Standing on the left is a new blog from a group of grassroots activists from Young Labour and Labour Students groups in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Fife. Here they look at the opportunities for Labour in a worst-case-scenario next Scottish Parliament.

 

So, as everyone from the Daily Mail to my entire Facebook feed seems determined to let me know, the Tories have now overtaken Scottish Labour in the polls. It’s only a two per cent lead, but that’s small comfort in a country in which, until recently, Scottish Labour was a dominant force and the Scottish Tories an irrelevance.  The Labour Party (at least, from what I’ve seen on social media) has responded to this news by doing what it does best: factional willy-waving.

If you ask Momentum types, it’s all Dugdale’s fault. This theory rests on the idea that the SNP is doing well because it’s left-wing (it isn’t), that Jeremy Corbyn is wildly popular in Scotland (he isn’t), and that Kezia Dugdale has somehow diluted comrade Corbyn’s message with her BlairiteRedToryneoliberalism (she hasn’t).

But they aren’t alone in their simplistic idiocy. Quite a large section of the Labour twitterati have decided that we’re losing ground to the Tories because we’re insufficiently vigorous in our defence of the Union. In case these people hadn’t noticed, being strong on the Union didn’t exactly help us last May. I’m not saying we should abandon our support for the UK, but wrapping ourselves in the Union Jack is no more a quick fix for our problems than draping ourselves in the red flag.

So what do we do? Well, for a start, let’s take a look at our electoral rivals. They’ll try to deny it, but the embrace that Nicola Sturgeon and David Cameron are locked in is less a struggle than a symbiosis. Let me explain.

The SNP rail against Labour for being Red Tories, more committed to defending the Union than Scotland’s poor. It’s not a truthful narrative, but because Scottish Labour failed to put across a progressive case for the Union during the independence referendum, it’s a brutally effective one. The SNP surges, and David Cameron uses the fear of a Labour-SNP pact to influence people in England to vote Tory.  While Cameron has that ace to play, we are unlikely to see a Labour government anytime soon.  And because of that, the SNP can make the case that staying in the Union means staying under a Tory government, that a vote against independence is a vote for continued austerity.

It’s a somewhat hypocritical tactic seeing as they put the Tories in power in the first place, but it’s an incredibly effective one, and Labour have yet to find an answer to it. So the SNP surges. And while the SNP surges, Ruth Davidson can pummel Kezia Dugdale for failing to hold the SNP to account, and in doing so take away Labour voters who feel their unionism is more important than party political loyalties. We are, in short, stuffed.

Or are we?

In the short term, probably yes. Kezia Dugdale is, unfortunately, unlikely to finish the year as First Minister. She might not even finish it as Leader of the Opposition.

But longer term?  The SNP talk a lot about Labour’s dearth of positive policies (and, to be perfectly fair, not totally without justification), but if you look at their own platform, it’s hardly bold stuff, is it? The usual vauge generalities about “Standing up for Scotland”, and something equally hazy about being anti-austerity (as long as it doesn’t mean reversing cuts, or protecting local  services, or doing anything to, you know, oppose austerity). Oh, and they’ll hold another referendum. Maybe. Probably. Sometime.

And what about the Tories? Well, they like the Union. They’ll keep Trident. They really, really, really hate Jeremy Corbyn. Aaaaaand that’s about it.

Now, clearly, both of these platforms are enough to get good results in this year’s elections, especially when, in Ruth Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon, our opponents have a pair of highly effective leaders. But then what? You can’t build an inspiring case for Scotland’s future just by telling the country how terrible Labour is. The SNP and the Scottish Conservatives will both probably protest this description, but they are parties primarily concerned with the question of the Union. With the Tories in opposition, politics in Scotland will revolve around this, and only this question.

How could this help Labour? Well, for a start, the constitutional argument is one that needs to run its course in Scotland, and it’s also one that Labour is never going to come out of looking good. Nationalists think we’re too Unionist, Unionists think we’re too Nationalist. What do we stand to lose from letting the Tories and the SNP knock seven bells out of each other until the argument has run its course?

