Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Parliament Elections’

A Tale of Two Scotlands

Gerry Hassan

Scottish Review, May 18th 2011

The last two weeks in Scotland have given many of us a glimpse of a different kind of land, one filled with light, hope, optimism and possibilities. And the weather was even nice for a while.

It isn’t an accident that it has been called by myself and others, ‘a Scottish Spring’, but we always need to be careful not to transpose our own hopes onto wider political and national canvases. The turnout at the Scottish Parliament elections was just over 50%, and in parts of Glasgow, barely a third. While of those that voted, the SNP won 45.4% of the constituency vote, an impressive feat but one which shows the clear limitations of the Nationalist appeal.

Just as in the election campaign, the post-election period has showcased another version of Scotland which we need to note and not shy away from. This is one which profiles the dark side of our culture and society, namely the age old saga of the sectarian issue, the issue of ‘the Old Firm’ and the Scottish obsession, and in particular, Scottish male obsession with football.

A fascinating juxtaposition which reflects these two sides of our nation was offered on Sunday evening, May 15th when BBC One showed ‘Portillo on Salmond’, with Tory politician Michael Portillo on Alex Salmond, while BBC Two following it had the final league edition of this season’s ‘Sportscene’, summarising a chaotic, bitter football year. The first gave hope that we live in a modern nation at a historic time; the second that we still have many people who don’t want to live in a modern nation or leave the comfort of their bunkers. Read the rest of this entry »

Where Does Scottish Labour Go After the Landslide?

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, May 14th 2011

Scottish Labour has a long, rich history, set of traditions and values. It spoke for a wide part of the nation, middle class and working class, old and young, and combined radicalism and realism. It gave a platform to a host of British and Scottish politicians who changed Scotland and shaped much of Westminster in the 20th century.

It is now in crisis, decline and hurting from its brutal rejection by voters. It is still going through all the excuses and evasions. ‘We held most of our vote’; it is all down to those perfidious Lib Dem protest voters who voted SNP; just as last time the SNP’s increase in votes was down to Greens and Scottish Socialists switching.

Scottish Labour is having to come to terms with a new dispensation. Yet it is struggling to see the new contours. Salmond won’t win independence; Holyrood is all a bit of a sideshow; the big boys are at Westminster. The election was lost because of the B team, whereas Labour’s A team are now back in command.

The immediate response for the party has seen Ed Miliband, technically leader of Scottish Labour, order ‘a root and branch review’. This is led by three Westminster MPs: Jim Murphy, Anne McGuire and Ann McKechin. Will this review provide any assistance or help, let alone the definitive answers, given it is to be rushed, suggesting the leadership have a good idea what they want? Read the rest of this entry »

The Strange Death of Labour Scotland

Gerry Hassan

Compass, May 11th 2011

Scotland is living in historic times. An election that was seen by many of us as a transition from the old Labour Scotland to a more Nationalist era, has suddenly become one of epic transformation.

Scottish Labour won a mere 31.7% of the constituency vote and 26.3% of the regional vote; it took a mere 15 out of 73 FPTP constituencies. This broke a number of unenviable records for the party; the lowest number of FPTP seats since the disaster of 1931, and the worst share of the constituency vote since 1918, before Labour became a major national party in Scotland.

This has been a long time coming. What we have seen is the slow decline of Scottish Labour: part of a long hollowing out, without a major spike or tipping point until Thursday. Devolution was always going to challenge and undermine the Labour one party state which had grown to dominate Scottish political and public life: a point no one senior in the party seemed to grasp. Read the rest of this entry »

A Scottish Spring At Last!

Gerry Hassan

May 7th 2011

It has been a very Scottish revolution. Peaceful, considered, calm, the mood almost indiscernible. And yet something profound and long lasting has changed.

To the sages and cynics who said this was a ‘boring’ or ‘dire’ election, Scotland has spoken. This is a dramatic shift, a watershed and re-aligning election, and one which is the product of immediate and long-term factors.

We have witnessed our ‘Were you up for Portillo?’ moments, although Andy Kerr and Des McNulty hardly cut it in class or importance. We have seen the West of Scotland Labour heartlands where the SNP for years could never win, except in the odd historic by-election, utterly changed possibly for good.

This is about more than one election result. This is about a deep, long-term transformation of Scotland which has been occurring for decades. From the age of Labour identification, and seeing the world in terms of workplace politics and class. Away from the visceral anti-Nationalist politics which shaped so much of urban Scotland for so long. And towards a new era of SNP support, identity politics and sense of national purpose. Read the rest of this entry »

A Scottish Watershed Election!

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, May 6th 2011

Scotland emerges from its election completely and utterly changed.

A huge historic Nationalist victory; the worst Labour result in seats since 1931; the Tories still despite a decent campaign in retreat; and the worst Liberal result since 1970s.

This is a Scotland of surprises. The SNP won 45.4% of the constituency vote to Labour’s 31.7%, a lead of 13.7%; while on the regional list the SNP won 44.0% to Labour’s 26.3%, a lead of 17.7%. This has produced a Parliament of SNP 69 (+23), Labour 37 (-7), Con 15 (-5), Lib Dem 5 (-12), Other 3 (+1).

This was an election which was meant to be a foregone conclusion and which Labour clearly took for granted; while the assumption that the PR hybrid Scottish Parliament could not produce an overall majority for one party has been shattered; the SNP have won on 45% of the first vote over 70% of the seats: the sort of parliamentary misbalance which Labour used to achieve at Westminster. Read the rest of this entry »