The Double-Edged Sword of Labour Decline

_84909463_kezia_waveThe Scottish Labour Party’s decline is a huge moment and opportunity for non-SNP Scotland, writes Gerry Hassan.

The Scottish Labour Party meets this weekend in Glasgow. It will be a strange gathering. The party’s ninth year in opposition, facing imminent and expected election defeat, and with some polls even showing the party now in third place in votes and seats behind the Tories.

Scottish Labour now finds itself bereft of its usual friends. The Corbyn revolution has witnessed an explosion of new members south of the border, and in particular, in London amongst professionals. Scottish membership over the same period increased from a mere 15,000 to 19,000, falling as a proportion of British membership from 9% to 5%.

Corbyn doesn’t get Scotland. He has unveiled no Scottish strategy or awareness, while no Jeremy bounce has yet been evident here. The recent ‘Corbyn4PM’ rally in Edinburgh didn’t do well ticket sales, but did cause embarrassment for Kezia Dugdale with praise being lavished on the SNP by a number of the speakers, and Jeremy Hardy announcing that if he lived in Scotland he would support independence. Maybe it is just as well neither Corbyn or McDonnell are speaking at this weekend’s conference.

Scottish Labour doesn’t have its problems to seek. It is the once dominant party of this country which has lost its way and looks to be in terminal decline. There has been a generational shift and dilution in the party – from the ‘golden generation’ of the 1980s who contributed to saving British Labour that decade – to a party bereft of talent and well-known figures.

The decline has been so quick that it has caught Labour and everyone by surprise. Some of this is partly the way contemporary politics now evolve across the world, with parties rising and falling much more speedily than they used to, and the SNP should take note about the impermanence of their current dominance.

The politics of the mainstream centre-left are in retreat across the developed world. Scottish Labour’s predicament can be seen as part of this wider development – and one with three inter-connected crises.

First, is the unique Scottish experience. The party was always more dominant than at first seemed – and given the appearance of omnipotence by the distortions of the First Past the Post system. Through the long years of the party being the leading force of Scotland – it became less attuned to external forces and voters, and instead focused on internal dynamics, and distributing the proceeds of office, namely, patronage and preferment, morphing into a clientist politics.

The establishment of the Scottish Parliament contributed to this – with Labour legislating for it to maintain the domestic status quo and its lead position – without having any positive idea about what it was going to do. Eight years of insipid, timid Labour administration with the Lib Dems illustrated this and were supplanted by an SNP which had a story and ambition for the Parliament and country.

The constraints of how ‘Scottish’ Labour was played into this. It was never fully autonomous and still isn’t to this day, and nor was it able to run itself fiscally, in policy or resources – instead, relying on the national party bailing it out at elections. This developed into a co-dependent relationship, where the Scottish party didn’t want to be independent, and the bigger party didn’t trust it to make its own decisions. Some claim that Scottish Labour is a fiction, which is an overstatement given history and tradition, but Johann Lamont’s charge that ‘London Labour’ treated it as a ‘branch office’ got to the core of where power lay.

Second, there is the problem of British Labour. The ‘British’ element of Labour is often understated or ignored by large sections of the party, but this is a profoundly British party: one of patriotism, a respect for national traditions which are conservative and antithetical to radical action, and imbued with an awe for Westminster and the British state. There have been 30 years of post-war Labour Government – with many achievements to their name – but they conspicuously failed to shift the fundamental balance of power and privilege in the country.

Third, is the state of Western social democracy. All across Europe and the developed world, the mainstream centre-left is in a terrible state, its constituency fragmenting and in decline, the economic and social compact which emerged post-1945 in retreat, and the principles of solidarity, equality and redistribution from the wealthy, under savage attack.

Across the world populist and identity politics are finding support – aided by the costs of globalisation and neo-liberalism, economic instability, public service cuts, and anxieties over immigration and terrorism. Sometimes identity politics comes in progressive credentials such as the SNP or Catalan nationalist movement; but increasingly, it is more explicitly populist and reactionary, from Marie Le Pen’s Front National to Alternative for Deutschland, UKIP and the rise of Donald Trump in the US.

The SNP has captured Labour’s traditional terrain, but that carries risks. For all the rhetoric of social democratic, progressive Scotland, Labour was never even at its peak a pioneering, successful party of social democracy: instead it was a party of organised interests: trade unions, local government, council house tenants. Similarly, the SNP isn’t first and foremost a social democratic party, but one aspiring to statehood, and which sees progressive policies as a means to that end.

