Lord Steel famously said at a Liberal Democrat Conference in 1982:
“Go back to your constituency and prepare for Government”!
You can find the full speech here:
I clearly remember him saying this and at the time all those years ago I thought he and his party had no chance.
The reign of Margaret Thatcher was in full swing since she was elected in 1979, the year I left school, as Thatcher stood on the steps of Number 10, she rattled out:
Francis Assisi, at that point, I knew as a young man that this country was screwed, in came the ‘yuppies’, greed was in, the start of the decline of Britain as a manufacturing country was on the cards.
The 80’s were a dreadful time for the working class, but the music was better.
I have followed politics all my life, as a nerd, I would do an all-nighter on election results watching the BBC do a blow by blow on each constituency in Britain as the results came in, who was up and who was down.
And what the swing was.
Lord Steel had hope, hope is a key selling point in politics; however, it seems that the lie of the land is that Scottish Labour is said to be already preparing for defeat in 2017 elections.
Apparently a Labour source said:
“It’s about managing expectations.”
Presumably, you have to ask whose expectations they are managing and if they don’t feel they can how can they empower their activists to give up a whole year to go campaigning. If you try and fight you always have a chance of winning if you are willing to go do the work and represent the residents.
Another tactic used by people campaigning is to down play their chances, and portray themselves as the underdogs… even if they are in power and the establishment. This is so if the results aren’t as bad, they can talk about how great the leader is and how he or she inspired everyone.
Having your cake and eat it sounds rather good especially if you chip in that the utter mess the party is in across the UK, you can hint or outright say this is down to the ‘civil war’ in the Labour Party.
Just to be clear the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn will not solve the Labour Party’s problem of the 172 Labour MPs and their allies who are against him. They wouldn’t be accepting the result anytime soon or later. This leads a problem to be solved, and the remedy is mandatory re-selection. Mandatory reselection will address some of the problems but that doesn’t solve all of the problems.
The leadership in Scotland is out of sync with the leadership down south, we know this as Kezia Dugdale declared for Owen Smith, personally I think that was a mistake; she should have remained neutral.
But people have to chart their own course.
The news must have brought some cheer to the Nats, who said:
“It won’t fill Labour councillors with much hope if Kezia Dugdale is already planning for defeat this far out from the next year’s elections”.
Personally the SNP isn’t that strong an opposition, especially in Glasgow, you only have to look at their current crop of councillors who have got where they are by the national swing rather than individual achievement.
There ain’t no Einstein in Glasgow SNP.
But there is a vehicle for a protest vote as seen in 2015 and 2016 elections; people know what they don’t want and party loyalty is a diminishing thing in my opinion.
After all why vote for someone who will not support you?
Scotland’s political journey isn’t finished yet, the electorate haven’t grasped what the SNP are all about, they will wise up but these things take time.
Crucially for morale, the Labour Party want to keep control of its prized Glasgow and North Lanarkshire heartlands, if they fall then that is a huge problem for any attempt to win back the MP and MSPs seats.
Who would have thought all FPTP seats in Glasgow would have been lost in 2015 and 2016, well I did because I have a track record of getting it right.
Activism is a problem in the Labour Party, they don’t have enough people on the doorsteps selling the message and to add to the trouble there is a tendency for some people to start their campaigns rather late.
Long campaigns are important, that is where the real work is done, not the short campaign, by that time, it really is too late; there is the run of the mill standard formula which in my opinion doesn’t work.
Borne out by the steady decline over decades and then catalyst which was the Scottish Independence referendum, then came Westminster 2015, and the latest disaster of 2016 which was the worst Labour result since the Scottish Parliament opened!
The myth that is being peddled is that because the Labour Party worked with the Scottish Tories that was the reason for their decline is rubbish in my opinion, if that ‘toxic’ cocktail had any substance; why are the ‘hated’ Scottish Tories the second party in the parliament?
Why aren’t the Scottish Greens?
The SNP have successful peddled this lie so even some Labour people believe it, the problem is a Labour problem, not association with the Tories in the Scottish independence campaign.
Doesn’t make sense,it is a load of rubbish, and only an idiot would buy into that ‘story’.
Last year's general election saw Labour lose 40 of its 41 Scottish seats under Jim Murphy and his ‘fitba’ campaign, ask yourself this question, is the biggest injustice in Scotland, getting a pint at a football match or the OBA legislation?
If you run with ‘tat’ you get what you deserve, Labour’s vote share fell from 42 to 24.3 per cent.
No one else’s fault, people want politicians to serve them, not to be managed, not to be ignored and certainly not to be failed.
In a recent YouGov poll a fortnight ago Scottish Labour was sitting pretty on just 15 per cent of the vote.
The Tories are seeing their fortunes rise as they hit 21%, so what are the Tories doing that Scottish Labour aren’t, well they aren’t appealing to Unionist voters who woke up one sunny morning to hear that Kezia Dugdale would consider voting for independence, the exodus went across the street and parked their votes in the Tory Party.
It declined again in May’s Holyrood election, losing 13 of 37 MSPs as its constituency vote fell from 31.7 to 22.6 per cent and its list vote from 26.3 to just 19.1 per cent.
That halving of support since 2012 has forced Labour bosses to plan for big losses next May, including Glasgow and North Lanarkshire.
When you lose and keep losing, your position as leader then becomes untenable, this leaves Kezia Dugdale on a sticky wicket, the Corbyn crowd want her gone, that’s a given, whether the right/progress mob will stay with her is debatable.
One thing you must learn in politics is that your ‘allies’ are just as dangerous as your enemies, it is a matter of time before either one stabs you in the back.
Another just recent declaration from a leading member of the Corbyn’s London operation recently told the press:
"The left in Scotland is in the process of realignment and that process does not involve Kezia Dugdale. She should be out in the wilderness”.
Former Scottish Labour treasurer Bob Thomson dire warning 2017 could seal Dugdale's fate is a little premature in my opinion, I don’t see her getting the boot or indeed stepping down and if she did go who would replace her?
Is there someone who stands out in your opinion as a leader in waiting?
“It wouldn't be sensible to replace the [Scottish] leader now. The proof will be in the pudding in next May's local elections. I don't think she could survive two election defeats.”
If I was Bob Thomson, I would hazard he has got his figures wrong, start thinking four election defeats, strange the guy was a former treasurer as well.
The Scottish Labour Party needs to shift left but it also needs to stop doing ‘tat’ and get on with a programme for government that involves big ideas.
What were the flagship Labour Party policies of 2015 and 2016 elections, if you don’t know, then please don’t worry, it is doubtful that anyone else knows.
If people are planning for defeat, you could ask what the kind of leadership is that exactly, you always plan for the win, and plan out how you will get there.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University