Monday, June 12, 2017

General Election Special: B..b...b…beasted, unpopular Nicola Sturgeon loses 21 SNP MPs, how long can Peter Murrell remain Chief Executive of the SNP while the organisation is now purely a vehicle to promote his wife, Anne McLaughlin loses Glasgow North East, George Laird did the Labour campaign in Glasgow North East, and was hailed as “brilliant on the doorstep”

Dear All

The election special, in my time, I have done a number of elections and referendums, the snap election by Theresa May was out of the blue and to be honest, despite the large lead in the polls, I thought it was un-necessary and a mistake. Well, it was a mistake on the English side of the border. In Scotland however, it was a success, a success based on the Scottish Conservatives pro UK stance and also Nicola Sturgeon’s stupidity on attempting to ram another referendum down Scot’s throats.

As Sturgeon couldn’t get the ‘will of the people’ on her side, she decided that this was to be forgotten about and replaced by the ‘will of the parliament’. People don’t like to be ignored and in this election, there was tactical voting and also tactical activism by people such as myself in order to un-seat SNP MPs. What I would like to do is run through the campaigns I did and also throw in some observations about the election and where some things need to go.

The SNP in the shape of Alex Salmond claimed the SNP won the election, from 56 MPs in 2015, in the space of two years, they dropped down to 35 MPs, and many high profile people suffered the consequences of stupidity. The SNP campaign from ‘the message’ down to the ‘ground operation’ lacked focus, direction and drive. It lost in vote share in Glasgow however wasn’t down to some great strategy by the other parties. The lost of vote share since 2015 was down to SNP MPs being poor at their day job and in some cases employing dicks as caseworkers.

The SNP in Glasgow thought that they were the ‘new establishment’ and as such thought they had the City of Glasgow sown up as tight as a duck’s arse in the rainy season.

I am an anti-poverty campaigner and also a pro-poverty campaigner, you might be puzzled by this statement, how can you be both you are thinking? Well, very easy, my pro-poverty work is dumping as many elected SNP members onto the unemployment queue and as some people can tell you, I am relentless in pursuit of that task. So, let’s get to the campaigns that I took part in the next part of the post and my thoughts on how they ran. I am going to start off with the Scottish Conservatives first. In 2011, I did 4 campaigns, John Mason, Chris Stephens, James Dornan and Nicola Sturgeon, 3 out of the 4 campaigns were successful, since then, I haven't done as many in the one election until 2017. This was due to illness and circumstances and opportunity.

The Conservatives in East Renfrewshire ran a campaign which was designated as a key target seat for them, hence they stripped the West of Scotland of activists. They won by getting 21.496 votes. Their campaign was well run, it had direction and purpose; you know when you see people out sticking leaflets through doors in the heavy rain that these people were taking it seriously. The manpower to vote ratio probably wasn’t that great, as I said, it was overkill. I liked the campaign during the time I spent doing it, and was made to feel very welcome. Whether the same manpower resources would be available next time since other Conservatives became MPs in West of Scotland is debateable. The Labour campaign was poor, the candidate, Blair MacDougall as I said to the Conservatives was an ‘admin guy’ not a campaigner and the proof is the third place finish. He got 14,346 votes which when you look the 2015 result achieved by Jim Murphy who managed second place and 19, 295 rather proves my point. Paul Masterson the Conservative candidate won!

Admin guys don’t campaigners make!

The next campaign; is the Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock, after I left the East Renfrewshire campaign, I was contacted by the Conservative election agent Ian Davis, he asked could I come and help out, this was in the closing days of the election. I thought a trip down to Ayr would be a great ‘day out’. So, I jumped the train, and headed down. I was expecting to be just shunted into a team and end up leafleting but to my surprise, I was put with the candidate and election agent for canvassing. I enjoy canvassing as you get the chance to sell the candidate on the doorstep. The reception I got on the doorstep in wee mining villages was great, there was the odd die hard Labour punter and the ‘fuck the government’ people but people were willing to listen. Bill Grant was an ex fireman and former councillor, he knew this area and the history exceptionally well. So, I spent the day talking people into voting Conservative based on Bill Grant’s personal qualities. Bill Grant beat Corri Wilson of the SNP by a 20 point gain, in the circumstances and available people, this was a cracking result. I had one of the best days ever in politics in that campaign, the people were friendly and the team doing the election made me feel very welcome.

