“Low morale goes hand in hand with defeat after defeat followed by impending defeat”.
Do you recognise this movie quote?
It is the quote used by James Mason in the 1975 movie Cross of Iron, which also starred James Coburn.
Kezia Dugdale's Labour facing council polls meltdown according to Professor John Curtice, I met Professor Curtice ‘officially’ on white paper day at a BBC broadcast for Radio 5 Live. The Professor is really sharp and has a wealth of knowledge on polling, when he says something it is worth paying attention too.
It has to be said that Scottish Labour has gone through a difficult time over the last several years, recently I was ask by someone to give my thoughts on Scottish politics and the rise of the SNP. I said to look at the SNP; you had to look at them in 4 phases, 1934 to 1974, 1974 to 2007, 2007 to 2014 and 2014 till present. We chatted about also there had been a decline in the Labour Party in Scotland.
As people well know, the tipping point of discontent with Labour was the Scottish Independence Referendum, but the tsunami had built up over decades. When the leadership don’t listen to the people, when elected representatives don’t fix people’s complaints the public have a tendency to reject them.
The Labour Party in Scotland has for far too long traded on the legacy of party’s great statesmen like Nye Bevan.
Now that ‘credit’ has been used up!
Those in charge are now held up and examined on their record, and as we see by the Westminster 2015 and Holyrood 2016 results, the rejection of Labour in Scotland has been a universal thing.
Of course, it didn’t have to be that way, but the actions of the few in charge who failed to show leadership, listen to voters who demanded change went unheeded. The people turned to the SNP not because the SNP were seen as competent but because they were seen as a protest vehicle that everyone could vote for to cull Labour.
I wrote about how Labour needed a cull prior to the council elections of 2012, got that right, I said the cull should be extended to the MPs, they got wiped out, got that right as well. Holyrood 2016 was a disaster for the Labour Party under Kezia Dugdale.
Her approach to the campaign was wrong, and the proof is of course in the result, no one can say the Labour Campaign of 2016 went well.
The voters have deserted the party, the activist base has collapsed, Labour has forgotten how to campaign properly right up and down the party; the big donors like Willie Haughey aren’t funding the party.
The Labour Party came third in the Holyrood election; it came third behind the Tories, the Tories, cast into the political wilderness since the days of Thatcher, allowed back because the Labour Party has lost its way. It lost people who voted for independence and it lost Unionist people when Kezia Dudgdale said she could vote for independence.
And Ruth Davidson seeing an opening nipped in and exploited it; Labour dropped the ball and paid the price.
Now in 2017, the Scottish Labour Party according to Professor Curtice is set to come third behind the Tories again in next year’s council elections. If they do that, the calls for Kezia Dugdale to resign will grow; she has been part of the team which already has lost Labour Party two major elections and the EU Referendum.
In coming to his conclusion, the Professor John Curtice said recent council by-election results had been “uniformly appalling”.
In Glasgow, the Labour Party has lost 5 by-elections on the trot to the SNP. I could have done the Garscadden by-election for the Labour Party, but I chose not to, I was asked by someone called Lorna Finlayson who is Head of Campaigns and Organisation to take part. She contacted me and implied that a position in campaign organisation was available to me if I wanted it.
So, I wrote back and asked what position was being offered, to my surprise she didn’t answer the question, but cc the campaign organiser in the email and he asked for a contact number.
He never contacted me, probably because there was no position in campaign organisation being offered, they wanted me to deliver leaflets. At the time I was pretty unhappy that I was being contacted and the person doing so wasn’t able to give me a straight answer to a simple question.
I felt that they had tried to use me.
So, I stood back, and we all know the result of the Garscadden by-election, the second safest Labour seat in the City of Glasgow was lost by 100 votes.
If I had of gone done the by-election, as an experienced campaigner, I think that Labour would have won, if they had, my contribution beside the usual worthless ‘thanks’ wouldn’t have been recognised at all in the party.
Those leading the Scottish Labour Party might wish to adopt a policy of answering simple questions when a member asks them directly.
Anyway, back to the Professor, his review of current events and data makes interesting reading, the SNP could win outright majorities in around a dozen of Scotland’s 32 councils and emerge as the largest party in almost a dozen more.
That is bad news for Kezia Dugdale, and it gets worse, all but one of Scotland’s cities is predicted to be SNP-run after next May.
And even more bad news could be added to this, as you know, in Scotland, the Scottish Labour Party leader Kezia Dugdale didn’t back Jeremy Corbyn, I said this was a mistake and still do, the momentum crowd want her gone as leader.
So, how do you solve a problem like kezia?
Well, I would suspect they will stand back and not do activism unless the candidates are pro Corbyn or momentum candidates, if that happens and the election is a disaster, then they can go to plan B, calling for her resignation, and her position would be untenable. Scottish Labour would be effectively just a paper operation till 2020 and when the bad result of that election comes rolling in, the pressure to go will come from inside Labour from her own supporters.
The SNP already run Dundee and Perth, but they would also take over in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling. Glasgow and North Lanarkshire, the historic Labour heartlands would fall, this would be akin to a mini fall of the Roman Empire.
Parties rise and parties fall, we know and accept this, but Labour’s problems are self-inflicted, there has been bad judgement, bad policies, bad leadership and bad candidates, so they will have to go do soul searching.
Recently someone who stood for high political office said to me in conversation that they didn’t know what the Labour Party’s message was, when they said that to me, I thought there is a serious and systemic problem in the Scottish Labour Party.
Another person also just recently said in a meeting that Labour didn’t know how to campaign which rocked me back in my chair as I thought wow, this lot really do need help in a major way, so I pass along my thoughts to Lorna Finlayson who is Head of Campaigns and Organisation.
What will she do?
I suspect nothing at all.
2017 will be a difficult year for the Labour Party in Scotland, perhaps it is time to go back to the drawing board and do a root and branch review of everything and everybody.
So, what does 2017 hold for me, well I am no longer a member of the Labour Party, I will be standing as an independent in the City of Glasgow Council elections.
I decided to pass myself as a candidate!
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University