Was Alex Salmond inspired by Tony Blair’s winning 1997 campaign? NOEL FOY thinks so

 

The recent SNP election campaign was ruthless and utterly unscrupulous. It was also clever, competent, professional and extremely well resourced and managed. How did they do it and why did we not see it coming?

Could it be that the Salmond election team studied and used Labour’s 1997 General Election Campaign as a model? I strongly suspect so and I wonder why we did not?  That campaign, after all, raised the bar in the campaign business and if anyone wanted to know technically how to put a winning strategy together then that was it.

Take the 1997 Scottish Party manifesto. It was most notable for the copper-bottomed commitment to legislate for a Scottish parliament in our first year. And that we did deliver! But the rest of it is also pretty damn good. In some 40 pages and lots of top-notch photographs we set out a vision for Scotland that was robust, readable, concise, persuasive and above all fundamentally optimistic. Our 2011 manifesto suffers badly in comparison.

The 1997 cover alone sells the whole package. It tells you all you need to know. Remember it? A young Tony Blair is photographed in the half shadow, coming into the light with the bold headline ‘because Scotland deserves better’. It has winner written all over it and it immediately engages, involves and inspires. It set a new standard for the craft, and shows how it can and should be done.

Cut across to the 2011 SNP manifesto. The front cover shows a photograph of Alex Salmond, also in half shadow coming into the light with the text “Scotland is on a journey and the path ahead is a bright one. Now is the time for Scotland to keep moving forward”. If imitation is the highest form of flattery then this is it. That said it is not without it faults. It is wordy, overlong, overblown and full of pompous self-regard (wonder where that comes from?). But it does have a narrative flow, a story to tell and sense of inviting you to participate in something historic and important. The underlying politics are disagreeable and regressive but it does sell the SNP as a movement with a history and an ideal driving the whole thing forward. Sound familiar?

It might be argued that none of this matters. Who reads manifestos anyway apart from journalists, academics, commentators and political ephemera collectors? This is a profound misunderstanding of the nature of fighting and winning election campaigns.  A good manifesto can make all the difference. Get it wrong and you are off to a shaky start and it is always, but always, difficult to get over it and back in the game. Given our substantial lead in the polls in the weeks running up to May 5 it does pose the question – did we get this key part of our pitch badly wrong?

It is a dog-eared old cliché that ‘you campaign in poetry but govern in prose’. It looks as if our muse went walkabout in 2011. But not for long – provided we learn the lesson.

No-one knows how long Noel Foy worked as an organiser for the Scottish Labour Party, but rumours abound that his relationship with Keir Hardie was not good. He’s now retired, lives in Haddington and is still fighting the good fight.

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50 thoughts on “From shadow into light

  1. Our 2011 manifesto has some good policies in it, but we utterly failed to talk about them. National Care Service is a good idea, but it was overshadowed entirely by the “ALEX SALMOND WILL STAB YOU WITH TORY CUTS” message..

  2. The recent SNP election campaign was ruthless and utterly unscrupulous.

    Perhaps some examples of the SNP having no compassion or pity (ruthlessness) or being oblivious to or contemptuous of what is right or honourable (unscrupulous) otherwise it’s just hyperbole from the losing side.

    1. There is no greater unscrupulousness in my view than putting “Alex Salmond for First Minister” as the party description on the regional ballot, and explicitly telling folk that the regional ballot decides who becomes FM. Both are barefaced lies. Regional ballots elect regional representatives from a party list, not leaders; and the FM position itself was not voted on until MSPs convened long after the election, because we live in a representative democracy, not a presidency.

      I believe that is a textbook instance of being contemptuous of what is right or honourable.

      1. “There is no greater unscrupulousness in my view than putting “Alex Salmond for First Minister” as the party description on the regional ballot, and explicitly telling folk that the regional ballot decides who becomes FM.”

        That objection – if I’m not giving it too much dignity with such a description – is valid only if based on the assumption that the Scottish electorate is comprised of halfwits who don’t understand the purpose of an election. And treating the Scottish electorate as halfwits (for example, by repeatedly claiming that they don’t know the SNP stands for a referendum and independence) is exactly why Labour is in such a mess.

