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Election take: Labour can’t ignore the constitutional question

by Neil Findlay, outgoing Labour MSP

IT’S very clear that Anas Sarwar had a decent campaign. There was no internal criticism of the way the campaign was run, and he had his team at the helm throughout.

Like previous leaders, he attempted to get the election onto issues of health, education and jobs — badged up as a “national recovery.” 

But the reality is that this was just a repeat of the strategy that has been tried in the past, where the likes of Kezia Dugdale spoke about “kids not cuts” and working together.

No matter how often Labour tries to ignore the constitutional question or tell the voters what they should be thinking, the constitution is the issue of Scottish politics.

Einstein said insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. This is exactly what Labour is doing.

I would have expected issues like the catastrophe of social care, or Scotland’s shameful record as a global leader in drug deaths to be very significant issues in the election.

Yet they were hardly discussed, because everything from dog shit to international crime is only discussed in the context of the constitution.

If Labour is going to go forward positively after this election, they simply have to have a credible position on the constitution.

That requires us to engage positively in that debate, and develop a clear and credible devo-max option.

If the SNP is serious about broadening out the discussion about a referendum, they have to take that on board, and engage the Labour Party and Labour voters in that discussion.

There’s a massive role for the trade union movement in Scotland.

The SNP has warm words and the occasional concession to the trade unions, but it’s time for the trade unions to really increase their influence in the Scottish Parliament, and drive forward a radical agenda similar to the STUC’s People’s Recovery report.


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