The standard SNP line that the party is the modern embodiment of the best of Scottish Labour is a double-edged sword. Labour defined social democracy as whatever it did in office, and quickly became the political establishment – in so doing laying the seeds for their own arrogance and insularity – and ultimately, downfall. The warning signs are already there for the SNP and its ‘Big Tent’ politics – trying to be all things to all men and women, invoking centre-left rhetoric and mood music, but doing little to progressively redistribute income, wealth and power.

The immediate future is going to be difficult for Scotland with public spending cuts, a looming economic storm, and an unstable global economy. The SNP leadership will present themselves as the safe, secure, competent management of a maturing, increasingly confident nation, but have they the confidence to allow for a bolder politics to emerge which asks questions of those with power and privilege?

To some the answer to all of the above is wait until the day after independence, when all these debates can begin properly. But the contours of the future Scotland are being made now and the SNP requires critical and detailed challenge – from the left and from the right. Scottish Labour until now has been a hindrance in Scotland’s recent democratic journey – but it may just be away to move further to the margins. If so this will be a big moment for non-SNP Scotland – which is still on every election contest so far – a majority.

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  1. Rod Robertson says:

    It amazes me how Unionists and the so called far left both beat this drum about SNP not being left at all.
    So pray tell us Gerry what is No Student Fees ,No prescription Charges Free care for the elderly, NHS non privatised ,Free school meals for all children in P1-3 Living wage ,Council Tax Freeze for 9 years?
    Does this show SNP right wing tendencies?
    Within the straighjacket of Devolution the vast majority of Scottish Voters tend to agree with SNP and disagree with so called lefties and their allies in anti SNP rhetoric the British right wing Unionist Parties.

    1. Angus Angus says:

      Rod: all of the stuff you’ve cited is irrelevant.
      The poor never paid prescription fees anyway.
      Student loans only have to be paid back on wages over £21K
      Council taxes have to be paid by someone – even those on minimum wage.
      The SNP are not, and never have been, a socialist party.
      Look how much money Salmond and Sturgeon get.

      1. Donnie MacLachlan says:

        “Look how much money Salmond and Sturgeon get.”?

        Perhaps we should look at the money –

        blair
        brown
        mandelson
        straw
        robertson
        darling
        mcconnell
        mathieson
        purcell
        etc.

        – get?

      2. tom says:

        just a pity the blinkered unionist could not wake up and realise that westminster still hold the purse strings in scotland , i am convinced that a 1&2 to snp is wrong snp 1 solidarity or greens 2 that way we can get rid off the unionist parties out off scotland forever and at the same time we will have a credible scottish political indy party opposition ,not non descript unionists .

      3. Robert Graham says:

        OH OK totally irelivant , lets have a wee look at relevant things the last Lab/Lib gifted us PFI the gift that keeps taking – Edinburgh tram fiasco final cost ? who knows yet – The Scottish Parliament building and subsequent maintenance costs think of a number then ask Jackie Baillie – the campaign to never have a second forth crossing , the list goes on and on , give me irelivant any day .

      4. Ted Parry says:

        You’re mistaken on (at least) two counts here Angus.

        1. Unless prescriptions are free for all, any poor person without ID has to pay full price for them or go without. And so do people who have been kicked off benefits – no matter what the reason, and no matter whether they are currently involved in an appeal process.

        The examples I’m giving are not hypothetical. I witnessed, and experienced, both situations during my periods on the street. I never heard of anyone being refunded for medication they were wrongly charged for either.

        2. The Student Loan Company requires annual proof of earnings being below the repayment threshold, and aggressively pursues anyone unable to provide it.

        Naturally that includes anyone made homeless after completing a degree – the people least likely to be earning over 21K.

        On these points, the SNP has succeeded in identifying what is in the financial interests of the very poorest, and in doing right by them. They may not be socialists, but socialists have a lot to learn from them.

  2. Tony Little says:

    Interesting article Gerry with much to agree with. Politically I suppose that I conformed to half the meme, “Communist in youth, Conservative in Maturity” in that I WAS in the Party in my youth, but never made the transition to the Tories in the “Autumn” of my life!

    For most of my voting life, I was a Labour supporter. Although I was always interested in the policy ideas of the old Liberal party (many of which were later adopted by the ‘main two’) they were never a serious party of government. I started to become disillusioned with Labour following Tony Blair’s selection of leader, and the last half of his first term in office.

    “Scottish” Labour seemed unwilling or unable to strike off in a different direction, and they eventually lost my vote and my support. Scotland’s politics need something that is more radical on the Left (if these simplistic labels are still relevant – I’m not sure they are) to “keep the SNP honest”. But Slab in its present form is not it.

    The SNP will have my support as I think their policies are on balance the best they can do for Scotland. None of the other ‘Unionist’ parties comes close to a rational alternative. BUT, once Scotland is Independent that can all change. I think that only through independence can our full potential be reached and once obtained this can revitalise our body politic.

