Sunday, 8 February 2015


So - some polls from across Scottish Labour's voting heartland have landed making it look even more of a disaster for them than previously could have been imagined. Labour's worst nightmare has just been painted clear, bright and in their face. It reinforces results that have been becoming common over the last few months but back then small poll size and large polling areas could be easily denied and derided without a problem. Now there can be no denying the scale of the disaster that is potentially facing them. Potentially, because these are only polls and only potentially because there are still almost 100 days for things to change.

I doubt if anyone, beyond the most fervent Nationalist, could have believed such a result could ever be possible. The polls seemed too good to be true to chance even half believing in them but now even the academic Professor John Curtice, polling guru of last years referendum, has been stating far and wide that these polls reflect a shift that is real. It truly is a political "wake up and smell the coffee" moment if ever there was one. It puts the "VOW PLUS" theatre of a couple of days ago into just a wee bit more of perspective; a calculated response to a nasty wee smell in the air perhaps. Maybe they thought something a bit whiffy was coming but I doubt they smelt a rotting corpse.

It's galvanised our politics here in Scotland, replete with possibility or penalty for all concerned. Across 16 mainly safe constituencies polls indicate that the SNP could take 15 of them with votes swinging an average of 25%.  With a swing of that magnitude in the elections Labour's Scottish representation in Westminster could drop from being 40 plus to just 5 or 6 and could leave UK Labour short of an outright majority in Government. Suddenly the SNP's forecast of a labour Govt needing their support and having to give concessions by delivering an entirely more comprehensive version of THE VOW than a unionist party would like seems a real possibility.

The battle is on. Labour will continue to push 'Vote SNP get Tory' and 'Vote Labour get VOW PLUS' bollocks in Scotland but they will have to fight this as a second front and tellingly will have to fight it without the kind of UK cash and manpower support brought to bear during the referendum. Outside the Scottish sideshow, in the rest of the UK, the argument will be largely about the EU. You could reasonably think austerity would top the agenda but the truth is there is little difference between the Westminster two on austerity. Sure the Conservatives are looking to claim Labour will raise the deficit with uncosted policies, but Labour are keen to show themselves as strong on the economy by denying that they will tax and spend and also to portray themselves as defenders of that very NHS that 'Better Together' told us was safe  'only within' the UK.

Here it appears that Labour's decades long complacency in taking Scotland for granted has come viciously home to roost. Across the 1990's they moved away from representing the interests of the working class and its now toxic association with trades union power to chase the increasingly affluent and right of centre voters of middle class England in recognition that those were the votes needed to carry a majority there and that majority in England was a secure hand on power. This meant that the concerns of mainly working class Scotland were left unaddressed. Coming as it did on the heels of several terms of Thatcherite Tory ideology which had been disproportionately destructive to Scotland's manufacturing industry with its equally traditional high levels of trades union membership. The failure of Labour subsequently to redress the damage or to listen to the electorate here left the voters in Scotland under no illusion that the Labour Party in Scotland has focus primarily on Westminster and English votes. It has taken a long time - and a credible and acceptable alternative - for Scots to see they are not a prime or any credible consideration in UK politics except as a Labour banked vote no matter what.

English MP's completely miss the point and ethos of the SNP. {or who voted in the referendum or what 'unanimous' means.}

Down South these polls have been met with disbelief  and some panic in Westminster. They can't quite grasp that the referendum has not put the genie of Scotland and the SNP back in the bottle. They are confused that the losers have acted like the winners and somehow the winners are looking increasingly like the losers. There has been uncertainty in the corridors of Westminster while they try to assess the implications of what they never predicted and can't understand . There have been miles of newspaper columns written by English journalists who embarrass themselves in exposing how little attention they have paid and how little they understand what has happened to the political landscape here. That these polls come from a large sample inside actual constituencies and mirrors what the Scotland wide polls said is undeniable. Voices of English MP's are raised in consternation at the prospect of a demanding Scottish accent being loud in Westminster.

Normally parties would look for a unique selling point but the Westminster establishment have negligible points of difference on key policy. The exception and difference this time is the loony right with UKIP, the party that David Cameron really has to beat to win a majority in England, and that is why the UK General Election arguments will largely focus on the EU. Scotland and any other issues are a skirmish by comparison in their eyes. A skirmish that looks like Scottish Labour will have to predominately fight alone. {They have been banging on about how independent they are after all} Understandable given how UK Labour seem to understand Scotland even less than the branch office up here. I don't think Messrs' Murray, Miliband or Cameron will be getting much sleep any time soon.

It's yet to be seen how this will play out. Will the SNP be complacent and think the election already won? Will Jim Murphy and Labour find some credible way to start a fight back or will he fall back on spin, policy theft and double talk? Will voters baulk at the demise of Labour as a credible force or will they leave for good? Has their vote simply been loaned for this one occasion? Will Westminster pay attention or will entrenched notions of entitlement win the day? Will English MP's attitudes become vehement with anti-Scotland or anti-left bias and how will voters here react if that's the case? Can change here be the start of a reimagining within UK labour or even further afield. Will Scotland get the more powers needed to make significant change without damaging herself in the process? Will this go down as being a key a step closer to independence?

There are interesting times ahead.

Porage anyone?


  1. Hari OM
    Dianne Abbott, here, was the only one coming close to understanding the voice of the Scottish folk at large and that it is wider than the SNP...and that 'nationalism' doesn't have to have a capital letter. This is the bit which worries me. Thanks to that naughty little bloke 70 years back and then some other 'bovver'ers popping up here and there, the idea of loving one's country enough to care what happens to it is being misconstrued Right Left and Centre...

    As mentioned to you before, I returned to UK after a considerable lump of time and had lost track of all the shennigans - then to find myself slap bang in the middle of an independence vote was a bit dizzying. Not an SNP fan (early years were definitely rather heavy), I totally got the reason for the vote and am one of those who took up YES because I have lived in a country where there is strong national identity - without hype or hatred - and which has been pulling itself up by its own bootstraps quite admirably. Not without issues, but it cannot blame any but itself for those issues and that is as it ought to be.

    The problem is that Westminster does not understand the concept, nor does it want to accept, that there are significant regional differences (you'd think Ireland would have been a lesson!) and it is not prepared to properly address them. The irony is that the whole EU thing is actually the same thing, only this time THEY are 'in the right'..... oh my gosh, may we be preserved from always having to live in 'interesting times'!!! YAM xx

    1. Agreed. Thanks for commenting as usual Yamini.
      I think for many an SNP vote should be a tactical one in theses circumstances. It's the only group trying to get more right now and that's what we need. Hard to run a house with only 30% of the household budget.


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