I had various ideas for a blog this week but this one has taken over like a runaway train. It is quite simply what Ed Miliband has to deliver tomorrow, namely the speech of his life.
Ed, you have to achieve three objectives in your speech, none of which will be easy.
First, you must set out to the people of Scotland what Labour can and will do for them.
In doing so, there can be no space for the indulgence of pretending the Blair and Brown years did not happen. We must be proud of our achievements. Our backs against the wall, and we need all the ammunition we can muster: the Minimum Wage, the progress on child poverty described by the CPAG as “heroic”, the Glasgow housing stock debt write-off, the legal right to be in a trade union, doubling and tripling the NHS budgets, devolution itself – every advantage and every achievement has to be spelt out with pride.
And then the programme for the next Parliament: the Mansion Tax that will employ more nurses in Scotland than there are people who would pay it, the 50% tax rate, the Bankers’ Bonus Tax, the raising of Labour’s Minimum wage, the young people’s jobs guarantee, the extra houses to be built, the Constitutional Convention to support the Smith Commission’s findings.
Secondly, you must expose the SNP as the anti-democratic, regressive shysters that we know them to be: they have no redistributive policies or achievements, and yet strut around as if they invented social justice.
It is time their arrogance was brought down a peg, and you have the chance to do it. They must be reminded that they lost the referendum decisively, and that Labour played a proud and prominent part in bringing about that defeat.
Above all, and this is essential, Ed, you must rule out any pact, or deal of any kind with the SNP, no matter what the parliamentary arithmetic may be after 8th May.
This can be justified in three ways, all of which are conclusive: that as it can only be accountable to 10% of voters, the SNP cannot dictate to the rest of the UK; that the SNP has reneged on its undertakings in the Edinburgh Agreement by neither giving up its commitment to independence nor ruling out a further referendum; and that its policies would be damaging to the UK.
This will make it clear to the people in the hall – and more importantly to those outside – that Labour is on the side of the majority, in support of the outcome of the referendum result.
Thirdly, Ed, your speech must inspire the public – especially the half of the electorate identified by the recent Ashcroft polls as undecided and the majority in the popular vote who do not support the SNP – to get behind Labour to fulfil two historic goals.
The first is to stop the SNP bandwagon in its tracks and tip it off the road entirely.
The second is to re-establish Labour’s credentials as the voice of pragmatic social democracy. In normal times, with polls suggesting that without the Scottish effect, Labour would be odds-on to win in May, this would be straightforward. But the Scottish effect is there, and these are not normal times.
Can you do it, Ed? This is a career-defining moment. The pressure is enormous, but do you know what? No-one made you do it, and we are all anxious that you should succeed.
If you can, you will not only secure the votes of Labour supporters, but also those of many No voters from other parties and none who are desperate the SNP be defeated. And remember the Ashcroft polls that say the SNP is not rating at 50% or over in a single constituency.
Every seat you win in Scotland will first make, then add to a working majority. Your prize will be to serve as Prime Minister for five years. If you fail, you will not be Prime Minster and will always be remembered for your election as Labour leader ahead of your brother.
Over to you. Prove your critics wrong. Make it your greatest speech and your greatest hour. You need it as much as we do, and as much as Scotland and the rest of the UK does.
Friday 6th March 2015 at 16:00