    We are where we are after 309 years of London managed policy. A Scottish Government has only managed a small part of Scottish life for about 5% of that time. It is a good illustration of the way that Westminster has mismanaged Scotland. Surely it can not go on much longer until people accept that we CAN do things better and differently?

    So where to go? Can Slab throw off the yoke of London and become a genuinely Scottish party, who’s aspirations, ideas, policy, direction, and enthusiasm is first and foremost for Scotland and her peoples? Or will they slowly disappear into the pages of history? What of RISE? Can such an amalgam of interests and competing personalities really come together into a genuine force for the ‘Left’?

    The Greens remain a pressure group, in my opinion, and although on the continent there are good examples of Green politics, back home they also have the mantle of personality and ‘wild’ ideas. Maybe though they are the best bet for 2016 and 2020 to provide that alternative?

    Scottish politics has become unbalanced. I say that as a genuine SNP supporter, but it can not continue like this for ever. But where will the challenge come from? I do not see a future alternative First Minister on any of the opposition benches. Scotland in in a precarious position politically, critical elections, ahead.

  3. muttley79 says:

    I think the SNP’s manifesto for Holyrood will be interesting even if it is dull and uninspiring. There appears to be a growing perception that the SNP are essentially managerial and technocratic, certainly at the leadership level. I believe that there are warning signs, although possibly more for the medium and long term, rather than the short term. Although the Land Reform Bill was strengthened by the Greens, Labour, SNP MSPs such as Mike Russell, and other campaigning groups, questions should be asked why it was originally watered down by the SNP leadership. I have not yet heard an adequate explanation why this occurred. They essentially want to tweak council tax as a reform, after going into the 2007 election promising to scrap it and calling it regressive and unfair. The leadership also appear to be wedded to discredited neo-liberal economics.

    If the SNP’s manifesto for 2016 does not inspire those who have joined since the referendum, then there is the risk of growing disillusionment and apathy in the future.

  4. katherine hamilton says:

    It was OK up to ” but doing little to progressively redistribute income wealth and power”. Well, pray tell, how the hell were they meant to do that without the power to do so?
    Sometimes folk like you just write stuff for the sake of it. Labour are finished because of their lying, self serving myopia, and ultimately rubbishing us on behalf of their Westminster masters- “imbued with an awe for Westminster and the State”. Well tell us something we didn’t know.

    You can only tell an electorate they’re a bunch of morons for so long. Check out Foulkes’ tweets where he’s still at it.

    Quite who the non-Labour opposition will be lord knows but we need one. On that we can agree.

  5. bringiton says:

    “It was never fully autonomous”
    This would be a bit like the VW agent in Bathgate telling head office that they were going to sell Trabants instead of VWs.
    Labour have been seen as a lame duck in Scotland for a long time but until Nicola took over as leader of the SNP too many didn’t see a viable alternative,in part due to HM press.
    They do now.

    1. muttley79 says:

      Labour have been seen as a lame duck in Scotland for a long time but until Nicola took over as leader of the SNP too many didn’t see a viable alternative,in part due to HM press.
      They do now.

      I don’t agree with that. The SNP got around 30 per cent in the 1974 election, and had candidates such as Margo MacDonald, Winnie Ewing, George Reid. Salmond was the SNP leader who achieved progressively higher levels of the vote in Scotland through the 1990s and 2000s, leading to getting 45 per cent in 2011, and the independence referendum. Nicola Sturgeon did very well in last years general election, but she was building on very solid foundations (that had been built up over decades). To be honest, for all the talk of Nicola Sturgeon being to the left of Alex Salmond, I have not noticed any discernible difference in the political direction of the SNP since she took over as leader. Essentially the SNP is the same managerial/technocratic, top down, policy made and decided by the leadership, centrist party it was under Salmond.

      1. Broadbield says:

        According to Robin McAlpine, writing yesterday in Common Space, the SNP Constitution enables any branch to put forward a motion at conference and if conference votes for it, it becomes policy.

        So if there is a centrist tendency then it’s up to the membership to push for change and bring forward more radical policies, bearing in mind that too radical might frighten people off.

        1. muttley79 says:

          Well, I took a different interpretation from Robin McAlpine’s article. I think he was trying to say that he does not think SNP members with considerable experience, in their own professions and backgrounds, are being given as much an opportunity as they could to shape and develop party policy. Also, that recent policies are probably coming solely from the SNP leadership or their advisers, and are either timid or concerning, in terms of being progressive or not. If you get a party leadership that wants to be controlling, in terms of policy or limiting members’ roles, there is not much a particular party’s constitution can do about it, given that there are always ways to be found around it.

