The choice on Thursday: SNP making a noise, or Labour making a difference
I am here today with one aim, one goal, one mission:
To stand up for the 71,000 Scots who have to depend on food banks. To speak up for the 80,000 Scots on zero-hours contracts. To speak out for the 180,000 Scots on waiting lists who need the most basic of necessities, a decent home. And to give a voice to 200,000 children living in poverty, and to the millions of Scots whose living standards are falling and whose NHS is suffering from neglect.
Let me say this. Even if the SNP talk only about deals, coalitions, pacts, tie-ins, hung parliaments and backroom negotiations, we will continue to speak about what really matters to the Scottish people: an end to poverty, an end to injustice, an end to inequality, an end to deprivation, an end to the neglect of our health service and a better future for the young people of our country.
And even if the Tories’ campaign is to divide and rule – to set English nationalism against Scottish nationalism – we will stand for the unity of our country. For it is only a Labour Government that can:
- Prevent five more years of food bank poverty;
- Prevent five more years of Bedroom Tax poverty;
- Prevent five more years of payday lender poverty;
- Prevent five more years of zero-hour contract poverty;
- And prevent five more years of NHS neglect, Tory austerity and the miseries they impose.
Let us be clear: whatever way you count it up, and whatever calculations you try to make, the only Government that can deliver this change is a Labour Government. You know, even the SNP admit that the only way we can deliver change is through a Labour Government.
So instead of waking up with 59 SNP MPs and a Conservative Government, we can have a Labour Government that:
- Within a few hours and days secures money for food banks and to end food bank poverty. Delivered under a Labour Government with Labour MPs. Undeliverable under a Tory Government, even with 59 SNP MPs.
- Within a few days and weeks secures money for 1,000 more nurses and 500 more doctors. Delivered under a Labour Government with Labour MPs. Undeliverable under a Tory Government, even with 59 SNP MPs.
- Within a few weeks and months secures money for jobs through the youth employment guarantee. Delivered under a Labour Government with Labour MPs. Undeliverable under a Tory Government, even with 59 SNP MPs.
And if you need proof or evidence of this, just look at the eve of poll SNP leaflet I was handed yesterday in which they said vote SNP and SNP MPs will demand more money for the NHS.
“Demand” more money? Labour MPs will deliver more money for the NHS in Scotland.
That’s the choice on Thursday: the SNP making a noise, or Labour making a difference. And I tell you we can achieve more in a few short minutes with Labour MPs in government than anything the SNP could achieve in five long years in opposition.
I say all this not because I misunderstand the mood and what is happening in Scotland, but because I understand it. I know my fellow Scots are, like me, patriotic and proud of our country. I know also that my fellow Scots are, like me, desperate for change. And I know too that the change that my fellow Scots and I are demanding is the greatest change of all – social justice – and that we are impatient and cannot wait for it: we want change today so we can live in a more socially just community as soon as tomorrow.
And the question now is who will deliver that change. Not who shouts the loudest but who can deliver the most. Not who makes the most noise but who makes the most difference. Not who wills the ends but not the means to achieve social justice, but who will deliver both the ends and the means to achieve social justice.
And I say to you, there is only one party that has written into, enshrined and engrained in its DNA the three qualities necessary to secure the change Scotland needs. Not just a love of Scotland and a devotion to the Scottish people. And not just a dedication to the cause of social justice. But a commitment to the means to deliver social justice for Scotland.
A commitment to the only means we can today deliver social justice. A commitment to the sharing of resources across these islands – from each according to his capacity, to each according to his need.
And our commitment to the principles of cooperation and solidarity that underlie this sharing is at the heart of everything we do.
And you know why it matters so much to us? Because it was Scottish Labour that pioneered the principle of sharing. It was Scottish Labour that led the way in cooperating across the UK. And it was Scottish Labour that called for solidarity between the nations.