        The regional vote DOES in all practical senses determine the First Minister – except in such wildly implausible circumstances as one party winning 65 or more of the 73 constituency seats – because the regional vote is the tool by which proportionality is realised and by which, in theory, the party with the most votes is assured of most seats.

        Apparently unlike you, I believe that after 12 years the Scottish electorate knows perfectly well what regional votes mean, both directly and indirectly. If you’re going to keep insisting that the SNP’s victory was somehow a result of hoodwinking the poor, thick voters (again), Labour are going to keep losing, more and more badly each time.

        1. Well, as is well known, the regional ballot doesnt determine who is going to be the first minister. In 1999, Labour won very few list seats, yet Donald Dewar became FM, in 2003 Jack McConnell likewise became FM with few list MSPs. In 2011, the SNP won very few list seats, yet Alex Salmond became FM. The purpose of the list seats is to ensure propertionality, as you say, but not to determine who is the largest party.

          Since the SNP obviously know that, surely it is they who are treating the Scottish electorate as halfwits?

          1. “In 1999, Labour won very few list seats, yet Donald Dewar became FM, in 2003 Jack McConnell likewise became FM with few list MSPs. In 2011, the SNP won very few list seats, yet Alex Salmond became FM.”

            Same old disingenuous denial. The list vote determines who becomes FM (except, as I noted, in the hugely unlikely event of one party winning 65 constituency seats), but it does so indirectly.

            In 1999, no party won a majority and list seats were (admittedly only just) required to ensure the Lab-Lib coalition could command one while providing a Presiding Officer, and therefore determined who would be FM.

            In 2003 list seats were again necessary to obtain the coalition a majority and enable it to successfully nominate the FM.

            In 2007 more than half of the SNP’s seats came from the list, without which they would have had absolutely no chance of forming the government and choosing the FM.

            In 2011, list seats took the SNP from a plurality to a majority.

            In other words, every single First Minister to date has effectively been determined by the outcome of the list vote. (Because by definition the list vote is in practical terms counted after the constituency one.) Ironically, the only exception was in 2007, where the opposition could in theory have chosen a different FM despite an overwhelming list-vote victory for the SNP, although that really WOULD have fitted the term “unscrupulous”.

            Whining about “Alex Salmond for First Minister” is just embarrassing bad-losery, but it’s telling – it indicates very starkly “Scottish” Labour’s most insurmountable problem, namely that they don’t have a single person in their ranks whose name is actually an electoral asset, and never will do so long as the Scottish branch is a second-division parish council within Labour.

          2. My point is that the FM was decided by a combination of List and constituency seats. I didnt mention 2007 precisely because that was the only election where the FM was elected from a party that had more list seats than constituency seats. That proves my point. A vote for any party on the list doesnt determine who gets to be FM. A lot of people in Lothian voted for Margo – does that mean they wanted her to be FM?

            Putting “Alex Salmond for First Minister” on the regional ballot could surely indicate that the SNP only have his personality to use as an electoral asset, instead of putting something like “Vote for independence” or “Free by 2018” or something?

            I agree we dont have anyone (at the moment) as a personality on the level of ALex Salmond, but regardless of the nature of the organisation (and whatever else it is, Scottish Labour is not a second division parish council), that person will have to come from Scotland – regardless of whether they are an MSP, an MP, or even someone outside parliament. And finding that person has nothing to do really with the status viz-a-viz London.

        2. “A vote for any party on the list doesnt determine who gets to be FM. A lot of people in Lothian voted for Margo – does that mean they wanted her to be FM?”

          Yes, that would be the genesis of the word “indirectly”. The list vote isn’t a presidential one, but it does ultimately determine who’s the FM.

          And you can’t sensibly or meaningfully say that it’s a combination of constituency and list votes either, because while it’s clearly true in the barest literal sense, the list vote doesn’t stand on its own. The actual number of votes cast on the list doesn’t determine any seats, because the counting of them is wholly predicated on the constituency results, and that relationship only works one way. List votes don’t affect the constituency seat result, but the constituency result DOES affect the list seats.

