A bruising night but there were glimpses of a better future

Jamie HeadshotJamie Kinlochan says we will rebuild and we will restore our party in the pursuit of equality.


So, that was that. Election night has been and gone, and many hard-working Labour MSPs and staff members with it. Even with a “prepare for the worst, expect it to be a wee bit worse than that” approach, I still woke up on Friday morning feeling sore.

The Tories are to be the main opposition in Scotland. First Minister’s Questions is set to become “Did Your Masters In London Tell You To Ask That, Aye?” Vol 2.

Was it that people just were not ready to hear what we had to say? Was it that despite the rhetoric, people in Scotland aren’t so egalitarian after all and don’t want to pay more tax? Was it a sign that Scottish Labour must move away from the left and towards the centre? Or, given what the pundits have said about Scotland still being all about the constitution, is the red rose in the wrong garden altogether?

People much more insightful and objective than me will offer up the answers to those questions. Others will ignore them and be destined to make the same mistakes again.

When it is dark, we look for the light. And there was some light. Up and down Scotland, members got out on the doors, picked up the phone, used social media and fought for our candidates.

Daniel Johnson won in Edinburgh Southern with a positive street campaign that was all about engaging with and listening to voters. He found time to be supportive of new talent and never shied away from talking about the positive force the Labour Party can be.

Jackie Baillie held Dumbarton, after again showing people that she was the best person to stand up for the people in my home town. It is clear that whether people voted yes or no in the referendum, they recognised Jackie’s hard work and fierce support of social justice.

Monica Lennon, a councillor and strong campaigner, was elected a MSP for Central Scotland. Monica has led local campaigns that brought young people together to save their university campus. Uniting local politicians of all colours, Monica also fought back when the Scottish Government overturned a planning decision and left locals facing an incinerator being built where they lived.

Three strong campaigners who recognise that people in our communities need someone to stand up for them and with them.

We need them, and Labour MSPs like them, in Holyrood because without additional funding, public services will be further stretched by the government. Colleges that give so many people a first, second and third chance will continue to be the poor relative of our education system. Local authorities will continue to run close to the wire with jobs threatened year after year. Austerity in Westminster and a determination not to raise tax in Holyrood means the most vulnerable in our society are about to be squeezed more than they have been.

Meanwhile, the main opposition in Scotland will be seeking concessions on behalf of the well off.

I don’t believe that constitutional politics gets many Labour members out of bed in the morning. It is clear now, however, that we can’t just lie in because we don’t want to have the conversation. So we might need to set our alarms half an hour earlier. As long as independence is the single issue that dominates Scottish politics, social justice will not be.

Kez’s plan to challenge that and continue to fight for those who are being ignored is the right one. We will rebuild and we will restore our party in the pursuit of equality.

That’s the Labour way. Always has been, always will be.

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65 thoughts on “A bruising night but there were glimpses of a better future

  1. I’m sick of it.
    It’s head in the sand stuff all over the place.

    Labour needs to accept the referendum has changed Scottish politics forever. Yet we are mostly stuck with the same old faces again, scared of change.

    Sturgeon was on TV, rubbing it in, saying the SNP has replaced Labour, and the annoying thing is she may be right. They are winning on both fronts: Against the Tories and For the idea they stand up for Scottish interests.

    It’s time to face some hard facts.
    1. Our 3 constituency seats were only won because of Tory tactical votes for Labour. Look at the numbers.
    2. We can’t depend on tactical voting from Tories at future UK general elections.
    3. We are never going to recover in Scotland until we are seen as an independent Scottish party that will support Scottish interests, not just hanging around to support the UK Labour Party at some time in the future.

    On the constitution, we are never going to beat the Tories on unionism or British nationalism.

    Perhaps it is time to be open to independence as a means of protecting working people and promoting equality here in Scotland. Many people have stuck by Labour out of loyalty, yet all we have to show for it is the prospect of continued Tory governments in Westminster for years to come.

