Friday, December 2, 2011

Labour candidates focus on Alex Salmond at their hustings, he isn’t their ‘problem’, the problem is credibility, poor work ethnic and no policies

Dear All

It seems that the Scottish Labour leadership contest is turning into a very negative affair.

Rather than the contenders spelling out their policies and their vision, they seem to be pre-occupied with the SNP and Alex Salmond.

Ken Macintosh fired off a broadside at a hustings meeting in Glasgow that the First Minister’s brand of politics was “personal, condescending, sneering” and demeaned the office.

He also went on to say, that the next Scottish Labour leader must not fall into the same trap as their predecessor Iain Gray.

Saying that although Iain Gray was “a very intelligent articulate man”, he had ended up “playing Salmond’s game and trading insults across the chamber”.

It seems that Macintosh is a little out of his depth in the grey matter stakes, since Gray has spin doctors and a week to craft questions, exactly the same as Wendy Alexander had and we all remember the comedy of her asking daft questions and get it all wrong.

Alexander was supposed to have a brain the size of a planet, more like dust particle after her performances.

So, Labour, Macintosh says needs a new strategy to take on Alex Salmond if they are to be successful; this is his pitch to party members which is obvious.

Macintosh added:

“All the people heard was two politicians shouting at each other and so the Labour message was lost. Iain’s personality was lost.”

Labour’s problem was 4 years of doing nothing, producing nothing and relying on cheap PR gimmicks and stunts like their phoney knife crime policy.

Anyone seen a private members bill from them?

No, and we probably never will, it was an election gimmick to generate fear and therefore votes.

Ken Macintosh warned:

“We will not beat Salmond by trying to out Salmond him … We have to go round him and over him to the people of Scotland. We have to offer a contrast. We have to talk about what we believe. We have to go round him, by him, over him, straight to the people of Scotland.”

This is a strategy that I used to teach circa 15 years ago at university when I was a fitness coach, but first you have to recognise the moment in time when the problem will occur. Labour it seemed ran straight up to the ‘brick wall’ and thought if they hit their face off it often enough, that would work, it didn’t.

Question is, this was happening week in week out and no one had the brains to say stop.

Pollok MSP Johann Lamont who is said to be the frontrunner told the hustings the key to success was to reach out beyond the party’s core vote.

Johann Lamont isn’t Einstein by any means, she is an empty vessel, someone who needs steered, if elected she should go out and employ someone to do ‘her’ thinking for her.

Preferably brilliant!

Her pitch during the hustings was Labour should not take on Salmond and the “Janus” face of nationalists “not simply by opposing him but by offering an alternative, positive vision of a Scotland driven by equality and social justice”.

This is somewhat right, but she is also somewhat wrong, the best campaigns are a mixture of both positive and negative campaigning with a human touch, politics is a serious business by the SNP used ‘comedy’ to show confidence.

Something I also was pushing to certain people in the party.

Ms Lamont added:

“We need policies which attract people but we also need policies which chime with their priorities whether it’s tackling youth unemployment or growing the economy. We must listen, to learn, to understand what their concerns are and rebuild their trust in us. We need a unity of purpose. If we are to serve Scotland again, we must reaffirm our values and persuade people Labour is in their interests.”

This is rhetoric, she doesn’t have any ideas, if she did we would have heard of them by now, she is part of Labour’s problem, not a solution.

The outsider Glasgow South MP Mr Harris, the only Westminster politician standing, said:

“We’re seen as delivering devolution for our own short-term political tactics to wrongfoot the nationalists. For some people that was the motivation but it was an appalling motivation. We have to reassert our commitment to devolution and to a whole range of principles so when people hear us speaking they know, even if they disagree with us, we are telling the truth.”

You can do more damage with the truth than lies and truth burns a last impression on the mind, lies have no place in politics, it is like putting a sticking plaster on a burst pipe, you may secure a moment’s respite but it doesn’t solve the problem.

The Council elections allow the Labour Party the chance to reconnect with the public, but they need a new message and a new attitude, at the Glasgow Labour Council of shame, there has been a clear out and rightly so.

But the new Councillors need to do more than their previous colleagues, they need to work because if Labour rebuild they have to do so from the bottom up, not top down.

Trust is an issue, people lost trust in Labour when they took the people for granted, it was arrogance and stupidity that saw them lose the election, they weren’t credible, the SNP could point to various policies such as freezes in council tax and prescriptions.

However, there is a new type of politics that both Labour and the SNP will have to address because they will be forced to, austerity politics.

Explaining pain and being creative in local government that is the new political battlefield were politics will be played on, cuts and service reduction will see politicians under severe pressure from the public.

Popularity comes and goes, competence is another animal entirely and that wins elections and voters.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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