If you’re confused by the title of this blog, my last name is Ramsay, the same as famous Scot, Gordon Ramsay. But anyway to say that the Labour result in Scotland was nothing less than disastrous is completely misplaced. It’s not the fact that we did badly that bothers me personally, it’s rather the fact that around 9 months ago Labour was well placed to re-establish themselves as the largest party in Holyrood.
This is primarily the fault of Ian Gray and without a doubt, he will have to go as leader by the end of the week. But, we must not leave out the Scottish and National Labour party. We were complacent, I know I certainly was, everyone assumed we would easily win back Edinburgh, but we didn’t count on the effectiveness of Salmond’s SNP campaign which did strike a progressive and positive tone. This is in stark contrast to Scottish Labour’s negativity.
If there’s one thing we can learn from Scotland, negative, attacking politics doesn’t work. The only time Labour succeeds electorally (1945, 1964 and 1997 nationally and 1999 in Scotland and Wales) so this is something we will need to replicate nation-wide.
First of all, congratulations to Brigid Jones, the new Councillor for Selly Oak.
It’s been a fascinating night (if a bit slow), and there is still the jaw-dropping news that Britain has rejected the Alternative Vote system amongst an abysmal turnout yet to come, however what is really intriguing is where Labour did not do so well, rather than where it made gains.
Once North Wales has decided it can be bothered to start counting, Labour looks set to make gains in Wales, possibly securing a working majority, while in the local elections in England the Lib Dems have suffered their worst result since the party’s formation – all of these could have been easily predicted 24 hours ago. However, in Scotland, you could be forgiven for thinking Labour is in government and has just announced swingeing cuts or banned tartan by the disappointing result and the triumph of Alex Salmond’s SNP, who have capitalised on their narrow success in 2007. Scotland has traditionally been a Labour country, however this result demonstrates a new confidence and is evidence of maturity among the Scottish electorate – they clearly differentiate between Westminster polls and those to Hollyrood. Although it is premature to say Scotland is on the road to fully endorsing indepedence – as Labour leader Ian Gray learned, Scottish voters have more pressing issues on their minds – it does demonstrate a worrying trend towards ever-further detachment from the rest of the UK, with a completely different political culture with different trends. That pizza-slice analogy Andrew Marr spoke of is becoming more realistic every year.
Meanwhile, what is also worrying is how the Conservatives are getting away with blue murder in the local elections. Their vote has held up, possibly because Tory voters tend to turnout in higher numbers in local polls, possibly because of local issues, but almost certainly because Cameron has cleverly allowed Nick Clegg to become a scapegoat for the Con-Dems’ worst policies. Labour needs to wake up from this, admit we are only at the very start of a long long road to Downing Street, and attack the Tories, instead of reminding everyone about Clegg’s betrayal of the left – the voters don’t need to be reminded of this.
It’s been a good night on balance, but there are some worrying signs in these results (never mind the depressing conservatism and apathy over AV), and there now needs to be a change of strategy at Labour HQ.