One, two, three, what are we fighting for?

DH cropLabour Hame Editor Duncan Hothersall compares the SNP and Scottish Labour manifestos and challenges the perception that Scots are helped by a vote against Labour.

 

I have lost count of the number of times I have been exhorted to fight this election on the basis of policies. I’ve also lost count of the number of times I’ve been told voting SNP will keep a Labour government “in check”, “push Labour left”, and ensure things are delivered “for Scotland”.

The SNP have – finally – launched their manifesto for the 2015 general election and we can compare it to the Scottish Labour manifesto. So let’s take a look at the concrete policies, now they are out, and see if this argument stacks up.

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Five lessons from seven seats

angellRichard Angell is Director of Progress, and led their recent Seven Seats Challenge, canvassing with Labour candidates across central Scotland. Here he reflects on lessons learned and the work we need to do.

 

As the starting gun was fired on the general election campaign, the Progress team visited seven seats in Scotland to help some excellent Labour candidates – all standing for election or re-election for the first time – knock back the Scottish National party and knock out the Conservatives nationally.

Every Labour member of parliament returned to Westminster brings the Labour government that this country so desperately needs ever closer. More SNP MPs leaves only David Cameron rubbing his hands.

It was an exhilarating and exhausting two days as we stretched the three seat challenge (#Lab3seats) model to visit seven seats in 36 hours. It was fascinating for everyone on our tour. 1,078 contacts later, there are some lessons which I think are worth sharing.

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Explaining the £7.6bn “FFA Black-Hole”

kevverageKevin Hague wrote this piece for his own chokkablog, but a number of Facebook users seem to have reported the link so that sharing his original on Facebook has become difficult. Labour Hame agreed to repost the blog here to allow it to be more widely disseminated.

 

Today (Sunday 12th April 2015) there’s a piece in the Guardian by Kevin McKennathat quotes the IFS’s £7.6bn Full Fiscal Autonomy “black-hole” figure and casually dismisses it. I’ll go into the detail of McKenna’s argument (and why it’s completely flawed) later in this post but first we need to establish what that figure actually is.

The simple table below gives us all the information we need, sourced from GERS (actual 2013-14), OBR (March 2015 outlook) and the IFS (the quoted source for the £7.6bn “black hole“):

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Not so much a French farce

arushRetired industrialist Anthony Rush thinks the French ambassador was right about the threat of the SNP.

 

No surprise if the French Consul General believed that diplomatic relations between the UK and France is being served by reporting to the Scotland Office the gist of what took place between his Ambassador and various Ministers. After all the UK and France are allies, joint members of the EU and significant trading partners.

And the Scottish Government is a small sub-central government who are threatening the stability of the UK national economy. This promises to have a negative impact on European economies. Moreover if the current Scottish Government got its way, France would be the last remaining nuclear military power standing between Russia and the USA. To make matters worse the UK would become an insignificant player in supporting military action in places which threaten our western way of life.

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People looking for work deserve dignity

Jamie HeadshotJamie Kinlochan shares his personal experience of zero-hours contracts, the reality of precarious work, and the failings of the systems which should help.

 

Labour has pledged to end exploitative zero-hours contracts, a policy that I’m sure any working class person can get behind. This commitment should now be the start of a conversation about how we treat people who are trying to find and keep work.

I had a zero-hours lecturing contract with a college which guaranteed me some hours for 4 weeks. It was an excellent opportunity, I got to do something really worthwhile and I met some brilliant people. Having been a student for the previous five years, however, I had accrued some pretty hefty commercial debt. This job meant I had no idea whether or not I would be able to pay my credit card minimum payments and direct debits.

So I went online to DirectGov. In the weeks that I didn’t receive any pay, I would be entitled to JobSeekers Allowance up to £73.10 a week. When you think about it, this doesn’t really sound like I had a job.

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On disagreeing – politely – with the Greens

justin_reynoldsJustin Reynolds, an Edinburgh Labour activist and one of the brains behind the excellent new political forum sceptical.scot, takes a look at the rise of the Green Party.

 

The headline story of the 2015 General Election, both here in Scotland and across the UK, continues to be the seemingly inexorable rise of the SNP. Much has been written about what, if anything, Scottish Labour can do to turn back, or more plausibly, simply contain, the nationalist tide.

There has been somewhat less commentary on another challenge to Labour’s precarious core vote: that presented by the Scottish Greens. I know I am not the only Labour canvasser to have spoken to many former supporters intending to switch to the Greens, especially in those liberal, bohemian urban areas that used to be Labour strongholds. Or to have noticed a significant spike in social media likes or retweets for the latest Green initiative.

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Jim Murphy: The Choice

jim pledge launchJim Murphy launched Scottish Labour’s pledge card for the general election this morning.

“We can’t do this alone and they can’t do it without us.”

 

I will never forget my first election in East Renfrewshire, then Eastwood.

I remember winning. I remember the faces of local party stalwarts who had fought the Tories locally, some of them since the 1950s, in what must have felt like a futile struggle.

As the result was read out in Barrhead sports centre, their faces were a mixture of disbelief and shock replaced quickly with hope and joy. But above all what I remember from 18 years ago was that feeling of possibility that came from having ended 18 years of Tory rule.

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