March 8, 2019 Blog, Conference 2019

Brian Roy, Scottish General Secretary – Speech to Conference 2019

Brian Roy

Scottish General Secretary

Speech to Conference

Good morning friends and comrades, 

24 years ago, I joined the Labour Party after witnessing first-hand the devastating destruction of heavy industry in Motherwell by a hostile Tory Government. 

I joined the T and G on the day I started working full time, because joining a Union is just what you did in our family. 

It is that combination of commitment to our Party, and our values of collectivism and solidarity, that means we achieve much more together than we do alone. 

That is what has driven me every day and in every election – all 16 of them – since having the privilege of working for the Party I love. 

But equally importantly, it is you – the life-blood of our Party – that drives my work as your General Secretary. 

It is the commitment and determination of our members – often in the face of fierce and entrenched opposition – that drives our Party forward.  In good times and bad.  I have met many, many members over the years – whose strength of personality and character make the Labour Party who we are.  They are part of our soul. 

And I want to mention 3 of them today, who are no longer with us.  

Sally Auld.  An infectious smile and an indomitable spirit. Two of the key traits of being a Labour activist. Sally from Glasgow had both in abundance.  The type of person whose attitude and outlook on life, summed up everything good about trying to make the world a better place for your neighbour. 

Marie McRae from Fife was a truly remarkable lady that I am proud to have known. As fierce as she was friendly, and utterly committed with every fibre of her being to the Labour and trade union movement. I have fought three Parliamentary by-elections in Fife – all successful ones I might add – and my enduring memory of those victories will be the part that Marie McRae played in each of them. 

And although I am sure you can all think of countless others, I want to mention Brian Gordon, from here in Dundee, whose funeral service is taking place now. As a party Organiser in Dundee back in 2010, Brian Gordon quietly guided me. Always available with some sound advice. Noone, to my mind, knew Dundee Labour better than Brian Gordon. And noone embodied more, the strength of character and personality that make us who we are. Brian really was the best of us. 

It is members like Sally, Marie and Brian, who are the soul of our Party.  

Whose values were shaped and forged by the labour and trade union movement.  

It is those that have gone before us, and what they have achieved for us, that should inspire us this weekend. 

It is what should drive us as we build our campaigns of the future, and ensure our Scottish Labour Party is fit for purpose, and ready to fight and win the next election. 

In tribute to all of our dedicated activistsI want you to watch this short video, then I will tell you how we are preparing ourselves to win. 

As your General Secretary, I have always had one priority. 

Putting you, our members, at the heart of everything we do. In our campaigns, our candidate development, our activist training, and our policy making process. 

Leading our Scottish Labour staff team, alongside our Scottish Executive Committee, and Richard Leonard as our Leader, I have three simple priorities.  

To organise, to grow and to win.  

We must organise and mobilise our membership so they can join us in our campaigns, no matter where they live in the country 

And we must grow our party in its size and its diversity, 

And finally, winning people to our policies and our vision of what a Labour Government will deliver.  

Working with members in our CLPs – building bottom up, member led, people-powered organising campaigns. Identifying leaders in every community to take those campaigns forward and build self-sustaining campaigning structures. 

That is how we will win and make Richard Leonard the First Minister of Scotland, and Jeremy Corbyn our next Prime Minister. 

Conference, our Scottish Labour Party has to look like the country we seek to represent.    

Yes, we have made great strides and lead the way in gender representation. But we must do more.

I am proud, especially today on International Women’s Day, to pay tribute to our Chair, Cathy Peattie and Ann Henderson for working so hard last year to help deliver Richard Leonard’s promise of a policy-making Women’s Conference and where women alone elected representatives onto our Scottish Executive Committee.   

But Conference, we still need to do more to make our Party more culturally and ethnically diverse. 

I am proud of the diversity of this year’s Gordon Aikman Leadership programme group, some of whom you will meet later this morning.   

And I am determined that we will do more this year. 

I am also proud to announce that we have launched a candidate diversity programmefocused on under-represented and culturally diverse groups. Lead by and working hand in hand with B A M E Labour Scotland, LGBT Labour Scotland and disabled members. Building the confidence of members to stand for election so we are representative of all our communities.  

We will also use this work to listen to those communities, to understand what issues matter most to them and work with them to develop strong and vibrant campaigns around those issues.  

Making a reality of two our most important principles, principles that must drive everything we do. 

Solidarity and collectivism. Together with our vision for a better future.  

This is the glue that binds us together. 

Conference, we will never agree on everything.  It is respectful disagreement that makes us stronger, more open-minded, and tolerant. But Conference, we must always remember that which unites us, is always greater than that which divides us. Our collective, uniting objective must always be to win.  

I’d just like to finish by saying a huge thank you. 

If you know anything about me, you will know how highly I regard our staff team. They are the most dedicated, creative and determined team of people I know.  Always ready to put our Party first, no matter what it takes. 

I am proud of them every day and am truly lucky to be part of their team. Conference, we as a Party should thank them for everything they do. 

Friends, let’s take the opportunity this weekend to remember fondly our comrades no longer with us. 

Like Brian, Marie and Sally.  

Let them and their memory inspire us to move forward, united as a Party, united as people, and ready to win the next election, whenever that may be. 

Thank you.