Monday, 31 October 2011

Just What Is Labour Hame's Problem?

“Scottish” Labour is in big trouble. 

In the six months since the Scottish election they have been rudderless, visionless and desperately in need of direction.  The last time Labour were on the receiving end of such a drubbing at the polls, they elected the “dream ticket” of Kinnock and Hattersley within 4 months, before finding out how much of a mountain they had to climb to supplant Thatcher and her Tories.  There seems to be no sign of any haste or speed emanating from the red corner of Scottish politics.
Ready or not here I come...

You would have thought that there would even have been some sort of discussion on the future direction of Scottish Labour – a discussion of sorts has taken place with the UK wide party.  Nope, nada, squid, whistling Dixie on that score.  There was even some hope that with the advent of the cringetastic Labour Hame blog (Tartan cringe that name if ever there was one) that there would be a serious debate about the future direction of “Scottish” Labour – in a similar fashion to the way "The Orange Book" seemed to provoke debate within the Lib Dems 5 years ago.  Should they re-position themselves slightly to the left of the SNP, or should they try and take the SNP on in the position that they occupy – which is as close to the Scottish equivalent to New Labour as you can get.  I personally think they would get more millage from being slightly to the left of the SNP.  Has there been that debate?  No.

It’s a pity because Scottish Labour doesn’t really understand the hole that it is in – and the contributors to that blog are completely oblivious to the fate that their party is sleep walking towards.  It certainly doesn’t help that most posts contain a deeply unpleasant streak – a sneering arrogant veneer directed at not the Tories…  good god no not them I mean its not as if they are single handed doing serious damage to the country…  but at the current governing party in Scotland, the SNP.

There are criticisms that can be made of the SNP government, a lot of them have appeared on this blog.  Almost every criticism made by Labour Hame seems to be flippant at best.  The post that inspired this post though includes the crime of not knowing Labour’s own economic policy.    On 21 October, Jamie Glackin wrote:

I’m fairly certain that most of the SNP would believe that George Osborne’s economic policies are doing a lot of damage to Scotland. It’s now becoming obvious that choking growth through spending cuts are having the opposite effect on the deficit that they were designed to have.”

I didn’t post one comment pointing out that Balls announced at the Labour conference that they now went along with Osborne’s Scorched Earth cuts agenda – I posted three.  All of them not published.  My name wasn’t down, so I wasn’t allowed to post a valid comment.  Maybe what got to them was the realisation that Labour is no longer a left of centre party that believes in Keynesian economics – New Labour believed in low personal taxation (with higher indirect taxation) allied to light touch regulation of the financial services – Thatcherism in all but name.  Maybe my comments struck a chord.  On the other hand, maybe they thought them irritating – how dare I come on to a Labour blog and criticise Labour.

While that post was having a go at Salmond for bringing up Independence, the next post by a chap called Ian Smart was downright weird!  This was a post that criticised Salmond, not for Suprimecourt-gate or for lobbying for Corporation Tax powers, but for being a bit crap at speech writing.  Which is akin to saying Iain Gray, he’s a bit rubbish at hide and seek.

As discussed at the start of this post, there are lots of things that should be on the minds of Scottish Labour.  Making sure that they do not make the same mistakes that led to May’s election defeat should be uppermost in people’s minds.  Somehow those mistakes are still being made, with constant criticisms of the government’s policy on an Independence referendum. Yet the constant focusing on the SNP government to the detriment of their own soul searching does not just let down the current members of Labour in Scotland, but everyone who still feels that they support Labour, thick and thin.  Even though they are precisely the kind of people left behind by New Labour. 


subrosa said...

Hi Allan. Do you have a problem with your spacebar?

That aside, I think you have some good points, yet I think Labour have now lost the ground they had for 50 years. Nobody really wants to go back to a 'hard-left' situation because they know full well that it doesn't encourage entrepreneurs and industry.

Allan said...

Spacebar??? Unless you mean the Navi-bar at the top, nope (note this problem will probably become aparent as soon as I post this).

Anonymous said...

Good post Allan.

Labour in Scotland seems lost. I think that Blair moved the party to the right so that they could pick up votes from relatively well to do southern English voters. They just assumed that the Scottish voters (and those in Wales and North England), would stay with them, because, well, what else were they going to do?

But they didn't reckon for the SNP actually scraping in and doing the unimaginable...with a minority government running an efficient administration. One that actually was far better on many of the things that affect people.

Their response was to elect a nice enough man, who is no leader, no orator and frankly not a great brain.

And his MO was to rubbish every single thing that the SNP said or did.

The trouble was the working class voters liked what they were doing. They might have been called the Tartan Tories, but they were bringing in good policies for Labour voters, and it wasn't all in the North East.

In short they saw that what labour was saying didn't actually match what was happening.

Then came the disastrous election for labour, and now all Iain Gray can do is blame everyone else.

Nothing about him being useless; nothing about his polices being out of kilter; nothing about the SNP being good; nothing about new directions. Nope, just moans about cybernats on the Scotsman.

Until they accept where they went wrong they will never get it right.

Tut tut.

Allan said...

Thanks for the comment Tris.

I suspect that Labour would be in a lot more trouble in England had there been a credible left of centre alternative to New Labour - in a similar way to the Tories struggling because a sizable chunk of their vote had gone to the Referendum Party in 1997, and had gone to UKIP at the last Westminster elections. In England at least, the Labour vote hasn't really recovered from 2001.

cynicalHighlander said...

From the dark side as better nation don't like the link!