THERE’S something about speeches at the Labour Scottish branch office away weekend that sound suspiciously like adverts for PPI claims. Both of them promise that free money will be coming your way, and both of them are likely to end up in disappointment. Labour does have plenty of PPI, it’s just that it stands for Permanently Postponed Inducements. Last weekend at the Labour conference in Dundee there was more jam on offer than was produced in all the city’s jam factories during the previous 100 years. Vote Labour, and you’ll be showered in imaginary goodies at some unspecified point in the future, terms and conditions apply. With the Labour party in Scotland there are more terms and conditions than there are in an insurance policy for cordless bungee jumping.

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Looking at the current leading figures in the Labour party in Scotland it’s hard to believe that they could cope with anything as complex as government. Somehow you get the feeling that if Richard Leonard and Neil Findlay were to play a game of hide and seek then it would only end up with the pair of them trapped in a jam jar. But then some of us view the Labour party through the prism of decades of disappointment. We’re old enough to remember how during the Thatcher era we clung on to the hope of eventual deliverance by Labour. We remember how we celebrated when the party won a crushing majority in the election of 1997, a majority which meant that Labour would be able to introduce all its policies without fear of the right-wing press or Conservative blocking tactics in parliament. And we ended up being ripped off by the political equivalent of PPI.

Younger people don’t have the experience of that disappointment. They’ve not witnessed a Labour party which has promised the abolition of the House of Lords, the removal of charitable status from private schools for the wealthy and well-connected, and a myriad of other socialist policies to which Labour has been theoretically committed, but which it has signally failed to deliver on. Now we’ve got a Labour party which is pitching its appeal to young people who overwhelmingly voted against Brexit, but which is downplaying that it has a commitment to Brexit every bit as hardline as the Conservatives’. Vote Labour to leave the single market, to end freedom of movement, to leave the customs union. Labour’s policies will do as much harm to our economy as the Conservatives’ will, yet Labour is also promising an end to austerity and billions worth of goodies. They don’t say where they money is going to come from in this shrinking and damaged economy. Possibly it will be found in the jam jar in which Richard and Neil are trapped.

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It’s understandable why some people who voted Yes back in 2014 might be attracted to the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn. In all the talks I’ve done to Yes groups across the length and breadth of this country over the past couple of years, I’ve yet to meet a single person who wants Scottish independence because they think Scotland is better than anywhere else, far less have I met anyone who wants independence because they hate the English. The overwhelming majority of people who campaign for Scottish independence do so because they recognise that there is so much wrong with this country, and it needs to be fixed. There are problems of social deprivation and poverty, problems of injustice and lack of opportunity, problems of job provision which lead to emigration and the destruction of communities.

The great majority of independence campaigners want independence not as an end in itself, but as a means to tackle these deep-rooted problems which have gone unaddressed by successive Westminster governments, including Labour governments. They recognise that despite the claims of British nationalist parties, the Scottish Parliament, with its narrowly constrained remit which doesn’t include many powers over the economy, taxation, or redistribution of wealth, can’t do much to alter an economic landscape which is largely determined by the priorities of a Westminster parliament. They want independence because they want these powers in Edinburgh, where they can be wielded by a Scottish government which is answerable to the people of Scotland. Then, and only then, can we begin the work of tackling the issues this country faces.

To some, Labour offers the prospect of a quick fix. Why bother with an independence campaign when Labour can deliver all the social justice you could ever ask for? More than that, Labour argues that the independence campaign is a distraction from what is for Labour the the only really serious goal in politics, and that is getting a Labour government in Westminster where it will unleash the Gods of socialism and deliver us all into the paradise of Jeremeden. It all sounds terribly 1980s, and just like the 80s it’s likely to end in tears.

Even if we were to show good faith, and to trust the Labour Party to deliver on the expectations of working-class people in a way which it has always and consistently failed to deliver, that all depends on Labour getting elected in the first place. Contrary to the myth much peddled by the Labour Party, that doesn’t depend on them winning seats in Scotland. People voting for SNP MPs in Scotland does not contribute to a Conservative majority. It’s people voting Conservative which does that. In order to win a majority, Labour has to win a majority of seats in England, a country which has preferred the Conservatives in election after election. Between Labour, the SNP, and the Greens, there’s a left-of-centre majority in Scotland. That’s a majority for social democratic policies which doesn’t exist in England. Trusting Labour means trusting a largely Conservative voting public.

Even though the Labour party is up against the most incompetent and inept Conservative government in memory, they still can’t achieve a convincing lead over the Tories in the polls. That doesn’t inspire much confidence in Corbyn’s ability to defeat a Tory leader in the next General Election. One thing we can be certain of is that the Conservatives won’t be led by Theresa May in the next Westminster elections. Jeremy will be up against a Tory leader who enjoys the advantage of a honeymoon period.

But that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that even if Labour does get elected, and even if they do actually follow through on the policies they espouse in opposition, after five years there will be another General Election and the Tories could very well be back into power again. Labour means tackling poverty and social injustice for five years. Independence means tackling it permanently. Why settle for the sticking plaster of Labour? Scotland can have the cure of independence.