Tag Archives: Social Democracy

Scottish Labour Party – Election 2016 – The Post Mortem

I have written this article as I think something really is fundamentally wrong with the Scottish Labour Party.

At the 2015 General Election everyone took a tanking from the SNP.

At the 2016 Scottish Parliament Election it was only Scottish Labour that got mangled up. We can’t simply gloss over this and pretend that we are moving in the right direction. It’s obvious to everyone and their dog that we’re going nowhere.

First and foremost, the big obvious mistake is that our leader Kezia Dugdale had the wobbles and went all soft on the Union, this one fatal blunder was totally devastating, nevertheless, it’s one amongst many, so let’s move it along.

In the last Scottish Parliament 2011-2016 we let a few things through without kicking up enough of a stink.

Alarm bells really should off started ringing with the creation of Police Scotland. In 2013 the eight regional Scottish police forces were taken out of local authority democratic control and combined into one unit under the direct control of the SNP Government.

The Council Tax freeze is an affront to local democracy and should have been challenged more robustly.

The SNP’s Named Person Scheme is a direct assault on the western democratic liberal tradition. This truly chilling Orwellian nightmare, guising as child protection should never have been supported by the Scottish Labour Party.

This is the backdrop as we entered the 2016 election year and all of the above factors are within the remit or influence of the Scottish Labour Party.

When you fight an election you need a good battle plan and a good selection of weapons at your disposal. Sadly in this election we had neither.

Much more should have been made of the SNP’s overwhelming desire to centralise control, taking power away from local authorities and placing it into the hands of the SNP Scottish Government.

The plan for battle should have been organised around both the positive message of the Scottish Labour Party and a negative message of our opponents, especially the SNP.

Unfortunately our positive message was not all that positive and we balked at sticking the boot into the SNP, activists were repeatedly told that the “SNP Bad” stuff doesn’t work and that there was to be no negative campaigning. Thus we ended up with a dreadful cliché of a campaign, with our leader aping and copying much of the SNP’s act, such as being photographed with loads of little kids and having “kids not cuts” instead of “bairns not bombs”.

Then we had the “penny on tax” for education, this really is a desperate old policy, which is routinely pulled out by failing political parties. This policy was so bad on so many levels that it’s difficult to comprehend any wisdom behind it.

We are the Labour Party, historically we built our strength on our ability to fight, and we grew out of the union movement, which was basically a protection racket for working people. With truisms like, “give us a shilling and we will get an extra pound on your wages”, coupled with “a fair days work for a fair days pay” it is little wonder so many people wanted to join unions.  There was a simple truth in the phrase “unity is strength” it actually meant something in those days.

Anyway, the point is that our movement was a success, because it put money into people’s pockets, that’s why we became popular. It might not be the pretty sanitised romantic version of our history that so many like to foster, indeed many seem to think that our story started with the creation of the NHS, they don’t seem to realise that this was a destination point.

So here we are Scotland 2016, the councils we still control have yet another council tax freeze and we have to cut services and pay off workers. It’s worth remembering that these councils are democratically elected and that the people voted us in to deliver these services. Therefore it’s an affront to democracy to not allow councils to either raise or cut council tax as they see fit, if the people don’t like it they can vote the council out.

If we were going to raise tax anywhere it should have been in the councils we control, we should have fought the SNP over this matter. We should have sent out a strong and clear message that a Labour council will fight for local democracy and defend services. Sadly, this did not happen and the Scottish Labour Party leadership lay down to the SNP. In effect the Labour controlled Scottish councils were sacrificed on the mantle for the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.

Of all the positive things we could have offered the electorate we came up with a tax rise. It’s like here come this labour mob again and they just can’t wait to get their hands into your pockets!

We could have said something like, we will build X amount of council houses, we will pay employers part of the benefit money to take on the unemployed, we will create enterprise departments to bring in inward investment and jobs, we will get everyone working which will in turn raise enough overall tax to have both a penny tax cut and improve public services. There are so many positive things that we should and could have proposed, but simply failed to do.