    Do we ALWAYS have to sacrifice Scotland before the interests of the UK labour party ?
    We have a chance to escape that and help drag the nats back to the left in an independent Scotland.
    Soon enough we will be back to the natural party of government in Scotland, when the SNP vote divides all over the place. They will have little reason to even exist anymore.

    1. Independence WOULDN’T protect working people. Independence WOULDN’T promote equality. The White Paper was bullshit. When are you going to notice?

      Labour has a responsibility to stand up for what is in the best interests of the most people. Nationalism is not. If you think the answer to our current woes is nationalism, you’re arguing against socialism, against solidarity, and against Labour’s values.

      1. I don’t care about the white paper. The policies of an independent Scotland would be decided by whatever parties are elected, not some vague manifesto from 2014.

        I think that socialism and Labour values may have a better chance in Scotland with independence now. When you really think about it, we have more in common with the SNP than we do with the Tories.

        The Tories are the real enemy, yet all we have done for the last 9 years is focus on the SNP. The current lot will probably back up the Tories in this new parliament making our situation even worse. I know plenty who have stuck with the party through thick and thin, but it is beyond a joke.

        I just see no end in sight unless we change our stance.
        Corbyn is an absolute disaster and no-one seriously thinks he will be elected once the media does a hatchet job on him, and then Labour will be back to being New Labour in England.

        People are deserting us because the SNP is seen as ‘putting Scotland first’.
        It becomes harder and harder to argue with that when we see Tory or ‘New Labour’ governments in England for years to come. And we are just expected to go along with that, so some future Labour MPs from here have a chance of being in a future UK Labour cabinet ??

        Maybe we need to argue that socialism and equality can better thrive in Scotland when we are free of the Tories holding all the cards.
        The current approach is going nowhere. It’s a waiting game in which we have been forgotten about.

      2. Whereas our current constitutional arrangement has blessed us with such an egalitarian paradise that it would be catastrophic to ditch it, eh? Well done on preserving it, by the way. Hope it was worth the end of the Labour Party.

        P.S. I *love* the idea that wanting to permanently end the rule of distant right-wing governments we didn’t elect is “anti-socialist”.

      3. I was a Labour supporter for nearly 40 years. But for too long the party indulged in a power-at any-cost agenda, which put me off. Then came Better Together and that was it for me. I vote SNP now and doubt I could be tempted back. The SNP stand for something, Labour stand for Labour. The SNP clearly act in the best interests of the Scottish people, Labour act in the best interest of the Labour party. Is it any wonder that you continue to spiral down the plughole?

        The perpetually hysterical tone you adopt and your palpably visceral hatred of the SNP and all they stand for is a godsend for the SNP because, as you can see from the comments posted here, you are alienating your own people. Keep up the good work.

    2. You talk a lot of sense Alan.
      Scotland is moving in a different direction. Time that Scottish Labour decided if it wanted to go with the people of Scotland or be left behind

    3. Alan,
      You are nearly there in your analysis when you say “Do we ALWAYS have to sacrifice Scotland before the interests of the UK labour party ?” That is exactly what Scottish Labour did in 2014. They thought that the union had to saved for no other reason than the long term interests of The Party. And the verdict of that betrayal of ones country is now being meted out by the Scottish electorate.
      If you thought 2015 and 2016 were bad just wait until local council elections 2017.

      1. Richard, I went along with the Labour position in 2014 after a lot of humming and hawing, thinking we would get a Miliband Government and then some sort of federalism.

        But then look what happened. I’ve had enough of it.
        They only got one of my votes this time and that is only because my candidate was a good man who deserved to keep his seat. I believe in Labour values, but we need a new approach to best achieving that in Scotland, and putting ourselves first for once.

  2. Independence from Tory run Westminster is the only way Scotland can guarantee an agenda of social justice because only with Independence can we afford to pay for one.

    1. Presumably that’s with the powers of independence to raise more taxes from the rich, aye? The policy the Scottish electorate just roundly rejected? The policy the SNP opposed? Independence would guarantee small-state conservatism, not social justice, and Scottish voters just proved it.

