THE BLOG

Delivering In Scotland Delivers Labour To No 10

23/10/2017 09:36 BST | Updated 23/10/2017 09:37 BST

Here in Scotland, the Labour party is at long last reversing what felt like perpetual free-fall. It is climbing out of the doldrums, leaving the Tories for dust in the polls, and at last giving Nicola Sturgeon cause for concern.

The party, which to many had fallen off the electoral perch in 2015, is now seven Scottish MPs stronger at Westminster. By all accounts there could well have been even more on the Labour benches had the election run for just one more week.

Indeed, our country's hopes of returning a Labour government rest on Scottish voters continuing to rekindle their longstanding faith on our party.

As the ballot for the leadership of the Scottish Labour party opens, why are there some in our ranks who see these developments as a cause for regret not rejoice?

Instead of engaging in the policy offers from the two candidates - Richard Leonard and Anas Sawar - the slurs that swill around between some in the party and their friends in the media focus on the electoral process itself.

Remember, it was Ed Milliband who changed that process, establishing a one person, one vote system and the ability for members of affiliated unions to vote alongside party members.

It was a process that attracted support right across the party, including that of the right wing among whose ranks Ian Murray can be counted.

I well recall the special conference as a day when the party spoke as one that the affiliated sign ups would give party engagement the kick-start it needed. Ian Murray as a Labour front-bencher at the time would have had a platform then to critique the process should he have held the concerns he now purports to possess. I can see no evidence that he ever did so.

I mention the Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South because he appears to be have found an added day job to companion his constituency duties, firing off letters to the Scottish Labour General Secretary alleging this or that misdemeanour, insinuating that union members, chiefly Unite members, are in some way dodgy by seeking to use their legitimate trade union affiliation status to have a say in this election.

Such slurs should not get a moment's hearing - Brian Roy has consistently and clearly told Mr Murray that his complaints are baseless. I have called upon Ian Murray to retract his accusations, a call I repeat today because there is a not a shred of truth in what he alleges.

Unite has not broken a single rule. Our job was the check that those members who sought an affiliate vote were members of our union, and to then pass to the party for approval. It is the party, not Unite nor any other union, who decides who will get a vote, which is how it should be.

Everything we have done has been by the book, as Brian Roy himself confirms, and we are proud to have as a result stimulated the participation of thousands of Unite members in this election.

When ballot papers drop on doormats later this week, Labour voters will see that there is a clear choice before them.

On the one hand there is Anas Sarwar, a politician who no doubt has his strengths but among them is not the strong defence of working people. Anas should not have to wait to be asked to recognise unions at the family firm. His Labour values should have made him understand that this is a given.

Contrast this with Richard Leonard, who last week launched his workers' manifesto with clear pledges to take on poverty pay in Scotland and to build strong unions to deliver this and the fairness still missing in modern day Scotland.

For a party which was on its knees in Scotland 18 months ago, the energy and enthusiasm that trade union members are showing in this election is nothing short of remarkable.

Those on the right of our party should not now seek to use Scotland as the last redoubt for their brand of (decayed) Labour, retreating over Hadrian's Wall to plot and scheme against Jeremy Corbyn.

On whose behalf do they think they act? Certainly not the voters who are crying out for an end to Conservative misery and at long last have a hope of achieving this.

It is thanks to Jeremy and the manifesto that Labour in Scotland is getting a hearing again.

Voters, long since fed up with innocuous messages wrapped around unpalatable policies, warm to a leader who is clearly on their side and a policy platform to prove so.

Unite's view, shared by friends and comrades across the union movement, is that the best hope of Scottish Labour sustaining its revival is to stick with what is working.

Let voters look at Scottish Labour and see a party and a leader that they can back, who has stood up for and worked on behalf working people all his life, Richard Leonard.

To those who are yet to grasp this, Unite says this. Respect our party's democracy, respect our party's members and supporters - and respect our leader.

When the leader is announced then we must all unite to support him because we have a duty to get Labour elected. There is one party in this country which is destroying itself through squabbling - the Tory party. Let's keep it that way.

But if you cannot move on then you should move over and let those of us truly with the interests of Scotland's working classes at heart deliver a leader who will have our voices heard in Holyrood, and a Labour government once again in Number 10.