By Allan Grogan

“She wins nothing but praise from Conservative MSPs and commentators, including David Cameron who echoed her words at PMQs yesterday.”

This is not, as you would probably imagine, a progress report on Theresa May’s performance as Home Secretary, rather Iain MacWhirter’s comments on the Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont.

On Monday Ms Lamont celebrated her first year as Scottish Labour leader with an Education speech designed to get the blood pumping of every Conservative in the land and left most Labour voters fumbling for words.  Once again Ms Lamont went on to question the apparent state dependent nation of Scotland.  This time using education as the cattle prod.

Education, free for the masses will lead to the widening of social inequality, this economic gap pervades into later life, leading to a widening of social disparity.

This is how most will take the text of the speech.  Ms Lamont is sounding the traditional Labour horn of inequality and social division as a case for re-introducing tuition fees into the Scottish education system.  There are of course as most can see, some major issues with this line of argument.

Firstly, free education for all has never been a negative for the Labour party, in fact it is the opposite.  Privately funded, financially indicative education and a future employment based on who you know, is what most aggrieved Labour voters.  It is not in free education that division arises, rather the return of selective progression based on income, which tuition fees undoubtedly incur.

As a student who, in his first year paid tuition fees (before the Scottish Government policy change) I understand the crippling implications that such a process can have on students of low to middle income families.  I, like many, became grateful of the Labour led Scottish government’s repeal of such a scheme.

It would also be wise for Ms Lamont to remember, that while she had her own university education subsidised, her job almost guaranteed and her current position based on this, that students of this generation will not have that luxury, in student finance, in job achievement and security.  Instead they will be left crippled with debt, facing an ultra-competitive jobs market.  Yet these are the people Johann Lamont expects in 10 years time to pay for her retirement.

Scotland in particular, has always seen education-for-all as a given right.  The arguments here are not in how can we cut it, but in how can we improve the system to reflect the needs of the youth of today.

Surely Johann Lamont must see that a return to tuition fees would only increase the social inequality between those that can afford it and those that can’t.  Surely she must know that this goes against the very core fabric of a Scottish Labour Party.

We at Labour for Independence welcomed Scottish Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar’s recent comments on the desire for a return to ‘real’ Labour values of redistribution and social justice.  However we fail to see how Ms Lamont’s speech on Monday reflects this.

Since our first conference in November, LFI has set out 4 key policies which are more closely aligned to Real Labour, than anything Ms Lamont has set out in the last year.

In one month we have supported:

  • The creation of a Living wage based on real terms,
  • The removal of all nuclear weapons from Scotland
  • The simplification of the benefit process
  • The re-nationalisation of industries being abused by private firms seeking to use need to make a profit. (Namely Rail, Energy, and Care)

We believe that in order to achieve this, we must have a government in Scotland which reflects the will of the people and has full autonomy in action.

This is why we support independence for Scotland.  For the good of our party, for the good of our country and most importantly, for the good of the Scottish people.

We ask you to think Real Labour.  Think of Scotland.  Think differently.

Vote Yes in 2014


# balbeggie 2012-12-23 11:56
What the Labour for Independence Group need to do is to take their campaign direct to the voters homes as the internet is fine up to a point. If they did that, they will, in my opinion do better than what the Labour Party expect them to influence the Labour supporting voter. It is at the end of the day a matter of funding.
# snowthistle 2012-12-23 16:22
They have already held their first conference which was full of lively debate. they have also started visiting Labour branches throughout the country to speak directly to the rank and file party members.

They've also delivered thousands of leaflets straight to people's homes
# balbeggie 2012-12-24 00:20
That is good to know.
# gorbals caley 2012-12-24 01:07
You might want to have a look at the roasting her pal - Baillie got when she attended a meeting in Clydebank.
The Audience did not hold back....
# Breeks 2012-12-24 10:24
I have a dream...

Well, so begins the famous quote of Martin Luther King, but the fact is I do have a dream.

I have a dream that Scotland will one day not only be an Independent country, but it will also be a fearsome meritocracy, where the best education is delivered to the brightest minds, and the best opportunities are open and accessible to those best able to capitalise on those opportunities. I want there to be no hiding place for nepotism and corruption which we all know exists.

Wealth will always secure some degree of privilege, that's the definition of being wealthy. Wealth isn't the problem, but it's such phenominal wealth being held by too few hands which is one problem, so much of that wealth being static and inert when it could be driving progress through investment, and lastly, that opportunities to become wealthy are restricted to such few people with upwards mobility stifled.

Independence is just the start.
# mealer 2012-12-24 10:51
Free education and a free health service are principles held by the vast majority of Scots right across the political spectrum and encompassing a fair chunk of tory voters.Its not so much about right v left.Its about sense v sillyness. Ms Lamont is moving off in a direction that pretty much no one wants to travel.Mr Grogans efforts to save the party he holds so dear are admirable,but I sometimes think he's flogging a dead horse.He may be better to let Labour wither and die,to be replaced by something more in keeping with the position of people in Scotland.
# Northesk 2013-01-09 20:11
Lamont's (and her increasingly directionless party's) cosying up to Toryism is not only worrying; it is against everything the Labour Party of her early years promoted and held dear.

This is cynical politicising on her part, nothing more, nothing less. I am grateful to the Scottish Education Department which saw me through two degree courses, (the first a bursary, the second a generous grant). the result of which I have repaid through taxes and other inputs into the domestic economy, many times over.

Lamont is a dismal, shameless example of Blair's latter-day saints.
# sneckedagain 2012-12-26 20:43
I would imagine that Allan is aware of the attempts to form credible replacement parties to Labour in Scotland over the past 25 years, none of which have survived healthily (though there are understandable reasons for the lack of progress by the SSP and we wish Colin Fox a decent revival). At this point it probably very useful indeed to activate the independence sentiment among those who have no appetite to be in any organisation other than the Labour Party.
Most of use understand loyalties to lifelong acquaintances and organisations which makes damaging activity against them very difficult.
I suspect there is very little principled opposition to Scottish independence among a majority of those who have supported Labour and giving them a Labour for Independence allows them to comfortably come with us without deserting their roots

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