By G.A.Ponsonby
An organisation set up in memory of the late Jimmy Reid has stepped into the row over the cancellation of a Holyrood debate on universal benefits.
The Jimmy Reid Foundation, named in honour of the former Trade Union Activist who was one of Scotland’s most respected political orators, has called on the Scottish Labour party to back a Holyrood debate which was cancelled on a technicality.

Writing in the Foundation’s website, Director Robin McAlpine urged Johann Lamont’s Labour group to “openly debate” the issue and warned against taking part in “only debates you think you will win”, calling such an approach “unhealthy”.

Mr McAlpine added: “It is how political parties become convinced in policies that have not been robustly tested through argument.  It prevents you from developing your own thinking sufficiently.  It encourages you to hide behind pre-prepared soundbites.  It is comfortable in the short term but weakens you in the long term.”

He claimed that below the media radar there had been a “pretty significant backlash against some of the statements on universal services which have come from the Labour leadership.” and added, “the Labour Party in Scotland is not now in such a robust condition that it can afford to fragment its core support”.

Calling for “a proper debate”, he added: “Well, there seems no benefit for Labour to delay that process.  It is likely that the very people who are most angry within the Party will not respond well to this news; this is an excellent opportunity to address that.”

The intervention by the organisation follows revelations at the weekend that a planned debate on universal benefits such as free travel for the elderly and free prescriptions, was cancelled after a technicality was discovered in the application.

This weekend the Sunday Herald reported that the debate had to be scrapped after the Labour party refused to support the motion.  The refusal resulted in angry accusations of hypocrisy, with Labour’s opponents pointing out that Johann Lamont’s party had routinely demanded a mature debate on the issue.

In what is a further blow to Johann Lamont’s credibility, it has emerged that the technicality that led to the cancellation of the debate was brought to the attention of the parliamentary staff by Scottish Labour themselves – who, rather than support the motion and eliminate the error, declined to do so.

Despite criticising the SNP leadership’s stance on NATO, Mr McAlpine praised the party for having the nerve to debate the issue and urged Scottish Labour to show the same courage.

“Anyone who has been out and about in Scottish politics over the last few months knows that Labour is under fire from many quarters over its early interventions into the universalism debate.  One way or another, Labour needs to demonstrate some courage under that fire.  Taking shelter behind technicalities is not the way to do it.”


Will C
2013-01-14 23:47

I was an admirer of Jimmy Reid for many years, his beleif in his fellow man, his fundamental humanity and his conversion to the cause of Scottish self determination, made him one of the great Scottish socialist thinkers. He ranks with Connolly and McLean.
I am sure he would be appalled by the comments and actions of his former party.
Labour in Scotland insult the memory of the great Scottish socialists.
2013-01-15 00:06

Well done the Reid Foundation. It is long gone time that the true socialist voice of Scotland regained its mode of expression, sadly muted during the past thirty years or more of trough-feeding Thatcherite insanity. As Jimmy famously said on joining the SNP, he didn’t leave the Labour Party – the Labour Party left him. Time for the socialist independentista  s among us to regain the high ground, and ditch the dependency bottom feeders.
2013-01-15 07:00

Aye dundie he also said:

A RAT race is for RATS

A rat race is for rats. We’re not rats. We’re human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement.

This is how it starts, and, before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat pack.

The price is too high.

Roll_On_2014 – Vote YES

2013-01-15 00:14

Looks like Universalism is proving to be a major headache for Labour. It’s a self implanted wedge which has already created lines of separation which will only widen over time.

When it becomes criticized by the likes of the Jimmy Reid Foundation that’s like a sledge hammer coming down hard on that wedge – and it’s not as if disgruntled Labour voters have nowhere to go – Labour for Independence is providing a home which they will recognise and feel comfortable in.

Labour in Scotland is going to find that the Referendum is not just about Scotland’s future but about their’s too.

VOTE YES Next Year
2013-01-15 04:20

And lets all remember that what we are talking about here arent a collection of radical,sociali  st philosophies.They are basic human rights supported by the vast majority of Scots of varying party allegience.
2013-01-15 07:42


Appears that the Tories are in quite a lather:…/…

“ Boundary Review delayed for five years, seriously damaging David Cameron’s chances of winning overall majority in 2015 “

Bless their little cotton socks.
2013-01-15 07:59

OT, but this is some admission by the Secretary of State against Scotland!…/…

Unionists working for Westminster at expense of Scotland. Quelle surprise!
2013-01-15 08:51

In essence it is about social democracy vs neoliberalism, and in many respects this will frame the debate on independence.
2013-01-15 11:50

The Tory agenda is to make “Britain” competitive with third world countries.They do this by attacking wage structures and underlying social costs such as health care and pensions.
They claim it is not fair that workers are not getting wage increases and others are,so apply the same criteria to benefits and no doubt soon to pensions as well.
A race to the bottom.

