“Ladies and gentlemen, comrades, members of the press. Today I will make a statement about the future of the Scottish Labour Party. After Thursday’s crushing and embarrassing defeat it is time to review, refresh and look anew at where our great party and movement goes from here. This is our worse defeat for over a century and I can not even start to express how much it hurts to get beat by the Conservatives.
Comrades, because of this it simply can not be business as usual. We have to properly assess where it has gone wrong, identify and acknowledge the mistakes that we have made and then vow to put them right. It will be a painful and long process, but if we do not undertake this journey we will be marooned for ever in a hopeless no-mans land without any means of escape.
Comrades, our decline has been historic, structural and perhaps even inevitable. It may be convenient to try and blame events south of the border and our London leadership for our defeat but we would simply be kidding ourselves on. It is much more than that.
For the past 10 years the Scottish Labour Party has been at least 10 steps behind the ambitions of the people that we were once so proud to represent, and who have now deserted us. We have tried to disparage their ambition, neuter it and hold it back. We stood with their historic political opponents and we were observed with a mixture of contempt and bemusement for doing so. We must never stand with the Conservatives ever again to tell the people of Scotland what they can not do. In the first of the many acknowledgements of the mistakes we have made – let me openly apologise to our former supporters for working hand in glove with the Tories in the independence referendum.
Comrades, as we survey the wreckage of our electoral fortunes we have to go further to win back the trust of the people that we were once so proud to represent. As your leader, I pledge to you that we will now 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 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 people we used to represent. 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, the question of the constitution defines Scottish politics and it will continue to define it for decades to come. Quite simply we have to make a choice where we are in this debate. Uncertainty and a wish that it will simply go away will no longer suffice, as we have seen. Comrades, we now have to get on the right side in this debate. The side of the Union is now almost exclusively the prerogative of the Tories; of their Westminster Government and its attacks on the poor and the vulnerable, of their austerity. It was our former communities that rejected that vision, that overwhelming voted for something different, that we effectively ceded to the SNP. Comrades look at the results of the other evening, our most catastrophic defeats were in the areas that voted Yes in the referendum.
Our journey to regain their trust will be long and painful but it will begin with being on their side. There will inevitably be suspicion and mistrust and there will be lots of bridges to build but we must engineer a way back to their affections. Remaining a unionist party has almost killed us and we must now resurrect our fortunes by aligning ourselves with our former supporters.
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. We can build on these fine founding principles in an independent Scotland – an independent Scotland that we can shape according to our values.
We have to redefine ourselves and build new alliances to move forward. We will continue to oppose the SNP when necessary but this will not be on the issue of the constitution. Let us put the dreadful last few years behind us and start to build a new genuinely Scottish Labour Party out of these ashes. A Scottish Labour party that believes in the abilities of this nation and its people and a nation that should proudly take its place in the world as a self governing independent country. Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the press, comrades, thank you for listening”