          Once again, though, all this just amounts to denial. It could only be called an “unscrupulous” tactic if you’re claiming that a significant number of Scottish voters don’t know which party Alex Salmond leads. List votes are for parties, not people, so associating a popular leader with his party is hardly underhand.

          1. …although that said, I’d wager good money that a very substantial majority of Margo’s voters WOULD like her to be the FM, and so would a lot of other people.

          2. “As for FM” on the ballot was unscrupulous because it wasn’t true. But it was also unscrupulous because it was specifically condemned in the Gould report, which the SNP government said it would implement in its entirety.

            Gould said that the names of individuals should only appear on ballots for the constituencies/regions in which that individual was standing. So Alex Salmond’s name should only have appeared in Aberdeenshire East and in the North East Scotland region.

            The point here is that the SNP agreed to abide by the findings of the Gould report, and then reneged on that agreement. Unscrupulous is the perfect description of that act.

          3. “Brown could and certainly would have kicked Gray out of the party in a heartbeat, as happened to Ken Livingstone when he wouldn’t follow orders”

            Dear me, you don’t know much about the Labour Party, do you? Livingstone expelled himself by standing against an official Labour candidate – an automatic penalty for anyone who does likewise. And of course Iain Gray would not have been expelled for disagreeing with Brown over Al-Megrahi. He did. And he wasn’t. Gray was right on that one, and Brown, Straw and McAskill were wrong.

          4. ““AS for FM” on the ballot was unscrupulous because it wasn’t true.”

            Really? Because the SNP won most list votes and I’m pretty sure Alex Salmond is the FM. It was on the news and everything.

          5. “Dear me, you don’t know much about the Labour Party, do you? Livingstone expelled himself by standing against an official Labour candidate – an automatic penalty for anyone who does likewise.”

            So he was expelled, then? You can’t expel yourself from something, you can only resign, which I’m not aware of Livingstone doing. He did something against the rules and got expelled for it, which is what I said. Whether it was “automatic” or not is neither here nor there. The Party doesn’t have a mind of its own, its rules are created and implemented by its members and leaders.

            “And of course Iain Gray would not have been expelled for disagreeing with Brown over Al-Megrahi. He did. And he wasn’t.”

            Well, two obvious issues arise there:

            1. As far as we’ve been expected to believe, Iain Gray had no idea Brown and Straw wanted Megrahi released.

            2. As Gray WASN’T the First Minister, his opinion on the subject didn’t matter in the slightest, so even if everyone knew everything about everyone’s view he could be allowed to disagree all he wanted, because it made absolutely no difference to whether it happened or not.

      2. Under the rules of the The Scottish Parliament (Elections etc.) Order 2010 only the primary party name registered with the Electoral Commission can be used on the constituency paper though a party description can be added on the list ballot paper. Political parties are allowed to register up to twelve party descriptions with the Electoral Commission.

        But, if you want to talk about being unscrupulous the Scottish Elections Order 2010 specifically allows the use of the word, “Scottish”, as a prefix for the primary party name on the constituency paper. The electorate in Scotland were encouraged to think that they were voting for separate Scottish versions of Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems when the truth is that they were very definitely not.

        That was neither right nor honourable. As far as AS for FM goes the other parties had plenty time to think up their own snappy slogan and register it as a party description but they failed even to clear the first hurdle on that one.

        1. How do you define something or someone as being Scottish? Is Scottish Labour Scottish because its members live in Scotland? Or do they have to be born in Scotland? Do they raise their funds in Scotland? Should the leader be Scottish? Should their policies be determined in Scotland?

          On all practical levels, Scottish Labour IS Scottish. Having said that, I dont think it would be a big step to “bavarianise” as some have put it and would be a good step. But attacking us (and the Lib Dems! Dont know about the internal structure of the Tories) for not being Scottish is missing the point about what being Scottish is.

          1. “Should their policies be determined in Scotland?”

            Bingo.

          2. And our policies were determind in Scotland. We have a Scottish policy forum which meets to discuss ideas and provide policy – much as the national policy forum does at a UK level. The manifesto (whatever else you might say about how good or bad it was) was produced at John Smith House by the Scottish Labour team drawing on the policy document produced by the Scottish policy forum.

