Labour for Independence
|Focus||Scottish independence referendum, 2014|
Labour for Independence is a political organisation for Scottish Labour supporters and other believers in social justice who believe that Scottish independence will lead to a fairer society. It claimed to have 2,000 members across Scotland in June 2014. The organisation has been described as an "SNP front" and, following the September 2014 independence referendum, its founder Allan Grogan joined the Scottish Socialist Party. The organisation is currently under investigation by the Electoral Commission for failing to file its accounts.
Labour for Independence adheres to Labour's "founding principles [...] of fairness, equality and justice" and seeks to offer a vision of an independent Scotland for Labour supporters, in lieu of Scottish Labour doing so. An opinion poll in March 2014 suggested that almost a quarter of Labour voters were planning to vote Yes in the referendum The appeal of Labour for Independence has been attributed to frustration and disappointment felt by Labour voters in Scotland during the New Labour reign of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
The decision of the British Labour Party to abstain from the vote on the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Act 2013 on 19 March 2013 also aroused anger from many mainstream Labour supporters. Polling has also suggested that up to 20% of Scottish Labour supporters are dissatisfied with the party's Holyrood leader, Johann Lamont. Labour MP Alistair Darling, who heads the pro-Union Better Together campaign, also has a dissatisfaction rate of 27%.[not in citation given]
Labour for Independence is now organised in 6 regional units:
- Aberdeenshire & Highlands (incl. Western and Northern Isles)
- Dundee & East
- Edinburgh, Lothians & Central
- Glasgow & West
- Southern Scotland
Labour for Independence was established in 2012 by Allan Grogan, a Scottish Labour member from Angus. It initially consisted of a website and a Facebook group. Grogan wrote on his website: "We need to show the Labour Party, the rest of the political parties and the media watching, that there is a genuine demand from Labour voters for independence". While the head of the Yes Scotland campaign welcomed the creation of a pro-independence group within the Labour Party, it was reported that Labour chiefs believed there was little support within party ranks for independence.
The group held its first public conference at Glasgow Caledonian University on 12 November 2012, in a meeting attended by around 100 party members, activists and supporters and was subject to mass media coverage in the printed press all over Scotland over the following days. Speakers at the event included former Labour MP, Dennis Canavan, Yes Scotland Chief Executive Blair Jenkins, Jeane Freeman from Women for Independence, Ravenscraig trade union leader Tommy Brennan, and Ricky Ross from Deacon Blue. The shift from being an e-campaign group to being an active "feet-on-the-ground" movement was widely seen as the next step forward and warmly received.[by whom?]
2013 policy conference
The group hosted a two-day policy conference in July 2013, which sought to suggest possible policies for a post-independence Scottish Labour Party. The conference was open to paid members only, who must be either existing members of the Labour Party or members of no party whatsoever. It is expected to have hosted 100 people. Policies adopted at the conference include complete opposition to the Trident nuclear weapons programme.
Allan Grogan spoke at the March and Rally for Scottish Independence in September 2013, at which a contingent of Labour for Independence supporters reportedly waved "red flags with a thistle in the upper hoist quarter".
In July 2013, Labour for Independence was branded as an "SNP front" by Anas Sarwar, deputy leader of Scottish Labour, who said that SNP politicians and supporters were "masquerading" as Labour supporters and giving a false impression about the campaign, though LFI founder Allan Grogan responded by stating: "There are many instances in which non-LFI volunteers were pictured around our banner. At no time have we ever claimed these people to be volunteers of LFI."
In August 2013, the Sunday Herald reported that Celia Fitzgerald, an office-bearer within the group, had been an SNP activist since leaving Labour over the Iraq War. She rejoined Labour in 2012 with the aim of changing the party's stance towards the referendum. LFI leader Allan Grogan said he knew of examples of SNP members handing out LFI leaflets. He admitted only 40% of his group's 80 or so members are actually in the Labour Party. Grogan also said LFI had received initial financial support from Yes Scotland, regarding the £245 accommodation bill for the LFI's first conference.
Later in the month, the group's founder accused Better Together of running a "dirty tricks" campaign and "witch hunt" to discredit his group, the executive of which is made up entirely of card-carrying Labour members.
An editorial by the International Socialist Group likened Scottish Labour's criticism of the group to "a popular child's tantrum" while describing Labour for Independence as "novel, creative, and engaging [...] proponents of a new Scotland".
In September 2015 the group was fined £1500 by the Electoral Commission after the group failed to submit a spending report for activity during the Scottish Referendum. The Commission considered this a serious breach of the rules for campaigners and warned that the fine would rise by 50% if Labour for Independence failed to pay it within 56 days, and then possible court action could follow. A previous breach of commission rules were cited for the action where the group failed to put an imprint on campaign leaflets. The organisation was the only referendum campaigner that had failed to do submit accounts.
List of notable members
- Sir Charles Gray, former leader of Strathclyde Regional Council
- Alex Mosson, former Lord Provost of Glasgow
- John Mulvey, former leader of Lothian Regional Council
- Bob Thomson, former chairman of Scottish Labour and Labour Party member for 51 years
- Brooks, Cameron (16 June 2014). "Labour urged to back break-up of the UK". Press and Journal. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- "Labour for Indy founder quits and joins SSP". The Herald. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
- "Labour for Independence - Our Vision". Retrieved 1 August 2013.
- Referendum: New poll puts support for independence at highest level this year.. but Alex Salmond still facing huge task to win vote www.dailyrecord.co.uk, accessed 30 March 2014
- Jones, Owen (20 March 2013). "Workfare: Why did so many Labour MPs accept this brutal, unforgivable attack on vulnerable people?". The Independent. London.
- Join the campaign and become a volunteer! www.labourforindy.com, 1 August 2013
- "Yes Scotland wins support from Labour rebel group". 2012-07-30. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
- "Scottish independence: Labour dismisses rebellion". 2012-07-30. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
- "Labour for Independence - Join". Retrieved 27 July 2013.
- "Labour's Scottish independence group calls for Trident ban". 27 July 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
- "Labour pro-independence group holds first conference in Glasgow". 27 July 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
- "Scottish independence: Labour Yes group in Trident ban call". BBC News. 27 July 2013. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
- EXCLUSIVE: Allan Grogan at the Scottish Independence Rally 2013.
- "Thousands march for Scottish independence over weekend". 23 September 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
- "Scottish Independence: Labour attacks LFI group". BBC News. 31 July 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2013.
- "Fresh questions raised over pro-independence group's Labour credentials". 4 August 2013. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
- "Labour indy group's founder claims dirty tricks over photographs". 9 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
- "LFI: Labour fear the truth embodied in independent voices". 9 August 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
- Carrell, Severin. "Labour for Independence fined for breaking spending rules". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
- Magnus, Gardham (15 September 2015). "Yes campaign group fined for serious breach of referendum rules". The Herald. Retrieved 16 September 2015.
- Andrew, Whitaker (16 September 2015). "Labour for Independence fined for breaking spending rules". The Scotsman. Retrieved 25 July 2015.
- Bob Thomson Joins LFI! Archived 17 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine. labourforindy.com, 1 March 2014
- Former Labour chairman Bob Thomson backing Yes bbc.co.uk, 1 March 2014