Finding and promoting our Scottish Labour identity

Scott_Nicholson_photo_400x400Scott Nicholson is Scottish Labour’s candidate for MSP in Perthshire South and Kinross-shire. He says Labour can beat the SNP by standing up for working people.

 

Despite what you may think, it is an exciting time to be a Scottish Labour prospective parliamentary candidate. Kezia Dugdale is hugely positive about how we could use the new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament, and the Scottish Labour Party is looking to renew its offer to the Scottish people.

Our leadership is doing a fantastic job of taking this forward by explaining Labour’s principles and values to the voters who read newspapers and watch the evening news. However, in May 2015 when I asked voters what they liked about the SNP and their policies, very rarely could they name the candidate or a policy (other than independence). And outside of Scotland, last week Gloria De Piero MP was talking to a group of women about politics and while they all knew that David Cameron was Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, not one of them had heard of Jeremy Corbyn.

It is my belief that Scottish Labour candidates and activists, acting  locally, can multiply the impact of the party’s work nationally by incorporating a sense of identity for voters.

Economist George Akerlof won a Nobel prize for his work on identity economics, in which Akerlof formulated the idea that every piece of music someone buys, the football team they choose to watch, and a range of other choices they make, all boil down to an attempt to match their perceived identity or an identity that they aspire to achieve.

Within Scotland it is not hard to miss that occupations that were considered as being typically working class, such as working in manufacturing or mining, no longer exist. Perhaps with this loss Scots now have a weaker identity with a working class and no longer require a political party that stands up for working class interests? The build-up to the 2014 independence referendum very clearly whipped up a strong sense of Scottish identity, and it is no surprise that, at the polling station, people chose to vote for the party they felt stands up for Scots.

The implications for Scottish Labour are obvious. If identity shapes voting decisions, then the Labour Party strategy should encourage voters to tune in to an identity that inspires a Scottish Labour vote. Labour will never beat the SNP in a Scottishness contest, but we definitely win in contest of who can best stand up for and deliver schools, hospitals and jobs for everyday working people.

Apart from telling me for how many years they used to vote Labour, before switching to the SNP, the most common statement I hear from Perthshire voters is “I want to vote for Labour… but a better Labour”. I think what they mean is a traditional Labour Party that they know would represent the working man or woman.

If the Scottish Labour Party did not exist, it would be necessary to create it, as the SNP’s refusal to use Holyrood’s new tax raising powers to tackle austerity highlights that our party is the only vehicle to deliver social and economic justice for everyday Scots. But if the Labour Party was founded today it would perhaps be different.

Rather than three social classes, research from the London School of Economics shows Britain is now divided into seven social classes. These classes are graded upon their economic, cultural and social engagement, with an elite and established middle class at first and second, with the traditional working class, fifth. But there is a large group at the bottom who, unlike the traditional working class, are scandalously unengaged in society and uninterested in politics. Above them are a group of “emergent service workers” who, while still being scandalously poor, are more engaged in society. I would say that if Scottish Labour were founded today, it would be these bottom three runs of our social ladder, whose interests we would seek to represent.

We should remember also that identity is fluid. Philip Zimbardo’s famous Stanford Prison Experiment showed that social identities can be created almost at the drop of a hat. University students who were assigned as guard or prisoner took to their roles with such gusto that the experiment needed to be rapidly halted, for fear of serious harm to participants.

I believe to win in Scotland, Scottish Labour candidates and activists locally must incorporate a sense of “if you go to work; you vote Labour” into their conversations and leaflets; because the Scots who will most benefit most from a Labour government are scandalously unengaged in our society and will not read about our values in the Scotsman, Daily Mail or Daily Record, or hear about them on the STV News.

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15 thoughts on “Finding and promoting our Scottish Labour identity

  1. “He says Labour can beat the SNP by standing up for working people.”

    If you’re only motivation for standing up for working people is to beat the SNP then I’m pretty sure the working people wont take too kindly to that attitude at all.

    Not sure how warmongering WMD proliferation at the expense of welfare supporting and increasing the influence of the House of Lords means testing benefits bringing back tuition fees and increasing taxation is going to give a perception of “Standing up for working people” though.

    Working my way laboriously through the rest of the drivel I had an epiphany that perhaps I was reading an extract from a screen play to another series of The Thick of it.

    “Our leadership is doing a fantastic job of taking this forward by explaining Labour’s principles and values to the voters who read newspapers and watch the evening news”

    This is pure Malcolm Tucker played superbly by Peter Capaldi. All that’s missing is the Fs and Cs.