Union City Blues
2013-01-15 09:13

Off topic, apologies! Michael McCann Labour MP for East Kilbride area has an online survey that asks some slightly misleading questions. It would be worth as many as possible sharing our opinions with him as he hasn’t restricted it to constituents. I was amused to see many questions starting ‘Do you agree…’.
2013-01-15 10:47

Just filled in Michael McCann’s survey of leading questions. Accessed through his website
2013-01-15 10:55

There’s something very odd, and a bit sad, happening here. As Labour has moved increasingly to the right, there’s a hard-core of Labour supporters who’d rather redefine what Socialism means than accept and admit that the party they favour is no longer actually really socialist.

In extreme cases this means that anyone criticising Labours socialist credentials is seen as selling out those very principles . .

Duncan Hothersall on Twitter last night – “Reid Foundation has allowed itself to become a mouthpiece for partisan #yesscot garbage.”
2013-01-15 11:43

I find he says a lot of things, regardless of how contradictory they are, including a selective ‘analysis’ of Labour for Independence (his terms appear to be the only important criteria) and a defence of Johann Lamont’s ‘something for nothing’ speech which ignored what she actually said.
2013-01-15 14:07

Quoting Jake62:

As Labour has moved increasingly to the right, there’s a hard-core of Labour supporters who’d rather redefine what Socialism means than accept and admit that the party they favour is no longer actually really socialist.

In extreme cases this means that anyone criticising Labours socialist credentials is seen as selling out those very principles . .

Read 1984, that’s what Winston Smith did for a living.


2013-01-15 12:20

As I have said before, the New Labour party is not Labour anymore.

On the subject of Benefits…I wrote the following true story of today comparing it to Dickens “A Christmas Carol”

2013-01-15 14:47

What a hellish tale!
This should have been brought to our attention by the mainstream media.
What a useless bunch they prove themselves to be ,very I’m all right Jack.
And the grasping, gravy train MPs who want a huge pay rise – we’re all in this together ha!ha!

2013-01-15 14:42

O/T I wonder if we will hear anything about this in the MSM or BBC Scotland?…/…
2013-01-15 15:22

Just watching the Westminster Commons “debate” on the Scotland Act Order which is more of an excuse for anti-SNP diatribes by the usual suspects, and Ian Davidson has just said that the SNP is delaying the referendum to 2014 so that the Scots celebration of the “murder of hundreds of thousands of English at Bannockburn” takes place beforehand!

He and his colleagues are also using the platform to allege that the SNP are “truanting” from the debate because they objected to his chairmanship of his select committee because they were being beaten on every argument!

He is also very concerned that Terry Butcher is getting a vote in the referendum but Alex Ferguson is not!

To paraphrase Tom Nairn “Scotland will never be free until the last Unionist MP is strangled with the last copy of the Sunday Post/ Scotsman/Herald”.
2013-01-15 16:08

Eleanor Laing Tory MP for Epping just had her diatribe against the SNP’s “truancy” from the debate totally deflated when the SNP returned to the chamber after Ian Davidson sat down!

I would not have attended to listen to this shower either if I had been an SNP MP.
2013-01-15 16:37

Anas Sarwar incoherently all over the place now on the “debate” stating inter-alia that the referendum is going to be run by a “one man dictatorship” in Bute House – so much for his recent plea for all sides to stop the nasty stuff!
2013-01-15 16:47

I too am putting myself through the ecruciating debate on the transfer of powers. This is ignorance writ large in all its meanings. Imagine it. These people think they deserve £100K a year plus expenses.
2013-01-15 16:59

So Marian, according to Ian Davidson, the numerically outnumbered troops of a national army defending its homeland against the attack of an aggressive invading enemy army, are guilty of murder? What a stupid little man he is!

His grasp of the medieval history of Scotland’s wars of independence against its aggressive, imperialist neighbour, which had already conquered Ireland and Wales and were even then in the process of trying to conquer France – the reason for the “Auld Alliance” – is laughable.

It is also disgraceful the extent to which he and his fellow Scottish Labour MPs are prepared to talk down and denigrate Scotland and its people.
2013-01-15 17:16

This debate is just an anti SNP rant by as they say “This House” what a shower this lot are Scotland just remember your place you are getting to big for your boots. I’m getting angry.
Will C
2013-01-15 18:33

Marian – The best estimate of the number of English cavalry and infantry who actually fought at Bannockburn is 14,500. So for Davidson to claim that there was the “murder of hundreds of thousands of English at Bannockburn” is complete tripe. Never mind the fact that those killed in battle are usually referred to as being ‘killed in action’. Another Labour distortion of the truth I’m afraid.
Andy Anderson
2013-01-15 20:09

Let us be clear about the issue that the Scottish Labour Party leadership are running scared off. Universal benefits. The most famous universal benefit is the NHS the greatest political achievement any party in Britain ever achieved, and for years the pride of the Labour Party.
It just shows how lost this present Labour party has become that it is now afraid to debate this issue.
2013-01-15 21:22

This whole thing just gets more bizarre by the day! After allegations in the past about Bannockburn having no place in serious debate for independence now it’s the No campaign who are bringing it up! I never thought I’d be saying this but watching Moore, Curren and Campbell in the Commons it did smack of the portrayal of the Scottish Lords’ betrayal of Wallace in Braveheart. I am tempted to say you couldn’t script this – but obviously someone did!

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