2007 - 2020

Glasgow NE – Political Failure

bainThat Labour can hold a seat in a by-election brought about by the exposure of massive corruption and incompetence, in a constituency that has been ‘served’ by Labour for 74 years and by a Labour Govt for a decade, yet still faces some of the worst poverty, poor housing and deprivation in Western Europe is astonishing. That the SNP have failed to capture a seat in these circumstances is equally so.

The SNP put up a Shallow Hal candidate, a right-wing Opus Dei-ite who failed to deliver a vision or a policy platform and suffered as a result. David Kerr’s campaign crumbled under the negative attacks from Labour and the Unionist press, who’s best smear of the week seemed to be that Alex Salmond had taken someone for a pizza.

The SNP need desperately to create a vision beyond ‘independence’ that rises to the new challenge of the financial and environmental crises we face and presents a clear deliverable left-green alternative to Labour.

Turnout was down from 45% at the 2005 General Election to 33%, what we are seeing is the effective collapse of  belief in the political system after the Westminster expenses fiasco and Labour resorting to attack-dog politics and churning out their core vote, a  rump of less than 15% of the electorate in the constituency. Labour has become a regional party, stuck fast in the west coast where reality seems to have been suspended as party-loyalty has become a sort of secular religion.

SNP activists put a brave face on it saying: “There was one factor clearly similar to Glenrothes and that was the huge number of Labour activists imported from all over the UK. In fact, looking at the sea of red rosettes at the count ,the SNP may well have been outgunned on the ground. Labour at Glenrothes and at Glasgow North East was not going to take anything for  granted, as they did at Glasgow East. Labour have had to fight furiously  for their own very safe seat and this itself  is a sea change in Scottish politics. It remains to be seen just for how long they can do this.”

Many commentators have mentioned the multiple deprivation in the area, but, as Alf Young mentioned on Newsnicht, many families have generations of benefit dependency and have such low and lowered expectations that is an ingrained part of the cultural landscape. This is the legacy of the Union and of Labour-Tory misrule. Today Labour and the Unionist parties can cling on to the warming truth that many people are feeling vulnerable in the face of recession and financial shocks, too frightened to take th e bold step of independence. They will have to ask themselves if this is a credible way to secure the Union, or if it will be enough to prevent the paternalist hand of David Camerons Etonian cabal seizing Downing Street?

As public realm politics collapses apart from the digerati, the commentariat, and the media classes the ground is open to professional political classes to ‘get out their vote’ as the majority lies disaffected disillusioned and disenfranchised. If the SNP can’t articulate a vision to defeat this rabble then the wider independence movement will have to emerge more clearly and show some leadership.

Two final thoughts. The BNP again failed. They have never saved their deposit at an election in Scotland and they never will, despite the mainstream medias obsessive promotion of them. Finally, where was Iain Gray? Jim Murphy seems to have completed replaced him.

We await the post-mortem into the role of the Unite union acting as political dogsbody for the Labour Party and the police investigation into electoral fraud and ‘personation’ at Alexandra Parade and Dennistoun polling stations.

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  1. naldo says:

    A deeply depressing reminder of the fact that the independence movement has to be based far wider than the SNP. They ran a spectacularly unimpressive campaign and i agree a right wing Christian fundamentalist candidate was a very strange choice. We’ll only get one chance at a referendum in my lifetime and i don’t want the ineptitude of the SNP’s campaigning abilities to blow it for me.

    I disagree about the BNP – over 1000 people voted for them and they were a baw hair off saving their deposit. Very alarming and it’s high time all non race hate parties united to promote the message that racist politics are unacceptable.

    “Digerati”? That was a new yin on me. Ta.

  2. AyeWeCan says:

    A well written piece – if just a little unfair on the SNPs Opus Dei faction. Would anyone else have done much better? My main criticism of David Kerr was he was slavishly pro leadership – but that’s a prerequisite in today’s snp, indeed close to a constitutional requirement. Willie Bain showed more independence of thought – speaking up for the postal workers!

    On Naldo’s point – on the need for some early thinking on how some sort of broader independence referendum campaign might be structured, lets get thinking….

  3. Gray was on one channel, Murphy on the other, both make me want to puke so it made no difference to me which one I watched. An uninspiring result from a long list of uninspiring candidates.

    I honestly think the result means nothing and the sooner we have an independence referendum the sooner we can ditch the whole westminster circus.

  4. Scunnert says:

    Sixty six percent of eligible voters didn’t bother. A failure of party politics ad a stain on democracy. An abysmal result for the SNP given the wealth (or should that be poverty?) of ammunition provided by Labour.

    I see Naldo’s still trying to shut people up:0) Perhaps you should ask yourself what is it about their message that is resonating with so many voters? Simply characterizing them as a “race hate” party is a dismissive over-simplification that has so far failed to stem their growing popularity.

  5. R Bell says:

    The only reason that the BNP were really played up was because of the similarity of their initials with another party, which chose their name decades before them… The likes of the Daily Record and STV thought that they could tar that other party with the same brush.

  6. Scunnert says:

    R.Bell – I believe you’re right about that and, in consequence, the SNP have been tying themselves in knots to distance themselves from the “nazi” smear.

  7. naldo says:

    Scunnert, i don’t reckon i’ll ever understand what inspires people to vote for a party formed from the repulsive dregs of the National Front, British Movement and League of St George. Probably a combination of ignorance, fear and outright hatred.

    It’s a party whose leadership has venerated Adolf Hitler and denied that the Holocaust ever happened. It’s a party who currently scapegoats Muslims, asylum seekers and gay men for the travails of modern life.

    I believe that there’s only one race – the human race – and, as they clearly hate specific groups of people within that race, the BNP are a race hate party.

    I make no apologies for taking to the streets whenever these thugs show their faces in public – it’s important to let threatened minorities know that there are more anti-fascists than fascists in Scotland and we will not let our fellow human beings down by ignoring race hate when we see or hear it.

    If that’s simplistic, tough. Fascism is a base ideology and should be easy to defeat if enough decent people stick together as they did in Glasgow last weekend.

  8. Dramfineday says:

    Just a late question , but do the bloggers think that if the BNP had saved their deposit and came third that the scottish press might have been tempted to offer a more level playing field to the SNP? Rationale being that the SNP, a democratic party, is in danger of being mostered and its supporter margialised, in the months ahead leading to the referendum issue and the next GE, while a clear and present danger grows amongst us unreported?

  9. bellacaledonia says:

    Mostered?

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