          1. Clive Scott says:

            I trust Nicola and John to steer a sensible course to the next referendum rather than have the party saddled with unworkable student style “radical” policies from the far left or right fringes. Why can’t you rejoice in the successes so far rather than carp. The overwhelming majority of voters are not that interested in radical anything. They just want stuff to work so they can get on with their life. What is wrong with managerial competence? Go radical and watch the voters disappear in droves.

          2. muttley79 says:

            This is a reply to Clive Scott:

            I trust Nicola and John to steer a sensible course to the next referendum rather than have the party saddled with unworkable student style “radical” policies from the far left or right fringes. Why can’t you rejoice in the successes so far rather than carp. The overwhelming majority of voters are not that interested in radical anything. They just want stuff to work so they can get on with their life. What is wrong with managerial competence? Go radical and watch the voters disappear in droves.

            The problem with what you have written is that that was what people were told to do during the independence referendum campaign, you know the ‘shut up and don’t give the unionists something to use against us’ line. But know you are effectively saying that we should not say anything that may be construed as criticism until independence!… This cannot really be the answer. You are effectively calling for no dissent from the SNP leadership line.

            As for the blanket dismissal of radical politics, well I am afraid to say it was Nicola Sturgeon herself who promised us radical land reform, and we did not really get it did we? Sure the SNP strengthened it quite a bit but it is still far from radical. Managerial competence will eventually be blunted over time in office, and you need to have more in your locker than just that. Unlike you, I can both ‘rejoice’ in the recent success and progress towards independence, and also not lose my critical facilities in the process.

          3. Broadbield says:

            I don’t think we disagree over McAlpine’s article. I agree he was worried about the top-down approach, but pointed out that the constitution allows for membership to create policy. I also agree that they should make full use of the talent within the much enlarged membership.

            Like you I am somewhat disheartened by the seemingly timid approach to policy, although Derek Bateman argued recently why “safety” may be necessary. But I would like them to enunciate a philosophy, a program for the future, perhaps achievable only after independence. For example, are they in favour of greater equality via redistribution? Because that can only be achieved by more taxation of the rich, the wealthy, corporations and by ending some of the absurd tax-freebies such as the lighter taxation of dividends when taken instead of “income”, capital gains tax, the public handouts to higher rate taxpayers on their pension contributions and so on.

          4. David Allan says:

            Robin McAlpine like many others know the reality that the leadership cherry pick branch motions and tend to reject / avoid selecting anything that may create the slightest division. Conference is stage managed a form of censorship exists which new SNP Branch Members will have begun to appreciate. And then of course there is the “old Guard” mentality at branch level where office bearers frown upon any new blood or new ideas constraining creativity in favour of maintaining their perceived wisdom on events and items Political. If there are any beacons at branch level it ain’t widespread.

            Their Flaw is It remains a meeting place for like minded Independence supporters “happy clappies” the practice of political discussion,self expression , internal debate being avoided it’s just not what the SNP do at Branch Level. They deliver leaflets,canvass and raise funds anything else – forget it.

            If the constitution is not upheld and a complaint/grievance is raised with SNP HQ you soon find out you have become surplus to membership requirements.

            There is a stench about certain branch practices that does not bode well for the future of the party.

  6. Broadbield says:

    Well said Katherine.

    The elephant is who are the paymasters? For the Tories and UK Labour it’s the big money interests, corporate power, wealthy individuals their malign influence mediated through lobbyists and even more directly by inviting them inside the tent as Brown & Darling did when they “saved” the banks as directed by the bankers they’d asked in who, surprise, surprise, decided taxpayers would foot the bill for their criminality. The SNP must steer clear of these mephistophelian fiends.

  7. Peter Arnott says:

    Very thought provoking. The thought it provokes is as follows:

    It will only be after this election that “non-SNP Scotland” will even begin to get its act…or acts…together. And how that develops, on left and right ( with the SNP, I suspect, as centrists) will depend hugely on the wider context of Brexit or not…or whether the Tories call an early election (perhaps with collaboration from the Labour right, ie the PLP as a way of getting rid of Corbyn)…so it’s really impossible to predict what will happen to the left and right in the UK, let alone Scotland. What we can be rock solid certain of, however, is that there will not be one, unitary UK wide re-shaping of politics across the whole state. The tectonic plates will keep moving, and the politicians will keep trying to keep up.

  8. florian albert says:

    ‘the mainstream centre left is in a terrible state’ across Europe and the developed world.’

    I agree. You have to ask why, thirty years after Thatcher and Reagan broke with the post-1945 consensus, the centre left is still floundering ?

    One reason might be that the centre left, overwhelmingly dominated by middle class leadership, goes along with much of the globalization agenda. For now, it gives people cheap clothing from the factories of the Third World, cheap travel due to Ryanair and cheap services due to the influx of immigrants.