Trying to campaign in this election was a feat in itself; you needed a fair bit of front to knock the doors of with our message. This wasn’t helped by the fact that our manifesto wasn’t released until the week before the election. Basically you were going round the doors with the candidate’s leaflet (which was printed well in advance) with no policies on it. When you asked “why is this?” you got the answer that “they don’t want to bring the manifesto out early in case the SNP copy it”! When the manifesto eventually surfaced the “big” surprise policy was a breakfast club in every school, stone me, that will get them queuing for miles outside every polling station.

So there you have it, we are a party that supports the union but then again we may support independence, you might not earn much, in fact you may well be part of the working poor, but never mind we will slam some more tax on you. We think it’s a good idea to launch our manifesto after the postal votes have been cast. Furthermore, we’re not too concerned about the creation of a police state, or having every family spied upon, all these things really don’t bother us too much. We are also pretty relaxed about letting the SNP decimate our council services and local democracy. To top it off, one of our flagship policies seems to be putting out a bowl of cornflakes for school kids.

Vote Scottish Labour?

Say No to the SNP Named Person scheme

The SNP Named Person scheme will take effect on Scottish families from this August. This deeply sinister, mandatory scheme has been brought in under the guise of “child protection”.

School children will be encouraged to imagine Scotland as a garden, with each child as a special plant growing within it. All the adults in a child’s life, including their parents are to be “gardeners”, while the state-appointed Named Person will fulfil the role of “Head Gardener”.

The “Head Gardener” will be the most important person in a child’s life. The child’s parents will have no right to any information shared between the “Head Gardener” and their child. The SNP government is currently gathering “survey” information about children and their parents in selected primary schools. Unfortunately, this is only the thin end of the wedge, as today’s voluntary anonymous “survey” will soon be tomorrow’s compulsory fact file.

The state has no business interfering with family life to this degree, not even under the emotive pretext of child protection. To make every child a ward of the state is tantamount to operating a spy ring. This practice was last seen in Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia. The SNP Named Person scheme amounts to gross state interference in family life. Its purpose seems to be to mould the hearts and minds of children into the image of the state. All freedom-loving citizens have a duty to oppose this heinous totalitarian legislation.

Why are parents not taking to the streets over this issue? Perhaps because most parents do not know about this policy and if they do, they are genuinely terrified of complaining or refusing to cooperate. Many parents fear dissent will heighten the risk of having their names blacklisted, or their child being flagged up a on a social work register.

We all have a duty to protect the rights of parents. So grandparents, aunts, uncles, family and friends, who do not have young children, should help to stand up for parents who cannot act, for fear of being victimised.

The SNP are taking the people of Scotland to a very dark place.

East Kilbride – New Town – New Future – Andy MacMillan – Labour Party

East Kilbride
New Town – New Future 

Written By : Andy MacMillan – East Kilbride Labour Party – 12th September 2013

Housing

East Kilbride is no exception to almost every other town and city in the UK as there is a chronic lack of affordable and social housing. However, this apparent problem can be turned into a golden opportunity .
Long before the financial crisis of 2007 the availability of affordable housing has been has been an ongoing problem. This is due to several factors;

(1)    The large scale sale of council housing from 1980’s onwards.

(2)    The relative recent historical increase in the cost of private housing in relation to income

(3)    The growth of the private rented sector.

We could of course build a new estate of social housing and fill it with tenants who have little or no work and this would still be a social good, far better than the insecure tenancy or the slum landlord. Nevertheless, it is my profound belief that we have the opportunity to do so much better.
When we build our new social housing estate we should look back to the proud history of this town and ask ourselves why did people come to and settle in East Kilbride? Why were they proud to call East Kilbride there home and happy to raise their families here?
The availability of excellent housing and employment were a major attraction as was the environment of the town, it’s educational , medical and social facilities were also crucial factors.

The New Social Housing Deal

Peoples expectations of housing have risen in the past 30 years, not so much in the facilities on offer, but in the desire to own a property, unfortunately the barriers to this for many people are at present onerous and include;

(1)    A banking industry unwilling to lend to house buyers (for a variety of well documented reasons including insufficient savings, low wages, insecure / self employment).

