It would seem that Labour are slowly moving the wheels towards supporting Scottish independence. Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour’s current leader, has proposed a new Act of Union as part of a federalised United Kingdom ‘solution’ to address the will for an independent Scotland.
Dugdale is a political figure expected to be shuffled away from Scottish politics sometime soon but her announcement at a ‘think tank’ in London is a welcome development none the less. It is difficult to tell whether utterances from a figure like Dugdale represent Labour think but it is an acknowledgement that the will for independence is still significantly strong in Scotland, contrary to reporting in certain press. And Dugdale is correct about the need for a reconsidered Union, though it will have to be one negotiated by Scotland from a position of an independent sovereign nation.
An independent Scotland should clearly maintain a close relationship with its closest neighbours and, for economic and practical reasons, having a specific agreement between Scotland and England, Wales, and Northern Ireland would be desirable. Just as Scotland wishes to maintain its links with the EU, Scotland would benefit from being part of a Union of Kingdoms with its current United Kingdom partners. In fact, with England and Wales deciding that they do not wish to remain in the EU, an independent Scotland could act as an arbitrator or conduit of trade between England/Wales and the EU.
Labour in Scotland are where UKIP, the LibDems and the Green Party are in the rest of UK and, in Holyrood, Scottish Labour are struggling to recover, with signs that Dugdale doesn’t represent the mood of once Labour voters. Dugdale’s potential as a figure in Scottish politics was somewhat undermined by her backing of the right leaning Labour leader ‘challenger’ this past summer. So, publicly demonstrating being out of touch with your voter base, when you are trying to rebuild your voter base, does not bode well. Aligning yourself with the politics that isolated the Labour party from its supporter/voter base does not look like sound political judgement, especially when in the face of progressive policies.
Just as the national Labour party cannot afford a resurgence from New Labour’s ghosts, Scottish Labour cannot afford to reject progressive political thinking in favour of a return to the isolationism and ‘Little Britain’ thinking of Labour’s right wing.