By Lynda Williamson 
 
Labour for Independence held their first conference in Glasgow on Monday night and an audience of around eighty people gathered to hear speeches from former politicians, union leaders, academics and musicians on the need for an all-encompassing Yes campaign.
 
Guests from across the independence movement spelled out their visions for an Independent Scotland at the fledgling group’s first conference at Glasgow Caledonian University.

The Labour for Independence movement has come a long way since it first launched on Facebook less than a year ago.  This was evident in the impressive list of speakers who agreed to share their views at the very first conference.

Ricky Ross from Deacon Blue was joined by former Labour stalwart Dennis Canavan and respected former union leader Tommy Brennan as each took it in turns to address an intrigued audience.

Former advisor to Jack McConnell, Jeane Freeman eloquently explained the experience of women in today’s Scotland and Dr Tom McDonald explored the, often overlooked, issue of an Independent Scotland's international footprint and its relationships with other countries.

Both Dennis Canavan and Tommy Brennan felt that, in the words of Jimmy Reid, they hadn't left the Labour party, the Labour party had left them.

Mr Canavan said that a yes vote in 2014 would be the best thing that could happen to the Scottish Labour party and that independence would see it return to its traditional socialist roots.

He added, “An independent Scotland would mean an independent Scottish Labour Party which would be free to determine its own agenda in accordance with the values and aspirations of the people of Scotland.”

A recurring theme was that of socialist ideals and the feeling that the Labour Party had lurched to the right and forsaken their socialist roots, that they are no longer the voice of the people and now spend more time defending the Union than defending the workers.

Much was made of how an independent Scotland must reflect our “Scottish values”.

Another theme focused on the drive for independence and the need to ensure that the SNP do not become the sole focus of attention.  Speakers insisted that if the Yes campaign was to succeed then it had to involve people of all political persuasions and none.

The importance of the persuading traditional Labour voters of the benefits of a Yes vote was stressed with both Alan Grogan, founder of Labour for Independence, and Dennis Canavan insisting that Scottish Labour supporters would be crucial to success in the 2014 referendum.

Labour Party members were urged to take the Independence debate to their branches and begin the fight to win back their party.

Quote of the evening went to Tommy Brennan who said that we must “feed the needy and curtail the greedy”.

Comments  

 
# Alba4ever 2012-11-14 08:52
Has anyone actually asked grassroots Labour activists their attitude to independence?

Or is it simply a case of LKB (London knows best) and the perceived need for Scotland to continue to send Labour MPs to Westminster to give the party the chance of forming a government? Surely, Scotland deserves better?
 
 
# Mei 2012-11-14 09:28
There's an online petition on the Labour for Independence site

www.labourforindy.co.uk/

240 responses so far.
 
 
# Zed 2012-11-14 09:34
I would say quite a few grassrootes Labour activists are ambivalent to Independence.
Their hatred for the SNP transcends everything
 
 
# ds12 2012-11-14 10:53
Quoting Zed:
I would say quite a few grassrootes Labour activists are ambivalent to Independence.
Their hatred for the SNP transcends everything


I'd agree with Zed.
If the SNP came out for the union there are some in the Labour party who would come out for independence.
They are driven by hatred that the SNP came along and upset the trough that so many of them had their noses firmly in.
 
 
# J Wil 2012-11-14 15:44
I suspect that if there is a YES majority in 2014 all the Labourites will be queueing up to confess that they were really for independence all along.
 
 
# forrabest 2012-11-15 04:38
If there is a yes vote in 2014 it will be because a majority of what you refer to as Labourites voted for independence. The referendum is about Scotland making the decisions it is NOT about which party you want to run the country - that will be decided in 2016.
 
 
# snowthistle 2012-11-14 19:38
Zed - That wasn't evident among the grass roots activists at the conference. They seemed genuinely sad that SLab has forsaken it's socialist roots and felt that independence was the best hope of revitalising their party and returning to the days when it was the party of the workers.
 
 
# Silverytay 2012-11-14 11:16
It is nice to read a positive article about the L.F.I conference .
Due to working Monday nights I was unable to make it along to the conference and spent Tuesday looking through the m.s.m to find out how it went . I was not surprised to find that a lot of the media had either suppressed the story or finished their article off with a few cheap and nasty snide remarks .
If we are to reach our dream of independence the YES campaign are going to have to reach out to not only L.F.I but other groups within the tory party and the lib/dems and people with no political affiliations .
We have to reinforce the message the YES campaign belongs to the the people of Scotland and not the S.N.P . If we can reinforce this message we will leave the bitter together crew with no ammunition to throw at the YES team .
 
 
# UpSpake 2012-11-14 11:45
Voting Yes and achieving an independent Scotland will undoubtedly be the very best thing for Labour in Scotland and more power to them to achieve this, democracy in Scotland sorely needs a Scots focused Labour movement.
Independence for Scotland - the very best thing that can happen to England.
 
 
# call me dave 2012-11-14 16:23
LABOUR supporters and union members would consider backing independence if there is no reform to devolution and the SNP proposes a firmly left-wing agenda, according to a prominent party figure.

scotsman.com/.../...

--------------------
I hope this is the beginning of a real shifting of opinion towards a yes vote.
 
 
# forrabest 2012-11-15 17:56
Thanks Lynda for a positive report on the LVFI first conference, it barely got a mention in MSM. I hope you will provide us with a report on the Radical Indepedence Conference taking place in Glasgow on the 24th Nov. It's heartening to see the support for independence debate widening in this way.
 
 
# Andy Anderson 2012-11-19 16:08
The Labour for Independence conference was a real tonic for many of us who had began to feel that the great Labour movement in Scotland had died.
Well it hasn't and the campaign for Scottish independence will not only waken it up, but will show the Scottish people as a whole that the Labour left is ready to fight for a decent independent Scotland, and to follow that up by playing a major role in the 2016 election in Scotland
 

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