United with Labour launch - speech by Johann Lamont MSP, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party
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I came into politics for this reason. I believed it to be unfair that where you could get to was predicated on where you came from. I felt it wrong that potential talent was capped before it developed by someone else's birth right.
And so I found a home in the Labour Party.
My parents loved me. Their values shaped me. Their talents put food on our table. But I knew when they lived, and I know now, that what they could achieve was capped not by what lived in their hearts or their heads but by where they came from.
Not capped because they came from Scotland, England, Wales or Ireland. But limited by the fact they had not wealth or privilege or connections.
And so the Labour Party was not just my home but my base, my family from where I have tried to fight for opportunity for all whatever their circumstance.
Let’s be clear. When the economy was booming, the SNP said independence. When it slumped they said independence. Once Whisky was our future. Then it was oil. Then it wasn't. Now it is again. Once it was the Scots pound, then the Euro, now sterling, perhaps because that could lead to a Scots pound and then the Euro.
I am clear about what I want. I want social justice. If independence brought us closer to that I would back it. But I cannot see how it does and neither do the SNP or they would have explained it by now.
For me our duty to humanity isn't to ask where you came from, but to ask what you can be.
Our political beliefs are predicated on the beliefs of fairness, equality, justice and solidarity. And I am sorry, but I will not kiss goodbye to solidarity because it suits me for now because we don't like the Prime Minister.
If Tory policies harm workers and families in Liverpool, Manchester or Maidenhead, the idea that in a separate Scotland, with the rest of the UK our biggest market, those policies wouldn't harm us here is either dishonest or plain stupid.
The fight for justice across the UK isn't just morally right, it makes practical sense. If you believe that different social, working, welfare rights north and south of the border is a good idea then you haven't heard of something called globalisation - and you don't believe in justice.
I was born a Glaswegian, in Anderston, with my heritage and values from Tiree. But the country I was born into, the society I had to make my way in was shaped not by national identity, but by wealth and privilege.
We don't fight England. We fight social injustice. And that crosses borders.
Don't get me wrong. I know that in today's world where you are born matters. Not Scotland or England, Gretna or Gloucester.
But Motherwell or Morningside. Easterhouse or Elie.
I believe that is the fight.
I don't buy the argument that by erecting a border we abolish social barriers. I would love it if it would. But no argument has been made, and I don't believe in fingers crossed politics.
I am not saying that achieving social justice in the UK will be easy. It never has been. But even nationalists must acknowledge that the Scottish NHS was delivered by an English PM inspired by a Welsh health minister.
What are today claimed as Scottish values are in fact international. If the ideas of justice, fairness, equality were just Scottish values, it would be a condemnation of the rest of the world and a condemnation of generations of Scots who have fought for those values not only in our own land but across the world.
The vision of the Nationalists is confused. For some it is the Monaco model - low tax and low public spending. For some it is Scandinavia. For others a new Albania.
For me my vision is clear.
A Scotland which works with our partners to deliver a Scotland where we make the best of our youth, drive on our society and give our elderly the serenity they deserve.
As a nation, our dignity is not shown by a national passport but by the dignity we show our people.
We believe in solidarity. We stand with our neighbours. Not just out of sentiment but because it makes sense for us all.
We believe in the redistribution of wealth, so why would we cut ourselves off from our neighbours. Why cut ourselves off from the global hub of London and the fruits of the labour of the 400,000 Scots who live and work there? In simple terms, why make Sir Alex Ferguson a foreigner?
Our politics makes us reject the idea that we are enriched by rejecting partnership. We reject the idea that what impoverishes our neighbours enriches us.
My Scotland stands for equality and solidarity. For freedom and justice.
Those qualities have no borders.
To put borders upon them doesn't just render those values meaningless - it contradicts everything that modern Scotland has ever stood for. So we will stand up for those values, we will stand up for Scotland, we will stand up for Scotland strong in the United Kingdom and that is Labour’s case.