            Now you might argue that the strategy about attacking the tories came from south of the border – but thats not the same thing as policy is it?

          3. John:

            The fiction that there is a separate Scottish Labour Party with a Scottish leader has been eagerly promulgated by the press and Labour party for years. Iain Gray was described as the, “Scottish Party Leader”, on the Labour in Scotland manifesto even though he is only the MSP’s group leader in Holyrood. There is only one Labour party recognised by the Electoral Commision and its leader is Mr. E. Milliband.

            The Euro-Elections of 2009 were fought under the true identities of all the parties because party descriptions were banned after the fuss that was caused by “Alex Salmond for First Minister” as a party description in 2007 on the ballot paper. So no fictional “Scottish Labour Party” on the ballot paper just, “Labour Party”.

            Obviously fighting under the parties’ true names was seen as a terrible disadvantage which gave lie to the idea of separate Scottish Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem parties so the rules were bent in Westminster to allow all three of the main UK parties to stick the word Scottish at the front to continue the fiction of autonomous Scottish parties.

            A very unscrupulous practice.

          4. “And our policies were determind in Scotland.”

            You’ve got a bit of a credibility problem with that, of course. It requires people to accept that when Gordon Brown and Jack Straw were actively seeking the release of Al-Megrahi, Iain Gray (a Labour Party member with no actual defined power within the party other than as leader/spokesman for a group of MSPs) would have turned round and told his boss to sod off.

            I don’t think there’s a single living being in Scotland who can look at themselves in the mirror and honestly say they think that’s what would have actually happened. Brown could and certainly would have kicked Gray out of the party in a heartbeat, as happened to Ken Livingstone when he wouldn’t follow orders, and at the most Megrahi would have had to wait a few weeks for a new leadership election to deliver an approved and obedient candidate.

            Scottish Labour has policy independence in so far as when London tells it to jump, it has a certain – very small – amount of discretion over exactly how high.

          5. “Brown could and certainly would have kicked Gray out of the party in a heartbeat, as happened to Ken Livingstone when he wouldn’t follow orders”

            And look how that turned out! I think the party has learnt a few lessons since then! We wont ever know whether that hypothetical situation would have resulted in your outcome. We only have the opinions of those who were involved. Labour Ministers in London were always quite clear that regardless of their views, this was a matter for Scottish Ministers, and Iain Gray has always been quite clear on what his views were.

            We can argue til the cows come home as to what might have happened, but the fact remains that policy (ie what appears in the manifesto) is driven by the Scottish Policy Forum. The vast majority of what was in our manifesto was in the documents that elected body produced.

  3. Hi there,

    Welcome to the blogosphere. A respectable Labour component has been absent from it for far too long. Even I recognise this, though entrenched firmly on the Nationalist side of the fence I hope you can fill the void.

    I would take issue, however with the phrases :- “The recent SNP election campaign was ruthless and utterly unscrupulous” and “The underlying politics are disagreeable and regressive”?

    Clearly a very large component of the Scottish electorate did not agree with you and it is attitudes like those suggested by these phrases which will deny you electoral Scottish success until you change them. Clearly these phrases echo the apparently deeply held belief in the Labour party in Scotland that Labour have a “moral right” to govern Scotland irrespective of what the electorate might wish. If this was ever true, it is no longer so and until “Scottish” Labour start to fight for the good of Scotland rather than for the good of the British Labour party as a whole you will not succeed.

    I will never forget, nor will many Scots forgive, the years of the “feeble fifty” frightened to fight Scotland’s corner in the face of Maggie Thatcher’s pillaging of our country (for the avoidance of doubt that country is Scotland – the English voted for her and deserved everything they got), for their own political advantage in protecting the Union.

    Until you start respecting the Scottish electorate and their chosen government, no matter how difficult you might find that to do, you will have learned nothing of the reasons for your defeat.

    Regards,

    1. Heres a serious question. After the 2003 election defeat, what did the SNP to respect the Scottish electorate and their chosen government? What lessons did the SNP learn from their defeat? In short, how did the SNP react after losing 8 MSPs and slumping to 23% of the vote?

      I’m asking because obviously there was a big turn around, and it would be helpful for Scottish Labour to understand how that was managed.

