Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Labour Party’
The SNP, Centre-Left Politics and the State of Social Democracy
Scottish Review, June 8th 2016
One party stands head and shoulders above all others in Scotland – namely, the Scottish National Party. It has got there through its own efforts, hard work and virtues, along with the numerous mistakes and weaknesses of its opponents. Scottish Labour’s long car crash was part tragedy, part comedy, but mostly of its own making. If it ever has an obituary written, it will say: ‘died at its own hands’. The Scottish Tories have been toxic for a generation, even seen as unScottish and ‘alien’, a phenomenon only slowly beginning to change.
This then begs the question: nine years into office, what do the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon stand for? What kind of Scotland do they wish to bring about, bar one that is independent and self-governing? For some these latter qualities are enough, based for them on principle, but for many they are abstracts which need further detail, and should be the means to an end of wider economic and social change, not an end in itself.
In many respects, a large part of the last nine years of the SNP in office have been the years of light lifting, considering the disarray and weaknesses of their opponents. It has been easy to point the finger at ‘London Labour’, even worse ‘Red Tories’, and of course, the grip of Westminster. Things aren’t always going to be so easy: opponents will be less incompetent, incumbents make mistakes, more powers are coming to the Parliament, and a decade of public spending cuts will take their toll. Read the rest of this entry »
The Scottish Revolution that isn’t quite what people expected
May 6th 2016
The Scottish election was a foregone conclusion. Everything was settled we were told. But it hasn’t quite turned out that way.
A third SNP term, but without the expected overall majority that the Nationalists and polls expected. A Tory revival beyond expectations. And a Labour nightmare implosion which makes it difficult to see a way back. Decent results for the Greens and Lib Dems.
All of this will throw up big questions about politics, power and legitimacy. Nicola Sturgeon has talked about ‘a clear and unequivocal mandate’, but is it really – when the Nats campaigned with the expectation of a majority? Part of this is failed expectation management, but it raises questions about whether Sturgeon and the Nats can adapt to a different language and politics in more difficult times, and a more contested politics? This is without getting into what this means for the longer term prospects of independence – which cannot now be seen as synonymous with the SNP.
Here are some of the bigger changes:
The second highest Scottish Parliament election turnout since 1999. 55.6% is up 5.2% on 2011 – but way down on the indyref 84.6% and last year’s 71.1%. Some of ‘the missing Scotland’ which turned out in the indyref – has clearly become disenfranchised again – look at the Dundee and Glasgow turnouts for example. Read the rest of this entry »
The Scottish Pop-up Election will decide many things about our future
Sunday Mail, April 17th 2016
The Scottish election is underway – the winners already decided, the European referendum casting a shadow, and all the parties having difficulty shifting from the land of milk and honey to austerity and cuts.
One seasoned observer commented to me that the election wasn’t what things were like in his day, reminiscing about the joys of seeing Harold Wilson in Glasgow in 1966. This is the cry of the older generation down the ages; things aren’t the same, and everything – politics, elections, football – were better in the dewy-eyed days of their youth.
This contest says much about our country and future. There are perennial problems with Scottish contests in a British context, which are not treated as the ‘national’ election by the British media, and at best on a par with the local government London Mayoral contest, and often, relegated under it.
This contributes to our elections – seeming like in William McIlvanney’s words ‘a pop-up picture school of Scottish history’. He meant how our past is seen as all about kings and queens and isolated events, which people feel alienated from and don’t really understand. This has the look of a ‘pop-up election’ – with voters one step removed from a series of isolated events and photo-ops. Read the rest of this entry »
Labour’s Taxing Problems: The Party is fighting for its very existence
Sunday Mail, February 7th 2016
This week Scottish Labour made a move on tax. Is it a daring or desperate move?
It broke with the party’s position since the Scottish Parliament was set up in 1999 not to propose any tax increases. At the same time, as the SNP retained its stratospheric poll ratings for the May elections, the Tories drew level with Labour for second place, while Labour issued their regional list candidates with an obvious lack of ‘new blood’ or talent.
With the Scottish Parliament gaining more taxation powers now and in the near-future, Labour have decided, along with the Lib Dems, to break ranks, in arguing for an increase of one penny in income tax.
Even the Tories have had a Tax Commission which wants to introduce a new 30p band in-between the 20p and 40p bands. This failed on the first hurdle of what it was meant to be for: tax neutrality, increases or decreases. Read the rest of this entry »
The Day that Scotland Changed
Prospect, December 18th 2015
May 7th 2015 stands out as the day Scotland changed.
The House of Cards that was Labour dominance collapsed: a domino effect which witnessed 40 out of 41 Labour seats being won by the SNP.
Scotland has seamlessly switched from a nation of Labour supremacy to one of SNP ascendancy, and no one is quite sure why and what it means.
The standard explanation is that Labour tied itself to the Tories in the independence referendum, but that is one small part. Much more pronounced is the decline of British Scotland, the hollowing out of the Presbyterian and Catholic traditions, and the absence of any popular, instinctual story of Britain. Read the rest of this entry »