      1. Why? Do you honestly Duncan that there will never be any elections again in an Independent Scotland?

        The SNP would splinter and their membership would vote for other parties. Perhaps new parties would also emerge.

        1. As a SLAB acolyte Duncan’s prime directive is ‘HATE SNP’ anything else is a poor second place.

      2. We better order up a new electorate then, this one seems to have gone off-message.

  3. I look forward to Dunc’s solution. Move to the right and compete with the Tories? Good luck with that. Be more Unionist than the Tories? Same thing. Be neutral to independence and compete with the SNP? Well, stop sharing platforms and councils with the Tories and that might work.

  4. Nice to see some progress being made here. What Scotland needs now is a plurality of serious independence-supporting parties, so it would be good to see Scottish Labour join in, and remember who the real enemy is.

    1. Independence doesn’t get rid of Tories. Scotland is full of Tories, as this election just showed.

        1. To Clarify, little over 20% of people in Scotland VOTED Tory. Many of those were NO voters who only did so to maximise the anti-SNP vote. The actual number of Tories in Scotland is probably around the 12-15% it has been for many years now.

          1. Really? How does that explain the swing from SNP to Tory in John Swinney’s seat? And in many seats and regions across the country?

      1. Scottish independence won’t get rid of Tories, but it will get rid of Tory governments. Scotland is not *full of* Tories, but it does *contain some* Tories (Rangers ultras, landed gentry, and Stockbridge-residing British nationalists). Let’s take this opportunity to remove the nationalists versus socialists nonsense from intelligent political debate. The opposite of a socialist is a conservative (as we all learned in Politics 101). The opposite of an X-nationalist is a Y-imperialist.

          1. Labour has always, consistently opposed the Tories. It is as ludicrous to suggest that we backed them because of the independence referendum as it is to suggest we back them now because of the EU referendum.

      2. 22%.
        I’m thinking if we do get independence in the future, then Labour & SNP coalitions can keep them well in check, and be able to comfortably govern from a moderate left of centre position.

        Despite all the partisan politics, traditional Scottish Labour supporters have more in common with the SNP than we do with the Tories. Maybe it is best to combine our forces and move on.

        I just don’t see things ever going back to how they were, and it is at the point where we have become enablers of Tory rule from Westminster, and they are laughing at us behind our backs.

        1. The SNP is not a left wing party. Look at the swing in John Swinney’s seat. Lots of right-wingers vote SNP for independence and a small state.

          1. I think we’re clearly seeing the Scottish centre right switch from SNP, Labour and LD to the Tories. SNP is cearly a centre-left party, just like Labour.

            Labour needs to make a choice. You can’t oppose both side in a debate, without making yourselves appear irrelevant.You either choose neutrality and stay out of it until the dust settles, or pick a side. Problem is, most of the Scottish centre left think Labour picked the wrong side.

          2. The SNP are far to the left of Tony Blair’s Labour party, the remnants of which hang around the House of Commons like a bad smell.

            Duncan Hothersall’s paranoid fear and loathing of the SNP is clouding whatever good sense he has.

            He advocates that Labour should follow a path that has decimated the party in Scotland.

            Change or die Duncan.

            Change or die.

          3. Is that how it works? Does the comparable swing from Labour to the Tories in Hamilton indicate that Labour is not a left-wing party?

          4. How can anyone say the SNP are to the left? They voted with the Tories to pass on austerity to councils. They stood up and refused to increase taxes for the rich. They opposed progressive use of tax powers in favour of imposing massive cuts on public services. And you choose to believe they had to do that because you back independence and it’s a handy conceit. Well I’m not buying now, and I never will.

      3. “Labour has always, consistently opposed the Tories.”
        You probably need to have a word with the Labour group on Falkirk Council then.

        1. Oh good grief, SNP are in coalition with the Tories in South Ayrshire. I’m talking about national politics. Under STV almost all local politics is coalition.