      1. Work it out for yourselves. We’re no lettin’ on. 🙂

        But a positive message, a workforce that is engaged with and wholly supportive of the leadership does help.

        1. Since this site is mainly about making Scottish Labour successful again, it seems strange of you to come here to comment if you’re not going to share that wisdom.

          1. Well John, to tell you the truth, I was pointed here to see the Bay City Rollers banner and, like a car crash, I just couldn’t stop looking.

            We’re looking for wee signs of hope in the Labour Movement in Scotland cos some of us genuinely do care. I mentioned in earlier posts the imperative of a principled intelligent opposition. The Parliament needs it, Scotland deserves it and the government you have in Holyrood for the next few years (whatever happens on the constitutional front) will serve all Scots better if it is held to account. Now the kindest of us could not claim that Labour functioned well in opposition last time. This time round, it will be harder but you are going to have to step up and perform or your party will be history. And that will not be to the good of the Labour Movement in Scotland. To repeat, I want a viable Labour Party to join post-independence. The more intelligent amongst you should be planning for that eventuality as of now. Never forget that, for a very large section of the SNP membership, once an acceptable constitutional rearrangement is in place, it is game over and time to return to our “natural ” political homes. For me and many like me, that is the Labour Party that we used to know, the party of the Unions and, dare I say it, Clause IV. If you do not move to occupy that space, others will do it for you.
            Taking the huff didn’t work for you last time, this time around Labour needs to play a lot more cleverly. Taking action to end the corruption and nepotism in Glasgow City Council and elsewhere would be a smart move. Who amongst you has the courage to start?Swinney gave GCC a chance to end the extra payments to the ALEOs but it was spurned so now these measures will be imposed. You can whine about it being “anti-Glasgow” but you know its only yourselves you are fooling and the public won’t buy it again. Troughing councillors will go down as well as troughing MPs. Perhaps a good share of your anger and disappointment at last months results could be laid at the feet of one Jim Devine and those like him including those who have escaped invesstigation so far. How did the party allow these things to happen? You have a lot of work to do and simply asking for advice on how the SNP turned around one bad result shows you are not yet ready to face up to the size of the task confronting you.

          2. And why could we not have a strong viable Labour Party in Scotland, espousing those things you talk about Davy, under the union if not with the current constitutional settlement? Why do so many people in the SNP want to see Labour and the Labour movement crushed? Why is it that the only way we can survive is to support indepedence – which is not inevitable, as support for it as broadly speaking stayed at roughly the same levels give or take for 40 years.

            If there is corruption and corrupt practices, they should be ended, and the guilty charged – but that doesnt mean the payments for councillors on arms length bodies that are perfectly legal, while questionable ethically should be ended by central diktat. In those circumstances, persuasion (and embarrasment) is a better tool. The holding accountable of councillors as part of the democratic process is a far better way. If crimes have been committed, let the legal process take place, and accusations made and tested in court.

          3. “And why could we not have a strong viable Labour Party in Scotland, espousing those things you talk about Davy, under the union”

            If you haven’t grasped the answer to that yet, despite being told a thousand times in the last month (and by me right here on this thread), you and the Labour movement in Scotland are truly beyond help.

          4. So, some ideas are sought to right the good ship?

            Initially I would see several easy hits.

            -Forget conducting the internal review with anyone over 50, they are deemed to be tainted. You need the next generation to speak now.
            -Policy Development Forum, open it up to all who care enough to write in.

            -Right some of the embarrassing wrongs vested on Scotland, e.g. 1999 North Sea boundary changes?? I wonder what the Lib-Lab bright sparks were on when they dreamed that one up!

            -Get us out of the Common Fisheries Policy, do you know how much this has damaged Scotland’s economy. Other economists calculate £1.5 billion per year! Forgive me but how can you justify that hemorrhaging of jobs and income?

            – Define what you think is a fair share of the North Sea resources that Scotland should be receiving as “unearned Income”

            -Create a cross party Industrial re-development forum. No one party has the inside track on this, we all have a bit of the picture, CFP? Whats the benefits for Scotland?

            – Reject the London Parlimentary habit of using the old English Parliament traditions, Create a truly British Parliament, Laws and Customs.

