Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Labour Party’
Where does real political power sit in Scotland? And where do we want it?
Sunday Mail, September 6th 2015
The Scottish Parliament is one of the central pillars of public life.
It has become the unquestioned landmark and focus of domestic politics in the country. People look to it, want it to have more powers, and generally trust it much more to look after their interests than Westminster.
That is all good and well. Yet, when people think of the Scottish Parliament what they tend to have a vision of is not the reality, but the broad idea.
The idea of the Scottish Parliament is an unqualified positive. It has changed Scotland, how we think of ourselves and how we want to be governed. But because people follow little of the debates at Parliament they don’t know much about what it actually does.
The reality of the Scottish Parliament’s actions is that it hasn’t directly done that much to change Scotland – in its decisions or debates. And nor is it where political power can be found. Read the rest of this entry »
One Year on from the IndyRef: Making the Scotland of the Future
Open Democracy, September 2nd 2015
Scottish public life has dramatically changed in recent times – the SNP 2011 first landslide, the independence referendum, and the 2015 tartan tsunami.
Yet Scotland, like everywhere, is about more than politics. In this and other areas there have been huge changes, but also continuity and conservatism, the balance of which we are still trying to make sense of, and with huge consequences for the future of Scotland and the UK.
Take the indyref. It didn’t come from nowhere. It came in the context of wider change in Scotland – of the decline of the traditional establishment and the old unionist order, and of the potent culture of deference, authority and of people knowing their place which for so long hung over large aspects of society.
The indyref changed many things. But it has become a well-worn cliché to say it has changed everything. What it has done is act simultaneously as a spike, watershed and a catalyst to further change in public life. It will take years to establish the balance between these different forces and, nearly a year after the vote, the pattern of these different dynamics and their impact is still evolving. Read the rest of this entry »
Kezia, Jezza and Indy: Where are the Big Ideas of the Next Scotland?
This week the SNP hit a new high mark in the polls – 62% for next year’s Scottish elections. Elsewhere Kezia Dugdale was elected Scottish Labour leader as the Jeremy Corbyn bandwagon came to much acclaim north of the border.
What do you with popularity? It is a question politicians seldom have to answer. The nearest equivalent to the SNP now is Blair’s New Labour – which, less we forget, was once hugely popular.
There is the question of where opposition comes from and what form it takes? The same poll – with the SNP on 62% – put Labour on 20%, Tories on 12% and Lib Dems on 3%. These are the three great parties of pre-SNP Scotland and each is now reduced to tiny, impotent rumps. All are likely to face a difficult election next year.
The Greens are doing well, there will be a new left party and even the attempted return of Tommy Sheridan, but none of these will sweep the board.
The more important challenge is what drives and shapes Scottish politics, and what, if any, are the big ideas which inhabit and inform public life? There is, of course, one indisputable big idea: independence. But this raises the issue of what kind of independence and even more crucially, independence to do what and create what sort of society? Read the rest of this entry »
The Nationalist Lion Roars at Westminster!
Sunday Mail, July 19th 2015
The times are changing in Scotland and Britain: the SNP impact at Westminster; Tory maneouvres to hurt, harm and trap Labour on union reform and welfare, and the vacuum of Labour and Lib Dems post-election defeat.
The SNP scored early blood on fox-hunting and English votes for English laws – forcing government postponement on the first and regrouping and redrafting on the second. This has produced Tory anger and fury at the Nationalists, and eventually see the Tories attempt to get their revenge.
A significant part of the SNP’s impact has been due to the marginalising of the Labour and Lib Dem opposition, both parties licking their wounds and without leaderships for the last two months. The Lib Dems have rectified that this week, electing Tim Farron. Labour’s contest has shown the nadir the party has fallen to, and the dullness of the three mainstream candidates: all of which has produced the unlikely summer sensation of Jeremy Corbyn’s sudden rise in popularity. Read the rest of this entry »
The Rise and Fall of the House of Scottish Labour
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 »