    1. Derry Vickers says:

      Marx predicted that Capitalism would give way to Socialism which would morph into Communism as the workers saw being part of a community was better. Well it hasn’t happened. The Industrial Workers have migrated to Office Workers who prefer to aspire to the bourgeoisie rather than continue as the proletariat. In consequence the centre left has evaporated.

  9. JohnEdgar says:

    “Corbyn does not get Scotland. He has unveiled no Scottish strategy or awareness..” Therein lies ScotLab’s dilemma. Corbyn is a traditional Labour Westminster centralist a unionist par excellence with a veneer of faux socialism. He is a product of the English grammar school system, has a London seat with the “cappuccino and champagne” froth mixed in.
    But why need he worry? One ScotLab MP at Westminster. The branch north of the Tweed are expendable in the UKOK scheme of things. All the three unionist parties at Westminster in numbers are English in style, character and number! Add in EVEL and the Scots can lump it in the so- called GB/UK parliament.
    I feel that Kezia Dugdale and even Willie Rennie are starting to read the “runes”. Much to the chagrin of their (former) better together cheerleader, Ruth Davidson, Kezia and Willie have no problem with their members voting in future for independence.

  10. Alf Baird says:

    “with parties rising and falling much more speedily”

    Like cars, mobiles and ipads, the lifecycle of political parties is forever shortening – aspiring career politicians should take note. And voters dislike and distrust all politicians, deservedly so. However the supposed ‘power’ wielded by politicians is highly exaggerated, in this article also. It matters little who sits on Holyrood’s seats; well over 90% of the public sector budget each year is always heading for the same departments and quangos irrespective of what might be called a ‘new government’ or ‘new policies’. The amounts spent on things the SNP shout about that they argue differentiates them – tuition fees, prescriptions, nurseries, elderly care etc – account for well under 10% of the total Holyrood budget. The senior civil servants and myriad quango ceo’s – aka ‘establishment Scotland’ – continue to run the show and the bulk of public finances as they always have done and their budgets seldom alter much proportionately in the overall scheme of things. These people are predominantly unionists, many are not even Scots and most have a minor interest in Scottish nationhood far less in ‘progressive policies’. Even if Scotland were independent these unionist ‘elites’ would still run Scotland, not the talking heads in Holyrood. How to change this and the elites that really run Scotland is the real challenge facing ‘ordinary’ folk.

    1. John Page says:

      Very good post!

  11. Punklin says:

    Sorry but narrow arguments about whether the SNP are sufficiently left wing miss the point. As a social democratic competent alternative to red blue Toryism, they win the support of most voters.

    And though I sometimes worry about their top down structure, I still canvass for both votes SNP several times a week.

    Less agonising over doctrines, more campaigning = best route to a better Scotland.

  12. kimberley says:

    The SNP are a party against Trident nuclear weapons and against foreign military interventions of the kind we have seen in Iraq and Syria. They want an independent Scotland. They have a core policy of universal public services rather than costly and often stigmatising means testing. They have fully mitigated the bedroom tax and are committed to doing all they can to protect Scots from the worst of WM cuts (and have voted at WM accordingly). They over funded a council tax freeze in order to bring the overall charges down for everyone, and have taken the first steps towards reforming the system now they’ve done this. They make sure that access to health and education is never based on ability to pay. They provide free childcare; they are diverting funds to help poorer kids do better at school whilst also implementing policies which widen access to university for poorer students. In addition they are enacting policies to make it easy for children to report abuse, and way easier than before. They have passed their land reform bill, which will double community ownership by 2020, create transparency of ownership, as well as strengthen the rights of tenant farmers, ensuring fairness of rents, and taxing sporting estates; as well as announcing a consultation on taxing vacant & derelict land. They have introduced a LBTT which will serve to recoup taxes from buy to let-ers. They have refused to tax the poorest more like Labour want, and they have refused to implement Tory income tax cuts for the wealthiest. They have passed the housing bill giving tenants rights over unfair eviction, having already given protection regarding deposits, and have committed to rent controls in the next parliament. And when Labour and the Tories were arguing that cuts needed to be made in order to cut the deficit, the SNP were arguing that this was not the case, and put forward their own prospectus to detail how to invest and grow out of it. And indeed when Labour and the Tories were trying to out-do UKIP, the SNP was calling on the UK government to take in more refugees.