            -Publically state the acceptance of Holyrood as Scotlands sole custodians of the Act of Union and guardians of the Articles of Union.

            – Publicly reject Camerons assertion that Scotland would be lumbered with a proportion of the UK debt. Use the same response that Canada, Australia and New Zealand gave to the UK.

            These are just a few teasers for you to mull over.

            I like the Bay City Rollers style banner, as has been said befor, just like a car crash i had to stop by and look.

            Good Luck.

      2. “In short, how did the SNP react after losing 8 MSPs and slumping to 23% of the vote?”

        Dumped a leader who, while a decent and talented man, was eminently unsuitable for that particular role, and replaced him with a consummate politician of enormous ability, personality and charisma who was far more in tune with the wishes of the broader Scottish electorate (not only his own party’s voters) and able to direct the SNP in a way that fitted their desires and ambitions.

        Simply select one from Scottish Labour’s huge available choice of such people and you’ll be well on the way.

      3. I’ll tell you one way in which they respected the decision of the electorate.

        They voted for things they believed in, even when put forward by the Executive, e.g. The smoking ban.

        Compare and contrast with the Labour Party, which opposed everything, even their own amendments and policies, then reveled in it at conference.

        1. And how were they able to square that support for Labour’s policies in 2003-7 in their election campaign? How were they able to differentiate themselves to the electorate on anything (except the independence issue)?

          I agree that Labour were too negative in the last parliament. The last budget, for instance was a clear case of something we should at most abstained on, if not supported. But this wasnt something which really came up on the doorstep – not once did I have someone say “I’m no’ voting Labour because you opposed everything the SNP put up in the Scottish Parliament”.

          Of course, this may have fed into a wider perception of Scottish Labour as being negative – although our campaign was widely seen as negative, there were some good positive points in our manifesto, but we didnt get them across, for instance.

    2. “the English voted for her (Margaret Thatcher) and deserved everything they got”. Is may be just me but I find this statement worrying and quiet disturbing.

      (The Miners Strike for God sake!)

      The interesting thing is that not one SNP Blogger has sought to call it into question or to take exception to it.

      Noel

  4. Why is the Scottish Labour party Unionist? Is it intrinsic?, is it logical? or is it just servile?

      1. Well, you’re a big fan of John McTernan. I searched your tweets and there you are, even tweeting his article today.

        His article is defending the Union. He claims it is successful. He has been a Labour official.

        I think we are safe in our view that your Labour hero, who has been in the corridors of power, is a Unionist.

        So. Why should we not conclude, then, that Labour is unionist?

        1. Many people have concluded that Labour is a unionist party. The whole gist of my article on this site, linked to above, is a suggestion that we need to change, to unhook Labour from unionism, in order to enable a proper independence debate rather than a party political one.

          I think John McT is a smart guy with a lot to say; I sometimes agree with him, I sometimes don’t. I wouldn’t describe him as my hero. 🙂

          You’ve come to a site dedicated to facilitating internal Labour discussion of these issues, and you’ve declared a homogeneity of Labour views on this topic. That is, frankly, a very silly thing to do.

          1. Mr Hothershall

            You seem a nice chap, well done you.

            I do not believe the Labour Party is homogenous, but I do believe it tends to go in the direction the leafership takes it.

            So if Mr McTernan is any kind of representative sample …..

  5. Take the 1997 Scottish Party manifesto. It was most notable for the copper-bottomed commitment to legislate for a Scottish parliament in our first year. And that we did deliver! But the rest of it is also pretty damn good.

    No more like 18 years of Tory right wing policies getting up peoples noses only we ended up with another right wing government.

  6. Is this ” Scottish”Labours attempt at being Scottish? wee tartan headline and Scottish hame You will have to try harder than this I’m afraid How about having a piper playing in the background Mind you being more Tory than the Tories you can be the True Tartan Tories

  7. Your assumption is wrong I am not a member of the SNP and my sense of humour is intact I can assure you on that count why else would I have been so entertained with this wonderful “Scottish” site but there is one thing for sure who ever designed this site surely had some kind of brainstorm It has been a source of amusement and ridicule There again that seems to have been Labours role over the past 4years to enterain and be ridiculous so why change a losing formula

  8. There’s a soft underbelly to Noel’s article above which can be summed up in one word, ‘Spin’.

    One of the reasons why many former Labour supporters left the party, post 2001, was its obsession with presentation, spin and media coverage – style, basically, over substance. Damian McBride, in other words.

