Hello again Ed.
Last time I sent you a message it was before the election was called, when you spoke at Scottish Labour’s conference. At that time I asked you to do two things. One was to rule out any chance of a deal of any kind with the SNP. You did not do so then, but have done since, so thanks for that.
The other request I made was that you make the speech of your life. As I put it:
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.
In that, I was probably wrong: the time for your finest speech and finest hour is now.
You will be aware that much of history occurs by accident, or rather is a consequence of a series of events rather than of a pre-planned strategy. Tolstoy goes so far as to suggest that this was how Napoleon’s ill-fated Russian campaign came about; in our own history, we can look to the origins of the two World Wars, and between them to the establishment of Irish independence.
In the view of many in Scotland, we are now in danger of a similar position. The SNP has of course always had an agenda based on independence, which it has pursued ruthlessly and with great political skill. However, its opportunities to do so have been created by a number of fortuitous (for the SNP) events.
The largest of these include the foolishness of the Major government in abolishing the Scottish regional councils; the misapprehension of Labour that a devolved government would blunt nationalism; Labour’s choice of weak and compliant candidates for 1999 election; the premature deaths of John Smith, Donald Dewar and Robin Cook; and the ghastly mess that the Bush White House made of the Iraq War.
The smaller events (which also contribute) stretch right down to SNP supporters winning the Euromillions lottery, and Labour not adopting any strategy to secure the second list votes in Holyrood elections. In the latter case, if Labour voters constituency MSP voters had voted for the party on the Regional Lists at the same rate as the SNP’s did, we would have won the 2007 election and/or denied the SNP an overall majority in 2011. (By the way, we can see how it is done in this advert from the CDU: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JBu7f9TWSY) In either case, there would have been no referendum.
Finally, we have had the mistakes of the Cameron Tory government, which conceded a referendum on the most perfunctory of terms: only supported by under one-quarter the electorate, conceded on the SNP’s timetable and terms, and on the SNP’s question.
As a result we have an SNP Scottish Government which has been able to create a fantasy political world, where austerity is stopped by proposed Full Fiscal Autonomy – which would entail upwards of £7.6 billion extra cuts; and where the SNP’s failure in office on vital services such health and education are not taken into account.
In 2011, in parts of Scotland, the SNP broke the D’Honte system in the Holyrood election; you do not need to be told that this is a world where the SNP is threatening to break First Past The Post. It is a world where very poor quality candidates threaten some of the most able and hardworking Labour MPs in the UK. It is a world where their SNP replacements will have not the interests of their constituents at heart, but their pursuit of the dogma of independence at all costs.
So what we can we ask you to do? Now is the time that speech of your life, when you come to Glasgow just a few days before polling day. What you might say is this.
Labour is a social democratic party. We are not nationalist and never will be.
The reason is that we form our views around values. Those values are set out on our membership cards for all to see: “by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone.” Put more succinctly “Unity is strength.”
That is the reason that we pursue policies that are based on co-operative and collective action, as our movement has always done: in local councils, in trade unions and through the co-operative movement. Labour believes that unions at every level are the key to personal and social wellbeing: in our families, in our local communities, in our workplaces and between our nations and regions, as United Kingdom and in the EU and beyond in the wider world community.
And as we have said in this election campaign, for this reason, based on those values, we believe that Britain and Scotland only succeed when working people succeed.
In other words, when families are struggling to make ends meet due to low pay or people cannot plan their lives because of exploitative zero-hours contracts, we need to take action on their behalf. We need to use the power and authority lent to us by our fellow citizens as their representatives to take action on their behalf to put a stop to it.
Occasionally, however, we take a step back: when some issues, such as those of national sovereignty are at stake, he demit that power, and we have a referendum, as was the case in Scotland a few months ago. These are rare occasions in a representative parliamentary democracy such as ours, and therefore should not be trifled with.
I am proud of the role that Scottish Labour played in keeping the United Kingdom united, and maintaining the strength that comes from unity. I am proud of Gordon Brown and his inspirational late interventions.
I am proud of Jim Murphy on his Irn Bru crate, and Margaret Curran and Johann Lamont and all of our Labour members who stood strong against sometimes intolerable abuse from the enemies of unity.
The outcome of that referendum was a firm and clear NO vote; we all know that, and we all accept it – except, it seems the SNP. This in spite of the many promises made by the then First Minister and his successor, that it was a once in a lifetime or once in a generation event.
