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Strive and wait

Brian Taylor | 16:25 UK time, Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Here’s a question for you. Why did Labour lose the Holyrood elections last May?

No, come on, seriously. Was it a rejection of Jack McConnell? An insurrection against Tony Blair? A victory for Nationalism? A victory for Alex Salmond?

Is there perhaps another element, underpinning each of these options? Party organisation. Setting policy and leadership to one side for a moment, Labour was systematically driven down by a far superior SNP campaign, headed by the estimable Angus Robertson MP.

There are one or two voices in Scottish Labour still bemoaning the narrow scope of the defeat. Would it have been different if different candidates had been selected - or willing to stand - in certain key seats?

An alternative view, however, is: you lost, get over it. On balance, while casting an eye back, the leadership is inclined to the second view.

We now learn Scottish Labour is determined to match key elements of that SNP approach. For example, Labour has built and will maintain an online database of potential supporters.

Potential sympathy

During the Holyrood campaign, I witnessed this aspect of the SNP machine in operation. It was, frankly, awesome.

Instead of confronting folk with blunt doorstep questions purely about voting intention, canvassers were trained to pursue identifiers: that is, issues such as crime or education which might intrigue the voters and disclose potential sympathy for the SNP cause or particular SNP policies.

These doorstep surveys then generated targeted mailshots, dwelling upon the issues raised. In essence, the SNP was permanently talking about the concerns of the voters - not of the party.

Labour leaders claim their replica system has helped the party to win recent local authority by-elections.

Further, at the Scottish Labour conference the weekend after next, there will be a series of reforms to organisation designed to improve the party machine.

At this stage, these fall notably short of the complete transformation promised by Wendy Alexander at her accession to the leadership.

She explains that by saying that the party’s new general secretary in Scotland, Colin Smyth, is actively examining change.

Other items in the wind. Ms Alexander plans to publish a “vision thing” document this weekend, setting out her view of Labour’s core purpose in Scotland. Expect talk of aspiration, ambition and social justice.

Campaign funding

Her front bench team are publishing new policies. These include, today, efforts to increase the number of modern apprenticeships: their wages would be paid or part-paid in small firms while large companies would be advised to take on apprentices in order to win public sector contracts.

These initiatives she can undertake. There are other small matters, of course, where her room for manoeuvre is somewhat more limited.

One thinks of the protracted controversy over her campaign funding. One thinks of the doubts over her performance in the chamber.

One thinks especially perhaps of the weekend poll by MRUK which suggested that Alex Salmond was a massive 75 points ahead of her in popularity.

(Mr Salmond had a substantial plus score, weighing those who like him in the balance against those who dislike him. Ms Alexander’s net rating was notably negative.)

What can she do about these? Strive and wait, I suppose. Strive and wait.


  • 1.
  • At 05:32 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Ricky Simpson wrote:

Labour lost because of Iraq. The SNP had 13 point leads and still only got 1 more seat. A victory for them, but a very narrow one none the less.

I cant see it being replicated. Salmond will be embroiled in some other sleazy scandal.

  • 2.
  • At 05:33 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Anonymous wrote:

To be honest I think Labour in Scotland will need to take aback seat for another term and allow the scottish people to get the best out of the SNP led administration.

Also at one point Labour are going to have to start being positive about the future of Scotland instead of the cringeworthy repetitive nonsence from their Masters Voice.

I think their scaremongering has to go as currently I am not £5000 poorer under the SNP and if they can get their LIT through the parliment I will indeed be better off.

But this is Labour , they fully expect everyone else to change and are still wondering why they were booted out instead of wondering why they were booted out

  • 3.
  • At 05:35 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Irving Parry wrote:

Why did Labour lose the last Election?. Simple. They did nothing for Scotland during their 8 years in power. Well, that's not quite fair. They did abolish tolls on the Skye Bridge, give free 'bus travel to the elderly, and millions of our money to Malawi. Yes, and that's not all. They thought about giving us free prescriptions. They had been thinking about it for almost a year, before they ran out of "thinking time", when Parliament packed up for the run-up to the Election. They were arrogant to think that they would enjoy an easy return to power.They have had their chance. Now, it is time for someone else to do better for Scotland.