          1. Not so, Duncan. The Tories run a minority administration with LABOUR support (the Provost is Labour, the council leader Tory) via a partnership agreement.

          2. Who said anything about the SNP? I thought we were talking about Labour being “consistently opposed the Tories.”

            I agree that getting into bed with the Tories at any level of government should be anathema for Labour if for no other reason that we will, inevitably, pay a high electoral price for the expediency.

            It isn’t going to be an easy position to defend come the local elections.

          3. Apart from to everyone who understands the reality of STV. Tribal politics of that nature helps no-one.

          4. “Labour has always, consistently opposed the Tories. ”

            “Apart from to everyone who understands the reality of STV. Tribal politics of that nature helps no-one.”

            Your rhetoric is getting confused, unless you are claiming that expediency trumps principle. This looks like a first class example of the Janus complex that’s costing us so dear.

          5. Labour’s progressive politics stands in stark contrast to the Tories’ small state conservatism. I don’t believe any honest person needs this pointed out or would disagree. That is what I meant by my first point.

            STV elections in council force parties to find common ground in local politics. That is a good thing. It’s a good thing that Labour and SNP can work together in Edinburgh. It’s a good thing that SNP and Tories can work together in Dumfries. When we do that we set aside our national disagreements and find local common cause.

            There is nothing two-faced about these statements. I challenge you to disagree with either of them.

        2. “STV elections in council force parties to find common ground in local politics.”

          Fair enough, on a case by case basis but I do not believe Labour should ever be in a formal coalition with the Tories at any political level in Scotland. Your mileage clearly varies when it’s politically expedient.

          Why do you keep bringing the SNP into this?

      4. 24% voted Tory in 1987, and they were wiped out. This year they got 22%. Full of tories?

  5. The election has crystallized the political divide in Scotland. The “left” is broadly pro independence while the “right” is broadly pro union.

    Labour have catastrophically misjudged the situation. In an attempt to put their disastrous alliance with the Tories in Better Together behind them, they tried to ignore the independence issue during the campaign, failed miserably (and confusedly) and thus rendered themselves irrelevant.

    There is no point to Labour in Scotland any more. The SNP and Greens outflank them on the left and on independence, while the Tories outflank them on the right and on unionism.

    Those who still cling to Labour for whatever reason have a choice to make. Either back ALL the progressive parties in their support of independence as Scotland’s best chance of a prosperous future, or back the Tories in their belief that Scotland should remain a “beggar nation” (as a certain Mr McTernan of Labour described it) under the Union.

    1. Actually it’s worse than that.

      Labour WANTED to avoid the independence question but Ruth and her Tory cronies (quite shrewdly in political terms) made sure it was the first (and often the ONLY) topic that got raised in TV Studios and Debates throughout the campaign.

      And Kezia, naively, walked into the bear trap, agreeing with Ruth on the Union, agreeing with Ruth on making sure Independence was off the table and agreeing with Ruth that a second Referendum should be blocked regardless of public opinion. Labour re-inforced the idea that the vote was still about the Union but, as they were so much weaker on the Union when challenged, it was clear where all those persuaded by the argument (to back the Union) were going to mark their cross.

      The Tories did well because of differential turnout (the SNP failed to make any strong case for Independence and left 400,000 voters from 2015 at home) and being able to snaffle up all those Labour voters who were attracted to the idea the vote was about the Union and didn’t think Labour were strong enough.

  6. Some Labour folk are seeing Scotlab’s new future –

    but some are and will forever be stuck with one view of Scotland and Labour’s place within it, this view if continuing
    to be followed, will leave Scottish Labour shouting from the sidelines for the forseable future.
    Nothing will change their view of how things should continue to be despite the hard evidence of decrasing support
    for Scotlab over 10+ years and even as fundamental political change in Scotland is happening all around them.

    Continuing to ask Scottish Labour voters to keep on voting in and for an arrangement where our bigger neighbour can
    return the Tory party to power time and time again to govern Scotland is becoming increasingly nonsensical.
    (10 or 15 years of Boris or Osborne as PM anyone ?)