After five years of derganged nationalist flag-waving versus deranged yoonish reaction, is it unreasonable to argue that some Scots might be willing to consider an alternative? And who better to provide that alternative than us? UKIP? Scots might only differ from the rest of the UK in a few areas, but support for remaining in the EU is one of them. RISE or the Greens? There’s a reason why Tommy Sheridan never became First Minister, and why a Corbyn-lead Labour is doing so badly. The Lib Dems? The majority of people in Scotland couldn’t pick Tim Farron out of a one-man lineup.

No, if this worst case scenario takes place, we need to turn it into an opportunity. First of all, we get our house in order; even if it means drastic steps like changing the party leadership or disaffiliating from the party at the UK level. Then, even more importantly, we need to take advantage of the fallout from five years of Tory/SNP patriot games to rebrand ourselves as the party of getting things done. We need to say things like: “Constitutional debate is all very well, but we need to talk about other issues as well”, like: “These guys can keep their dogma and doctrine, but leave health and housing to the grownups”, like: “The Nats and Tories are leading the debate on the Union, Labour are leading the debate on everything else.” And maybe, just maybe, that will put us back on the map as a radical, relevant force in Scottish politics.

I’m not saying it’s a failsafe. I’m not saying it’s desirable. I’m not saying it gives much immediate hope for the Labour party and those who rely on it. But if everything goes to hell this May, it might be the best chance we have.

 

Read more from Standing on the left here.

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45 thoughts on “A light at the end of the tunnel?

  1. “The SNP rail against Labour for being Red Tories, more committed to defending the Union than Scotland’s poor. It’s not a truthful narrative”

    Yes it absolutely is because its based on the FACT that Labour advocate promote and implement right wing Tory ideological policy and policy direction.

    They are now the party of Warmongering, WMD proliferation, Privatisation, Retaining the House of Lords, Means testing benefits and welfare, Targeting austerity at the welfare state and the poorest. And that’s just for starters.

    By default they would continue to support the principle of imposed Right wing Conservative Government from Westminster on Scotland rather than support the idea of an Independent left wing Labour Government in Scotland.

    That’s the very definition of a Red Tory right there.

    Still nothing but self deceit and self delusion from the Labour faithful.

      1. Knock Knock Knock Knock that is the sound of my knuckles tapping on your cranium but it seems that there is nothing there so let me spell it out for you all members of the Scottish Labour section branch office and the Labour Party UK head office and in particular your Muisli Munching leader Jeremy Corbyn is a Red Tory stooge as you are too has that got into your thick skull.

      2. No Jeremy isn’t a Red Tory, one of the few left in the Labour party who still has principles & that’s why so many in the party including most of his own MPs are desperately trying to sabotage his leadership

  2. “The SNP surges, and David Cameron uses the fear of a Labour-SNP pact to influence people in England to vote Tory.”

    A stupid bare faced lie in face of the overwhelming evidence produced which PROVED that Labour lost in England because too many of its core voters switched to UKIP!

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/576876/Labour-admits-We-underestimated-Ukip-in-the-election-they-stole-our-votes

    Cant you people grasp any sense of reality at all?

      1. El Capitano it did no matter if the electorate voted Labour Red Tory instead of SNP whatever way you add it up your sister party the Blue Tories had an overall majority so change the record it’s boring.

      2. The electoral commission statistical analysis says Labour lost the GE in England not Scotland. The statistical analysis of the results PROVES Labour lost it because of the surge in UKIP votes taken mostly from Labour in key Labour Conservative marginals.

        What the papers say is pure speculation. What the statistical analysis says is pure mathematical.

        Your premise would tell us that England is anti Scottish. So why would that make us “Better Together”?

        1. You quoted the Daily Express, Mike, you massive hypocrite. Look up there.

          I’m not aware that the Electoral Commission has made the statement you claim here. It would be astonishing if they had. Perhaps you can link to it?

          1. No I provided evidence of what Labour party members themselves said. You provide evidence of speculation compiled by a Conservative supporting Newspaper.

            I’m also telling you that the electoral commissions own statistical analysis proves mathematically that Labour lost the election in England due to their core vote in marginals switching to UKIP.

            On top of that what you’re trying to tell us is that England doesn’t feel its “Better Together” with Scotland at all.

          2. No, I provided evidence from Survation, a well-established independent polling company. You cannot possibly slag off the Scotsman as biased and then defend the Daily Express. That is an untenable, ludicrous position.

            Provide a link to the Electoral Commission’s own statistical analysis. Not to a blog on Wings Over Scotland, the analysis itself.

