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Monday, September 25, 2006

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Graham O'Neill

dear rami and judith, I have read your comments rami from a few years back and yes the sentiments are hard to disagree with; I agree with them but there isn't much else to say on these.

judith: i read your recent article about scottish labour renewing whilst the snp 'blunders'. I am labour to the core and having recently returned to scotland, and have to say i don't agree with your analysis.

at present i think the snp will be more than satisfied with their public performance. whilst there is no doubt that much of what they are doing at the moment is populist, in one sense that is exactly the point. so long as they can portray themselves as being decisive on some of the things that matter to the majority of folk then so be it, from their perspective.

i quite agree about the scandal of under-funding for womens' aid across the country and that ring-fencing is a reflection of why localism can be such a dangerous policy if not properly thought-out, but it is not sufficient to say that the snp are blundering when patently they are not.

the truth is that scotland is a social democratic polity - just as most parts of england and wales are also - but it is equally true that the snp have articulated just as social democratic an agenda than scottish labour have in recent years.

the may 2007 election results should, indeed have to be the shock therapy that scottish labour needed to start itself re-thinking and re-articulating its agenda again for the future of scotland again. the constitutional convention is encouraging here, but is nowhere near sufficient.

what will be sufficient is the background work that scottish labour should now be doing on the real vote-winners, that is what is its vision for NHS Scotland; what does it want to do with Scotland's schools; what about the issues of crime and fear of crime; the matter of addressing youth under- and unemployment; and perhaps most crucially to address the shortage of quality housing in Scotland's urban centres, as part of a cities'-led regeneration strategy that has migration at its heart.

it is insufficient to say that Scottish Labour is quietly renewing itself. Rather what needs to happen is that this time next year the Party has the basis of a new set of policies on the meaningful issues which it can then start to publicly contrast with the snp status quo.

It is unpalatable to say that complanency was a significant part of why Scottish Labour lost power at the last election; and it is only through always remembering that that it will regain power at the next.

Graham

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