  • 4.
  • At 05:58 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Colin wrote:

Labour had 10 years to make noticeable difference - I think particularly wrt social justice. They failed - Wendy is failing. People are confident that we need more radical change and that the SNP are best placed to deliver that.

  • 5.
  • At 05:59 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • LYDIA REID wrote:

Labour lost the election because people woke up to quite a few facts. 1. They have no real interest in Scotland or its future.
2.They are not an honest party shown if by nothing else by the recent scandals on party donations.
3.They spend more on spin doctors than on the NHS.
4.If they were an honest party with an interest in what happen to Jock Tamson and all his bairns why would they need spin doctors.
5. They believed they would never lose an election in Scotland.

  • 6.
  • At 06:15 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • stephen wrote:

The national apprenticeship scheme is worthwhile if we can afford it.

Wendy however is something the SLP and scotland can Ill afford. Her name was not cleared by the electoral committee but it was thought that pursuing the matter in the courts was inappropriate, so a kind of not proven verdict. This leave's Wendy little room on the parliamentary floor when debating finances.

The complete and utter fiasco on the Budget vote, the lack of ideas on the wholly unpopular Council tax (ie if LITs not the answer what is?).
Lack of real policies, political infighting within the Labour party ranks and quite frankly Wendy is dissapointing at FMQs. Wendy needs to go and stay out of the public view if she wants to ressurect her politcal career. Labour need a new scottish leader if they are to raise their parties hopes of gaining anything in the next election in scotland.

Wendy has had her day Im afraid, we need new energetic leadership to give Scotland an ambitious and positive alternative to the SNP.

  • 7.
  • At 06:21 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • djmac wrote:


I had to keep checking the heading and origin of this blog as it seemed I was reading a PR handout from the Labour Party of Westminster in Scotland!!

Just where is the balance in this article?? We read about all of Wendy Alexander's plans to do this that and the other in the short term.

But not a single word about the moral and ethical bankruptcy that seems to be rife within LPoWiS.

Nor even a word about those reports of an established LPoWiS MSP's briefing against the leader.

Is investigative journalism now dead within BBC Scotland if it involves the LPoWiS??

The Labour Party of Westminster in Scotland.
'Sic a parcel of rogues in a Nation'.

  • 8.
  • At 07:25 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Ronald Foley wrote:

As someone who has previously voted Labour, I strongly disagree with your suggestion that Labour 'strive and wait'.
The change from an 'executive' to an SNP Government has given many Scots a pride in their government which did not exist under the previous administrations (Holyrood or Westminster). We realise now that we must and can address our own problems, not beg and beseach an English parliament to do it for us. Until Labour in Scotland realise this and start working for Scotland, even though this must result in conflict with Westminster they will continue their decline.

  • 9.
  • At 07:29 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Salmondwinsagain wrote:

Apart from the Red Rose culture and W of Scotland Mafia does ANYONE vote Labour???? - Salmond has shown the rest of this so caled Parliament in Scotland for what it is - a talking and expenses shop for councillors named MSP`s to make them sound more grand he is the only one with the necesary nous - as for Alexander the money grabber, she should go now - no one I know even thinks about her or Labour - they are FINISHED.

  • 10.
  • At 07:35 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Graeme wrote:

I just read the headlines, Wendy Alexander is telling Alex Salmond to step in and save a factory. Was this not the leader of one of the parties who blew a gasket over the legal calling in of the Trump project? Oh no, she was awfully quiet trying to avoid jail, well done on that by the way. Your party were up in arms over it, so was Nicol, even though everything was above board you screamed foul. The LibDems and Labour have made sure that companies will think twice about moving to Scotland with the nonsense that goes on. Now she asking for him to step in!?! I am sure if need be that Holyrood will call it in but he does not need to step in and save anything, if he does, how many inquiries and then public enquiries will that lead to?

Salmond and the SNP are doing a good job, that is why they will beat Labour come the next election, we have had Labour for 8 years in charge and voted for them for 50... they have achieved nothing, in fact when you compare Scotland to Switzerland (who have no oil and no heavy industry) they have done a completely awful job! We are finally seeing the way a government should work and until Labour learn to practice what they preach instead of empty promises they will never do as well as they have in the past.

