“Ladies and gentlemen, comrades, members of the press. Today I announce my candidacy for the leadership of the Labour Party of Scotland. These are exciting and challenging times. After that crushing defeat in May, it is time to rebuild and renew, to slay sacred cows and chart a new way ahead.
Yes, our disastrous defeat in May was down to poor leadership and a total failure to connect with the people of Scotland. But more than that, we were beaten so comprehensively because of a more fundamental problem, and that is for the past 10 years the Scottish Labour Party has been at least 10 steps behind the ambitions of the Scottish people. We have tried to disparage that ambition, neuter it and hold it back. With me as your leader, we will never be put in that position again. I promise to you to work with the grain of Scotland’s constitutional ambitions.
More than that I want to lead that ambition, to work with its flow, to realise its potential. I want to lead a new Scotland, secure in its own skin dependent on nothing other than the endeavour and the creativity of Scots themselves.
This is why, comrades, that one of the first things I will do, as your leader, will be to review our historic opposition to Scottish independence. As your leader, I want us to consider all constitutional options for the future of our wonderful nation. I pledge to you that I will commission a review of our opposition to independence and full fiscal autonomy and if it finds that this is what our nation requires I will support it wholeheartedly and redefine our party and bring it into line with the aspirations of the Scottish people. It is time, comrades, to put our opposition to independence aside, to look at the national interest, and to work for a new and better future for all the people of Scotland.
Comrades, it is clear that there is a new national consensus in our nation. Scotland wants further, deeper constitutional change and it is time for us to climb aboard. I will continue to oppose the SNP, every government needs effective opposition, but my opposition will be considered. I will lend support in the national interest but question when required. But comrades, the day of the knee jerk ‘SNP bad’ to everything the SNP do must come to an end. We can not define ourselves in respect of others. We must find our own agenda, our own voice.
It was the Labour Party that delivered the Scottish Parliament. It is the Labour Party that has, throughout the decades, championed the values of social justice and equality. Comrades, are we seriously saying that we cannot build on these fine founding principles in an independent Scotland – an independent Scotland that we can shape according to our values? I say no comrades, No… Enough is enough, it is time to get with the national project.
The alternative is continued Tory Government in Westminster, unwanted by the Scottish people and alien to our values. Are we really saying that it is preferable to have a Tory Government running all these reserved responsibilities, rather than having them returned to Scotland and put under the democratic control of the Scottish people in our, in Scotland’s Parliament, in a Labour controlled independent Scottish Parliament?
I will never again allow our once great party to campaign with the Tories, saying no to Scotland, to invent reasons why the Scots aren’t creative enough to make a success of our independence. I will not allow anyone to talk down my fellow Scots any longer.
Comrades, our illogical and pathological hatred of the SNP has blinded us to what is right for the people of Scotland. It is now time for that to come to an end. It is time to be on right side of history, to do the right thing. Comrades, the time is right for Scottish Labour to climb aboard the new Scotland. Vote for me. You know it makes sense…..”