    An autonomous Scottish Labour party will have it’s own structure, organisation and policies directly shaped for Scotland
    without reference to London Labour (who let’s face it, are having gargantuan internal problems of their own).
    This new party when set up could be ready, up and working for when independence is won, and if the policies were right
    why wouldn’t people vote for Scotlab ? – and without another country on our shoulder to outvote us, the people
    would actually get the gov’t they voted for, guaranteed.

    This change would by neccessity require Scotlab to embrace Scottish independence – it would be an untenable situation
    where an autonomous Scottish Labour party still deferred to Westminster

    So, in a nutshell – Become an autonomous Scottish Labour party, back independence – be ready

    (I vote SNP and would consider going back to Labour but not as it is – it would have to fully support
    Scottish independence)

    The claim is that ‘independence wouldn’t get rid of the Tories’ – true but with independence, they couldn’t be imposed
    on us by another country for term after term either – they would have to be elected by the people of Scotland
    alone – that’s real democracy.

    1. We live in a democracy. The UK government is democratically elected. Democracy does not mean everyone always gets the government they voted for.

      1. But it does mean that more than half get the government they voted for.

  7. If Labour embraced independence the Labour vote would go up, no doubt about it. Labour should have some kind of constitutional consultation with its members, which would allow new members to join and vote in much the same way as they did with Corbyn – Labour would see who wants to stand with them if they support independence before ever having to announce it as party policy. That is not to say that trust won’t still be an issue, it will still take a long time for many to ever trust the party again. But – and it is a huge but – there are many out there who do want to vote Labour but just can’t because of the party’s allegiance to unionism. These people would jump at the chance to vote Labour again, and let’s face it what does Labour have to lose? They have now lost their hardcore unionist vote to the Tories, I doubt many of the people left would leave Labour if they changed their position on the constitutional question. So I hope the party thinks about it, both Labour and the independence movement have everything to gain, but more importantly so do the people of Scotland. Can we not just end Tory rule already…

    1. You want to invite a load of independence supporters who hate Labour to join and impose a pro-independence policy on the party? Surreal.

      1. They’re unlikely to join the party if they hate it though, are they Duncan?

  8. Where to for Labour? It’s a tricky one. I don’t think there are any easy answers. The Scottish population skews pro independence on the left and anti on the right. That means the natural voter bloc for Labour is going to be relatively small. Also, Labour has been “hollowed out” over many years so it’s membership is heavily British nationalist/Unionist. Hence the strong objection from some commenters here to moving closer to the SNP on the constitution.

    If I had to guess I would predict that Labour stays a relatively unpopular party for voters with an Anglo/Brit centric worldview. Folk for whom the union is the top issue (despite the chat being about not caring about the constitution) It’s a demographic that will be resilient but wont get big enough to form a government any time soon…

  9. I’m Labour through and through but voted YES and will vote SNP until the day we are independent. When that day comes I strongly believe that – assuming Scottish Labour actually get the right people in the right positions – we will GOVERN an independent Scotland, almost unchallenged … or at least we would have done if the “top” Scottish Labour people had caught on to this earlier … I fear it”s too late now.

    Good job all of you.

    1. I’ve got news for you: you’re not “Labour through and through” if you are consistently voting for a party which not only opposes Labour but has as one of its core aims the destruction and replacement of the party.

      1. Ive got news for YOU – I’ve been voting labour most likely since you were a kid. I’m now voting in Scottish elections for the only party who have the guts to fight for an independent Scotland.

        Scotland being part of the UK is not a core “labour value”.

        You just demonstrated exactly why Scottish labour is a complete shambles – you seem to think it’s the VOTERS’ fault that you are dying. Wake up.

        1. So you place nationalism above socialism. And that is entirely your choice to make. My only point is that you cannot honestly describe yourself as “Labour through and through” if you make that choice. Labour is solidarity and common cause, not nationalism and I’m alright Jack.

