The Labour Party’s position on the Unite/Ineos dispute seems astonishing.  It can’t survive the weekend, surely?

Neil Findlay MSP, a Scottish shadow cabinet minister, yesterday put out this statement on social media:

“The workers at Ineos have my full support and solidarity – the company are (sic) acting disgracefully”.

Does Labour really see the dispute in those simplistic terms? Goodie union and baddie bosses? That’s it?

There’s no question that the statement wasn’t run by Johann Lamont first.  Findlay’s a shadow cabinet minister and Grangemouth is Scotland’s biggest industrial crisis – there’s no  scope for a dissenting ‘personal’ position – unless of course he’s going to resign over it.  Findlay’s a ‘proud Unite member’ of course.  But then so is Johann Lamont, and that can’t be why her only response to the matter has been to be silent on Unite but implicitly critical of Ineos.  Can it?  Or what about Ian Gray, Finance and Employment shadow minister?  His opposite number, John Swinney, has been all over the issue.  Gray?  I can’t find a single quote.  Again, that can’t be because he, too, is a ‘proud Unite member. Surely not?

So Labour’s take on Scotland’s biggest industrial crisis for year – a plant shut down, a dollar on crude,  thousands of jobs at stake is  ‘baddie billionaire bosses’ and ‘up Unite’? Not a matter of economics, investment, jobs, negotiations over pay and conditions.  Just blackhats? It’s puerile. Is it stupidity and lack of nous?  I don’t think it is, actually.  I think it’s fear of Unite.  Many politicians have close relationships with unions, but most are able to be direct with their union buddies and tell them when it’s all going pear-shaped.  Not so Labour’s leadership in Scotland.  They’re in too deep without buoyancy aids.

As I wrote in my last blogpost (below) Unite’s convener at Grangemouth, Stephen Deans, put an enormous amount of time and effort into trying to sort the local parliamentary selection – effort which should have been put into planning for the crunch talks which Ineos has been signalling for months.  Trade union organisers all over Scotland can see that.  Pat Rafferty, Unite’s dimwitted Scottish Secretary, stressed that the proposed strike was not about pay, the future, jobs – no, none of that stuff.  It was about Deans himself.  Now Rafferty is trying to argue the wider industrial case but he’s missed the bus.  And, by the way, that bus was probably made during a period when Unite (under Rafferty) for once wasn’t on strike at Falkirk’s other main industrial employer, ADL the ‘Olympic’ bus-maker who puts Falkirk on the world map.

Scottish Labour is horribly out of its depth.  Again.  Ed Miliband needs to send in the cavalry with a ‘clarifying statement’.  Again.  There is a very serious economic crisis at Grangemouth.  I, and other MPs, have lobbied UK ministers to help Ineos with investment.  The unions need to engage with the situation properly – not fanny around making stupid political gestures. Labour MSPs need to get engaged too.  But they won’t be led to it by Lamont, Gray or Findlay.

I’ve just walked through Perth.  SNP members are laughing their socks off.






4 Responses to Scottish Labour’s Madness over Grangemouth
  1. I am a current Labour Party member. I agree with every part of your post. I find I am completely at odds with my own party on one of the most important events of the last 10 years.

    I also find it quite disheartening the silence by the Scottish leadership over the matter, and even worse, Milliband’s statement of last week blaming the ‘big bad company’.

    Questioning my membership, whether Scottish Labour actually represent Scotland, or whether they represent the unions.

    I am a proud Scot, proud of my Britishness. However, events such as Grangemouth show our party as being one without effective leadership. Only one winner in a political sense, and that is the SNP. I see the SNP winning again in 2016.

    • It’s a difficult time, for sure. The Labour Party can recover the situation, I think, but it must confront Unite’s leadership. At the moment, it’s trying to avoid that and everyone can see that. I fear that the UK won’t vote for a party it thinks is dominated by leftist ideologues. At the moment, it fears Unite’s leadership and lacks the will to take it on – that really has too change soon.

  2. “And far abin the Angus straths I saw the wild geese flee,
    A lang, lang skein o beatin wings wi their heids toward the sea,
    And aye their cryin voices trailed ahint them on the air.”
    “Oh wind, hae mercy, haud your wheesht for I daurna listen mair.”

  3. I find very little in your post that I can argue with. I do struggle to understand the silence of Johann and others at such a critical stage.


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