Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Senior Scottish and English Labour members back YES for Scotland’s workers

A senior Labour Party member from Scotland has said a Yes vote is the best route to a brighter future for working people in Scotland.

Des Loughney, former Labour councillor and secretary of Edinburgh Trades Council, has backed a Yes vote for better living standards, pay and services for working people.

On the day (Thursday, July 10) of public sector strikes predominantly in the rest of the UK, Mr Loughney will join trade unionists in London to march in solidarity with workers.

He said:

‘As the strikes make clear, the prospect of staying in the UK is not good for working people: austerity means growing inequality, years after years of wage freezes, and cuts in welfare benefits including pensions. This can be reversed in an independent Scotland.’

Des Loughney has been a Labour member since 1980, and was a Labour regional councillor from 1990 to 1994. He has been secretary of Edinburgh Trades Council since 1978, is an active member of Unite, and is secretary of Unite Edinburgh voluntary sector branch.

Mr Loughney said:

‘My main concern in deciding how to vote was the likely effect of independence on the standard of living of Scottish working people. Based on many years’ work as a trade union official with specialty knowledge of the Scottish economy, I think there is a good chance that independence will improve working people’s standard of living.

‘Since the UK coalition took office, ministers have frozen pay or limited increases well below the cost of living, leaving local government workers, NHS staff, teachers, firefighters, civil servants and other public servants on average £2,245 worse off, the TUC has shown.

'Westminster’s current low wage economic strategy will continue, in-work poverty will grow, there will be more people working on no guaranteed contracts, and Scotland’s NHS will be endangered as is happening in England.

‘In an independent Scotland, the current fall in living standards can be reversed without damaging our economic prospects. The Scottish Parliament has protected people from some Westminster government policies, yet the Parliament does not have control of even 50% of public expenditure. It does not control welfare benefits, pensions, employment rights or health and safety. It will greatly benefit Scottish working people to have control of these areas.

‘Voting ‘Yes’ does not imply voting at all for the SNP. I will vote in a post-independent 2016 Scottish general election for the party that promises to deliver most on social justice, jobs, a progressive foreign policy and a green future.’

And John Cowan, a Labour councillor and activist in Norfolk, who has stood for Parliament for Labour, and has served on the Labour East Regional Board has offered his voice of support. He said devolution under the last Labour government ‘set Scotland on its path to economic and political freedom’ and that it is ‘in the interests not just of Scotland but also of the rest of the UK that the people of Scotland take the bold step to becoming independent’.

He added:

‘There is a strong economic case for Scotland leaving the UK, to prevent Scotland’s wealth being drained towards London. An independent Scottish government would be able to prioritise spending on issues that the Scottish people actually want such as health and education, and funding strong public services and fair pay for workers, rather than vanity projects like Trident.’

Cailean Gallagher, Labour member and Yes Scotland researcher, said:

‘More and more Labour members are backing a Yes vote, not just in Scotland but from right across the UK. It sends a strong message that a Yes vote is in the interests of working people in Scotland and in the tradition of the labour movement. Standing in solidarity with those across our islands is fully consistent with voting to empower working people in an independent Scotland.’
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