Gordon Brown is the brother I never wished I had
You won’t know me. You live a few kilometers from where I live. I almost assume a neighbor. You are nine years older and maybe in another life this much older revered brother than I ever had.
I moved to Fife from the borders in 1986 and as you were the MP for Dunfermline East constituency, which then covered Dalgety Bay, I voted for you in the 1987 elections, as well as the 1992, 1997 and 2001. It was a “no brainer” because I had voted Labor since I was able to vote for the first time in 1979. I was proud that my local MP was one of the “big beasts” from the Labor movement and one of the UK’s most respected politicians. .
At the start of this century, I turned my back on the Labor Party and from that point on I voted for the SNP. I was never comfortable with ‘New Labor’ anyway, but at least they weren’t right-wing conservatives and no one else was going to keep them out of power. the time.
I had always thought that the ideal situation would be for Scotland to be an independent country, but the SNP had minimal support and my priority was hopefully never to have right-wing Tories over us ever again. However, as more and more disillusioned Scottish Labor voters turned to the SNP, the prospect of independence drew me in too.
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Fast forward to last Sunday. Gerry Hassan wrote an excellent article in the Sunday National titled âBrown’s Myth of Britainâ. Gerry was referring to your recent essay in The New Statesman, outlining your “creed” for the Union. There you claim that the England of Marcus Rashford and Gareth Southgate presents a different, generous and multicultural England that challenges what you consider to be petty conservatives and the Scottish nationalist caricature of England.
I totally agree with your comparison with the Conservatives. However, I do not agree 100% that Scottish nationalism caricatures the whole of England as a sea of ââ’Brexitness’ inspired by the conservative right, as I think you are implying. It’s just sadly that this mean side is the one that continues to win the election.
What really touched me was when Gerry said: ‘Brown then takes a giant step forward to tar the politics of Scottish nationalism and independence with Brexit and his never land politics’. Gerry then quotes an excerpt from your essay: âIt’s a mirror image of the Scottish nationalist playbook, because they also have a one-dimensional and absolutist view of the world against them. ”
Gerry goes on to say: âPresenting Scottish independence as the irresponsible twin of the Brexit project is an attempt to phrase it in pejorative terms, making it appear unsuitable for the modern world of interdependence, and drawing from the well of Catastrophic nationalism that gave us Brexit.
I agree with Gerry and I am deeply offended, and I also personally take offense that you have equated my desire to live in an independent Scotland to the abomination of Brexit. My values ââhaven’t changed since the ’80s and’ 90s and I’m sure the same has been true for the hordes of former Labor voters who saw the light.
It’s very simple, not rocket science. Your party lost four trotting elections from 1979 to 1992 and similarly from 2010 to 2019. This led to far-right Conservative governments which demolished heavy industry and much of manufacturing in Scotland, throwing in hundreds of thousands of our people on the dole and then in recent times have decimated the profits so much that many Scottish bairns / weaners go to school hungry. Does this happen in other affluent European countries to the same extent as in the UK? I don’t even need to answer this question.
This is the democratic deficit that the Scots have suffered for decades.
Coming back to my brother’s theme, I dodged a bullet there. After your “Vow”, it would have been a family at war, brotherly ties broken. I think it’s better for my mental health to be an only child!
Dalgety Bay, Fife
As reported in The National, we recently had two Labor politicians, Henry McLeish and Katy Clark, who publicly acknowledged that all is not well with the current UK constitutional arrangements. This week we have seen a new British Labor leader repeat his good mantras of patriotism – bad nationalism and announce nothing that will attract a bigger Labor vote here. Meanwhile, the Labor Party in Scotland remains attached to the former UK through a mixture of solidarity with workers south of the border alongside the false promise that winning Scottish seats will provide a Labor majority in Westminster.
Finally, we hear once again that Gordon Brown is going to review the British constitution. We could already write his report recommending British values, a regional second chamber in Westminster including Scottish representatives and more decentralization. This would be the same Gordon Brown who was behind The Vow before the 2014 referendum and signed by the UK leaders of the Conservatives, Labor and LibDem, claiming that each party would give ‘extended new powers’ to the Scottish Parliament, improvements to’ the way we are governed. ‘Opportunities to ensure’ the well-being of every citizen ‘, with the Scottish Parliament having’ the final say on how much is spent on the NHS ‘and that’ a vote no will bring faster, safer and better change “.
Political history since then has included the Labor Party as the most resistant to further decentralization in the Smith Commission and the Tories are cutting social benefits, waiving pension commitments and opening the door to privatization of the NHS through their law on the internal market. But, the speeches of Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar at the Labor conference confirmed that the party will keep the unionist strategy adopted before the independence referendum of 2014.
Labor is wrong if they think they can win back the Scottish blood they lost in their hemorrhage of votes since the 2014 independence referendum. Even if an indyref 2 in 2023/4 resulted in a Unionist majority, the movement Yes is not going to go away and its demographic support among young adults would provide a substantial majority in favor of independence in due course. However, trade unionists must be respected and their views heard, as accommodating their concerns could potentially help increase the referendum vote for independence and reduce tense divisions before and after the referendum.
A very legitimate concern for all sides of the debate, but perhaps especially for trade unionists, is the future of relations between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Questions about how this relationship would work for an independent Scotland need to be answered; otherwise, the issue will become as much of an obstacle to support for independence as the currency issue was in the last referendum.
The answer to be expected from the magazine Gordon Brown will be a form of devo-max of federalism. Labor could join the Tories in demanding Devo-Max on indyref ballots, with further devolution then excluding powers over foreign affairs, defense and other undefined exclusions. That would leave us with the 6% reduction in Scotland’s wealth (GDP) from Brexit, powerless in the face of UK trade deals, Scotland’s Â£ 18bn contribution to the development of nuclear weapons, a budget of grossly inflated defense and immigration control by the British government. All of these have massive consequences for the Scottish economy. While maintaining Westminster’s power in these areas would be unacceptable, the independence movement must recognize that of Scotland’s Â£ 85 billion in exports, Â£ 50 billion comes from exports to the rest of the UK. We would also like to keep the borders open with RUK and continue the mutual benefits of free movement of labor in the UK.
The other nations of the United Kingdom are Scotland’s closest neighbors and our greatest trading partners. We all inhabit the British Isles and will continue to be British, with enormous family, institutional and business ties. Therefore, while a federal system leaving Westminster with ultimate power and control over certain aspects of Scottish government would be inappropriate, a new type of British Isles federation would be desirable.
Scandinavia offers an example, which could be followed as a model for the new British federalism.
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The Nordic Council is the official body providing the means of governmental cooperation with 87 members elected by its constituent parliaments to represent the different political parties of the member states: Denmark; Finland; Iceland; Norway; Sweden and associate members: the Faroe Islands; Greenland; and the Ã land Islands. The Nordic Council is complemented by the Intergovernmental Council of Ministers, in which participate a Minister for Nordic Cooperation appointed by each country and other ministers of the Member States with specific interests, for example agriculture, environment, health and education. The Council elects a president to direct its work and is assisted by a secretary general and a secretariat.
The British and Scottish governments are already members of the British-Irish Council, which also has representatives from the administrations of the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
Thus, there is already a body, within the current British / Irish Common Travel Area, with mutual citizen rights to travel, study, work and access health services across borders. , in which Scotland could participate as an independent state, alongside any other global partnerships that an independent Scotland may wish to join.
So the yes campaign should reach out to former no voters of all political parties not only with the slogan Independence in Europe but also by calling for independence in Britain and we should define how best to achieve these two objectives.