          3. “I’m not aware that the Electoral Commission has made the statement you claim here. It would be astonishing if they had. Perhaps you can link to it?”

            Yes you are because when I tried to show you the evidence on a previous blog you blocked it because I got it from a well known Pro Independence website you’ve banned all mention of.

          4. That’s a link to all of the EC’s electoral data, Mike. Just to recap, what you claimed was that the EC had conducted a specific piece of analysis:

            The electoral commission statistical analysis says Labour lost the GE in England not Scotland. The statistical analysis of the results PROVES Labour lost it because of the surge in UKIP votes taken mostly from Labour in key Labour Conservative marginals.

            I repeat, therefore: can you link to this piece of analysis please, Mike.

          5. “No, I provided evidence from Survation, a well-established independent polling company”

            No you provided evidence of speculation based on the results of a poll showing a shift in support but no actual evidence of what caused that shift.

            You’re own party grandees believe the election was lost in England not Scotland. The evidence of mathematical analysis shows it was lost in England not Scotland.

            Gaining all 59 Scottish seats wouldn’t have altered the result.

            Once again you clutch at nothing to promote dishonesty. Shameful shit as usual Duncan.

          6. Mike, stop angrily typing for just one second and read what I wrote.

            We *agree* that the election was lost in England.

            Survation and other polling companies, including Yougov, have evidence to suggest one of the *reasons* it was lost in England is that the Conservatives successfully used the threat of an SNP-Labour coalition against Labour *in England*.

          7. That’s a link to all of the EC’s electoral data, Mike. Just to recap, what you claimed was that the EC had conducted a specific piece of analysis:

            Yes they did and entitled it UK General election data 2015. You can clearly see the link to it on the page I gave you.

            Using that data the electoral commission the University of Manchester and several labour members and grandees were able to conclude that Labour lost the election in England not Scotland because of UKIP and not the SNP.

            And what do you have? A Conservative Tory rag putting up unjustified unproven speculation of a polling result which cannot provide any evidence linking the speculative conclusions to the actual results.

          8. The thing entitled General Election data 2015 is in fact the General Election data from 2015. The clue, it turns out, is in the name. Once again, that’s data, not analysis.

            So we’ve established that your statement about EC analysis was untrue. Now let’s try to get past this notion that anyone here was arguing that Labour didn’t lose the election in England. Nobody is. The argument, backed up with evidence, is that one of the reasons it lost in England is that the Conservatives successfully used the threat of an SNP-Labour coalition against Labour in England.

            Is any of this getting through?

          9. “Survation and other polling companies, including Yougov, have evidence to suggest one of the *reasons* it was lost in England is that the Conservatives successfully used the threat of an SNP-Labour coalition against Labour *in England*.”

            No Duncan they don’t. They don’t provide a single shred of evidence which can link their own speculative conclusions to the results of their polling.

            You’ve given nothing but hearsay.

            But even taking what you claim at face value only PROVES that England doesn’t feel its “Better Together” with Scotland. Is that really what you believe?

          10. Duncan you are telling us you believe the English electorate doesn’t have the warm fuzzy “Better Together” vibe that makes us a UK.

          11. No Mike, I’m not saying anything about the English electorate as a whole. I’m saying there was enough of a proportion of that electorate which was opposed to an SNP-Labour coalition as to allow the Conservatives to win. That’s a very different statement to someone equipped with normal powers of rational thought.

          12. “That’s a Youtube video, Mike.”

            And? Do you have a problem with video evidence Duncan?

      3. You seem to forget Duncan that when the tories accused labour of being in the SNP’s pocket if they won the election, instead of facing up to the tories and telling them any left wing party was better to work with compared to the tories.

        What did they do !! they chickened out just like the bunch of cowards they are their, they got on their knees and squealed no no no, wer’e just like you, wer’e not going to have a coalition with the SNP.

        And guess what ? everyone one saw labour bend to the tories will just like that. (end game).

  3. But longer term? The SNP talk a lot about Labour’s dearth of positive policies (and, to be perfectly fair, not totally without justification), but if you look at their own platform, it’s hardly bold stuff, is it?

    No? Given the mandate power and authority to end the UK of GB they would do it in a heartbeat. That’s far far bolder than any ideal or concept Labour in Scotland would even dare consider.

