Scottish Labour has been routed.
No shocker in this house that Labour is not forming the new administration – and from the tenor of today’s broadsheet reports, no surprise to political commentators either. Though they are surprised that ‘wee Eck’ has pulled off a majority government for the SNP.
Should any of us be surprised that he’s managed to do that?
Let’s face it, the SNP present (after being in government for 4+ years) as a ‘competent Scottish Labour Party’. Their policies are Labour (or left-leaning) policies – always popular with a democratic socialist voting populace. They were remarkably silent on the independence referendum question (it’s not much of a goer for them – ironically). The LibDem/Conservative vote collapsed just as anticipated. And Scottish Labour managed a spectacular car crash of a campaign with a lame duck as leader.
It’s partly the politics of the personality. Salmond, the punchy wee Scottish bauchle, standing up to the English Goliaths. And Gray-by-name-Gray-by-nature Iain – running a lack-lustre bumbling and defensively negative campaign. Who would you trust? Who best represents your vision of yourself? ‘Fraid wee Eck is ‘it’. Our representation of ourselves. The man (and mind that word, ‘man’) who reflects to us a vision of what we Scots have always best identified with: the plucky underdog fighting the good fight against the big yins, telling us what a great bunch of folk we really are and how we can do it for ourselves, be leaders of men…
It’s also partly the consequence of a coalition in Westminster which results in the destruction of both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats. ‘Their’ votes going to any party as long as it wasn’t Scottish Labour.
And it’s partly that the electorate are tired of a Scottish Labour Party which is run like a rotten burgh. Scottish Labour politicians (across the piece – both local and parliamentary) who have lost (if they ever had it) any sense of what it was they came into politics to do. The stench of arrogant establishment entitlement defining who they are.
I was brought up with the West of Scotland Labour hegemony of ‘conservative’ trade unionist men carving up political positions based on preservation of their personal power and protection of their cultural and religious interests. I suppose that’s what all politicos exist to do. But it becomes a double-edged sword. Spend too long ‘in power’ then you lose the political fire that fueled your desire to get there in the first place. You lose your ‘edge’. You risk complacency. You also find, increasingly, that crony-ism doesn’t deliver the best candidates – so you end up with a dearth of quality…and the inward-looking promotion of only those who see things your way results in a catastrophic failure of the intellect and of idea-generation.
A West of Scotland Labour male politician… you’ll get my drift. All men – no doubt initially well-intentioned – who just come across as 3rd rate; tied to the old pre-Holyrood Scotland; unable to argue without shouting and defaming; misogynistic (McAveety’s resignation over the ‘dusky maiden’ remark speaks volumes). Ah what’s the point?
Scottish people take themselves seriously. The SNP take Scottish people seriously. Or at the very least they sound as if the respect the Scottish electorate. The quality of their representatives mirrors Labour’s. No better or worse. But think about what message our Labour so-called ‘big-hitters’ send when they refuse (or scorn) the opportunity to stand as candidates in the Scottish Parliamentary elections. Not for them the mickey mouse Scottish Parliament. They’re big boys who want to play with the other big boys in Westminster. Where the real power is.
And that’s the rub. Whilst the SNP take the Scottish Parliament seriously – and by extension, they take the idea of Scotland and Scottishness, seriously – they will shit all over Scottish Labour.
The real test for Salmond will be: Independence Referendum.
He really doesn’t want to run it, does he?
On current figures, he knows he’ll lose – and politicians don’t like to lose, especially when what’s being voted on is the reason for your party existing in the first place. He’s avoided running it so far – with a host of excuses. So desperate was he to hold on to power.
In the end, politicians, regardless of hue, are all the same. Nobody likes to lose power – and I rather imagine that he’d lose what position he has if he lead an unsuccessful Independence campaign.
As it stands, in the near future Salmond is onto a winning formula: blame the unionist Westminster parties for the cuts which he will have to impose; exploit the fact that Labour don’t have any alternative to offer and play up the ‘plucky Scots’ card…
As a Labour Party member – I’m off to slouch despondently in some dark corner…