Friends, I am saying now and here, tonight to Scotland and the rest of the UK: if I am Prime Minister, I will refuse to have anything whatsoever to do with those who would so disrespect the sovereign will of the Scottish people.
That will was exercised and expressed in the referendum: Scotland decided to remain part of the United Kingdom.
So there will be no deal with the SNP, not at the beginning of the next Parliament, nor the middle not the end. They can vote anyway they like, but after all, they going to look pretty daft if they vote against Labour.
And I will go further.
I will say to all of those people who voted NO and to clear the majority of Scots who rejected the independence proposal – that Labour will not forget you, we will not let you down.
And I am saying two things to Nicola Sturgeon tonight.
First, I am saying that you are currently fooling no-one when you say that you are not planning a further referendum to try to overturn the democratic verdict of the Scottish people.
I am challenging you, at the earliest opportunity, to tell the voters of Scotland the truth. Tell them that you want a further referendum and come clean that you want it as soon as possible. Show them how little you care for the democratic choice they have made.
Secondly, I am saying that when you do finally admit to Scotland’s worst kept secret, you will not get the referendum you want, as no Labour government of which I am part will agree to it.
The SNP and all other parties have agreed that the way forward is through the Smith Commission recommendations and the new Scotland Act which we will pass in the first 100 days of a Labour government.
We intend to stick to our pledges to the Scottish people, even if, and especially because, the SNP is preparing to break theirs. We will show them that we respect and honour their votes
Because you see, friends, our responses mark out the differences between Labour and the SNP.
We respect the votes of the Scottish people – to the SNP those same votes are at best means to their end of independence, and as in the case of the referendum, they see your votes as an obstacle to that aim.
Our policies and our aims for Scotland and the UK are based on our collective values: whereas those of the SNP are moulded to fit their central aim.
Take for example the SNP’s economic policy of Full Fiscal Autonomy. It would cost Scots upward of £7.6 billion in cuts or higher taxes of both, and has been shot down by economists and independent commentators, but Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond still insist that their proposal makes sense and that all of the experts have it wrong.
And this shows the potential danger ahead for Scotland if the progress of the SNP is not halted. Its politics will be increasingly dominated by a party that will deny the view of any expert, will swear day is night and black is white…as long as it suits their purpose, which is independence.
Friends, comrades, I am committed to halting that progress. And I stand here tonight with you to say “This far and no further. They shall not pass.” Scots will get what they voted for.
It is part of my offer to the British people that I can stand up to – and have stood up to – the rich and the powerful: to the energy companies and to the Daily Mail and Rupert Murdoch and the Sun (backing the SNP here and the Tories in Carlisle and Berwick.)
So I will stand up to Nicola Sturgeon and to Alex Salmond too, for you and with you.
Finally, let us remember two further things about this most crucial of elections.
The first is that that when Gordon made his fantastic referendum speech at the Maryhill Community Central Halls last year, he spoke of the silent majority. The same is true today.
I can see the opinion polls with their disheartening headline figures, especially in the light of the tireless efforts of Jim Murphy and countless others. But when you look at the data tables, there is up to a third of voters still undecided. Let us go out to those voters and convince them to vote Labour.
The second is that the silent majority last September found its loudest voice in the polling booth and in the ballot box.
And hard as Gordon, Jim, Margret and Johann fought, the greatest winner at the referendum was the power of the secret ballot.
I call on all Scottish voters who do not want a rerun of the destructive and divisive referendum to take just a short moment before casting their vote.
And if you know that it is only Labour that can stop the SNP in constituency, well, welcome aboard, the greater the defeat we can inflict, the better.
So those are some ideas Ed. No doubt you have many of your own, but I would suggest that the situation for Scotland and for so many good comrades is so perilous, that you should major on the threat of the SNP in your speech.
The SNP thinks that the way in which accidents are falling in their direction means that it is their destiny to achieve independence. But history also shows that a good speech or bad one can affect the flow of fortune, either for the better or for the worse.
If you want the negative example, you can think of Neil Kinnock at Sheffield in 1992. If you want the positive side, you can see plenty of great examples: ironically, Neil again, facing down the Militant Tendency, or, again Gordon Brown in Maryhill.
You have another chance to make history.
Over to you. Again.