Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Labour Party’

The Rise and Fall of the House of Scottish Labour

Gerry Hassan

June 22nd 2015

The story of the Scottish Labour Party was, until recently, one of the defining stories of Scotland over most of the 20th century.

First there was its rise – the emergence of ‘Red Clydeside’ and the socialist pioneers, and how radicalism gave way to respectability. Second, there was the ‘golden era’ of action and purpose – of Tom Johnston, and the big ideas and schemes, which began to fade as Labour morphed in the 1960s and 1970s into the political establishment. And finally, there has been the slow decline of the party, which accelerated in recent reverses to the SNP – most spectacularly, the near complete wipeout at the May 2015 general election.

A month and a half after the SNP triumph and Labour rout, which historian Tom Devine called Labour’s ‘Culloden’ (1), there is still an inability on all sides, victors and vanquished, to come to terms with the new landscape. There are still missing stories and voices. On the most basic level, politicians are human beings first and politicians second. A whole host of Labour politicians taken out in May are going through various stages of shock, bewilderment, even anger – equivalent to coming to terms with bereavement.

It isn’t a surprise then, that in the immediate aftermath, a number of Labour MPs who lost their seats just took themselves out of public life. For BBC Scotland’s documentary, ‘The Fall of Scottish Labour’ (2) shown tonight, in which I am interviewed, several former senior politicians including Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander and Margaret Curran refused to be involved, intimating that it was just too early. Read the rest of this entry »

The SNP Ascendancy is changing Scotland and the SNP

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, June 14th 2015

The Scottish sun is out, and summer is approaching. This is true not just of the weather but reflects the mood of the SNP, their popularity, and especially that of leader Nicola Sturgeon.

In the last week a TNS opinion poll for next year’s Scottish Parliament election put the SNP on 60% and Labour 19% in the constituency vote – a historic all-time high and low respectively. This would give the SNP a second overall majority and more seats than it won in its 2011 landslide.

Nicola Sturgeon is getting plaudits everywhere. She survived being billed as ‘a comedian’ in advance publicity for Jon Stewart’s ‘The Daily Show’ in the States, and was then compared to Saddam Hussein by the host on the programme – on which she performed with humour and star quality. Read the rest of this entry »

Is there a Future for the Scottish Labour Party?

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 17th 2015

Should he stay or should he go? That is the question Scottish Labour have been asking themselves since a week past Thursday.

It is, however, the wrong question. Leave aside whether it has come up with the answer for now, with a damaged Jim Murphy staying at the helm for a month, at least.

Murphy isn’t the problem for Scottish Labour. He has only been leader for just five months. Granted, in that time he has done little to make it look like he is the answer.

Post-election, the party has shown little inclination of understanding the predicament it finds itself in. Len McCluskey, head of Unite, didn’t help matters by saying that Murphy made ‘certain’ that Scottish Labour lost and so should resign. Read the rest of this entry »

A Cut Out and Keep Guide to Understanding the 2015 General Election in Scotland

Gerry Hassan

May 5th 2015

This has been an election campaign like no other in living memory in Scotland. While Westminster commentators have regularly stated that this is the ‘most boring’ and ‘risk free’ election they can ever remember, north of the border nothing like this has ever been seen before.

Scotland is on the cusp of huge political change which could see Scottish Labour’s Westminster political establishment vanquished, and a new political dispensation and map of the country created, which will not only have ramifications here, but for the whole of the UK.

Scotland normally doesn’t matter in UK general elections. For decades its anointed role has been to provide 40-50 Labour MPs in the hope that the rest of the UK returns a Labour Government. The action and battleground has always been elsewhere, somewhere over the distant horizon.

This election feels and is very different. Scotland is the pulse and the heartbeat of the contest. It is providing much of the story and drama, and may well determine pre and post-election who forms a UK government and under what conditions. Read the rest of this entry »

Scotland’s Quiet Revolution: How we changed and what it may mean

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, May 3rd 2015

What in the future will people say about the state of our nation today? They will say they saw a Scotland on the cusp of historic change, shifting from an older, predictable order to something new and potentially different.

A SNP wave looks certain to wash over Scotland next Thursday, toppling most Labour and Lib Dem strongholds. Cameron has given up on the Scottish Tories – in the pursuit of undermining Scottish Labour and winning back soft English UKIP voters. Ed Miliband in stressing his ‘no deals’ with the SNP seems to have abandoned Scottish Labour to await its fate.

This raises big questions: where are we, how did we get up here, and where are we going? One account stresses that Scotland has been fundamentally changed by the democratic engagement and upsurge of the indyref.

Another even more limited perspective emphasises that Labour’s alliance with the Tories in the referendum has proven toxic for the former, aiding the winning of the vote, but leaving a bitter aftertaste. Read the rest of this entry »

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