Saturday 17 February 2007

The Left in Scotland providing an Alternative to New Labour.

I've just got back from Scotland. This morning I spoke to a joint meeting of AMICUS and TGWU members, at lunchtime a fringe meeting at Labour's Youth Conference and in the afternoon at the AGM of the Campaign for Socialism , which is the grassroots organisation of the Labour Left in Scotland. It was a real bonus to be on the same platform as Elaine Smith MSP, who has been a tremendously effective voice for socialism in the Scottish Parliament.

There is real enthusiasm for our campaign in Scotland in both the constituency left and especially amongst the trade unions. This week more manufacturing job losses have been announced and a demonstration was being held today in Ayrshire at the loss of jobs in a local factory. The dogmatic adherence by Gordon Brown to the unfettered operation of the free market and the refusal by the Goverenment to intervene to protect and develop manufacturing industry is leading more and more trade unionists to seek an alternative.

Labour Party members are fearful at the prospects for the Scottish Parliament elections unless we can demonstrate an alternative to the current policies.

It is likely that as a result of the electoral system Labour will be able to remain in power with a continuing alliance with the Lib Dems. The predictions are that the SNP will not be able to put together the coalition needed to put them into office.

I am sure that in London this type of result will be spun as a major victory for New Labour, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. The reality will be the result is likely to demonstrate even further that replicated in a general election more seats will be lost and power will slip away from us.

There is speculation that this could produce a crisis of confidence in Gordon Brown amongst Labour MPs fearful of losing their seats and that this would trigger demands for another candidate from the New Labour stable to come forward. David Miliband is being touted not just by himself testing the water in his recent Times article but also in Guardian articles by Frank Field and Martin Kettle.

The response in Scotland was exactly right. Changing New Labour faces just wont wash no matter if they are from the generation below.

When will they learn?

It is the policies not the indidividuals. Unless there is a radical break with New Labour's neo con agenda people will very quickly see through just a change of New Labour personnel, especially as all the New Labour potential leadership alternatives have voted for every New Labour policy disaster from Iraq to privatisation of our NHS.

I hear from young people at the conference that virtually every front bench speaker launched an attack on my campaign without actually namimg me. Thetyt must be getting worried that our message of change is getting across.