Margaret Curran – 2013 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Margaret Curran, the Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, to the 2013 Labour Party conference in Brighton.


On 18th September next year, people in Scotland will decide their future.

And they will decide the future of Britain too.

This is a decision that matters to every Scot, but it also matters to every person here today.

And to each one of you, who have campaigned, leafleted, made the case and taken the argument to the SNP.

I say thank you.

This is your campaign, and I pay tribute to each and every one of you today.

Because what we are fighting for;

– a future of working together and not apart,

– a future of shared hopes,

Is based on the same values that brought together in 1900 the men and women who created the British Labour Party.

A gathering of people from Glasgow, from Cardiff and Liverpool, from the north of England to the valleys of Wales.

They watched Kier Hardie – a proud Scot – make the case for the creation of our party.

Hardie believed passionately in a Scottish Parliament but he knew then, as we know now, that to advance the cause of working people, to overcome those who would divide and rule, we had to work together across Britain.

Not split along national or regional borders and compete against each other, but work shoulder to shoulder for our cause.

And, friends, time after time, the Labour Party – influenced, shaped and led by Scots – guided by those values of solidarity, fairness and equality have built lasting monuments to what we can achieve together.

Social housing and equal pay,

The welfare state,

The National Health Service.

These are the pillars that support our society and join the Labour Party of Hardie, Wheatley and Jennie Lee with the Labour Party of Brown, Dewar and John Smith.

Labour giants who we pay tribute to today.

Conference, I don’t look to our past because I think the best times are behind us.

I do it because it reminds me of what we have achieved together.

And it tells me how much we can still do in the future, if we stay together, and work together as a united Labour Party and a united people.

Because we aren’t like Salmond’s Nationalists who think that a problem pushed over the border is a problem solved.

Nor like David Cameron’s Tories who want to set us all against each other in a race to the bottom.

But, Conference, if the SNP have their way their plan will mean the breakup of the Labour Party.

And I want to send a clear message from this conference.

That after 113 years, Alex Salmond is not going to bring our movement to an end.

Because, Conference, we are the party of Scotland.

Whose values are the values of the Scottish people.

The party that shaped a generation and made good on the promise of a Parliament.

That didn’t sit through 18 years of Tory rule nursing a grievance, but became the true voice of our nation.


Don’t let Alex Salmond fool you or the SNP delude you.

They are nationalists and their entire mission is independence.

To them, the only division that matters is the one they think exists between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Every action they have taken since the start of this campaign has been with separation in mind.

Not the people of Scotland.

So Alex Salmond will attack the Tories one day.

And then he’ll turn on Labour the next.

He tells people that he wants to continue all the best policies we started.

But we could never call on his support when we were in power.

He’ll promote every other union, like the EU and NATO.

But won’t support the union on our own doorstep even when jobs and opportunities are threatened.

Conference, don’t be fooled.

The SNP have many masks, but behind them all there is nationalism.

Conference, you’ve probably heard that Johann Lamont has been taking on the SNP with energy and focus.

She’s taking Alex Salmond down a peg or two every week in the Scottish Parliament.

Now, Conference, I’ve known Johann for a long time.

And I really should have warned Alex Salmond that her specialty has always been sorting out arrogant men whose self-regard knows no bounds.

Under Johann’s focus arguments for separation are beginning to wither.

The realities are being exposed.

We now know the SNP say one thing in public, and another in private.

And they’ll go to any length to keep the truth away from the Scottish people.

Remember, this is a government, when challenged about their legal advice on Scotland’s EU membership, went to court, using taxpayers money, to cover up advice they were forced to reveal didn’t even exist.

This is a government that tells us in public that when we’re independent our state pensions will be guaranteed, but in a leaked paper admit they don’t know how they will be funded.

This is a government that can’t answer the shop stewards at Rosyth and Govan when they say independence will cost thousands of jobs in Scottish shipbuilding.

And, Conference, unbelievably, the Nationalists can’t even make up their mind about what currency an independent Scotland should use.

Alex Salmond says the Pound, but the head of the Yes Campaign wants something different.

Conference, we all know Alex Salmond likes a day at the races, but don’t let him gamble with the future of Scotland.

We all want to change Scotland.

We want to see a better future for our country.

But Alex Salmond is putting his party’s interests above those of the Scottish people.

It’s now time to make our Governments understand what is really happening in our homes, our businesses, and our communities.

Families struggling, looking in disbelief, as they see that bankers’ bonuses are back but their wages are going down.

Young people who can only see a life of short term contracts ahead of them.

Businesses with shattered confidence and empty order books.

Parents across the country who fear that they won’t be able to give their children what only a few years ago they took for granted.

These are the realities that both the UK and Scottish Governments can’t address.

That’s why people are looking to Labour to set out a new way.

And this week in Brighton, people across Scotland will see our alternative.

An alternative that demonstrates we have the plan to deal with the cost of living crisis facing hard working families.

And a plan that shows it’s only One Nation Labour that can rid Scotland, and Britain, of the Tories.

Conference, this week people in Scotland will see there is a clear choice.

A clear choice between Labour and the Tories.

And between Labour and the SNP.

You have to ask yourself – who do you trust with your future?

Ed Miliband – a Prime Minister who will repeal the bedroom tax?

Or a Scottish National Party who want to slash tax for big corporations?

Johann Lamont who fights for carers and college students?

Or Alex Salmond who fights for constitutional change?

Do you trust a Labour Party whose story is the story of Scotland’s communities?

Or a Scottish National Party who, after eighty years, can’t even get their story straight?

Conference, this is the choice we face.

And at this key moment in Labour’s story and Scotland’s history.

With Johann Lamont in Scotland.

And Ed Miliband across the UK.

We will reject the division of nationalism.

And fight together united for a better future for all of Scotland’s people.