    They brought about a referendum Labour were too chickenshit to consider.

    They oppose all of the right wing Tory warmongering. They oppose the very concept of WMD proliferation. They oppose the very idea of the House of Lords. The oppose the very idea of tuition fees on higher education. They oppose the very idea of Privatisation of vital public services. They oppose right wing Tory ideological imposed targeted austerity.

    All very bold strategies which Labour has failed miserably to ally themselves to.

    Seems Labour is nurturing self deceit and self delusion into a core of child Tory wannabees.

  4. “It’s a somewhat hypocritical tactic seeing as they put the Tories in power in the first place,”

    Which part of had Labour won every seat in Scotland they would still have lost the election are you morons failing to grasp?

    What the SNP did for the people of Scotland was to kick the Tories out of Scotland. Blue Red and Orange and they will show their gratitude in the next Scottish election when they help the SNP kick even more of them out of the Scottish Parliament as well.

  5. “even if it means drastic steps like changing the party leadership or disaffiliating from the party at the UK level.”

    There is no need in disaffiliating from the Labour Party UK as it currently exists there is no such thing as a Scottish Labour Party in Wikipedia see the link below the organisation known as the Scottish Labour Party does not exist its real name or title is the Scottish Labour section which is a section of the Labour Party UK so therefore all you would have to do is start a completely new party, how about this name for a new party the “Scottish Independent Labour Party” and as there is no copyright on this name and the idea for this name of the “Scottish Independent Labour Party” is my intellectual property therefore as a man of the people I declare that I have given this name of the new Scottish Independent Labour Party as a gift to the folks of Scotland it is now their property to do with as they please so enjoy.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Labour_Party

    1. You know, I think Keir Hardie might have *just* got in there before you on that name.

      1. I suppose you mean–“The Scottish Labour Party”, which Hardie formed with RB Cunninghame Graham.

        Cunninghame Graham went on to be the first socialist MP at Westminster and the first President of the Scottish National Party.

        Keir Hardie proposed Scotland be given Dominion Status—the same as Australia, Canada etc—which would have seen Scotland as a self governing some generations ago.

        Its not the name that counts. Its the proposals of the people behind the name, and the honesty with which they make their proposals.
        “Modern Home Rule—Nearest thing to Federalism—Devo Max.”
        Does this ring any bells?

  6. “and why a Corbyn-lead Labour is doing so badly”

    It wasn’t a Corbyn lead Labour which lost the last GE now was it? It was Red Tory Labour which lost both the 2010 and 2015 GEs.

    I said it before the Tory voter already has 2 parties to vote for they never needed a 3rd. Chasing Tory votes in the UK is a dead end for Labour. Blair only won because he promised changes to Tory rule he never delivered. He lost 4 million Labour voters during his term of office. It was Blair and his acolytes who made Labour toxic to its own voters not the SNP or the Conservatives.

    When are you morons going to let an inkling of the truth sink in?

  7. “The thing entitled General Election data 2015 is in fact the General Election data from 2015. The clue, it turns out, is in the name. Once again, that’s data, not analysis.”

    “So we’ve established that your statement about EC analysis was untrue.”

    No it isn’t I gave you a direct link to the data the analysis conclusions were all based on. The Data is the proof positive of the analysis. That’s the actual evidence that shows that the analysis is not based on speculation but actual hard factual indisputable evidence. The evidence of the data.

    Again I ask what do you have?

  8. http://labourlist.org/2015/08/labour-lost-because-voters-believed-it-was-anti-austerity/

    This is interesting. Another “OFFICIAL” Labour party version of “Why Labour lost” tells us that it wasn’t as a direct threat of an SNP Labour alliance but as a direct threat of an “Anti Austerity” alliance.

    Red Tory Labour would have us believe the majority in the UK want more austerity and they base this on the fact that they lost the election even though they offered the same austerity package as their Conservative comrades in Parliament.

    No wonder you have no credibility. You’re all over the place on every issue.