    The SNP and Labour simply don’t compare. Labour did nothing for Scotland when in power at Holyrood, they even gave back £1.5 billion to the UK government rather than use it to address poverty in areas like Glasgow that had always voted for them believing Labour’s rhetoric. But actions always speak louder than words and Labour are thankfully now reaping what they have sewn in Scotland.The SNP not only have clear core principles, but their policies have been redistributive and radical (as outlined above) AND they have focused on creating a society where our citizens are invested in good public services and universalism because they benefit from it. Yep the two really just do not compare at all….

    1. JohnEdgar says:

      Kimberley, one thing Slab did which was real change in Scotland at Holyrood, was to change the voting system for local government. Mind you, their then coalition partners, the Lib Dems, had to push them hard.
      That was probably Jack McConnell’s saving grace.
      But Slab don’t even remember that and take some praise. Strange?!

  13. C Rober says:

    It doesn’t really matter if the SNP are socialist , only that they appear to be more so than the Scottish Labour party , just as how Blair labour became more Centre right to appear more Tory.

    Where is Milliband today , Corbyn should pay heed.

    Centrist right and populist works during the good times , well to keep the career politician in a job , just as socialist and leftist does during austerity and recessions to bring in new blood , or to keep the private educated , middling classes , in jobs as they try to “RiSE” as nuevo socialists.

    The only top tier mandate campaign option now is FFA as a SLAB policy , with Corbyn coming out and saying so pre election , or the numbers of Labour politicians in Scotland returned to Holyrood will be lower for it with his silence. If as suspected that there is still a revolt to be had against SLAB , then it will be as suspected a “plus one” on the ballot paper for the SNP.

    While I know there will be less Slab seats in Holyrood than for the previous term , I also hope that they return the same ultra low percentage as during the Westminster election – until they are suitably skelpt enough to endorse change for the voter , not for their head office.

    Perhaps this is the extinction level event they need to remove the last remnants of career politician nuLabour sycophants , to rebuild from Councillor and working class socialist “local” stock once more , not instead to continue in expecting the change of the electorates mindset instead.

    Perhaps this is the reasoning why Dugdale has changed tack , in order to keep her job , to appear that SLAB is albatonomous , but it will be a little too late for that particular career politician , and yet another change at the top for SLAB come summer. One cant really have a party leader while unelected by the voter into political head office , or can they?

    Some Labour politicians at council level now fear for their jobs for after the Holyrood elections privately , worried that those without seats in either Westminster or Holyrood will not just look for list votes , just as the old guard like Baillie and Dugdale are doing (at the expense of other members actually campaigning) , and are dusting down those skeletons in the Councillors closets. Expect major change in council elections next , and more postcode politician changes with no actual link to their ward.

    But are the SNP socialist , well to a verbal part some , to undelivered promises definitely.

    Labour too failed on socialist promises.

    They promised to reindustrialise Scotland during Thatcher as the opposition , to empower councils as mass employers , to reopen mines , to save shipyards just for votes to get into power – and all over the UK , not just in Scotland they failed working class and industrial communities. Must have lost their wands.

    As Labour went right it lost its ground in Scotland , as it went “unionist to order” it lost the last of it , its “broon troosers” for its politicians soon enough.

    The Land reform question may well come back and bite the SNP sooner than they think , especially when regarding LDP and questionable practices in North Ayrshire during process in ignoring data and Holyrood legislation alone . I dont doubt that this is just in the FM own heartlands and is also repeated in other council areas.

    Would SLAB campaign on arguing on Judicial review of LDP land inclusion , well glass houses I am afraid . On saying that it was Labour Councillors that refused to use farmland for the Murray tennis academy (cough rural Millionaires housing estate with an indoor and outdoor tennis court/pool), but perhaps the brown envelopes got mislaid in the post with its privatization.

    The SNP are fast becoming a party of personal landlords , with around 30 percent of them (even more including their partners holdings ) renting out second/third or more properties. Do we hear any Holyrood legislation about preventing politicians from being landlords ?

    Expecting those that profit personally from housing supply to legislate it is not in any way though socialist , it should be down to community councils telling proper councils its needs, something that on paper at least SNP both praise and want , yet in practice JUST ignore . Its as it stands like letting Gary Glitter run after school care – letting those with financial interests in housing actually legislate it.

    Of course Labour themselves are not free from sin , Blair for example is well into 20 million in property and is a landlord , prior to the Westminster SNP route last year a considerable number of Scottish Labour Mp’s were also landlords. Invest in stock markets , you have risk to ones personal wealth creation , invest in housing that you control – no risk , ker-ching.

    The 3 billion of money for first time buyers promised by Holyrood last October.

    Well that could/should have been used to remove the council waiting list instead , removing the landlords profits , thus freeing up stock without any tenants to rent them , meaning more privately owned offered for sale to first time buyers – as the landlords in turn sell them off in a frenzy.

    The SNP socialist policy on ALL housing is a lie , just like the Tories.

