Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Labour for independence

Whilst Ed Miliband has been campaigning for the Union it would seem that some of his party in Scotland have different ideas.
A “Labour for Independence” group has established itself in Scotland. It is difficult to measure the extent of support within the Labour party for its aims, but they are pushing for a proper debate within the Scottish Labour Party.
They’ve just launched a website called Labour for Independence and are pushing the Scottish Labour Party to allow members a vote on the issue. 
They’re campaigning to shift Labour’s stance in Scotland from pro union to that of backing independence in the 2014 referendum.
The Labour machine not surprisingly say that the organisation lacks any real support amongst the membership. And they are probably right, in as much that most of the Labour members who held such views would have drifted to the SNP over the years. 
But those behind the organisation  say “In the last month, we have gained 24,000 Facebook viewers, created our own website, which after one week has more than 2,000 hits.”
Many Labour members feel a sense of unease that former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling, the man leading Better Together, the official campaign for Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom, is involved in a cross party campaign with Scotland’s Tory leader Ruth Davidson and Liberal Democrat, Willie Rennie. 
Scotland today, Wales tomorrow? Unlikely, Labour here is far more wedded to the union. 
But if there was a referendum on independence for Wales all bets would be off. There are a number of Labour members that would likely campaign for a “yes” vote.
Indeed if a group was established by Labour members it would cause real problems to Plaid Cymru. Under Leanne Wood’s leadership Plaid has positioning itself on the left of Welsh politics. 
If a large group of Labour members were pushing for independence, where would that leave Plaid Cymru. Those left wing members of Plaid Cymru who left Labour primarily because it refused to consider independence might be tempted back to their natural political home. 
OK, not an immediate prospect I grant you. But who knows, if Scotland becomes independent the pressure would build up in Wales for a similar referendum. After all Wales tend to follow the lead of those north of the border, all be it, a few years later. 


  1. I think Adam Price predicted that it will be the Labour party that will deliver independence for Wales.

    I don't what that means though!

  2. I'm sure Price will support it too if he can profit from it

  3. You say Labour members in Wales would campaign for independence. I can think of one or two individuals but the idea that Labour as a whole would support such a stance is laughable given the ultra-Unionist position being adopted by many of its grassroots leaders and, more recently, elected politicians.

  4. I said that the Labour party was wedded to the union, but there are members of the party that would certainly buck the leadership and campaign for independence in a referendum if it was on offer. Grant you it would not be a larg group.

  5. "Under Leanne Wood’s leadership Plaid has positioning itself on the left of Welsh politics." And under every other Plaid leader too, to be fair!

  6. It was Labour votes that delivered the legislative powers referendum. Devolution has been Labour's project so far.. which isn't far at all, given that Carwyn's first bill has stalled because of the complexity of the devolution settlement.

    We're a long way from independence, and I'd rather not be starting the journey from here, as the Irishman reputedly said.

    Having said that, Wales is in a sad state, with no prospect of improvement, in the short, medium, long term, if ever. Things are likely to get worse, if the trend of recent decades is anything to go by. Which unionist party can promise or offer anything for Wales' future?

    I support Plaid Cymru because it's the only party which offers hope for the people of Wales through independence. That is the only reason I support it. I don't care which party or party ultimately delivers it, other than it's gained democratically via the ballot box, without bloodshed.

    Events will determine Wales' future. Holtham on Click on Wales today, is bleak about our country's future. 'We're here because we're here, and we're going nowhere' sums up his attitude.

    My response is, do we need people with such an attitude? It is because of opinions like these that Wales finds itself in the present impasse. Thoroughly defeatist - it's prevalent in Wales - even in Plaid!

    Labour and other unionist parties in Wales have grassroot supporters who can be persuaded to view things differently... that is the function of a nationalist party - to bring a change in opinion. Plaid has largely failed in that task, for a variety of reasons, but it has to step up to the mark if it has any future.

    Given Wales' prospects, or lack of, should make Plaid's task easier. Unfortunately we find senior people within it who want to support a Labour party which has let down, even betrayed, Wales in the past, and recently at that - there were those MPs who didn't want us to have legislative powers, or even an Assembly!

    There must be unity of purpose, with a clear aim, a route map for achieving it, and a charismatic determined leader to take us forward. The people of Wales will be open to persuasion, as the Scots were when Salmond and the SNP finally got their act together.

    As a first step, Plaid has elected such a leader. Now it's time to move, and ditch the defeatists who have got Plaid nowhere. There's all to play for.

  7. Easy to replicate in Wales. Find a complete unknown who has a Labour Party card carrier who supports independence , open a facebook site, get 300 or so Plaid members to "like" it and you got yourself a "Welsh Labour for Independence Group". It worked in Scotland.

  8. Plaid has a sizeable number of refugees from Labour, more so than they do from the Lib Dems or Tories. But they mostly didn't leave Labour for reasons of independence. It was usually because of the move in the Labour party away from social justice, and towards Blairism, the wars etc. The people of Wales have no interest in indepedence right now because it would entail an immediate drop in their living standards. They may see it as a possibility in the future. But there is no choice to be made. Independence as a Maoist, 'year zero' option will never win the support of the Welsh people. To be electable it would have to be gradual and involve extending devolution. That's why Holtham is basically right. Don't write him off just because what he says is inconvenient. But don't let your opponents manipulate his words either. Holtham still wants half of income tax devolved to Wales- same as Plaid, and different to the other three parties.

    If Plaid is only about 'independence now' there would be no point trying to work through the Silk Commission. My advice is Wales is not Scotland, but we are a nation and we can still grow at our own rate. Work tactically and strategically to achieve that and don't fight lost causes.

  9. It may be worth noting that in the general election of 1918, when Sinn Fein won a landslide in Ireland, the Irish Labour Party 'split' over the issue on whether to take seats in Westminster. It was their absence in 'the south' in not standing candidates that boosted Sinn Fein in the 1918 general election (although they did stand some candidates as Belfast Labour). It was this absence and split that resulted in the Government of Ireland Act (Independence - delayed by WW1). It is not the 'nationalists' who split at pivotal moments, but the Labour Party.

  10. Interesting point Anon 12:42 and MH at Syniadau also presented polling evidence that showed that any theoretical votes for independence or further devolution in Wales would mostly come from the left (that is, left-of-centre voters), rather than the right. But being realistic that is a very long way off. Labour voters would overwhelmingly prefer to see a Labour government returned at Westminster.

  11. I'd say some of the most famous Labour politicians are pro independence which isn't the case in Scotland.