    “However, in May 2015 when I asked voters what they liked about the SNP and their policies, very rarely could they name the candidate or a policy (other than independence).”

    This proves to me that you’ve never been near a voter in your life.

    “And outside of Scotland, last week Gloria De Piero MP was talking to a group of women about politics and while they all knew that David Cameron was Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party, not one of them had heard of Jeremy Corbyn.”

    I bet they all knew who Nicola Sturgeon and Mhairi Black were though.

    I absolutely guarantee that if I were to canvass around Perthshire South and Kinross-shire I will find nobody who has ever heard of Scott Nicolson.

    “It is my belief that Scottish Labour candidates and activists, acting locally, can multiply the impact of the party’s work nationally by incorporating a sense of identity for voters.”

    No it you have to bus up these “locals” from London again.

    “Perhaps with this loss Scots now have a weaker identity with a working class and no longer require a political party that stands up for working class interests?”

    HTF does this Jive with “He says Labour can beat the SNP by standing up for working people.”

    Are you seriously seeking election or an audition for the Thick of It?

    Enough its far too easy to rip this shit to shreds. Come on Duncan is this really what Labourhame is reduced to?

  2. I would say that if Scottish Labour were founded today, it would be these bottom three runs of our social ladder, whose interests we would seek to represent.

    See this is where Socialists and Neo Conservatives disagree. Socialists think that Neo Conservatism occupies the bottom rungs of the ladder and you have to climb the ladder of social awareness in order to get to Socialism.

    Is this really a Labour candidate for office? Seriously?

  3. An article that shows labour in its true colours, (it’s not our fault the public doesn’t vote for labour, its the publics fault).

  4. Zimbardo—infamous experiments—-New Labour—CIA rendition flights—-Diego Garcia—–waterboarding and other “fun” events.

    That about sums up this article—–perhaps Scottish Labour would like to waterboard us all in Scotland. Get us all back in the fold!

    After all, waterboarding is just a new name for the old “Chinese water torture” which Brit Nat Colonisers utilised for many decades, in the name of civic control.

  5. “Kezia Dugdale is hugely positive about how we could use the new powers coming to the Scottish Parliament,”

    what the same new powers that Labour tried to water down during the Smith Commission meetings as much as possible – offering the least to Scotland, and in voting down elected MP from Scotland amendments ensures it was watered down further

    “but we definitely win in contest of who can best stand up for and deliver schools, hospitals and jobs for everyday working people.”

    What the same NHS that performed poorly under Labour and had a significant gap with the performance in England…..an NHS under the SNP that has closed the performance gap and in some cases perform better than the English NHS (Nuffield)…the same NHS where Labour earmarked hospitals for closure and under the SNP those hospitals remain open with improved provision? With A&E services now the best in the world?
    Education….what the education system that has seen scots perceived as the best educated in europe with improvements under the SNP?

    “If the Scottish Labour Party did not exist, it would be necessary to create it,”

    it doesn’t….there is no such party registered with the Electoral commission “Scottish” Labour is an accounting unit of the UK Labour party…Scottish Labour was founded in Scotland…then was wrecked when it joined the UK party

    “if you go to work; you vote Labour”

    Should be…..”if you are prepared to accept lies at face value, you vote Labour”

  6. “Despite what you may think, it is an exciting time to be a Scottish Labour prospective parliamentary candidate. Kezia Dugdale is hugely positive”

    Yesterday your illustrious leader Kezia hoisted the white flag up and surrendered the excepted the inevitable election defeat 9 weeks out before the election without even trying to put up a fight your leader comes across as defeatist and weak and will have no alternative but to resign if your sister party the Blue Tories come 2nd and the Scottish labour section Red Tories come 3rd behind them.

  7. You sneering SNP trolls don’t like it when other parties talk about tactics, perhaps realising you’re so ruthlessly controlled that you don’t feel part of a democratic movement at all, but rather a doctrinaire cult of identity politicians with little to offer than conservative policies which you blame on everyone else.

    Scott Nicholson is talking here to Labour comrades about how to win votes, and he is talking sense. I don’t care where he was born, what his accent is or how old he is. The SNP is offering cuts, regressive bribes to people who can well afford to pay their way, and misery for the poor and dependent in our society. Labour is offering a progressive and fair tax rise to protect services. You are rattled!

    1. “Scott Nicholson is talking here to Labour comrades about how to win votes, and he is talking sense. I don’t care where he was born, what his accent is or how old he is. The SNP is offering cuts, regressive bribes to people who can well afford to pay their way, and misery for the poor and dependent in our society. Labour is offering a progressive and fair tax rise to protect services. You are rattled!”

