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Scotland’s Future

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 18th September 2013.

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Photo of Johann Lamont Johann Lamont Labour

I thought that I made an excellent point, but obviously the First Minister, as ever, missed it. He is saying that all decisions have to be made here, but we have the right to make decisions where decisions lie. The logic of the First Minister’s position is that we would not be in Europe, the United Nations or anywhere else.

There is an assumption that the rest of the United Kingdom wants to deny us our rights and potential, that Scots are more progressive, fairer and more generous, and that, if only we could rule ourselves, all the ills of society would disappear. That complacency and that belief that there are inevitable differences denies the need to reaffirm every day the importance of fairness, justice, respect and compassion, and insults all those radical voices right across the United Kingdom who are as concerned as we are about what is happening in the country. Only the Scottish National Party could look at the record of Labour Governments in creating the NHS, developing the welfare state, opening up educational and economic opportunity, tackling child poverty and supporting people into work, say that there is no difference between Labour and the Tory party, and then say that it offers a promise of a better world that is funded by cuts in corporation tax to 3p lower than anything that a Tory chancellor would offer.

The truth is that, regardless of economic circumstances, on high days and holidays, in good times and bad, the SNP holds on to its belief in independence. That is not a response to the banking crisis, foreign wars or a Tory Government; it is the politics of nationalism looking for a justification—a belief that is held when all else changes, regardless of what the evidence says. I changed my mind in the 1980s when I saw what Thatcher was doing to children whom I taught, but I know that Alex Salmond has been on no constitutional journey. He believed in independence 40 years ago and he believes in it today.

The SNP says that it speaks for Scottish values, but the values of community, co-operation, being a good neighbour and solidarity are embodied in the United Kingdom, not repudiated by it. The SNP often tells us to look at our history, but it is too often guilty of rewriting our history. An understanding of our history makes me a socialist, not a nationalist. [Interruption.]