Monday, February 4, 2019

Scottish Labour Needs A New Vision And Ethos; Leak reveals Labour membership has fallen in every part of Scotland, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visits Glasgow South West but local members not told, and Labour wonder why they are struggling to hold on to their foot soldiers

Dear All

Everyone likes to be popular; some people find it easy; others have to manufacture it like political leaders. In order to be popular, you have to been seen to be doing the right things, ticking all the right boxes and showing commitment to hard work. One thing about the Scottish Labour Party is that the fight for the Scottish leadership hasn’t ended. Although Richard Leonard won the vote against Anas Sarwar, the fight still goes on. The contest for Scottish Labour leadership wasn’t a glorious affair; the lack of people willing to enter the contest was a huge letdown. The way the contest was run was also a huge letdown, I voted Richard Leonard, because of a choice of two; he was the better candidate.

But, after winning Richard Leonard has found his own problems and pressures, such as trying to grapple with the fact that his party’s membership figures had fallen in every local area. The Labour has lost nearly 5,000 members over the last twelve months across all 73 local parties. This shows a drop of around 20%, it seems that the Corbyn revolution hasn’t made it across the Scottish border in the same way as England. Of course there are a numbers of reasons why people leave political parties, but Scottish Labour despite saying through many leaders hasn’t really embraced change.

For example, we know that the membership has nosedived because someone in Scottish Labour leaked it; I think we can safely say that wasn’t the Corbyn/Leonard faction. In Eastwood, a constituency with a sizeable Jewish population, membership figures have slumped by nearly 40%. Sources place the blame on this for the party’s handling of antisemitism allegations. Another reason which I don’t buy into is Brexit, which rather suggest that Scottish Labour’s problem is the right wing in part.

To return to the contest between Richard Leonard and Anas Sarwar which was bitter in the extreme, an insider said the decrease related to hundreds of members who signed up to support Anas Sarwar’s leadership bid then after that failed promptly left the party. Some people say the tactic of signing up a Muslim to elect a Muslim lost Anas Sarwar vote, including his continued ‘racism campaign’.

This weekend saw Jeremy Corbyn in Glasgow, he attended an event in Glasgow South West, as a Labour member in GSW, I wasn’t told he was coming; neither by the local party or by Scottish HQ. I wonder if even the local party committee knew that Jeremy Corbyn was visiting the area.

So, what does Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to Glasgow South West mean?


The reason it means nothing is that Jeremy Corbyn won’t be doing the Labour campaign of Matt Kerr, whether Kerr gets elected will depend on whether local members are willing to work in the constituency as activists. At present, despite many calls for help and some angry CLP meetings, the majority of the CLP aren’t willing to campaign for him. And there was a 231 reduction in Pollok because some people decided to vote with their feet. Twitter can be a useful instrument in assessing the health of a CLP, when you look at Team Kerr’s campaign; you see the small number of same faces from his group with the odd extra now and again. Matt Kerr lost in 2017 by 60 votes, that said, he will need considerably more than that next if Glasgow South West is to elect him. At present, the Pollok CLP is effectively dead when it comes to political campaigning. Richard Leonard is struggling to hold on to his foot soldiers, but we should remember that being a member is not the same as being an activist. Scottish Labour need better training activists who are willing to campaign on a regular basis which is a huge commitment to ask someone.

The Scottish Labour Party will play a pivotal role in determining whether Corbyn ends up in Downing Street but only through its members who are willing to go campaigning.

Not the Scottish HQ!

The party has seven MPs in Scotland, the Glasgow Labour MP is Paul Sweeney; he won his seat by 242 votes in 2017. His campaign had something which the Pollok CLP campaign lacked, things like teamwork, know what you are doing, turning up on time, that campaign had a huge mix of different people but it worked. It also overturned one of the biggest SNP majorities in the City of Glasgow. Although some people were shocked at the win, I wasn’t, I told the candidate and the team that they were going to win, and it wasn’t a guess.

SNP MP Kirsty Blackman said:

“Labour are on the path to terminal decline and total irrelevance in Scotland. No one will be surprised that their toxic support for Tory plans to drag Scotland out of the EU against our will has led to a mass exodus of party members right across the country. If Labour continue to facilitate Brexit they will be just as culpable as the Tories for the devastating impact on Scottish jobs and living standards. They will never be forgiven for the lasting harm Brexit will inflict on Scottish people’s livelihoods, our economy and public services. Labour members are clearly just as fed up as voters are with the party, which continues to side with the Tories and carp from the sidelines of Scottish politics, with no credibility.”

I think the notion of Labour are on the path to terminal decline is stretching the bounds of credibility, parties rise and fall, the Scottish Party is falling as the numbers show but the only way from the bottom is up. The travel upwards however requires new thinking about the party operates and how it works for its members.

A spokesman for the Scottish Tories said:

“It is no surprise to hear that Labour members across the country are deserting the party in droves. Labour is too weak to stand up to the SNP - and voters can see that it is only the Scottish Conservatives that can take on the Nationalists and win. These figures would also suggest that the abject failure by Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Leonard to stamp out anti-semitism is also alienating many former supporters in places like Eastwood.”

Scottish Labour is the third party in Scottish politics, third in Holyrood and third in the number of Scottish MPs in Westminster. In Eastwood, the Scottish Conservatives ran a slick campaign with a lot of activists pulled in from other areas to assist. Scottish Labour fielded the wrong candidate, the former head of Better Together in Scotland, he was slaughtered.

Finally, to return to Pollok CLP, the Labour Party wants members to come out and support the party but doesn’t have the good grace to inform local members that the leader of the Party Jeremy Corbyn is visiting. So, this leads to the question are members just there to be used? One thing for certain, It will not be Jeremy Corbyn who will put a Glasgow South West Labour Candidate into Westminster, it will be the members. The SNP have won the seat twice in a row, albeit with a reduced majority, that said they know the area, and they know what they need to do. Scottish Labour in Glasgow South West can’t match them for numbers or quality on the ground due to internal problems in the Pollok CLP.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University


Anonymous said...

Labour are a joke, very rarely do I agree with the SNP but I do this time. Richard Leonard is uninspiring, He you s an awful public speaker, bouncing up and down when he shouts, he doesn’t talk he shouts. I’m afraid I will not vote Labour. I will be forced for the first time ever to vote Tory (can’t believe I actually wrote that). JC seems to be popular amongst Momentum and twats like Owen Jones. They willl never again get my vote nationally or locally.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the first anon. A lot of the excitable and gullible are bouncing up and down about Corbyn next prime minister but while it's possible, until or unless he can win Scotland for Labour, it's not happening I'm afraid. It could still turn around, but I'm not seeing it at the moment.

Corbyn I have a love-hate relationship with. I love some of the ideas and reforms he has to offer, but I have no respect for either Momentum or Owen Jones, or the useless and entitled prats who voted for Corbyn to stop Brexit. Not to mention his cuddling up to the IRA, his pathetic response to Venezuela, it's not good enough I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

The problem with lie@bour is it's infiltrated by right-wing anti working class nut jobs. And the trade unions the same.
A few weeks ago I was looking at lie@bour more favourably but these lie@bour remaoners joining up with Tory. Lib.SNP to deny us our democracy and trying to postpone Brexit is just too much. Lie@bour are virtually finished they are New New Lie@bour and considering who's their opposition i.e. todays Tories and SNP idiots. It makes you think it's all made up and fake.