The Westminster 2015 election was an absolutely disaster for the Scottish Labour Party, they ran their campaign in a complacent ‘business as usual’ manner and lost incredibly badly.
It wasn’t one mistake which turned the tide against Labour; it was a problem which had built up over two to three decades of neglecting their constituent’s needs. We don’t live in a fair and equal society, and there is no political will to change that in the Labour Party beyond tinkering on the fringes.
Here are some of the dreadful incidents of their recent campaign in no order of importance;
Ed Miliband effectively killed the Scottish Labour campaign stone dead by hedging his bets that he might do a deal with the SNP. This indecision meant Scottish people sitting on the fence thought it was okay to vote SNP because they thought they would still get the Labour Government they wanted and the SNP would then in turn back Labour.
The SNP had no intention of wanting a Labour Government; they wanted David Cameron back at
Downing Street to see if the EU referendum in 2017
could cause a constitutional crisis. This being the case it would, give them that
second shot at winning an independence referendum. David Cameron has already
ruled out granting the SNP a new vote on independence for his entire term as
Prime Minister, and no legal vote can be held without a Section 30 order. The
SNP a successful con trick on the people of Scotland who backed them, so far we
have seen they are just an embarrassment in the Commons.
Labour leader Jim Murphy who did very well in the Better Together campaign was badly let down, his mistakes, getting the Better Together team to run the campaign, having his campaign start off on ‘fitba’ and having no real alternative vision beyond soundbites. It was said he was more concerned about how he looked on camera or on TV than what was coming out of his mouth.
He didn’t recognise the scale of the problem, but he shouldn’t shoulder the blame given he had a limited run in time, and was picking up a party in pieces. The grassroots Labour activists had deserted the party, when people walk they do so for a reason. And the reason for the collapse of membership is simple, why support people who will not support you.
That is what the ‘political elite’ class of Labour had done, they dug their own hole, instead of leading a country, they wanted to ‘manage a country’ and ignore the very people who put them there to make their lives better. There is a phrase which I found quite interesting as it has been said time and time again by people, ‘I didn’t leave Labour; Labour left me’.
Labour MPs, some of this group thought as Labour could ‘count on the voters’ backing them up as they had historically done, thought no need to service their individual constituents. I heard of many different elected people who just couldn’t be arsed to take up cases. One guy even wanted the constituent to do the work and he would just sign the letter. His attitude was, ‘why should I get involved in this’? You could opine, he was the MP and he was paid a decent salary, the guy replied back, ‘why should my family continue to vote Labour?’
At present, the Labour Party in
Scotland is going through a ‘soul
searching’ exercise, as they seek to re-discover what they are and what they
stand for. Jim Murphy has stood down, this was a mistake on his part, but he
has that right, and he exercised it.
Some names being mentioned as the new leader include Ken Macintosh, Neil Findlay and Kezia Dugdale. I doubt that at this point in time that Ken Macintosh will get the support he needs from the Unions and others.
Neil Findlay appears not to be standing as he realises that if he stands back and let 2016 Holyrood election play itself out, the next Leader of Labour would have led the party to the worse defeat since the creation of the Scottish Parliament.
It isn’t that the SNP are good, it isn’t as if the SNP are doing anything meaningful, the Labour Party members aren’t up for a fight because they will not have a leader who appears to be powerful enough to reshape
for the new political landscape which is developing.
The present consensus is that the Labour Party ‘machine’ wants Kezia Dugdale, and the way things are looking that may well be the case. If you watch FMQs she has managed to put in better performances than Johann Lamont when she was leader of the party, however, Lamont did get better as she went on.
Lamont’s problem was she wasn’t a leader, when she talked that it was ‘social justice’ that motivated her in politics, I didn’t believe a word of it. I mean how do you sell ‘social justice’ to people when you are campaigning to scrap free prescriptions for sick people on benefits?
Think about that for a minute.
Anyway, Kezia Dugdale looks likely to be the next leader, so a key requirement of leadership is to exercise good judgment at all times. As Jim Murphy found out to his cost, he made some pretty bad calls; not just on people but also on policies pursued. If I was a Labour MSP in a first past the post seat, I would be very unhappy at this point in time.