After I stood as an independent, I was contacted by Pollok CLP were I was previously a member to ask what I was doing after the election, basically asked if I would help out. I spoke with the organiser and said I would do some time in the campaign and put in 7 sessions as I had commitments to campaign elsewhere. When I told him I was campaigning for the Conservatives, he said that Labour HQ in Bath Street wouldn’t like this, so I said don’t tell them and also ‘fuck Labour HQ in Bath Street’. So, once we got that straight, I got sent texts about where campaigning was taking place, the first day was in Pollok, I turned up early and waited, of course the people arrived late but they are ‘special’. When they saw me, they drove straight pass me without stopping, to park on the other side of the square. When I walked over to meet them, no one spoke to me for a couple minutes, to say I felt unwelcome was an understatement.

Eventually the election agent Cllr John Kane spoke to me, guess what, I was completely under whelmed, I think the idea was to make me feel that as a highly experienced political campaigner that I was just a nobody and that they were the important people.

During the first session, Matt Kerr, the candidate approached me to tell me that if I got talking to someone on a door, I should get him, which I said no problem if he was nearby. I think this was him basically doubting my ability as a campaigner, I have done Pollok for 10 years, know the area, know the people and lived there 44 years. The canvassing session got off to a bad start due to them having too big a team, which made me wonder why they didn’t spilt up into two teams. I had brought a clipboard but after the ‘warm welcome’ I decided to say nothing as it was clear I wasn’t valued as a team member. At the next session, I turned up early as normal, Matt Kerr’s team didn’t; they went somewhere else, the other side of Peat Road because the street name they were supposed to meet at was similar to another on the other side of the road. I waited in the street for 30 minutes before I left. I gave up my entire morning to be at this event for 1 pm, to say I was less than impressed was an understatement. I contacted the organiser and he said come to the 5 pm session. I turned up at 4.45 pm, the candidate turned up at 5.15 pm, and of course no apology for not being at the meeting place at 1 pm earlier. At this point, after making an agreement to do 7 sessions, I wanted to get these sessions over as quickly as possible and leave these people to stew in their own shit.

I ended up going with the organiser, 5 people had turned up, me, the CLP organiser, the candidate, the election organiser who clearly didn’t know what she was doing and Franny, a union guy who I worked with previously on Lamont’s campaign. Me and the organiser went to do the Dalmellington estate, I led the session, gave him a map and we finished the main part in about 1 hr 25 minutes. The next session we finished completely the left side of Crookston Road and made it over to the other side which I had set up so two people could do it in the most time saving way possible.

I had a verbal agreement with the organiser for 7 sessions; I offered to do more on condition that I would get a ticket to the count; however the feedback I got back was that I wouldn’t be getting a ticket to the count under any circumstances, no matter how much work I did. After, my verbal agreement was terminated by the organiser, I walked away; the winning margin by the SNP was 60 votes. So, for the price of a ticket to the count which had zero monetary value, the Labour candidate Matt Kerr fucked himself out of a job with a £74,000 salary plus expenses plus pension contributions for the next 5 years. Matt Kerr only managed to put 888 votes onto the previous result of 2015. The SNP candidate dropped 9005 votes between 2015 and 2017. If I had kept working in the Glasgow South West campaign for Scottish Labour, I would have gotten the additional votes to put Matt Kerr into Westminster but due to stupidity, nastiness and inability to manage people and generally being a dick, he gets nothing. He completely destroyed any goodwill that existed between us. If he stands again, and he wants me in his campaign, he can go fuck himself because I won’t do it just for a “free ticket” to the count next time.