    It is market rigging to the extreme from the SNP , profiting the few from housing , this while conveniently denying the first rung of affordable home ownership , aka RTB to the low paid to “preserve current council stock” , well it is an outright lie when there was another option to modify RTB instead – creating further council housing and at the same truly NFP affordable.

    When there is legislated deliberate avoidance to supply more council stock , while simultaneously increasing private owned by a factor of 30 , its controlled for a reason. This isnt the Tories , this isnt Labour , its SNP in control of housing , as a majority at Holyrood , as well as an increasing number of councils.

    For example in North Aryshire it will take 117 years at current SNP council and Holyrood rate of supply to remove the council waiting list , SNP own figures used.

    Yet the local MSP and his MP wife are happy to take ink in the local printed propaganda chip wrapper , highlighting this lack of supply somehow as a victory! #thumbsupbutdontdothemaths

    Certainly its not a victory , and definitely massaging of the figures according to Holyrood data. Private rented being the largest reduction in council waiting lists as well as natural demo-graphical stats , ie population decreasing through lower birth rates , which is a bigger decrease than ACTUAL supply by a long chalk.

    Only the SNP can take credit for a birth rate decrease and increase of private rented , leading to a reduction in those on housing waiting lists and not being challenged by voters or indeed SHELTER whom should have taken them to task on their egregious mathematics given they were qouted in the piece.

    Its not SNP policy enacted , more so when you consider that the “children of the children” on today’s waiting lists will ALL be dead before they get offered a council house , at their supply rate so championed , and likely long before the last council house to remove todays waiting list is built in 117 years time (excluding stock renewals on top of that).

    The continuing Holyrood mandated sell off of council land to private developers , rather than retain to build FUTURE communities by the councils themselves , the removal of RTB , combined with the previously mentioned 3 Billion Pounds , that they “fiscally found”, that could be used for council housing on an unheard of scale , well it is now looks somehow obscene.

    But again Labour is complicit as the largest opposition in Holyrood.

    They should be demanding council rented supply increasing FIRST , with reformed RTB as a council income (as both a primary lender and builder) , as the only best pound for pound AFFORDABLE option for first home ownership for the low paid , and in the process removing developers and land owners obscene 100 percent plus profits…. now that actually is something socialist.

    But then again housing , with its profit for the few , controlled by the elected few (that profit from it personally) , well “oh look over there”!

    1. David I says:

      I agree with most of your post
      But to justify this part

      “Yet the local MSP and his MP wife are happy to take ink in the local printed propaganda chip wrapper , highlighting this lack of supply somehow as a victory”
      the local rag is owned by the Trinity Mirror group, and is hostile still to anything that is not Labour, and a” recruiting shop for the Daily Rascal ” the couple have had a lot to do in getting anything positive printed, how ever the likes of Donohoe ,Clark and heaven help Wilson had the paper pile licking them.
      Not withstanding, The social housing issue is another matter, the whole council as with most haven’t a clue, if councils adopt a eco house policy they can be built quicker,cost less to build and cost less to heat that should be a benefit to lower earners,But I believe it’s too difficult for them to think that way
      The previous council administration (labour) could only see selling off to developers,which now,I would suspect forms part of the developer’s land bank
      I’m more inclined to blame the Labour Party for creating the problem by non-investment for about 50years

      1. C Rober says:

        Actually David I can correct you on a point.

        The LDP is an invention by the SNP at Holyrood , a carbon copy of Westminster legislation , with a clear housing plan for the near future to be set by all councils.

        Enabling in this case the use of farmland against its own policies(multiple) , where the Labour council had prevented it happening for 25 years or so previously , though they did allow it elsewhere in the locale , to the detriment of the local community , resulting in planning failure.

        The SNP at both Local and Holyrood level not just ignored community councils objections during the NAC LDP this time , but also the previous objection for development. With that the individual peoples own objections , the housing need and demand surveys , rural planning guidance , impact studies , raod safety groups and more .

        They did so while championing local communities on housing decisions that refused it elsewhere in Scotland , which were not SNP majority councils , as SNP community empowerment policy delivered … ie un needed development by other lorded land owners quashed by people power.

        Stirling council , a LABOUR majority , refused recently something similar to Mrs Murray for their millionaires estate on farmland.

        The difference there is if its not in the LDP it cant be built on , a Labour majority council actually using SNP and Holyrood legislation , sounds like a good SNP Holyrood policy or does it? Or is it to only be followed by non SNP majority councils?

        Simple thing then for your SNP Councillors to just allow previously denied land planning by a Labour majority council through its inclusion into the NAC LDP , to get an executive housing development approval on farmland – This despite the community objection and legislation that should prevent it . NAC is a majority SNP council not Labour , so in this instance at least they are without blame , this time.

