blair mcdougallBlair McDougall is leaving his job with the Scottish Labour Party. He says Labour remains the best hope for change for working people, and we will be the party of the future again.


Later this summer I’ll be leaving working for the Scottish Labour Party for pastures new.

It has been just over four years since I came home to Scotland and in that time I’ve become a dad (twice) I’ve fought a referendum campaign (twice) and parliamentary elections (twice). There’s a window now of a few years without national elections where I have a chance to do something new, but I’ll always be Labour and always be there for the party.

People who work for political parties, all parties, are extraordinary. They work unbelievably long hours for an unacceptably small amount of praise. Despite the public’s disdain for politics, we do it because we believe in what we’re part of.

I’m really proud of what my team has achieved, especially winning the referendum. My only regret is that Labour’s recent election results didn’t reflect the talent and effort of Labour’s team. Labour is like a family to me but, in the best traditions of resignations, I’ll now be spending more time with my actual family.

One of the most important things about politics is that it gives a sense of belonging. You are part of a cause, a community, a cadre of activists. But that cannot be all that matters. Modern politics allows people to turn a sense of dislocation into belonging by being part of an insurgency against ‘the other’. Too often now though politics stop there. Leaders offer an expression of grievance but shy from the complexity and compromise of change.

It’s easier to tell an emotive story that helps angry people make sense of a confusing world than it is to remove the causes of that anger and to change the world.  But if people aren’t in power to change things, what is the point of politics?

With Kez, Labour remains the best hope for change for working people. With courage and a confidence that comes from the incredible things we have achieved in the past Labour will be the party of the future again. We must be, because the alternative is that we replace one party of populism and protest for another, piling grievance on top of grievance, rather than progressing as a society.

Of course identity politics is potent and cannot simply be ignored, but Labour is a party that exists to decide the future not to describe the present. To do that we’ll need to work harder, think deeper and be bolder than we have been since devolution.

In the office they tease me that I can’t write anything without trying to slip in a Hardie quote, so I’ll finish with this:

“Perfect your organisation, educate your followers, look to the register, spread the light and the future is yours.”

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36 thoughts on “Leaving for pastures new

  1. To summarise

    Labour are great.

    Labour are like a family.

    But identity politics is bad.

    And the electorate are stupid.

    1. I’m not sure what you’re doing there is called summarising. Projecting, maybe.

  2. Poor Hardie, he’d have nothing to do with what his party has turned into.

    1. Fraser : There is no way of knowing that, is there? Scotland has reverted back to the right – the Red Clydeside was a small part of Scottish politics.Scotland was Tory country until the late 50’s and it actually took Blair to wipe out the Tory vote up here. The Tories never went away up here, they just voted SNP. Even Keir back in the day, was shunned by the electorate and had to go to London and Wales to get himself elected. But that doesn’t play into your wee whinge about how terrible Labour are, does it?
      Good Luck Blair and best wishes.

  3. Well done on playing you’re part in winning the Scottish referendum.

  4. Ok see if you can make up a popular phrase or saying containing the words ‘uncle’ ‘Tom’ ‘eat’ ‘shite’ and ‘die’?

      1. with all due respect, the labour party in Scotland has been rumbled as the party that kept folk poor for electoral gain. A party that created power bases based on keeping folk poor when Scotland was as rich as Switzerland and Norway.

        A party that looked on and did nothing as Thatcher dismantled the central belt of Scotland whilst Brent Crude funded her policies. Thatcher spent our money, Labour got London MPs as voting fodder as the “daft” scots blindly voted Labour

        We will take no lectures on decency from a party that is rightly despised throughout Scotland.

        1. No respect shown here at all, just the regurgitating of old lies.

          In government, Labour lifted millions out of poverty by redistributing wealth.

          In government, the SNP has done the opposite.

          Labour may be despised by folk like you, but it isn’t because we didn’t help the poor.

          1. That just not true Duncan, Labour may have addressed child poverty but inequality in every other group grew massively while you were in Govt & feeling intensely relaxed about those at the top getting filthy rich

          2. Labour cut poverty among children, among families, among pensioners. Labour implemented the largest redistribution of wealth since WW2. We made a massive difference to millions of lives. I will not allow anyone to traduce that record for their own dishonest purposes on this blog.