  • 11.
  • At 07:51 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • karin wrote:

the reason labour lost is because we got sick of them and their sleaze and decided that is was "time" to give the other guys a go. To see if they could do any better.

So far they are doing better much much much better. So much that many of us wonder why we didnt support them long ago.
The reason the snp tailored their campaign to the voters is because that is who they are interested in.
Not the donations the high profile of their msps or listening to london.
The snp one driving ambition is to do the best for the scottish people.

End of.

The fact that labour are trying to copy this is doomed to failure because they are doing it to get elected not because they are concerned about the voters.

  • 12.
  • At 08:24 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Groaver wrote:

"the weekend poll by MRUK which suggested that Alex Salmond was a massive 75 points ahead of [Wendy Alexander]."

Brian, I think even Heather Mills is likely to be ahead of Wendy Alexander in the polls.

  • 13.
  • At 08:24 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Edwin Moore wrote:

Welcome back from Planet Smeato Brian - please don't do that again! The SNP organisation was excellent as you say, but they did very slightly better than Labour because they were better at telling people what they wanted to hear - but people in the central belt were voting for different reasons from people in Banff, that;s for sure.

Also, and there's no way of saying this unbrutally - the SNP were lucky not just that Donald Dewar died, but that their is no figure in labour who can take his place. All simple, really.

  • 14.
  • At 09:02 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Ross McLean wrote:

For me, the Labour party's 50-year hegemony in Scotland was bound, at some point, to come to an end. All it needed was demographic trends - new generations in a post-Thatcher, post-industrial, post-'new'Labour Scotland were bound to be less partisan and more interested in issues than in traditional party loyalties. Look at the volatility of the Scottish electorate - not just between different elections (1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005) but between the two ballots in any of the Holyrood elections. In these circumstances, particularly after a long unbroken period of a disappointing Labour government (Iraq and all that), all it took was for the 2nd party (the SNP) to mount a genuinely good, credible, incisive campaign, which - as you say - they did this time. The wonder is that it took them so long, and that when they did win they did so narrowly!

So in summary, why did Labour lose?...
1. A 'changing' Scotland';
2. The breakdown of traditional party loyalties;
3. A disappointing period of Labour in power (Iraq and all that); and
4. a decent campaign (at last) by the SNP.

The next question is how long it will last: can Labour come back, and what happens if not?

  • 15.
  • At 09:17 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • yuri wrote:

"Here’s a question for you. Why did Labour lose the Holyrood elections last May?"
Brian,easily answered, they were at long last found out and we are finding out more about them virtually on a daily basis in spite of the media bias favouring unionist parties,its only now when we've now got an alternative SNP administration in office that we can now look back in retrospect and realise how little they did and how abject labour were in the eight years they had in power,I say in power loosely as its now obvious they were never anything other than a latter day Vichy style executive who must have had to get the nod from Westminster labour before blowing their nose,in effect devolution only really came into being in May 2007 and has changed the political landscape of Scotland forever.
Labour may well get into power again depending on the gullibility of the electorate but with the bar now being raised by the SNP so is the expectations of the Scottish people and labour would be unable to deliver with the present paucity of talent in their ranks as can be observed weekly on TV at FMQ.

  • 16.
  • At 10:22 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • kevin wrote:

Up to the time of devolution, we ( the Scottish people) had to do what we were told by Westminster.We have had virtually no say what so ever in the running of our country . Since devolution, and more especially since the SNP took over, we have seen that we no longer have to be at the mercy of the goverment down South .We are now seeing how we can take hold of, and control our own destiny.The thing that really bugs me is the media with their unfair criticism and the constant downing the SNP for the least little thing when they`re doin far better things for the scottish people now ,than when labour was in power in Scotland for decades and decades, they`ve had long enough to get things done but always answered to Westminster, now be gone with the huffin Labour.Oh and their constant scaremongering eg.(£5000)worse off if SNP was in power lies lies lies the usual.

  • 17.
  • At 10:35 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Conway wrote:

Brian Labour in Scotland dont understand that as long as they put Westminsters needs before Scotlands they are going nowhere. Thats why the SNP are proving to be so popular,Scots may not be ready for Independence but they are wanting a Strong Scottish Voice .