The Tories don’t care about social justice or about finding a route to social justice. If they claim we are lying about benefit sanctions then let us tell them the truth about the scale of poverty they are creating.
And while they talk about social justice, the SNP can never bring themselves to accept the sharing that is the means to secure social justice, because nationalism is the imperative they serve.
And nowhere is the reason for voting for Labour clearer than in this election. Jim Murphy is proposing 100,000 new jobs and an end to youth unemployment, paid for by Ed Miliband’s plans for sharing across the UK with the proceeds of the Bankers’ Bonus Tax. So the Scottish road to full employment is paved on the cooperation we have forged as part of the UK. And I say build on it, don’t break it up.
Jim Murphy is proposing a radical anti-poverty programme to end the need for food banks, funded by Ed Miliband’s proposal to share resources across the UK by reducing pension tax relief for high earners. So again, the Scottish road to eradicating poverty is built not on the shifting sands of expediency but on the solid foundation of sharing across the whole of Britain. And I say build on it, don’t break it up.
Jim Murphy is also proposing immediate action to get NHS waiting lists and waiting times down, including cancer waits and accident and emergency waits – and he can do this because Ed Miliband is proposing a UK-wide Mansion Tax, something that the SNP could never obtain under a Conservative Government even with 59 MPs. The Scottish road to a reborn NHS stands on a partnership across the UK. And I say build on it, don’t break it up.
And so if you want a party that will fight Scotland’s corner every day, a party that will serve Scotland’s values of social justice, and a party that will deliver social justice by embracing UK-wide sharing and thus securing for Scotland the resources we need to change lives, then you only have one option: Scottish Labour, Scotland’s party of fairness and social justice.
While for the SNP it is nationalism that is the imperative they serve, nationalism that drives them on and nationalism that inspires their every decision, we believe in sharing across the whole of the country. So it never could have been Scottish nationalism but only Scottish Labour that led to the creation of the NHS, giving rights to free and universal care to all who are in need irrespective of nationality or ability to pay – an NHS that today for the very same reason is safe only in Labour’s hands.
While for the SNP it is nationalism that dictates their every decision, we believe in solidarity across nations. So it never could have been Scottish nationalism but only Scottish Labour that led the way to building up the UK-wide welfare state – a welfare state that for the very same reason we will build up and not allow to be destroyed.
While for the SNP the pursuit of nationalism is their goal, we believe in partnership, and that real progress is not some progressing at the expense of others but all of us progressing together. So it could never have been Scottish nationalism but only Scottish Labour that led the way to a minimum wage across the whole of the UK, to stop the good region undercutting the bad and the bad nation undercutting the worst in a cut throat race to the bottom – and it is a minimum wage that we will convert into a £8 an hour minimum wage
And that is why there can be no deal, no tie-in, no arrangement and no compromise with an SNP for whom nationalism is the imperative they serve. Not because we are taking the low road of electoral calculation. But because we have taken the high road of supporting the very principles of cooperation that the SNP want to break; the principles of partnership that the SNP would smash; the principles of sharing that the SNP would bring to an end; and the principles of solidarity that the SNP would throw into the dust.
And that’s the difference. The nationalists wake up in the morning thinking of how to advance the cause of a separate state. We wake up in the morning thinking of how to advance the cause of social justice.
Their aim is a second referendum. Our aim is a fair economy.
And we are seeking a mandate to deliver social justice by drawing on the resources of the whole of the UK to benefit those who need them the most. It is only a Labour Government that can now deliver. And the surest and safest way of securing a Labour Government is by electing Labour MPs.
This means that every voter in every seat in Scotland should vote Labour to see the back of this Tory Government. It cannot be right to argue that the easiest way to get Labour into government is to vote against the Labour candidate. It is a perversity of logic to claim you want a Labour Government, when in the SNP’s case you urge people to vote SNP in Scotland, Green in England and Plaid Cymru in Wales.
