Clarion call for positive Labour messages at Progress annual conference

A session featuring Kezia Dugdale MSP, Alison McGovern MP and Cllr Nick Forbes focused on devolution, inclusion and optimism

Kezia D
Image via Progress

‘Labour Leader speaking at Progress 2016 Conference‘ caused a buzz when announced yesterday. The opening session this morning was an extra bonus for attendees, as like busses, we had three Labour Leaders come along at once.

Kezia Dugdale MSP, Alison McGovern MP and Cllr Nick Forbes as leaders in Scotland, Progress and Local Government respectively spoke passionately about their different perspectives, but common themes did emerge.

Labour must not just accommodate, but champion devolution. In Scotland that meant acknowledging the different approach to responding to the SNP.

The Scottish party had taken a vote on Trident, and whilst not Kezia’s view, it had healed some divisions in the party in Scotland. Nick said we had had to champion devolution deals in England, the left mustn’t be the conservatives in this debate.

Labour was being punished for saving the Union in Scotland, and our project was long term to rebuild trust and unmask the SNP as a centre-right Party (their only tax change was a cut of air passenger duty).

The SNP know they need to destroy Labour before they can win a referendum. Scottish Labour must show it puts Scotland first, even if whether that’s uncomfortable for national Labour.

There should be no no-go areas for Labour, and we must not retreat to our geographical or political comfort zones. We must learn from Labour wins in Exeter, Guildford, Crawley.

Alison (in best school mistressly tone) reminded us that the public cared about services like children’s centres, not esoteric internal debates which transfixed parts of the Party.

Given Councillors now are the biggest funder of the Party, the paucity of their representation in Party structures like the NEC was wrong. Scottish and Welsh Labour, English regions also under represented, let alone new bodies like elected Mayors and Police & Crime Commissioners.

The party structures need to change to reflect the changed democratic landscape said Nick, highlighting that there are more youth than local government reps on the National Policy Forum.

Uncomfortable for us, but we can’t just dismiss UKIP as nut cases and racists. They are challenging us in much of the country, Nick said. Local Councils are showing we can deliver for disillusioned voters who might otherwise listen to UKIP’s siren call.

The overall clarion call was for Labour to project a positive optimistic message to voters. We must win power, to shield our communities from Tory policies, and embrace devolution so that we can improve the communities we seek to represent.

Many of us were on the ‘red eye’ trains to get down to London for this opening seminar. This was an upbeat, refreshingly northern and Scottish, session which didn’t disappoint.

Cllr Paul Brant is Deputy Labour Leader on Liverpool Council

5 Responses to “Clarion call for positive Labour messages at Progress annual conference”

  1. Henry hooper

    Labour have been thru all this before…we need to listen to the electorate, blah blah blah..they never do, you know they never do, we know they never do.
    Out if all the parties including even the tories, it was labour that heavily argued and set the severe limitations of the Scotland bill. The Scotland bill is a joke, but somehow Kanpur manage, even now not to understand not only what they have done but are continuing to do and this article with some of its nuances, e.g. ‘ the SNP knows it must destroy Labour’..honestly, you guys are in cloud cuckoo land if this is still your attitude after what has happened.
    For the sake of a check on your sanity, you would need to agree on the following if there’s ever to be a hint of coming back from your position in Scotland.
    – recognition and agreement that you, Labour, lied to scots with your phoney vow.
    – recognition and agreement that you, Labour abstained in fighting Tory austerity.
    – recognition and agreement that you, Labour did your utmost to constrain devolution of powers and responsibilities to Holyrood.
    – recognition and agreement that you, Labour have in Scotland been little more than career politicians fir the last 50 years and you will do something about it.
    – recognition and agreement that you, Labour cannot work with tories to the detriment of the people of Scotland.
    – recognition and agreement that you, Labour, that ‘ new labour’ is not acceptable in Scotland age you will need to resolve thus quandary.
    – recognition and agreement that you, Labour have until now/ sometime in the near future (hopefully) have always had your loyalties to Westminster than to the people of Scotland.

    ….if labour don’t resolve each if the above, they are finished…this user the SNP destroying labour….this is new labour destroying labour, you have a choice, change or die. You are already irrelevant..you’d better start changing your tack PDQ or your extinction in Scotland is absolutely assured. Your choice.

  2. Richard MacKinnon

    Henry,
    There is nothing Labour can do to recover in Scotland. It is too late. Scotland will never forgive The Betrayal of 2014. If Labour think things are bad now then they have a surprise waiting. The final punishment will be meted out next year at the local council elections. Labour’s last few outposts in Glasgow, North Lanarkshire and Inverclyde will be wiped away like a nasty stain from Scotland’s body politic.

  3. James Kemp

    Richard go on then then please LEAVE the union go on and see how cold it is out on your own without all that extra money the Scottish people enjoy over the English. No wonder why you love the EU nothing to do with that money?

    Then When it’s all SNP land and it all goes wrong who will you have left to whine about. Labour were stupid to save the Tories and the union. Yes we was set up, but wait and see what happens when there is no more Labour! With the Tory’s back in Scotland and making deals with your so called left party SNP just like they Did in Wales they love the Union, what a joke!

  4. Josephine Bacon

    The most important contribution to the Conference, to my mind, came from Nick Forbes with his plea for local councillors to become part of the Labour Party’s governing structure. If one had to be a councillor to be eligible for election to the NEC (or if a proportion of NEC members had to be councillors) that would solve the problem. I was annoyed that Progress has decided to unilaterally support the IN campaign in the Referendum, I am a staunchly OUT person. At the session I attended, Keir Starmer made a plea for the European Arrest Warrant, with NO ONE to point out how many innocent British citizens have been extradited to southern Europe without a shred of evidence or any of the safeguards we have in this country to protect those charged with an offence. The European Arrest Warrant is vile, extradition proceedings work very well and will replace it if we leave, to everyone’s benefit. I do not believe we should have an extradition treaty with the USA, however, or any country that still uses capital punishment.

  5. Richard MacKinnon

    James,
    I am not whining. I am rejoicing. I don’t care who is running things up here, SNP, Tories, Greens it doesn’t matter a fiddlers phuk to me just so long as it isn’t Labour. Im old enough to have witnessed the Labour system at local level in Scotland over the past 50 odd years, I know how it works and it is rotten to the core. I am not going to bore you with the details, except to say, if you want an example of why the Scottish electorate are repulsed by Labour Google the names Steven Purcell and Gordon Matheson, Glasgow’s last two council Leaders.

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