  • 18.
  • At 10:56 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • kevin wrote:

Up to the time of devolution, we ( the Scottish people) had to do what we were told by Westminster.We have had virtually no say whatsoever in the running of our country . Since devolution, and more especially since the SNP took over, we have seen that we no longer have to be at the mercy of the goverment down south.We are now seeing how we can take hold of, and control our own destiny.But the thing that bugs me is the unfair way the media covers the stories and always downs the SNP at every chance. Labour had its chance, they had been in power for decades and decades in Scotland to do things but always went through London and now they`re huffin, if it wasn`t for the media they would be in a far worse state. Remember all the scaremongering eg.£5000 worse off if SNP was in power Lies lies lies the usual.Keep up the Good work SNP

  • 19.
  • At 11:00 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • BMK wrote:

I was astonished that during last year's election campaign, Labour failed to talk about anything they had achieved over the past eight years of devolution. The amount of investment in public services and infrastructure, 'freebies' such as bus travel and eye tests, a stronger economy and a more confident society. Instead all we heard was scaremongering about the SNP, which even to die hard Labour supporters must have sounded ridiculous. The SNP fought a far better campaign, focused on positive messages, got people out to vote and therefore won the election. It's what Labour did in 97 but forgot about ten years later.

  • 20.
  • At 11:26 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Cory MacRae wrote:

Are the comments on this blog simply a place for the supporters of the Smug Nationalist Posse?

Every time I check this blog all the responses seem to be a bunch of whining people accusing Brian of Pro-Labour tendencies. It is more than enough to think that the supporters of the SNP simply don't realise that they won and it is time to stop blaming the rest of the word for your ills and get on with governing.

Knee jerk reactions aside, what has been done? No 1000 extra Police as per promise. No referendum on Independence as per promise and no complete abolition of student debt as per promise. Funny, all the big things seem to take second best here.

Oh yes, local income tax, now it is going to come in shortly before the next election, or rather it will be discussed before the next election rather.

Surely it is more important for Salmond to be in Taggart (give Sir Sean a ring Alex boy, he will put you and Scotland right from his home in sunny Spain!) or to get Mr Trump to deign to build here and make more money for himself than to actually bring himself to address issues he has been bleating about for years.

The great politicians ignore what is going on around them and forge ahead with what they know is the right thing to do, Big Alex has no idea how he got there and so resorts to blaming everyone else for the things he can't fix.

Tiresome, really tiresome. The people have given you a chance, do something or lose it.

"Expect talk of...."

Yes Brian, I think we can all agree that there will be lots of talk, meanwhile the SNP Government will engage in lots of action....

  • 22.
  • At 01:09 AM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Steve A wrote:

Brian Make no mistake if we all think labour are toiling just now just wait and see what happens when they try to deny the Scottish people our democratic right to decide our constitutional future!Also when the snp win with a clear majority in 2011 will labour be asking for a referendum then?You wouldn't put it past them would you?The reason they lost last may is quite simple the Scottish people have woken up to this anti Scottish party!End of labour end of story!

  • 23.
  • At 02:10 AM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Dboy wrote:

The comment from #1 is a classic example of what's killing the Labour Party in Scotland, themselves. Labour are behaving like spoiled brats and the negativity that they projected before and after the election has clearly damaged them as represented by the latest poll.
The problem seems to be that they can't seem to get to grips with being the opposition. Until they come to terms with this simple fact things will only deteriorate further for them.
Alexander is woeful as a leader and few can argue seriously that she is any match for the FM in any capacity as a politician.

  • 24.
  • At 04:05 AM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Ken W wrote:

Why did Labour lose? After being pushed to fulfill their promise for a Scottish parliament after near a century of inaction, McConnel's mantra for the previous election in keeping with the Westminister need to maintain their paws on power in Scotland, was: 'Do less, but do it better'.
The natural conclusion was that his next Labour government would 'Do nothing, but do it perfectly'

No point in having a government if you dont intend to use it Brian.

All the research I have seen shows that voters are concerned with the following issues:-
National Health Service
Urban Sprawl

The party that addresses these issues will win elections. All the rest is window dressing.