The last campaign was the Glasgow North East, the Labour candidate was Paul Sweeney, Paul had invited me along to a few Labour social events in the past which was a nice gesture by him; one was a speech by Danny Alexander which I enjoyed at Glasgow University Union. The other was a wee social gig which I met a few interesting people, anyway, I got in contact and asked if he wanted some help, he replied he would be happy for me to come along. The core team was Paul, Ian, Chris, Callum, Maureen, Margaret, Declan, Patricia and me, some others dropped in doing a day here and a day there but this was main group. I wanted to name them because this group pulled off an extraordinary result. 2015, the SNP took the seat with 21,976 votes, a plus 43.9 point gain. This was seen as a seat that would be hard to take back, I thought differently, and said so to the team and to Alex Rowley, out of all the seats in the City of Glasgow, I said this was the one that would fall. Although many people know me as a political activist, it was really brought home to the candidate when a former Labour Cllr from Bearsden turn round and said to him that she had listened to me on the doorstep and in her opinion, I was “brilliant”. I spent my time in Glasgow North East getting people who were undecided to vote Labour and turning SNP voters to vote Labour. In the end, the winning margin was 242 votes. It was a good campaign, it was up against it all the way, it lacked bodies but the main group were committed. In 2011, I campaigned in Inverclyde for the SNP Candidate Anne McLaughlin, six years later, I campaigned against her and she lost. Paul Sweeney will make an excellent constituency MP for Glasgow North East.

3 wins out of 4 is pretty decent going, my reputation as a campaigner is still secure, heading towards being a campaigning legend!

Finally, the SNP ran a poor campaign, although Kenny MacAskill has said that Sturgeon’s husband needs to be removed as Chief Executive, he should have gone a long time ago, the SNP has been turned into a vehicle to promote his wife and this impacted the result.

Nicola Sturgeon is poison on the doorsteps; just ask 21 ex SNP MPs!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University


Al C said...

Well done for all your hard work, George. No wonder you were knackered!

On reflection, if Corbyn won, how would that affect Brexit or the SNP? That was something that made me hesitant about supporting him (yet). He's won a lot of respect from me, but as a voter, I'm still uncertain about the bigger picture.

G Laird said...

Dear Al C

In this election, I used tactical activism along with others to unseat SNP MPs, this worked, there is still a long way to go but you can be sure the SNP cult got a fright, but they will be back.


Freddy said...

Just got to keep plugging away George, depending on events I'm sure they won't relish the prospect of another election in the medium to long term. I don't think Sturgeon is the taking advice type either or not for very long. I'm not an actuary but the % of mp's popping their clogs will be a factor. Cue wheeling in Mp's on stretchers and stuff like that, if the labour party decided to stop pairing that would increase the pressure they probably wont though.

Anonymous said...

MacKaskill, Neil et al - they're good at criticising the SNP, when they're no longer involved with it other than holding a membership card.

We need criticism from sitting members of parliament - or they'll just blunder on. In a way, I hope they do - then we can properly hammer them next time.

Tony F said...

Despite 7 years of austerity, a tory election campaign that was biblically inept, a cynical attempt to bribe the middle class student population, a sudden and convenient Damascene conversion to the principle of safeguarding the population from terrorist attack, a realisation that 10.000 more police officers on the beat might be more appetising than their previously proposed 10% cut in the police budget and the attempt to keep Dianne Abbott out of the media Corbyn and Labour still contrived to lose the election so I'm not quite sure why they should be so pleased with themselves! There are now rumours doing the rounds of students voting twice via postal vote based on their home address and again in person using their uni or college adresses. In your experience George do you think that is a possible scenario?

G Laird said...

Hi Tony F

Regarding the student issue, I read about this but I doubt that many students would be so dishonest as to vote twice, plus in the grand scheme of things, it wouldn't have made much difference.


Anonymous said...

yes well done George and BING Hollie Greig

Anonymous said...

Wee hairy, fat Alex and dim Angus were well aware that an estimated 400.000 SNP voters also voted for Brixit. She betrayed them hoping to replace them but the replacement didn't happen. She’s nothing but a traitor to the real Scottish nationalist movement. Asking the nationalist to vote for Independence then handing us over to Merkel, what a joke this idiot is. Only Krankie would attempt to put a square sausage into a round sausage.She has destroyed Scottish nationalism.

Anonymous said...

well done on your 3 wins George, Pollok Labour lost a great activist, don't go back there, you will find other people would give an arm and a leg to get someone like you on their team.