Scottish Labour needs to change more than its leader
Alasdair Clark (@alasdair_clark) is a 20 year old activist in Fife who joined the Labour Party during the 2015 General Election. He says we can be out campaigning now on issues that matter.
One month on from the general election, leadership elections underway, and we’re starting to get back out there. With a Tory majority in Westminster and an SNP majority in Holyrood we know that more than ever we have lots to do.
We can be out campaigning to change and save people’s lives like Labour has always done. We don’t need to wait for the party centrally to tell us to campaign, and if you are ready to get back out there then you can. It’s your party, it’s your CLP.
The difference between Labour and most, if not all, other parties is that we are and always have been a movement. A movement which was founded and exists to change the things around us – we exist outside of electoral politics as well as inside to campaign against inequality and injustice. This is exactly what we need to be doing now.
Take The Living Rent Campaign, a grassroots campaign started by tenants in Edinburgh which has taken off across Scotland. An issue-based campaign which, since October, has been out on the streets daily speaking to the public and tenants about the private rented sector in Scotland.
The campaign calls for the re-introduction of rent controls, which Thatcher took away, and better protection from unjust evictions. It’s now putting pressure on the Scottish Government, and with widespread support amongst the public it will be very hard for them to ignore despite landlords investing tens of thousands of pounds to oppose it.
This campaign, and the thousands of others like it, is issue-based campaigning. It’s difficult and it’s unpolished, but it works. It’s how the machinists in Dagenham won equal pay, it’s how trade unionists won some of the rights workers hold most important in the workplace today, and right now it is how Labour Party activists like you and me will rebuild this party step by step.
Because we would be lying if when people say to us on the doorstep – ‘what has labour ever done for me’ – we didn’t feel that we weren’t really answering their question when we list out the really great things it did do whilst it was in government. Not because these things weren’t important, but because people in Scotland are struggling in spite of them still. Wouldn’t it be great to talk about the things we are winning now, even though we aren’t in government?
So find a campaign in locally or nationally, tell your CLP it should be supporting it and how it can do so. Then get out there and win for people in your community. When we’re organised and winning locally, we’ll win elections nationally again – and we know that when we are in government we will make a difference again, securing things just like the NHS, the minimum wage and the Welfare State!
For more information on The Living Rent Campaign and to sign the petition to the Scottish Government visit www.livingrent.org/action