  • 26.
  • At 08:47 AM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • PMK wrote:

Wendy Alexander had better come up with a genuine "vision thing" if she wants to make any progress back toward the sort of result wee Jack achieved.

Labour's main problem is that they dont have a vision as to why they want power, they just want power because the SNP have it.

  • 27.
  • At 09:28 AM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Stuart Leckie wrote:

Despite the incessant brays from my fellow Nationalists in these comment sections, Brian, you can be assured that your insight does not go completely unappreciated in Salmondonia.

Your question is more like two: Why did Labour lose yesterday, and why would they lose harder and faster tomorrow? Iraq answers nothing of either question IMO, the Dems never capitalised on stronger feelings both sides of the border. The broad feeling I saw was one where the old Executive was the little pinky of Westminster and the hand saw it as such. The Scots did not want independence in 07, that is obvious, but they craved a national identity which the SNP offered in substance and Salmond with style.

So why would Labour lose more seats tomorrow? Because they're still crying "It's ma baw and I'm takin it wi' me" while everyone else laughs and gets on with a brand new game.

  • 28.
  • At 09:56 AM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Jock Politicaljunkie wrote:

When the SNP won last May it was - due to unionist scaremongering - a step in the dark for many.

Having elected an SNP Government, the people have been impressed and have realised that it WAS NOT a step in the dark after all. The SNP Government is showing the way things CAN be done when policy is focused on the Scottish People and not some London based political end.

In short the entire Scottish Labour rhetoric will have to change. They will have to cut out ALL negativity and tone down their claims of what they can do.

This is because they have failed Scotland in 50 years of electoral dominance here. The SNP has DONE more in 10 months than slab did in 10 years, though they did plenty of TALKING. Grandiose launches by Wendy of her ""vision thing” document this weekend, setting out her view of Labour’s core purpose in Scotland. Expect talk of aspiration, ambition and social justice." Will be seen for the empty spin it is.

The polls show this to be true - the SNP whilst having had a lead over slab in Holyrood voting intentions for almost 2 years now, have NEVER before had a lead over them in Westminster voting intentions. The respective leads are 13% and 7% - it's called a Sea Change. The Scottish People are sick and tired of being talked down to and of being told lies about our incapability of going it alone.

  • 29.
  • At 10:11 AM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Alex Brodie wrote:

Brian - I see djmac (#7) isn't fooled by your constant pandering to the Labour Party. No matter how many "question sessions" you have for Wendy Alexander nor how many times you attempt to convince people she is not dead in the water as a politician, we have not forgotten how she was treated differntly by the law to every other Scottish citizen, nor will we. Wendy can strive all she wants - but the canny voters of Scotland will deliver the right verdict on her - just wait!

  • 30.
  • At 10:46 AM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Kenny (Airdrie) wrote:

Labour lost because the SNP won. I don't hear anyone asking why did the SNP win. Heres the reason and its as simple as this:

The SNP offer a future which is more in line with a modern world. We must finally accept that the union is not as strong as it once was. Wales aren't really interested in maintaining it, Northern Ireland is an ever changing canvas. Us Scots are conditioned into thinking that we cannot survive without the union. This is orchestrated by people in power or on the fringes of power who have something to loose financially personally. Why should we hold our nation back by allowing the minority who benifit from the union to scupper the hopes and dreams of the ordinary people.

This country can more than sustain itself and if things go wrong then we put it right. Our English cousins need to be assured that we don't necessarily need them (specifically) to bail us out.

For years the Scots have been held back by Systematically removing our industries and with it our skills, and placed our destinies in the hands of international big names. We are a nation of Call Centre's and Shops and now we are led into thinking that working in these kind of places creates skills. Very questionable.

The way ahead is for Scotland to gain back its integrity and credibility through re-introducing the industrial skills (the modern equivelant of ship building) required to maintain self sufficiency. It may cost money to begin with but the long term benefits are fantastic.

Why did Labour lose.....because Scotland Won!!!!

  • 31.
  • At 11:00 AM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

Effectively we elect parties into power by delivering a majority of a parties MPs/MSPs into constituency office, we do not directly elect a leader into the office of First Minister or Prime Minister; hence all the objections from Conservative voters Re Gordon Brown’s Coronation forgetting conveniently as they did the same situation with John Major and others well within living memory.

