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The Labour Party case for defending the Union of the UK | Cllr Brendan Chilton


In many ways Labour was born of the union of the United Kingdom. The first Leader of the Party was Keir Hardie, born in Lanarkshire, Scotland. Labour’s first Prime Minister was an Englishman, Ramsay MacDonald who represented the Welsh seat of Aberavon. Labour’s last two Prime Ministers were Scotsmen, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were both born in Scotland.


The Labour and Trade Union movement has fought for the rights of working people on the Clyde, the valleys of South Wales and the Mills on Northern England. It has fought for the improvements of the conditions of the people in the tenements of Glasgow, Manchester, Swansea, and London. It did not matter which part of the United Kingdom you were from Labour and the Trade Union movement represented all workers across the land.


Labour's soul is rooted deep into the constitutional and sentimental entanglements that make up the great body that is the United Kingdom and it is time for that progressive case for unionism to be made loud and clear against the forces of nationalism and separatism. It is crucial for us to examine and understand the case for defending the constitutional union of the United Kingdom. While the Labour party is rooted in principles of social justice and equality, we must acknowledge the significant benefits that the union provides to all its constituent nations. In this article, we will explore the reasons why Labour supports the union and how it aligns with Labours core values.

One of the fundamental advantages of the union is the economic stability it brings to the United Kingdom as a whole. While at the moment the country as a whole is experiencing extremely difficult conditions particularly in respect of inflation and rising interest rates, the pooling and sharing of resources among the nations have allowed for greater economic opportunities and sustained growth.


Together, we have weathered economic storms and navigated global challenges more effectively than we could have done individually. It was the diversity and capacity of the four nations of the United Kingdom that made it possible for the country to industrialise using the human capital to build industry and innovation and to have enabled our economy to grow to the extent it did.


The combined wealth enabled successive Labour governments to invest in huge programmes of social reform to elevate those at the bottom of society and to give them a platform on which to stand. Labour’s greatest achievement, the NHS, founded in 1948 meant for the first time every British subject had free at the point of use healthcare anywhere across the UK.


That solemn and noble undertaking was an expression of solidarity between government and people and between the peoples of these islands. This along with It was a truly splendid demonstration of the truth that we know that by our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone.

Labour's commitment to social justice and solidarity naturally extends to defending our constitutional union. The union provides a framework that promotes social cohesion and strengthens the bonds between the diverse nations of the UK. It fosters a sense of shared identity and belonging, which allows us to collectively tackle social issues such as poverty, inequality, and discrimination and broader issues such as climate change.


By working together across the UK, Labour can amplify our efforts to create a fairer society for all. Our shared commitment to progressive values is bolstered by the union, enabling us to collaborate on policies and initiatives that benefit citizens throughout the country. Looking back over our history, from equal pay under Barbra Castle which guaranteed that women in every part of our United Kingdom the right to earn the same as a man, to the Open University under Harold Wilson that brought alive the prospect of lifelong learning, our Union has enabled social progress. That social progress must be protected and cherished.


The Morrisonian concept of public ownership of industry and services which is fundamental was fundamental to the Labour movement through its history and is now crucial to labours own mission of builder a fairer, greener and more prosperous economy, namely that a public service available in one part of the country should be available in another part of the country.

The world we live in today is becoming more dangerous, as aggressive and authoritarian powers are on the rise. Democracy has been in retreat for the past decade. The United Kingdom is no longer the superpower that it once was and so our four nation union significantly enhances the international influence and security of the United Kingdom by all working together.


England alone would not have a seat on the Security Council, neither would Scotland but together we do. Wales alone would not carry huge weight at the IMF neither would Northern Ireland, but as the United Kingdom we do. These things matter when the world is dominated by large economies such as India and Indonesia and the superpowers of the United States and China. As a united entity, we project a stronger voice on the global stage, allowing us to champion values such as democracy, human rights, and social progress and international development.


While these things may seem remote to individuals’ day to day lives the important point is that while at present we individually do not notice the impact of the UK’s position in international organisations, If the UK were to be removed, we would notice because the world would become a far more dangerous and hostile place which could have social and economic consequences for the British people.

Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom. For decades the troubles blighted the lives of communities on both sides of the old divides. The Labour government of 1997 restored devolution to Northern Ireland and brought peace and stability to the province.


Sir Keir Starmer believes Northern Ireland should remain part of the UK and has said he would campaign for that to be the case. In recent years Northern Ireland has experienced turbulence with the dreadful arrangements put in place by the government to satisfy the European Union. Northern Ireland should have full and open access to the GB market as a member of the United Kingdom and that should be the mission of the next Labour government.


Devolution needs to be restored to Northern Ireland but that can only happen with the consent and respect of all parties. More broadly on devolution, the strength of the Union is that it does not undermine the autonomy of the four nations. On the contrary, it has allowed for the transfer of significant powers to these nations, enabling them to shape policies and laws that reflect their specific needs and aspirations within the Union.


Labour recognizes the importance of devolution and supports further decentralization of power where appropriate. By working within the union, we can ensure that the voices of all nations are heard, while maintaining a cohesive framework that protects the interests of all British people. Alongside devolution the Barnett Formula, which ensures a fair distribution of public funds across the UK, has played a vital role in promoting shared prosperity and supporting public services. By defending the union, Labour advocates for continued economic stability and the ability to address regional inequalities across the country which is something that could not be done if we were apart. Shared prosperity and shared opportunity for all.

2 Comments


I’m sorry but I just do not believe the Labour Party gives its full throated support to Northern Ireland. You supported the abdominal Windsor Framework. Starmer was the leader for those trying to get a second referendum and even went to convince Barnier in person. Fact is it has just been divulged (by Robert Tombs) that Barnier preferred a hard Brexit to stop the continual arguments he foresaw would happen on a BRINO. I don’t here questions from Labour in Parliament. All I here is jibes about the deal that was made. Total hypocrisy from the benches that produced the Benn Surrender Act. What I do here from Labour is flip flopped every 5 minutes. It must be difficult to…

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24/7/23


Well said, Jim Holt! The Labour Party, through a man whom many today see as a total 'War Criminal', Tony Bliar (i.e. B for big, and liar for forked tongue anti-Unionist) - gave us the detested, and failed Good Friday Agreement, the thin end of a United Ireland wedge, that has brought loyal British subjects in Northern Ireland increased political troubles and diminution of Protestant/Unionist/and Loyalist rights ever since.


If the Labour Party really want to promote the Union of Great Britain & Northern Ireland State - then let us see them do away with the Protocol, the Windsor Framework, and all trammelling E.U. laws that subjugate Ulster to a foreign E.U. dictatorship. NOW.


Thank you for your time…

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