Ten Wakeup Calls for Scottish Labour

In an attempt to bolster the Labour vote for the European Elections, the Labour List web site attempts a morale-boosting list of

10 reasons for Labour activists to be cheerful

And so they might be—in Englandshire. But seen from a Scots perspective, even dyed-in-the-wool, aye-been Glasgow Labour hardliners may have to scramble a bit to find much succour in the chippy young researcher’s (for who else but an apparatchik-zealot who’s not been out much could conjour up such blinding optimism?) ten upbeat points.

Yes, Labour may do well in England; they could hardly do worse than 2009 when UKIP swept up seats the Labour thought were destined for them. Below are the his points with some more realistic observations about how the point is likely to play in Scotland. Like we’ve been saying all along; it’s a different country.

  1. You can win round UKIP voters. Yes, we’re having a judder. But I’ve not talked to a single Labour voter considering UKIP who knew about their views on the NHS and the flat tax. As soon as they learn that Nigel Farage wants a cleaner to pay the same percentage of tax as a banker, the dalliance with UKIP ends. UKIP is a non-starter in Scotland where there are few Tory votes for them to pillage and therefore even fewer to be won back: Farage in Scotland is a fish out of water.
  2. To repeat: every single wavering Labour- to-UKIP switcher I have talked to comes back to the fold when they know UKIP’s policy on the NHS. When faced with policy facts, their appeal as the anti-establishment party fades. In Scotland, Labour is still seen as the Establishment and their credibility as guardian of the NHS is weakened as the SNP are seen as doing a better job of protecting it.
  3. Labour’s on-the-ground operation is the best of all the political parties. This will only improve over the next year. The Arnie Graf and Movement for Change model of community organising is making a difference. Our members and organisers are working flat out in the run up to Thursday 22nd. He clearly hasn’t been to Scotland where the demise of Labour clubs and colliery brass bands has decimated the number of footsoldiers; those that are left are mostly aging rapidly or inexperienced students.
  4. Lib Dem activists – the bedrock of their campaign base – will erode yet further next Thursday. How can I predict this? Well, remarkably for a so-called national party of government, a third of the wards being contested next week do not have Lib Dem candidates standing. This speaks to a continuing long-term decline. At least we can agree on this one—but it’s already happened; Lib-Dems are endangered species in all but the North Isles.
  5. Hate it or love it, the Labour Party Political Broadcast that makes the point about Nick Clegg being a small and insignificant figure has at least got people talking. And a third of 2010 Lib Dem voters are still in the ‘undecided’ column on your canvass sheets. Nick who? Even Cameron’s visit to Scotland this week highlighted not the power but the rarity of Westminster ‘big guns’ registering up here. And because of this, the ‘B’ team currently running Scottish Labour are exposed weekly to not being up to the job.
  6. Sion Simon will be an MEP next week. Why is this good? Because when he wins, Labour in the West Midlands will have doubled our representation in the European Parliament. And we’re making progress in every region, not just the West Midlands. Nice spin—doubling from 1 in Birmingham shows how rocky Labour ‘heartlands’ have become for them—like Coatbridge & half of Glasgow falling to the SNP in 2011. They will still have a single MEP in Scotland after May 22nd.
  7. At last we’re taking the independence referendum seriously. Douglas Alexander, Jim Murphy and Frank Roy all are committing their time and political reputations to work for Alistair Darling in the Better Together campaign. And even better, they’re bringing back Gordon to provide substantial weight to the final push. Oh, puh-lease! That may fly ‘dahn saff’ but they have no votes. Only Alexander seems to have any traction with switherers in his own backyard and Labour inner circles need to wake up to Irn ‘Pension Raider’ Broon being a liability.
  8. The polls show that 65% of people under 25 support Labour. The future is ours to win. Even if that were true in Scotland, 58% of under-25’s support independence and some (large?) percentage may decline to support Labour any more.
  9. We have 2218 new councillors since Ed became leader. That’s a battalion of Miliband’s marchers. In Scotland, the number is 62, still much lower than their 2003 heyday. And, with rare exceptions, Labour has not dealt well with losing power across Central Belt councils and with loss of patronage has comes erosion of activists.
  10. The weather forecast says it’s sunny for the weekend – perfect for that last minute push on the doorsteps. Good luck to all Labour candidates next Thursday. Win or lose, your personal commitment to a greater cause will make a difference. That may apply in Hull or Halifax but even in Hamilton, Labour is outgunned. If they get round half the doors the SNP can (10% outside the Central Belt), they’ll be doing well.

About davidsberry

Local councillor, tour guide and database designer. Keen on wildlife, history, boats and music. Stood for the Scottish Parliament 2011; lost by 151 votes.
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