    You could argue that the 1997 election campaign was an important milestone in Labour’s progress towards becoming the party of ‘spin’ over substance.

    It’s telling therefore, that in his comparison between manifestos – Noel compares the covers and not the policies. “Who reads manifestos anyway?”, he asks. Well, it doesn’t sound like you’ve read the SNP’s manifesto Noel, it sounds like all you’ve done is look at the picture on the front.

    Still it seems, spin, presentation, the gift wrapping and not the package, matter more to the Labour Party faithful than the content. Is this what you’re accusing the SNP of becoming Noel? A party of spin, smoke and mirrors? If so, I think it would be best if you just came out and said it, rather than havering on about manifesto covers.

    Then, maybe we can move to a mature discussion about the substance – policies developed and policies delivered.

    And, then, the new Scottish parliament aside, let’s have a look at how Labour’s post-97 policies stack up against the SNPs, who delivered what and who didn’t, and see if there’s maybe a clue or two in there as to why the SNP won so resoundingly in 2011.

    1. Dear Bandages. I know that this will come as a terrible shock to you but the SNP employs Spin Doctors! And believe it or not all that costly flying around in helicopters wasn’t strickly necessary but maybe one of those pesky Spin Doctors suggested that it would make good TV! Terrible and shocking I know but there it is. It would have been much better if Alex had used a Mondeo or perhaps public transport or better still a bike. And he would have saved members hard earned cash!

      Drop him a note pointing out the error of his ways will you.

      Noel

  9. Mr Hothersall

    Ok, then to Mr McTernan I add Messrs Foulkes, Wilson, Darling, Brown, Balls, Murphy, Alexander, and his sister.

    Starts to look like a Unionist trend. Where are the Home Rulers in the upper echelons of the Labour Party?

    1. Thats like asking about “where are the fundamentalists in the upper echelons of the gradualist SNP”! Everyone who used to be a fundamentalist is now a gradualist – for political reasons.

      I’m sure that if you were to do a survey of Scottish Labour members, you would find maybe 10-15% want independence, 10-15% probably want the status quo (or even to abolish Holyrood!), and at least 50% will want greater powers (though what that exactly is is another matter!).

      Its likely that many higher up in the party have felt they have had to disguise their views in order to match the party line – which is a shame. But is that any different to those SNP politicians who have had to temper their views the same way?

  10. It is, however, Mr Hothersall’s contention that Labour is not a Unionist Party. If all the top echelon are secret, Keir Hardie style Home Rule proponents, as you say, then maybe someone, you maybe, should sound them out, get them out in the open, because, right now, your Party IS a Unionist Party.

    1. For starters, I didnt say that all the top echelon are secret Home Rulers. Its not for me to say that.

      I agree that we are in danger of being the unionist party (I dont think we are there now – but we seem to be moving in that direction). As I said on Duncan’s post about Unionism not being a Labour value that we must not be seen as that – its not relevant, and will be dangerous for us regardless of the result of the referendum.

  11. My inspiration my conscience my politics

    Noel is seldom wrong

    The Labour Party in Scotland needs leadership it needs something different but who has those attributes.

    As socialists this is our chance to change things for the better.

    In East Lothian we have experienced the good the bad and the ugly and survived

    What we need now is to allow the Labour Party in Scotland to evolve as a party which is led by the membership.

  12. If the SNP’s campaign was “ruthless and unscrupulous”, and it was based on Blair’s ’97 campaign, then was Blair’s campaign also ruthless and unscrupulous? And since you see both as examples of winning strategies to be emulated, can we expect to see more ruthlessness and unscrupulosity(?!) from the Labour party at the next elections?

    As for Alex Salmond’s name on the ballott paper – can that really be called a part of the SNP’s campaign? By the time the voter is in the booth the campaigning is over and done with, surely?

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