      See this is what I mean about self deceit and delusion. What I get from this is if only the electorate could read the article above Labour would win the election.

      “The SNP is offering cuts”

      No they aint. The cuts were made at UK level at Westminster and Labour voted for them at UK level the SNP voted against them. Stop deceiving yourself.

      “Labour is offering a progressive and fair tax rise to protect services.

      There is nothing progressive about tax rises on people whos income is decreasing with inflation. Its a stupid bare faced lie to pretend it is.

      “You are rattled!””

      Kezia Dugdale has already conceded the election. You are deluded! Wake up!

    2. Rattled in the same way we were rattled when you elected Jim Murphy as your leader and vowed to keep all of Labour’s seats……

      We were accused of laughing and sneering then because we were worried…..

      as it turned out we were laughing at the time because it was funny….

      we’ll see if this is any different

    3. “I don’t care where he was born, what his accent is or how old he is.”

      Bruce I looked at the comments prior to your post and cannot see anything that warrants your comment above I put it down to the frustration and the feeling of total despair that you feel at the thought of the predicted pasting that you and the other comrades are going to recieve at the Scottish elections and the subsequent falling into the political abyss that is extinction.

  8. A really good article. Labour should talk more about how best to market itself to consumers.

    It was really good at that in the 1990s and 2000s at segmenting, targeting and positioning itself to voters and this won it 3 elections in a row.

    I feel disheartened when I read articles on this website droning on about the evils of nationalism or some other old fashioned ideological waffle.

    The way to appeal to voters is connect with them on an emotional level.

    The average person is far too busy working, having a social life or looking after a family to read all the available information about economics and social policy.

    The vast majority of people only really engage with politics around election time. The amount of rational logic they use to assess who to vote for is limited.

    Appealing to voter’s basic emotions has proven successful for both the SNP regarding ‘Scottishness’ and the Tories ‘fear of the SNP/immigrants’.

    It is up to Labour to come up with an appealing emotive sense of itself with a clear message that is easy to sell to voters.

    1. Its up to Labour to stop self deceiving and deluding themselves. The bottom line is Labour became a Tory party. There are already 2 Tory parties in the UK so the Tory vote is now split between the 3 of them.

      Labour think because they won 3 election under Blair that he was right to make them the 3rd UK Tory party. Problem is when people voted for Blair they didn’t realise he was a Tory and wanted to make Labour Tory. When they started to realise it they stop voting labour in droves.

      Again during his term in power he lost over 4 million supporters.

      Get with realty the majority of people in the UK don’t vote Tory. They only get into power at all because of the unbalanced FPTP system.

      Labour are trying to fight the Conservatives and Lib Dems over no more than 30 to 40% of the electorate in the UK.

      And of course they now have the UKIP factor to contend with as well at UK level.

      If you want to appeal to the majority of peoples emotions especially in Scotland stop being Tories.

      1. Mike you seem to be a bit confused if I may be so bold.

        On the one hand you attack New Labour’s record in Government for being too much like the Tories.

        But in other threads you attack Scottish Labour’s plans to tax people more.

        You can’t have it both ways old chap, it just doesn’t work.

        1. Drew. New Labour in government cut the basic rate of tax. They only increased the higher rate for a few weeks before the election. They cut Corporation Tax more than once(yet persist on attacking the SNP for proposing the same thing). They featherbedded the rich non-doms. They allowed foreign companies to pay no tax at all. They paid pensioners derisory increases. Many of those involved in Labour used government contacts to enrich themselves after they left office. They did little to repair industrial deriliction after Thatcherism. The list is endless.

          Scottish Labour promised hard earned wages would go further by freezing utilities—-now they want to tax people who have seen their incomes frozen for a decade.
          Scottish Labour are still committed to freeze council taxes till 2017—yet they also want to increase council tax (by 5% per annum). What is it? Both ways?
          Scottish Labour have also made spending promises that would make King Midas blush—-where is the money to come from?

        2. “On the one hand you attack New Labour’s record in Government for being too much like the Tories.

          But in other threads you attack Scottish Labour’s plans to tax people more.”

          Do you honestly think anybody goes for the Tory low tax mince? Seriously? Even after Margaret Thatcher increased taxation 22 times during her reign of terror?

          In all the decades we’ve had Conservative Tory and Labour Tory Government when has our tax burden not increased?

          Have you people got nothing that isn’t dishonest or delusional?

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