        What if I was to tell you that they even redrew the boundary to make it fit the legislation afterwards , the land was actually outside the town itself , not instead as a reason to refuse the application and to follow the legislation , or that those on the LDP land inclusion panel were not directed on policy at all by the SNP chair – at any point as seen in the minutes?

        It all reeks of either ineptitude or corruption , there is a reason why NAC were the first to finalize their LDP , was it ordained beforehand or it was half arsed.

        However the council land sell off historically you mention , as a Labour majority , was not a Labour led council policy as such.

        The council owned land , pre Holyrood , was a Westminster forced sell , or it meant monies being held back for councils with empty stock , many urban schemes were raized , and there was no money to create more housing on it – the only option , nay order , was to sell for development. Its common knowledge that all council operations of the time , across the UK , were the same.

        However this sell off is still ongoing at NAC , with devolved powers to Holyrood , so there is no Westminster to blame now , and done so by an SNP majority council , aided by an SNP govt. You cant have it both ways , if it was bad when as a Labour majority , is it not more so by an SNP one considering they are the legislators?

        It was also seen in other large Labour led councils of the time , Glasgow , Greenock , where probably 200k flats were demolished and not replaced pre Holyrood (or since). Tragic when we need slightly more today to remove the Scottish council waiting list , and that there is still schemes being raized today.

        I am not in any way a Labour apologist , which should be evident in most of my posts , but if you must argue on sell off of land , pre SNP majority , you should at least consider the facts of the time vs the facts of today.

        If we must let politicians decide on housing , then they at least must follow their own rules , not merely ignore them or redraw the boundaries to suit .

        Especially so when they supply bought housing through legislation at 30x that of council housing , and have financial interests in housing personally , aka are landlords themselves , which the Local MSP and his MP wife are , just like plenty of their party’s politicians are also.

        Local paper , editorial bias.

        If the wind blows the SNP take credit for it , but there seems some changes recently , as evident with the SNP NAC supply of the non car park in Saltcoats and numerous other articles questioning the SNP propaganda.

        That propoganda printer , it does however supply some good info at times by accident , I did the maths from has its nuggets on SNP housing .

        This revealed the 30x rate of supply of bought housing over council housing , and of course that they were taking credit for the private rented sector – as “SNP housing policy delivery in action” for reducing the council waiting lists . Of course it was easy then to work out the SNP rate of supply meant 117 years to remove the council waiting lists in N.A.

        The irony there is that the MSP , and his wife , according to the Holyrood “other financial interest declarations ” by politicians , now redacted , reveals they are private landlords , so actually they are PERSONALLY reducing council waiting lists…. while increasing their bank balance.

        Something worth considering really come May elections , just how interested really are landlord politicians that have a financial interest in housing , on the increase of council rented, ie that reduces their own income….. Just a thought.

        1. David I says:

          Thanks for that,
          It’s hard to express what I really wanted to say as I’ve no doubt I’d be defending myself at Killie High Court.
          That said trying to follow some of the details relating to Housing issues are quite hard to find although supposedly in the Public Domain they seem to be recorded in Council web sites and manually filed in the wrong place,especially if the land was donated for a specific or public use

  14. arthur thomson says:

    A comforting post from comrade Hassan.

    The SNP will just get on with improving Scotland’s lot, with increasing support from the Scottish electorate, who increasingly realise that the other parties are more interested in serving their tired ideological notions – and their self-interest – instead of serving the people.

    What’s new? Nothing in the world of 19th century politics.

  15. willie says:

    What a load of tosh. Total and utter claptrap from Mr Hasdan. SNP policies baad it seems.

    1. Tim says:

      Scotland is indeed just a word. But imagine the furore if a Labour leader dared say that Britain was just a word.

  16. JohnEdgar says:

    Non-SNP Scotland is a misnomer in many ways. The “red ” Tories and the “blue” Tories ate at opposite ends of the spectrum and even their erstwhile “better together” jaunt was not enough to make people vote “tactically” in 3014. In fact, one could almost say that ScotLab are already slipping into the margins and joining the rump of the the other UK – based parties who are starting at Westminster to gave their own internal feuds and arguments over Brexit/Engxit and leaders. Neither of the two UK parties (the LibDems ate already off the radar) can command even 50% of the vote UK wide. They are becoming de facto and de jure at Westminster English parties aided by EVEL. Hence the opening chasm between Scotland and England. Now that Dugdale and Rennie are relaxed that their MSP’s and MP’s plus members can have a free vote in any future referendum, it seems they too are beginning to read the runes before their head offices and the Tories vote to leave the UK and ditch the branches.

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