constitution Be A Distraction From Local Elections

Originally posted on LabourHame

Since 2014, indeed since 2011 when it became apparent that the SNP had enough seats in the Scottish Parliament to call an independence referendum, one question has dominated Scottish politics: the constitution. That question, intended to be settled on the 18th of September 2014, has continued to dominate Scottish politics for half a decade and it is a question that shows no sign of abating soon.

Scottish politics has split into two camps, unionist and nationalist, each united by their animosity towards the other, and this polarisation has had devastating effects on our politics as a whole. No debate, no discussion, no policy proposal is complete without a mention of the constitution, and this constitutional focus has led the real issues which effect the ordinary people of Scotland to be ignored. The result? A failing education system, an NHS in crisis, disastrous cuts to essential public services. We say we are all agreed we want Scotland to be a better, more prosperous place, but our actions simply don’t back that up.

For all the SNP’s protests, the Scottish Parliament does have powers to make a difference, powers that they are refusing to utilise. But the SNP cannot be held solely to blame for the dire situation in which Scottish politics finds itself. For all their protestations about the SNP being concerned only with independence, the Conservatives and Labour have themselves enabled the question of the constitution to define Scottish politics in one way or another.

The constitutional question is important, clearly, but it is far from the be all and end all. The unyielding focus on constitutional politics has led to every vote in Scotland since 2014 being a rerun of the independence referendum. The people of Scotland have largely stopped paying attention to the policies of the party they are voting for, only what their stance is on independence. That is no way to build a modern functioning democracy. This must change.

The importance of this is demonstrated nowhere more clearly than in the upcoming local council elections. Years of austerity have pushed local authority budgets to breaking point, and essential local services are increasingly under threat. The most important consideration when voting on 4th May must surely be which candidate, which party, will offer the best protection to these services which local people rely on. But there is a very real risk that that this vote will instead turn into yet another rerun of the independence referendum, with Scotland split between the nationalist SNP and the unionist Conservatives while those trying to offer real action to improve the lives of local people are squeezed out.

There is a time and a place for the constitutional question to be debated and Scottish Labour would do well to keep in mind that there is a strong case to be made that the situation the UK finds itself in has indeed changed dramatically from 2014. But local council elections are absolutely the wrong place for that argument to be discussed. Local councillors have no powers over the constitution but they do have powers over vital services local people rely on every day, services the SNP and the Conservatives have little interest in running effectively. If people vote on the basis of the constitutional question, the results could be disastrous. But if instead people decide to vote based on the issues which really matter, it could be the start of a real positive change to Scottish politics.

It’s time we as a country stop putting the constitution at the heart of every political debate. For too long, our politics has been held in stasis by that question, and the real issues have been left at the wayside. The constitutional question is not going away any time soon – that by now should be clear – but at the same time we cannot allow it to override every debate, discussion and policy proposal.

It’s time to redefine the debate, and get back to discussing the real, relevant issues. There is a time and a place to discuss the constitution. But that is not where we could be making real change instead.

We Must Reclaim Our Mantle

Originally posted on LabourHame

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I didn’t believe the exit polls when they were published at 10 PM on May 7th. I’m certain I was not the only one for whom flickers of uncertainty grew into a creeping dread before exploding into a fury of anger and confusion over the course of Thursday night and Friday morning. I know I was not the only one who found the fact that the United Kingdom had returned a majority Tory government and that Scotland had returned only a single Labour MP simply incomprehensible.

It was a devastating defeat. But it was also a wake-up call. For far too long, Scottish Labour has been slowly sleepwalking to its own demise. The warning signs have been there for a long time: 2007, when the SNP first took control of the Scottish Parliament; 2011, when they won a majority in a system designed to prevent such an outcome; 2014, when 45% of the Scottish populace, particularly in Glasgow, our traditional heartland, rejected Labour in favour of independence. Throughout all of this we refused to listen. Now, we must listen.

There is a somewhat justified sentiment held by many Scots that in Labour’s eyes, Scotland existed solely to obediently send 41 Labour MPs down to Westminster – nothing more, nothing less. There is a real feeling among Scots that Labour just doesn’t care. Regardless of the truth of these sentiments, it is the emotion that counts; as Lynton Crosby, the Tory’s vindicated election strategist, once said, when reason clashes with emotion, it is emotion that invariably comes out ahead. Never has that been so clearly demonstrated than in Scotland last Thursday.

All are agreed: Scottish Labour must rebuild. Where conflict arises is in how that rebuilding process should occur. There are many in the party, notably the majority of MSPs and former MPs, who, at least publicly, say that Jim Murphy is the right man for the job. Humbly, I disagree. Jim Murphy is emblematic of the problems facing the Labour Party in Scotland: Blairite, a major New Labour figure, seen as being installed by the party from London. These are the last qualities Scottish Labour needs in their leader.

Labour in Scotland needs to go in a different direction from Jim Murphy. We need to go in a direction that breaks with the past, and embraces the future. We need to go in a direction that recognises our historic achievements without trying to recreate history. We need to go in a direction that is specific to Scotland, but that doesn’t abandon the United Kingdom.