    1. Just curious, Gordon, is that your own view or that of the SNP too, which of course you represent as a councillor?

  5. Your legacy will be the destruction of the labour party in Scotland. Sadly this destruction was 40 years too late for Scots to benefit from Norway style affluence.

    Scots should be reminded of this again and again.

    Labour in Scotland kept folk poor deliberately.

    And for that alone you dont deserve to recover. You wont recover

  6. Oh dear, what a shame, never mind.

    There are some people that should be remembered for a job well done.

    MacDougal isn’t one of those.

    He put his ego above Scotland and we all paid for that.

    I won’t lose a moments sleep for those that have gone from the labour camp.

    They were always the architects of their own downfall and it was rather pleasing to see them go.

    If only the real people in the labour party had had the power to oust these idiots sooner we wouldn’t be considering a full and complete wipeout.

    Too late now. And the rats are leaving the sinking ship. Am I surprised? No.

    I am surprised it took so long. Perhaps it had something to do with putting the words “labour politician” on one’s CV? Perhaps.

    It really doesn’t matter now.

    Kindest regards,

    David Milligan

  7. Dignified and decent. And you helped save Scotland from the sort of obnoxiousness displayed above.

    1. You mean the obnoxiousness that told Senior Citizens they would lose their pensions in an independent Scotland, that told Polish people they would lose their right to remain?

  8. Never mind, Blair, there’s a knighthood out there with your name on it. After all, Michelle Moan got a Damehood for merely getting her tits done.

  9. Blair you shall be remembered as brave political warrior a modern day Scottish hero when you blew the whistle and the Scottish MPs gallantly went over the top they sacrificed their careers to save the union and they will not be forgotten. I must make special mention to all the gallant MPs who since the battle of the Union have been dignified and accepted their lot gracefully as a price worth paying for saving the Union, I wish you well on your departure and hope you get a well deserved rest and who knows if there is another indyref then your tactical political acumen may be called upon once more in defence of the Union.

    1. You consider telling Senior Citizens that they would have lost their pensions in an independent Scotland political acumen?

      Most people would consider that lying, but to each their own I guess.

  10. “My only regret is that Labour’s recent election results didn’t reflect the talent and effort of Labour’s team”???………I think you’ll find that they reflected it perfectly!

  11. Hardie would be contemptious of B. McDougall and D. Hothersall.

  12. DH: “Labour cut poverty among children, among families, among pensioners. Labour implemented the largest redistribution of wealth since WW2. We made a massive difference to millions of lives. I will not allow anyone to traduce that record for their own dishonest purposes on this blog.”

    Are the IFS traducing Labours record for their own dishonest purposes?

    1. No. The IFS don’t disagree with me.

      Try checking with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation too. They know about this stuff.

      Labour cut poverty among children, among families, among pensioners, and made a massive difference to millions of lives.

      1. Why don’t we let Full Fact have the last word.

        “By looking into their reports, we can indeed see that Labour’s third term saw a sharp rise in income inequality, as well as a fall in the income of the poorest fifth of the population.

        In 2009 they reported that: “income inequality has risen (on most measures) in each of the last three years and is now at its highest level since our comparable time series began in 1961.”

        Moreover, under Labour, income growth at the very top and very bottom of the distribution sharply diverged, with the lowest growth in incomes occurring at the very bottom of the distribution over this period, and the fastest growth at the very top.”

        1. Because you’re quoting them on a) Labour third term only, and b) income inequality only. I talked about cutting poverty across the whole period of the last Labour government.

          My point was, and remains, that Labour cut poverty among children, among families and among pensioners, and made a massive difference to millions of lives.

          That assertion is backed up by any and all independent analyses. Here’s one such.

          1. That poverty would have not been there had Labour not lied to the Scottish populace about the wealth of the country decades ago.

            Norway was the poorest country in Western Europe at the turn of the 20th century…….

            Labour in Scotland have little to be proud of and lots to be ashamed of.

          2. Do you want to work that one through for me please? What magic extra money would there have been? Or are you saying Scotland would have been independent and everyone rich, while the rest of the UK would have been in deeper poverty? And I guess you wouldn’t care about them?

          3. The Full Facts comments are only for the 3rd term but the IFS figures I provided a link to earlier cover the whole Labour time in office & their Gini coefficient graph shows an extended period from 1979 to 2008 so you can easily see how inequality under the last Labour compared with Maggie’s Tories.

          4. You can’t bring yourself to acknowledge that Labour cut poverty. Sad.

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