    1. “No wonder you have no credibility- your all over the place on every issue.” No, Mike, that’s called free speech. Debate. You nats should try it sometime

      1. C’mon labourjamie—you are in a party which has stage-managed its conferences for decades.
        Who had a Scottish leader who was reputedly stabbed in the back by her own brother for daring to say “Bring. It. On”. Perhaps on the orders of the person who had been her sponsor up to that point. A man notorious for his temper and his arrogant assumption that he WAS the party, and his word was law.
        The Labour party now has debate and dissent because it has elected a radical leader, whom few in the parliamentary party have any time for. But the debate is not good because it cannot unite two opposite opinions.
        But Scotland is a debate free zone for Labour—understandably so, but fantasy funding has replaced policy reality and no one is willing to tell the Empress she is in the scud.

        1. “Scotland is a debate free zone for Labour”

          Honestly I don’t know what planet you’re on. Our last Scottish conference debated huge policy items, threw out long-standing party positions through democratic debate. A debate free zone? You’re just lying. It’s that simple. Stop lying.

      2. “No wonder you have no credibility- your all over the place on every issue.” No, Mike, that’s called free speech. Debate. You nats should try it sometime”

        Are you self deluded drones for real? Labour lists position and Duncans are not a result of a debate between the 2 but are a result of both of them making it up as they go along and as a result are not being consistent or on page with a single induced reality Labour wants the electorate to believe.

        SNP Bad doesn’t come with detail or credible evidence it just comes in the shape of rhetoric made up mince bare faced lies projection of Labour itself and an unhealthy dollop of MSM corruption.

        But that’s why we’re all “Better Together” in the UK of GB. The Land corruption calls home.

      3. “that’s called free speech. Debate. You nats should try it sometime”

        What a joke coming from a Scottish Labour section Red Tory stooge are you suffering from amnesia don’t you remember the Labour Party UK head office conference were your Muisli Munching leader Jez wanted to debate Trident and all of yous weak willed donkeys swept it under the carpet is that what you meant by debate, by the conclusion of the Scottish elections and the total wipeout of the Scottish Labour section Red Tory stooges the only object left for you to debate with will be a Lamppost and you will probably bore that to tears with take another look.

  9. “No Mike, I’m not saying anything about the English electorate as a whole. I’m saying there was enough of a proportion of that electorate which was opposed to an SNP-Labour coalition as to allow the Conservatives to win. That’s a very different statement to someone equipped with normal powers of rational thought.”

    You’re once again making it difficult to reply to your post Duncan because basically you’re gutless with no convictions.

    The Conservatives tried to play the anti Scottish Little Englander card against a possible SNP Labour administrative alliance. What you’re saying is they succeeded which clearly means you believe our English “Better Together” brethren don’t actually feel that way about the UK at all.

    Probably explains why UKIP with their pro Little Englander agenda was able to scupper Labour in England and lose them the election.

    On the other hand you’re Red Tory comrades at Labour list have their own official version of “Why Labour lost the election”

    http://labourlist.org/2015/08/labour-lost-because-voters-believed-it-was-anti-austerity/

    They tell us the English electorate are pro austerity and voted against a possible anti austerity alliance between Labour and the SNP.

    You cant even keep your stupid lies consistent within the party.

  10. I stopped reading when you claimed the SNP gave the Tories the win, if you’re going to lie I’m not going to bother

  11. “First of all, we get our house in order; even if it means drastic steps like changing the party leadership”

    Prior to the Scottish elections I thought that the young Scottish Labour section Red Tory stooges in waiting were either being downright malicious or naive when sticking the boot into their illustrious leader Kezias chances at the Scottish elections then I though to myself it is neither of the two, I actually think that they are politically aware and realists and this is refreshing although their prediction looks as if the Scottish Labour section Red Tories are heading for a total wipeout and extinction at the Scottish elections.

  12. Agree completely. Stats were always interesting on this: I wrote on why JC wouldn’t in Scotland back before the leadership because much of the evidence was there. The SNP’s fanatics may be left wing, but their wide appeal has come from the ‘standing up from Scotland’ message- a broadly centrist one. Attitudes in Scotland aren’t that much different to England on most major issues, except perhaps how terrible the Tories, and haven’t been for some time.

    AND on Europe, there IS a Scottish UKIP MEP who got 10% of Scotland’s vote in 2014. With the SNP hoovering up anti-establishment voters, that was a petty good showing: those swing voters were always pretty damn complicated.

    Since the leadership, pretty much every poll has proved JC’s message is as unpopular in Scotland as it is in England.

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