We can’t pander to nationalist myths nor promote nationalist half-truths. But we also can’t abandon the voters who have abandoned us in favour of nationalism. We must remember that so many of those who voted SNP did not truly vote for nationalism; they voted for an end to austerity, for social justice, for a real left-wing alternative to the establishment they saw Labour as a part of. With this in mind, there is only one road for Labour in Scotland that can lead us back to success.

It’s time Labour in Scotland became that bold and radical Socialist alternative once again. It’s a role we once embraced; it’s a role that still draws so many people across the United Kingdom to the Labour Party. This doesn’t mean a return to the 1980s – as society and culture changes, so too must Socialism. This isn’t something that can be done from the top down. It needs to come from the grassroots, from the people and communities across Scotland that once embraced Labour, and that made Labour the party that it is. We need to have an open, democratic, engaged discussion, not just amongst ourselves but with the people of Scotland, including those who voted Nationalist. Only then can Labour reclaim Scotland. Only then can Scotland reclaim Labour.

This won’t be an easy process – there can be no short-cuts, no easy paths. It’s that quick-fix mindset that placed Jim Murphy in the leadership, and we’ve all seen how well that worked out. If it requires a split from the UK Labour Party, then so be it. Of course, fraternal relations should be maintained, and Labour MPs elected in Scotland should vote with the rest of the Labour Party in Westminster on most issues. But we can’t let the cautious approach of the UK-wide party hold Labour back in Scotland. We must reclaim our mantle as the home of left-wing politics in Scotland and we must offer the people of Scotland the bold and radical alternative that they have demanded – or face oblivion. I just hope it’s not too late.

Why I hope it’s Neil

Originally posted on LabourHame

On October 24th, Scottish Labour was plunged into chaos. The sudden resignation of leader Johann Lamont shook a party that was already left reeling in the aftermath of a referendum campaign that, despite being an overall victory for the pro-union Better Together camp, made dire reading for a Labour Party that had just experienced the rejection of much of its traditional heartlands. Hundreds of thousands of traditionally Labour voters had turned their backs on their former loyalties, embracing the nationalist ideal of independence at all costs, and now it seemed that Lamont had turned her back on Labour too.

But out of the chaos and ruin, two challengers arose, both committed to rebuilding Scottish Labour in their own ideological image. On one hand, a real, radical agenda for a Labour Party true to its roots; on the other, a continuation of the shallow shell of style-over-substance Blairism that defined the New Labour era. In many ways, this leadership race mirrors the titanic struggles of the 80s and early 90s between the left and right of the party, yet the public mood could not be more different.

In the 1990s, a once-leviathan Conservative government still held sway over Britain, the Labour Party left in the shadowy fringes of opposition for well over a decade. Determined to end eighteen years of opposition, Labour under Blair abandoned principle in favour of power, blind to the devastating consequences of their actions that would only surface in years to come. The public supported them, desiring a change, any change, from a Tory government that had grown too used to power, regardless of policy.

That contrasts sharply with the state of Scotland today. The SNP, who have governed Scotland for the best part of the last decade, are only now entering their zenith in the aftermath of the referendum that many SNP supporters seem a tad confused about who won. Soaring in the polls, much of the nationalists’ success is owed to the failures of New Labour, and the style over substance approach that went hand in hand with it. Perhaps more importantly, the abandonment of principle that accompanied Tony Blair’s ascension has greatly disenfranchised vast numbers of traditional Labour voters. During the 90s, the New Labour crowd insisted that these voters had no-where else to go; today, the SNP are proving them wrong.

Labour in Scotland is on the brink. Continue on the trajectory of Blairism and Labour will fall. The weight of the Iraq War is simply too heavy on the shoulders of both the New Labour veterans and the New Labour brand to go backwards. The betrayal of socialism still stains the New Labour name in the eyes of many, particularly Scottish, working class voters. If New Labour, in the form of Jim Murphy, rears its head in Scotland once more, Labour will topple into the abyss. But there is still hope left for Labour. That hope is Neil Findlay.

Railway nationalisation. An end to poverty. The scrapping of Trident. These radical, popular, vote-winning policies are what Neil is offering. It is these sorts of policies that are going to win the hearts and minds of not just former Labour voters who have left for the SNP, but also of the countless people who have abandoned the ballot box, seeing nothing but a sea of homogeny. With the alternative being vague commitments to change and a promise not to raise taxes on the middle class, it’s not difficult to see what would win the votes.

Neil Findlay can deliver for Scotland in a way no other candidate can. Out of all the candidates, not just in this leadership election but also in the upcoming Holyrood election in 2016, Neil is the only choice with real experience in the real world. Only elected to Parliament in 2011, Neil has had real experience, as a bricklayer and later as a teacher, that gives him a perspective on issues that careerist politicians just cannot have. This sets him apart, gives him a splash of colour in a monotonous world, and that is exactly what Labour needs.

In a time were all politicians are seen as the same, a time when voter apathy is at an all-time high, Labour needs to offer something different. Voters are abandoning the Labour Party in droves, accepting the suffocating embrace of nationalism in the belief that it offers a new politics, a change from the establishment, however misplaced this belief may be. In years past, it would be the Labour Party that the people flocked to, the workers’ party, the peoples’ party. We can be that party again. But it will take radicalism, real commitment to change, and a very real break with the Westminster establishment to do so. And that’s something only Neil offers.