          1. No, I’m a socialist. As numerous people have told you, but you seem unable to grasp this concept, an independent Scotland does not mean a dictatorship under the SNP. It means we are free to vote in who we choose. As a socialist I will be voting Scottish Labour, IF they manager to get their act together and become a credible party once again.

            You sound like a football fan who supports his own team no matter what. Or a robot.

            Labour is not a “common cause” if it HAS no credible cause, which right now it doesnt.

          2. Aren’t you still trying to convince yourself that the SNP and the rise of Scottish Self Determination is still about Nationalism and not the opportunity to choose a different path to England (which has voted for Tories or New Labour for 50 years).

            The last time that Labour which were not led by Tony Blair and offering a reasonably right wing platform (both by offer and actions) won an election was 1966. Fifty years since anything remotely Socialist was elected by the United Kingdom.

            Maybe Scotland wouldn’t vote Socialist either. But it might. What we can say for certain is that the UK will not.

          3. The Labour Party placed British Nationalism above Socialism. As for not being “I’m alright Jack” how are the defeated Labour politicans of yesteryear enjoying their time in the unelected House of Lords ?. Duncan, wake up. This is not a bright new begining for Labour, you cruise down this board making the same trite soundbites that no one believes and as election slogans have lost Labour not just votes but respect. This is only the darkness before the dawn if you can let go of the outdated myths, decades of Tory rule from London is not ‘socialism and solidarity’. Look in the mirror, listen, learn, change, Otherwise for Labour it will be just darkness.

          4. I seem to remember “I’m alright Jack” was one of the core messages of Better Together. Labour were completely on board with that.

            You will have to wait until the millions of voters who lived through the New Labour years have either forgotten them or joined the choir triumphant before any link between socialism and Labour will ever be considered anything but ironic.

          5. Bull. “I’m alright Jack” was the theme of Yes Scotland. “Let’s live in one of the world’s wealthiest countries” meant stopping sharing our wealth with the rest of the UK, and stopping pooling our resources so no part of the UK is left behind. YOU argued for self-interest. Time for you to accept that Scots chose sharing.

          6. Where’s the common cause with Northern Ireland, then – why won’t Labour run there?

            Why does your solidarity extend beyond Dumfries with barely a thought, but come to a shuddering halt at Dover, or Dungannon, or Dunkirk for that matter?

  10. “Self interest” is not the same as “I’m alright Jack”. Yes, I argued for Scots to govern themselves in their own “self interest” as things under the Union are NOT alright for those at the bottom of the ladder.

    Better Together shamelessly courted the better off in society by highlighting how they weren’t doing too badly so why rock the boat … ie “I’m alright Jack”.

    Sharing had absolutely nothing to do with it. Quite the opposite in fact as those people reacted to the threat to their own comfort, as dishonestly portrayed by Better Together, and voted to preserve it.

    1. That’s simply untrue. Better Together’s key focus was “pooling and sharing resources”. I know because I must have repeated that line a thousand times. Meanwhile Yes Scotland asked us “Do you want to live in one of the world’s wealthiest countries?” That is pure “I’m alright Jack”.

  11. Sorry, but “I’m alright jack” is a type of self interest that applies to those who are already doing fine and therefore act (or don’t act as the case may be) to preserve that comfort. The YES campaign highlighting how wealthy Scotland COULD become with independence (but would never be under the Union) comes from the perspective of NOT being “alright Jack” at the moment. It was therefore aspirational for the people of Scotland and requires relatively well off people to act for the benefit of others (and, of course, themselves) who, under the Union, are not “alright Jack”.

    You may disagree, but in my opinion, Better Together shamelessly targeted the well off by using the politics of fear to frighten them into voting NO in order to preserve their allegedly “threatened” lifestyles …. ie appealing to their “I’m alright Jack” instincts.

    You and others did (disingenuously in my opinion) push the “pooling and sharing” angle, however, there was more than one dishonest string to the NO bow.

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