Experienced Labour activist Andrew Cochrane says the SNP is hamstrung by its constitutional fixation, while Labour has values and is capable of listening and learning. 

 

With no coherent philosophy to rely on to help bring them back beyond agreeing on wanting independence, the SNP are in trouble. Reflective observers have been spotted at their conference, but there’s nothing to build on. Let’s make sure they stay that way. 

Being a political magpie can be fun, but if that’s all you’ve got to draw when you face a reverse like losing a referendum on your guiding purpose, then you’re in deep trouble. 

Labour has had good times and bad. We’ve had clauses added and removed from our constitution, but each time there have been values to argue about how to implement them. We’re not peddling a miracle cure to impose on all situations, and we’re not afraid to listen to and learn from voters, even when it can feel a bit scary.

When we get into power we change things. We devolve power, we raise incomes for the lowest earners, we put ending poverty, disease and want at the heart of what we do. When the SNP do anything it’s all about independence. It’s all calculation and no principle.

When Scottish Labour voted to reform Scottish councils we ended our own dominance brought about by first past the post. We put the country above our party because that was the right thing to do.  We didn’t then, and don’t now, confuse the needs of the party and the country as so many in the SNP do.

I think that leaves us in a position where the SNP are in government, but aren’t in control. There’s nothing they wouldn’t drop in a heartbeat if they got another chance to hold a referendum on independence, but until then, we’re all treading water while they virtue signal.

Worse for them, is that the debate about how to improve lives is shifted back to a left/right, Labour/Conservative dynamic.

Our next leader has two tasks: show up the SNP as the clanging bells that they are, and show that our vision of a state that invests and cares is better than the Tories’ proposal of one that puts the ideology of a small state above the needs of the people. 

Having had some tough times, those of us who’ve stuck with the party through thick and thin – and those who are coming back for any number of reasons – have got a party that has values worth fighting for. The chance to put us back into power is one we must take together.