At present as a Scottish Labour leadership contender Kezia Dugdale is doing the rounds presenting her platform for consideration to various factions in Labour and associated groups. At the Scottish Fabians at the weekend in
Glasgow, she said that EU
nationals who have made the UK
their home should have the right to vote in the EU referendum.
Isn’t that terribly nice?
She also says she strongly believes it would be “unfair” to exclude EU citizens from such a fundamental decision.
Isn’t that terribly fluffy?
Ms. Dugdale added:
“Put simply, I believe EU nationals who have chosen to live their life here, and make the
UK their home,
should have the right to vote in a referendum on the future of the country”.
Legally, they will not be entitled to vote, this is because the franchise which will be used will be the
Westminster franchise which will exclude
The main point is that Kezia Dugdale wants to be ‘all things to all men’; she has just demonstrated why the Scottish Labour Party will not be the next Scottish Government.
In fact, without a major change of tact the SNP could win an even bigger majority.
Ms. Dugdale is utterly wrong.
Another interesting point by Ms. Dugdale was the referendum had reinvigorated political participation in
Scotland. In the Pollok
Constituency, I was supporting Better Together, not one member from Pollok
Labour branch came out to help. The former MP Ian Davidson didn’t do a single
day, MSP Johann Lamont didn’t do a single day, and all Labour Councillors in
Pollok, Craigton and Govan never came out to support Better Together while they
leafleting in the Pollok Ward.
That’s 9 elected people who didn’t do a single day.
Where was Labour grassroots members if as Ms. Dugdale suggests has been reinvigorated political participation in
never saw a single Labour activist in Pollok during the entire Westminster election
campaign and the only election stuff came via Royal mail. It was only on
polling day that I saw a person doing polling station duty at the school where
the ballot was taking place.
Kezia Dugdale is wrong also in her notion that ‘we should be coming together as a society’, Scottish society is split down the middle. People aren’t seeking out Labour as the result showed, except to vent their angry as Margaret Curran and Jim Murphy found out, this election was to destroy Labour in
Scotland by the
Of course her call to have EU Nationals vote is entire meaningless, leaving aside the fact she got it wrong, she is just playing politics. EU Nationals should not have a vote on whether
an EU member, and I say this as someone who has a lot of time for the EU
Although Kezia Dugdale argues that Scottish Labour has to be seen as a party with ideas for the future rather than stuck in the past, she needs understand why the previous ideas of short term gain at long term political loss cannot be allowed to continue.
How many times has Labour done something only to later do a U turn?
She also added:
“EU nationals make important contributions to our communities, and to our economy. The influx of talent, creativity, and a different perspective of work and culture enriches our society as a whole, resulting in a more diverse and innovative society. We as a country benefit from the free movement of people across
and we should not continue to enjoy this freedom while restricting political
participation. Voting rights are a matter of democratic principle, and I
strongly feel it is unfair to exclude EU nationals from a fundamental referendum.
The referendum reinvigorated political participation in Scotland. A
referendum on Europe can afford us the same
opportunity. Rather than divide and exclude people, we should be coming
together as a society to decide the best way forward.”
It is probably likely that given all the major political parties are pro
Europe along with the press
that the EU referendum will produce a vote to stay in. Rupert Murdoch has
already come out as wanting Britain
to stay part of the EU. Murdoch has a big media empire in America, and the Americans already have
indicated that they would wish Britain
to remain part of the EU.
The Scottish Labour Party needs to go through more pain before they can start the long road back to power; this means many more people will be removed from public office by the electorate. If Labour won’t do a cull, then the Scottish public will be forced to do it for them. In a learning process, the ‘student’ must be willing to learn or the entire teaching process is meaningless.
As to fresh talent which has been mooted, you will find this will translate as more student chairs of Labour University Associations being presented as young and dynamic leaders.
Failure of the past will be repeated and repeated, you see despite Ms. Dugdale saying:
“We have to accept that if we don’t change our ways, there will be nothing left to protect.”
It will be ‘business as usual’ and business is bad!
Finally, prior to the massive defeat at the General Election, Jim Murphy along with Kezia Dugdale said that Labour had ‘fixed’ their problems; no one bought that, as the result showed.
George LairdThe Campaign for Human Rights at