Looking at some of the discussion of the election last night. I have to disagree with some of the analysis even from close friends in politics that we should blame the SNP 1&2 strategy. The SNP made this pretty clear this was not a vote for independence rather electing a government in the Scottish Parliament. I think it is right that unless there are extenuating circumstances there shouldn't be another referendum within the next five years. I don’t think we can criticise SNP members for voting SNP as long as they are not saying it was best for independence. Likewise it is wrong for SNP members to blame the Greens for unionists winning constituencies as Alex Salmond ever so subtlety hinted at with Alison Johnstone (of course even though she was perfectly entitled to stand). Questions need to be asked why a more popular candidate wasn't chosen to take on Jackie Baillie a very winnable seat.
Undoubtedly the results were based far more along constitutional lines than at any other election. Labour had a nightmare but more worrying is the spin that the media are putting on it that they went too far left, Corbyn effect etc. (Again Salmond’s whopper that you cant out left the SNP, OBA, local council cuts, top rate of tax etc are all areas that credible opposition can be taken on the left of the SNP). The truth is the rot for Labour set in when Blair, Brown and cohorts made the choice that to win elections they had to appeal to the Middle England vote to do so would go against the voters of North England and Scotland but the assumption was they would never vote Tory. They didn't count on the SNP filling that traditional Labour role (on societal issues at least).
Perhaps even more alarming for Labour and Dugdale is not only the decline in seats but who actually won seats for Labour... Sarwar, Baillie, McIntosh will all try to move the party back to a new Labour track.
I think there are positives, the increase in Greens, the fact the SNP don't have a majority means they will have to seek more of a consensus which worked well for them in 2007-11. A Conservative opposition may also allow the pro independence parties to set dividing lines which are more evident than comparisons to devolved parliament and Westminster.
For those pro independence non SNP/Greens supporters the question is what next for you? As a former Labour member are they kicked hard enough down that the pro yessers can rejoin and have a positive impact? Or are they a busted flush. Should we throw our chips into the Greens or SNP and try to move them onto a more socialist agenda? Or is there a void which now needs to be filled?
One thing you can’t say about politics in Scotland. It sure isn’t boring.
Friday, 6 May 2016
Wednesday, 4 May 2016
Despite leaving the party after the referendum this does not fill me with joy as I’m sure it will (perhaps understandably) for others. You don’t give 20 years of your life to a party, an ideal and walk away from it. In truth the line I often heard in the referendum could not be more fitting... I didn’t leave Labour, Labour left me.
The very heart and soul of this once proud and principled party was well and truly ripped out by the Blairites and New Labour drones obsessed with winning, winning over Middle England at any expense... Including the loss of the whole of Scotland. With the election of Corbyn and perhaps the most left wing manifesto in years at this Scottish election, the Progress prowlers are still waiting in the wings briefing against the party, sowing seeds of disruption in collaboration with the main stream Media and the Tory government who they have more in common with.
During the referendum campaign Labour for Independence argued that independence would be the only way to save the Labour Party in Scotland from itself. To move away from the Labour Party of Westminster which wanted to cut harder and faster than the Tories, that wanted to keep trident, to appeal to the leafy suburbs and Middle England at the expense of their base and the voters the party was created to protect. We believed independence held the key to a return of a real Labour Party.
In hindsight I think we were wrong. While independence would have given us the opportunity to create a fairer more equal society, it would have been too late to save Scottish Labour Perhaps 5-10 years ago this would have been possible, but I think the party now is too infected, even in Scotland with New Labourites, filled with cronyism and careerism.
That is not to say there are no real/traditional Labour members and politicians left in the party. But for every Neil Findlay there are more Anas Sarwars, for every Mary Lockhart and Nathan Morrison there are Blair McDougalls and John McTiernans with more sway, more power at the top of the party.
You have to feel even for Kezia Dugdale. In a job she is probably 10 years too early for, she tried to shake up the party and bring in fresh blood to have Sarwar top of the Glasgow list guaranteed a seat. Not only that but his acolytes are already plotting her internal demise as voters her public one.
For those within the pro independence movement who celebrate this demise, be careful what you wish for. The battle in this election has been for second the SNP’s success is not in doubt, only the size of the majority is the question. Yet it has also been one of the most uninspiring elections in such a long time. It seems a lot longer than 20 months ago when the referendum was in full swing, with a country educated and engaged.
So many in this nation now have no home, for many like myself who do not find the notion of the SNP a comfortable one are not enticed to the far left of RISE or the Greens who for many still fail to convince.
The Labour Party will continue its slow demise this week, It may survive until next years council elections... But it wont last long... The question we should all be asking is what happens next?