The Scottish Labour Party’s Leader, Kezia Dugdale, laid down the gauntlet to her fellow Scots recently, saying: “If you believe our country is already divided enough, and if you believe the First Minister should shelve her plans for a second independence referendum, then join us.”
There is a new website out there for folks who wish to show their disdain for a possible second vote by Scottish citizens for or against independence from the European Union (EU).
Her call to action was also designed to emphasize the need for a rise in child benefit stipends for families. Dugdale also called for increases north of the border because doing so could help tens of thousands of children to rise up from poverty.
Because there are new welfare provisions that have gone to Holyrood to let it bring up current benefits, Labour is suggesting that this occurs in step ups meaning that it would be worth by £240 a year more to parents by 2021.
Labour intends to lobby the Scottish Government to include this provision in its Child Poverty Bill, with Dugdale adding that, “If they won’t do it, we will seek to amend the law ourselves.”
For their first child, parents get £1,076 a year for the benefit, and with the Labour Party plan it would go up to £1,316.
By adding their data to the Labour web platform, TogetherStronger.scot, the party indicated that citizens could record their desire for their not to be a second vote, and, according to the party, “join the fight for a stronger Scotland inside a reformed UK.”
Scottish Labour has supported Dugdale’s vision for a federal United Kingdom (UK), she also asserted that she will unite with former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and others to see just how Labour can move ahead with the design of a People’s Constitutional Convention. This will examine the distribution of influence between and among the governments and other areas of the UK.
Ms Dugdale stated: “The Labour Party I lead will never support independence.”
Noting that departure from the UK would not be “an escape from Tory rule” at Westminster or from Brexit, she instead said that it’s “the same old song that the SNP has been singing for decades.”
In September 2014 Scotland voted by 55% to 45% to remain in the UK. Dugdale said the referendum upset her “to the core,” indicating that the campaign was “physically and emotionally exhausting,” and “divided our country.”
While speaking at the Scottish Labour conference in Perth, Dugdale said that “If this country faces another referendum at any point in the future, I will work tirelessly to make sure that our side of the argument is successful again.”
At the conference, she continued, “That is why today I am announcing the launch of TogetherStronger.scot and asking everyone who shares Labour’s vision of a strong Scotland inside the reformed UK to sign up.
“Our plan would mean help for the majority of families across Scotland and would mean 18,000 fewer children living in poverty in the first year and up to 30,000 once these changes are fully implemented.
“It would mean starting to reverse the fall in the value of child benefit that families have seen over the past five years.
“And it would send a strong message that Scotland will not allow hard-working families to bear the brunt of Brexit,” concluded Dugdale.
Scottish National Party (SNP) deputy leader Angus Robertson retorted, “If Scottish Labour spent half as much time taking the fight to the Tories as they did attack the principled progressive values of the SNP they might actually start to sound like a plausible opposition rather than the pointless, shambolic mess they have become.
”Their plans for federalism are delusional, as they don’t carry UK-wide support, and they are in denial about the reality of Brexit.
“Labour’s actions are a shameful surrender to the Tories on a hard Brexit which threatens to take Scotland and the rest of the UK off an economic cliff-edge with catastrophic consequences for jobs and livelihoods.
”It is only the SNP Government which is providing principled and strong opposition to the Tories’ hard Brexit obsession, while Labour has surrendered and allowed themselves to be rolled over by the Brexiteers and their right-wing agenda,” added Robertson.
Joining the discourse, Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said the following: “Kezia Dugdale’s speech today has been entirely over-shadowed by the shambolic nature of this conference and the intervention by the London Mayor. The chaos we’re seeing in Perth only serves to demonstrate – once again – that Scottish Labour is a total mess and simply can’t be trusted to hold the SNP to account.
“Kezia Dugdale’s big idea of a petition against a second referendum is laughable. It comes seven months after Ruth Davidson launched our own. What’s more, this is the same Kezia Dugdale who, only a year ago, was saying her MSPs could vote for independence if they wished.
“The truth is only the Scottish Conservatives can be trusted to campaign four square against the Nationalists’ attempt to impose a second referendum on Scotland.
“After this weekend of chaos, nobody can have any faith in Scottish Labour to provide the strong opposition Scotland so desperately needs,” he concluded.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We’re fully committed to tackling child poverty and the Child Poverty Bill will see Scotland become the only part of the UK with statutory targets in a bid to reduce the number of children experiencing the damaging effects of poverty by 2030.
“We will also use new social security powers to provide better support where we can, such as providing a more generous Best Start Grant.
“A range of actions are being taken across government to tackle inequalities, including increasing childcare, additional financial support to reduce the attainment gap and spending £100 million in welfare mitigation measures to protect the most vulnerable from the UK Government’s austerity agenda and welfare cuts,” the spokeswoman concluded.