Scotland can aspire to be a great nation, without desiring to be a great power”, Alex Salmond recently argued in New York. But how can Scotland become a great nation and, more importantly, who is most likely to create this great nation? The simple fact is that if Scotland becomes an independent nation the political force that emerges from the SNP, if any, is unlikely to be the leading political force in Scottish politics. After independence there will no longer be a SNP, it will be Labour that once again comes to the forefront of Scottish politics. It will be Labour that delivers a great Scottish nation.


As Nicola Sturgeon recently suggested, a Yes vote will provide Scottish Labour with the ability to free itself from Westminster policies and control, it will enable Scottish Labour to deliver the social democratic polices that it passionately believes in, it should result in a “rejuvenated” Scottish Labour party.  All of these things matter, not just for Scottish Labour, but for Scotland as a whole to ensure that Scotland is able to develop and prosper.


Those of us who can remember the Thatcher years know only too well why this is important. These were dark days in Scotland. These were the days that despite the intense anger that existed within Scotland, and particularly the Scottish Labour party, towards Thatcher’s policies, Donald Dewar had to continually damp down the desire to fight back. Dewar and Scottish Labour were powerless, they were impotent. This could all happen again and maybe sooner than most people would like to believe. There is no guarantee, despite how many Labour MP’s Scotland might send to Westminster next year, that there will be a Labour government in power by mid-2015. There is a strong possibility that with the likely annihilation of the LibDems the Tories, supported by the south, will gain a majority. Without the counterbalancing force of the LibDems there is every likelihood that Cameron and his cronies will wreak havoc on the social democratic polices and principles that are favoured by most Scots. The Bedroom Tax is just a taster of what might be on the main menu! Even if this does not happen in 2015 it will happen again, it is just a matter of time before the Tories have full control of the Westminster parliament again.


The only way that Scots can guarantee to avoid this eventuality is a Yes vote in the referendum. A Yes vote will deliver an independent Scotland and within that independent Scotland Labour will have the opportunity to deliver the social democratic and economic policies that resonate so well with Scots. The idea that there will be no more Westminster Tory government, ever, is a powerful argument for those who wish to pursue social democratic policies. It is an argument that no Labour supporter should ignore and to achieve it is really very simple; Labour supporters just need to vote Yes on September 18th.


One big challenge that confronts Scottish Labour, if it wishes to seize this opportunity, is the politicians within the party who appear to be more concerned about preserving their own careers rather than the future success of Scotland. These are the wee fish in the big pond. These people, many who wish to strip the Scottish Parliament of power in the event of a successful No vote, must be swept aside if the big opportunity that independence holds for Scottish Labour is to be seized.


Failure to grasp this opportunity could also result in Scottish Labour being the biggest losers from a successful No vote. Not only could Labour fail to gain power at Westminster next year, there is also likely to be a “guilt” backlash, people who feel guilty about letting Scotland down having voted No will vote against Labour at the next Holyrood elections. The SNP landslide in 2016 could be even greater than that of 2011. Regardless of whether the referendum vote goes Yes or No, with a 40% plus vote for independence the SNP are always going to be winners and they will not be going away.


Many Labour supporters must see these opportunities and threats and must wonder why Scottish Labour is so opposed to taking the best opportunity the party has ever had to improve the prosperity and wellbeing of the people of Scotland. Isn’t that what the Labour party is supposed to be all about? If the leadership of Scottish Labour is unwilling to seize the opportunity then it will be left to ordinary members and supporters. The decision that each Labour supporter will need to make is whether a No vote is really going to result in the social democratic policies that Scotland requires for its future prosperity? Will a No vote deliver the radical change that is required to turn Scotland into a “great nation”? We think not and we hope Labour supporters agree.


So do Scottish Labour supporters have the will to break the bonds with Westminster, do they have the courage to stand up for Scotland’s future? We would like to think that they do, we would like to see Scottish Labour supporters uniting with all others who have Scotland’s future at heart, we would like to see them vote Yes. The greatest political opportunity that has ever been presented to the Labour movement in Scotland is fast approaching. Labour supporters need to act and they need to act decisively and positively; the future of Scotland could well depend on them.

The creator of this blog and the A Union of Equals website has no political affiliations.