Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Labour Party’

Scottish Labour and how the World As We Know It Turned Upside Down

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, February 8th 2015

The Scotland we have known has been turned upside down.

Once Scottish politics followed certain, predictable lines. Scottish Labour had become the dominant party of the land. It sent 40-50 MPs to Westminster, ran most of local government, and in huge swathes of Scotland no real opposition existed.

All empires come to an end. And so it has proven with Scottish Labour.

The party which was on the winning side of the independence referendum now finds itself facing electoral Armageddon in a few months in the forthcoming UK general election. That has been the consistent picture of national polls since last September, and now Lord Ashcroft’s constituency polls paint a bleak scenario of what once were Labour heartlands.

How has it come to this? The immediate background and explanation put by many is only part of the story. This states that Labour fought a politically inept, ill-advised campaign in the referendum. Most seriously, it is argued that it made the strategic mistake of aligning with the toxic Tories in Better Together and is now paying a heavy price. Read the rest of this entry »

The Myth of ‘Glasgow Man’

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, February 1st 2015

‘Glasgow man’ is expected to be a critical factor in the forthcoming general election contest in Scotland.

He, or it, is central to Jim Murphy’s attempt to save Scottish Labour and win back 200,000 Labour supporters who voted Yes in the referendum. It is also pivotal to the SNP’s attempt to breakthrough in traditional Labour seats.

Glasgow man is shorthand for a certain political demographic – the equivalent of ‘Basildon man’ who supposedly won it for Thatcher, and of ‘Mondeo man’ who contributed to Blair’s three election victories.

Glasgow man is meant to represent men in the city, and in North and South Lanarkshire, aged between 25-40 years, who voted Labour in the 2010 Westminster election and didn’t in the 2011 Scottish Parliament contest, and who voted Yes in the referendum.

Glasgow man implies a certain outlook: masculinist, certain and sure of their views, and reflecting the city, its politics and culture. Underneath there is a definite whiff of caricatures of working class men – of football, drink and tobacco, and more subtlely, of a sepia tinged radicalism and potent nostalgia. Read the rest of this entry »

Jim Murphy’s ‘Clause Four’ Moment and ‘Putting Scotland First’

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, January 11th 2015

Jim Murphy has to do some simple things right now – as well as some difficult ones. He has to get noticed, cause a noise and get up certain people’s noses.

Murphy faces some significant challenges. He has a short time span in which to make an impact on, and make a difference to, Labour’s electoral prospects for the May 7th UK general election – and how it is seen by the electorate.

Both are tough asks. Who was the last Scottish Labour leader who made his or her mark on Scotland? A whole host of figures have passed through the last decade – leaving barely a mark on the public consciousness.

Murphy knows all this, and that he desperately needs to kick against the state of Scottish politics post-referendum: an insurgent, popular SNP – and a Labour Party which is struggling to come to terms with how to oppose it. Read the rest of this entry »

Message to the Messengers Part Two: Where next after the indy referendum?

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Left Project, December 12th 2014

The winds of change are without doubt blowing through Scotland.

There is the decline of traditional power and institutions, the hollowing out and, in places, implosion of some of the key anchor points of public life and a fundamental shift in authority in many areas.

This is Scotland’s ‘long revolution’ – which the indyref was a product of and which then was a catalyst of further change. It is partly understandable that in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, expectations have risen, people have thought fundamental change could happen in the period immediately following the vote, and timescales once thought long have been dramatically shortened by some on the independence side.

Popular expectations, pressure and demand for change are a positive, not a negative. Yet, there is the potential pitfall of playing into a left-nat instant gratification culture which poses that all that is needed for change is wish fulfillment, collective will and correct leadership, and hey presto Scotland will be free!  This is a dangerous cocktail because when change doesn’t happen quickly, many of Scotland’s newly politicised activists may turn away in disappointment.

The times they are a-changing, but they are still messy, complicated and full of contradictions. For a start, the power of establishment Scotland is still, for all its uncomfortableness and nervous disposition in the indyref, well-entrenched and deeply dug in across society. If brought under scrutiny and challenge, from land reform to a genuine politics of redistribution, they will fight bitterly and with powerful resources for their narrow vested interests. Read the rest of this entry »

The Arrival of Jim Murphy and Scottish Labour’s Challenge

Gerry Hassan

Sunday Mail, December 14th 2014

A once impregnable organisation is in trouble and lost its way. It yearns for a now distant golden age and has continual problems of leadership and falling ratings.

The above is about Glasgow Rangers FC, but it could be equally true of Scottish Labour. Two pillars of the Scottish establishment now on hard times.

Scottish Labour yesterday elected Jim Murphy as its seventh leader in fifteen years, and Kezia Dugdale as deputy leader. That degree of change is the mark of an institution where something has gone seriously wrong.

Murphy was always the favourite to win, but he had to win convincingly and on his terms. Winning 56% isn’t a bad performance – taking over two-thirds of parliamentarians, having a near 2:1 lead in party members over his nearest challenger, and only narrowly losing trade unionists and affiliates. Read the rest of this entry »

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