(2)    The end of the right to buy scheme in some parts of the UK. Indeed, where the scheme is still operational the remaining housing stock in some areas is so undesirable that no one wants to purchase it.

These problems should be viewed as an opportunity for a visionary town such as East Kilbride. We must offer our people a new deal and a brighter future and this is how we are going to do it.

With our new deal, new social housing tenants will be offered shared cooperative ownership terms in the property, in short, every tenant that is in employment and pays rent will have a rent credit  put aside in a fund that they will receive when they vacate the property, this is an incentive to both work and pay rent. The new deal will provide a calculated lump sum when the tenant vacates the property, this sum could be used, if so wished, to put a deposit down on a private property.
This is in the belief that many people do have higher aspirations than in the past and that we should help to fulfil these aspirations, other than leaving people with no option than the long term rental of private or social housing . Other benefits of the new deal are that the housing stock would remain in public ownership, providing more tenancies, with a higher turnover in tenants as longer term tenants will have a far better opportunity to move on.
So at the very least we will build houses and offer people the opportunity to live in high quality social housing with a secure tenancy. However, with shared cooperative ownership we create a whole new dimension, that will help to deliver the aspirations of many people in a fair and socially democratic modern society.

Employment

East Kilbride like almost every town or city in the UK urgently needs to attract new employers. This is of course easier said than done, especially in a town like ours where the main mechanism for inward investment; the Development Corporation has been disbanded for over a decade.
Although inward investment is not easy I really do believe it is possible. We have a lot going for us and if we prepare the right incentives and have a coherent plan there is no good reason why East Kilbride will not flourish again.
I believe that the East Kilbride of the future should be a hub of high end mechanical engineering manufacture. We currently have 3 large sites that would suit this purpose.

(1)    Langland’s – This is the site Rolls Royce were planning to move to. However, at the advent of the world financial crisis of 2007 they took cold feet and delayed their plans indefinitely.  Somewhat understandably in 2012 Rolls Royce announced that they were shutting their decrepit Nerston site in 2015. However, the decision to move their entire workforce 16 miles to Inchinin makes no sense at all.
Every effort should be made to entice Rolls Royce back to the negotiating table and locate to the Langland’s site, their business is growing and I’m sure that today in 2013, with the right deal on the table they would jump at the chance of re-locating to Langland’s.

(2)     Nerston is a massive site and I think it would be an excellent  choice as a hub of component manufacturing for the vehicle and aerospace industries.
      The UK Engineering industry is beginning to boom and I believe that more and more components currently being manufactured overseas are in the future going to made in the UK.
      In the lead up to the vote on Scottish independence we will have the opportunity to put the squeeze on the UK government to put business our way, let’s press them to give us some real concrete evidence as to why “we are all better together” we should be prepared to take advantage of being under the media spotlight, to demonstrate our ability, ambition and determination to succeed.
While other towns and cities are fretting about their high streets, trams, tourism and rubbish collections we should  take the lead, be the first knocking at the door and get ourselves a big chunk of the great UK manufacturing revival.

(3)    As  Nerston populates with component manufactures we will be in a strong position to market the former Motorola Kelvin site, with the intention of soon landing another major manufacturing company, or a tier one supplier.
 

Why Will These Companies Locate To East Kilbride?

Housing

We will be able to provide key employees with both new deal social housing and relatively cheap private housing

Education

We have spent hundreds of millions of pounds rebuilding our entire stock of schools and offer an educational environment that is second to none in the entire UK. Throughout the financial crises we continued to invest in our schools, this is how much we believe in the future of East Kilbride.
Glasgow has some of the best Engineering Universities and Colleges anywhere. East Kilbride is home to the National Engineering Laboratories.

Health

East Kilbride boasts a new state of the art hospital, excellent medical and dental facilities, first class national health treatment is always available.

Transport
East Kilbride has direct motorway and rail links and is close to Glasgow International, Glasgow Prestwick and Edinburgh International Airports.