What Scottish Labour really needs
Labour’s defeat in Scotland in May was devastating to watch. We knew we faced major challenges, but could not anticipate being left with only one UK MP sitting north of the border.
The Scottish people delivered the Labour Party a harsh message, and we need to hear it. Labour lost in Scotland because we stopped listening.
As we go about rebuilding ourselves as a party and think ahead to rebuilding trust in Labour in Scotland, there is no task more important than selecting the right leader.
I believe there is only one candidate whose voice can reach out to all four corners of our country – who can rebuild that emotional connection that we have lost with our Scottish voters.
Andy Burnham is a principled, decent man and a talented communicator. He has shown he has strength in government and a capable, assiduous voice in opposition.
He has never lost touch with his roots, and he knows the Labour Party needs a good shake, pulling it out of Westminster and into the real world.
Most importantly, he’s a listener. He has listened to what voters told him on doorsteps around the country, including in Scotland, and he knows the party needs to change if we are going to win again in 2020.
He is in no doubt about the challenges we face in winning back support in Scotland, and has no intention of lecturing Scottish people as we start to rebuild our party.
Donald Dewar said the Scottish Parliament would allow the Scottish people to find ‘Scottish solutions to Scottish problems’. Andy wants Scottish Labour to find Labour answers to the problems Scottish people face, without interference from Westminster.
But he also wants to make sure our Scottish members can continue to play a central role in creating Labour’s solutions for the whole of the United Kingdom.
I have confidence in Andy to get the balance right between independence and unity.
When Scottish voters went to the polls in May, they didn’t just vote against Labour; they voted against a brand of politics that seemed increasingly distant from their lives. Against policies and soundbites that didn’t connect with them.
Andy is already talking about the things that matter to people up and down the country. Opportunities for young people when they finish school, getting more young people onto the housing ladder and building more homes to rent and buy. Devolving more power to local councils and communities, helping everyone to get on in life.
This week, he’s launched a campaign for a fair wage for every age, arguing that there can be no justification for limiting the increased minimum wage to the over 25s, when younger people are going to be hit just as hard by slashed tax credits.
And he can lead with a strong voice in Europe, too. Andy is passionately pro-EU. He knows it needs reform, but he won’t let renegotiations turn the clock back and weaken employment rights. At the same time, he will offer a strong Labour voice on key issues, such as the need to prevent the undercutting of British workers by paying lower wages to migrants.
Labour’s campaign to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom was undermined by the platform we shared with the Tories. Andy has called for a Labour campaign to keep us in the EU, to make sure we learn from our mistakes and take Labour arguments for EU membership to the electorate.
If we’re going to win in 2020, so we can change our country for the better, we need a leader who can prove Labour has the strength to put its principles into practice. And that competence and compassion can go hand-in-hand.
For the future of our country; for the future of Scotland; for the future of the EU and for our future prosperity, the Labour Party needs Andy Burnham.