And it is an even greater perversity of logic to claim you have ever wanted a Labour Government when you urged people in England to vote Liberal Democrat in 2010, and when the one time you used your bloc vote in Westminster to effect change was not to save but to destroy a Labour Government in 1979.
We know that the SNP prefer people dissatisfied under a Conservative Government than people satisfied under a Labour Government.
The SNP’s deception becomes even clearer to see when you look at what the Tories are planning. For things have changed in the last few days of this campaign. For weeks the SNP have been saying elect a bloc of SNP MPs on Thursday and they will determine who governs the whole of the UK on Friday. But on Sunday, and then yesterday, the Tories stated and repeated that, irrespective of the share of the vote of the SNP or indeed of any of the third parties, fourth parties, fifth parties or sixth parties, if they have just one more MP than Labour on Thursday they will try to hold on to power on Friday.
The SNP have got it wrong. Elect an SNP MP and you may make the Tories the largest party on Thursday and this may help them try to stay in power on Friday.
But elect a Labour MP on Thursday and you will make Labour the largest party on Friday, and make possible not a Conservative Government but a Labour Government.
So I say elect Jim Murphy, who will be a fantastic Scottish leader. I say elect Douglas Alexander, who will be a brilliant Foreign Secretary fighting for justice around the world. I say elect Margaret Curran, the most compassionate woman you will ever meet, who will become the first female Scottish Secretary from Glasgow. And I could go on and urge you to elect Labour MPs everywhere – for the more Labour MPs we have the more we have a chance of being in government.
Of course this is a difficult election. It is not just about the future of the UK but about the very existence of the UK. It is not just about what kind of future there is for our country, but whether we continue to be a country at all. It is not whither stands Britain but whether Britain stands at all.
But I say this to the SNP. Don’t equate our patriotism with your nationalism. Don’t assume you have a majority for independence. And don’t think that the desire for change is a desire for the constitutional and institutional change alone when it is a desire for social and economic change.
Yes, we are up against the odds. But let us not forget our history as a Labour Party.
We were born against the odds. We grew against the odds. We created the NHS against the odds. We created the welfare state against the odds. We created the right to work against the odds. We delivered a minimum wage against the odds. We have spent our whole lives fighting for people whose lives are lived against the odds. And we will fight, fight and fight whatever the odds.
Scottish Labour have never left it to others to deliver the social justice we need. From Keir Hardie to John Smith, from James Maxton to Donald Dewar and from John Wheatley to Robin Cook, we have never asked others to do what we are not prepared to do ourselves.
And so I say to those of you who voted Yes – we have learned from you and from your desire for change. Join us and let us all play our part in Labour and Scotland’s fight for social justice.
I say to all those who feel proud and patriotic Scots who thought that a Yes vote was the only way to stand up for Scotland – we are no less patriotic Scots for voting Labour. Join us and let us all play our part in Labour and Scotland’s fight for social justice.
I say to those wanting more powers for the Scottish Parliament – we have championed them and they will come with new laws in 100 days. Join us and let us all play our part in Labour and Scotland’s fight for social justice.
I say to those who feel Labour grew old and tired – we have a new and vibrant young leadership in Ed Miliband and Jim Murphy that is dynamic and committed to Scotland. Join us and let us all play our part in Labour and Scotland’s fight for social justice.
And I say to those who feel the pain of others and who believe in something bigger than ourselves: we know that when the strong help the weak it makes us all stronger. I say there are millions like you who cannot be truly happy when others are sad, who cannot be at ease when millions are ill at ease, who cannot feel fully secure with so many insecure, and who cannot be comfortable when so many are without comfort.
And so I give you my view. The independence people really want is independence from poverty. The liberation people really want is liberation from deprivation and unemployment. And the freedom people really want is freedom from all forms of injustice and inequality.
Yes it’s an uphill battle, but the battle is for the mountaintop of social justice. Join us and let us all play our part in reaching that mountaintop.
And the starting point is on Thursday: voting Labour, electing Labour MPs and securing a Labour Government.