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13 June 2012updated 07 Sep 2021 10:15am

Scottish Labour risks irrelevance if it doesn’t listen to voters

By Ged Killen

People in Scotland have used this election to send a clear message that they remain opposed to Brexit. Across the UK, Labour has lost out to unambiguously pro-Remain parties. 

Our result in Scotland was a disaster, made all the more painful by the loss of David Martin, the UK’s longest serving MEP. I pay tribute to David’s excellent work on behalf of the people of Scotland over three decades. The result is certainly no fault of his and no reflection on his extraordinary record. 

This election felt like watching a slow motion car crash. The outcome was entirely avoidable and incredibly frustrating for people like me who have consistently argued for a final say referendum with Labour campaigning to remain. Instead, we have tried and failed to be all things to all people and it has left voters confused about what we stand for.  It is crucial that we heal divisions in the country, but we can only do that by being straight with people and staying true to our values.

Scottish Labour now has a choice to make: we can start listening and respond with the courage of our convictions, or we can continue to stick our heads in the sand and become an irrelevance in Scotland. 

Like thousands of our activists and supporters, I joined the Labour Party to make a real difference. If we seriously believe in becoming a party of government, we need to give the country something to believe in. We need a message that our dedicated activists will be proud to deliver when they are out pounding the streets in election after election. 

The leadership got this wrong, and they need to fix it. It’s time to drop the empty sound bites and start an honest conversation. Brexit is not only socially and economically damaging for the country, it is fundamentally incompatible with Labour’s values and the brighter future we all desperately want to build.

Ged Killen is the Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West

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