More and more parties are seemingly being elected based on who would be First Minister or Prime Minister; are we voters actually shallow or are we understanding of the reality that the local aims of our representatives are only achievable if our MPs’ or MSPs’ leader is the tenant of either number ten Downing Street or Bute House?

Alex Salmond did not abandon his Independence platform, he merely choose to run on the claim that he could run Scotland better as First Minister than could Jack McConnell; a wholly believable claim when the agenda of Mr McConnell and his inner sanctum have been examined.

Have we been wooed by Presidential Campaigns in the US; should we go one step further down our democratic process and add a First Minister or Prime Minister preference box on the ballot paper; this would not invalidate coronations as a deputy could also be the ‘ticket’?

Or was the debacle that was the last combined election a warning of clear and present danger when ‘we’ try to become too clever and merely act to complicate our voting Proforma?

People believed Alex Salmond and his party would represent the people of Scotland, he has done so admirably and with great dignity.

Recent events, such as illegal donations,clandestine meetings in order to undermine due process has left Labour wrapped in a sleaze blanket, and one they fully merit.

The Labour party in Scotland do not want nuclear weapons dumped on the Clyde, however Labour Westminster do, at best we are left with either no decision or indecision.

See you all on liberation day !

  • 33.
  • At 11:24 AM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • The frustrated brigade wrote:

Scottish politics is really Central Belt politics. For everyone else devolution has left us worse off. We are suffocated with MSP's, MEP's, MP's, Councillors and let us not forget the quangos. Most voters don't have a clue who is running the shop.

  • 34.
  • At 11:38 AM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • yuri wrote:

"Here’s a question for you. Why did Labour lose the Holyrood elections last May?"
Brian,easily answered, they were at long last found out and we are finding out more about them virtually on a daily basis in spite of the media bias favouring unionist parties,its only now when we've now got an alternative SNP administration in office that we can now look back in retrospect and realise how little they did and how abject labour were in the eight years they had in power,I say in power loosely as its now obvious they were never anything other than a latter day Vichy style executive who must have had to get the nod from Westminster labour before blowing their nose,in effect devolution only really came into being in May 2007 and has changed the political landscape of Scotland forever.
Labour may well get into power again depending on the gullibility of the electorate but with the bar now being raised by the SNP so is the expectations of the Scottish people and labour would be unable to deliver with the present paucity of talent in their ranks as can be observed weekly on TV at FMQ.

  • 35.
  • At 11:50 AM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Scott wrote:

The thing is, whether one supports independence or not, the SNP will always always put Scotland first. Now the electorate can plainly see that the world hasn’t ended, sky fallen in and tax isn’t up £5000 etc I genuinely cannot see how Labour will move forward. The Westminster wing of their party will never allow them to out ‘nat’ the SNP. I think Labour always assumed no matter how well the SNP did they would never quite make it, to show people what it they were really like. Thus allowing them to continue with their scaremongering and fear tactics which they have indulged so heavily in since the 70s. How are they going to campaign in 2011? I am really genuinely fascinated. What kind of believable apocalyptic vision can the Daily Record come up after 4 years of SNP rule, with not a plague of locusts in sight? Of course you will get your voter in deepest Shettleston who has voting Labour ingrained on their chromosomes, but apart from these people who are the terror tactics going to affect now? Apart from the immensely stupid, gullible and pathetic?

Labour in Holyrood no longer has these towering 20,000 majorities like Westminster that could weather any storm. Look at the Cambuslang by-election results. I mean the SNP almost won in Cambuslang!!!! To anyone even remotely familiar with the history of Scottish politics, the tectonic shift of the last 12 months is truly astounding.

I don’t know what Labour can do to improve their prospects and, judging their performance to date, neither to they.

  • 36.
  • At 11:57 AM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Richie55 wrote:

I'm a teacher, my wife's a nurse. As public sector workers, we should be Labour voters but no longer. Many reasons for this - lack of quality in a Labour leadership made up of unattractive 'careerists'like the Alexanders; Labour sleaze eg Prescott; Iraq to some extent; but above all, the massive waste of public money that we see in our jobs every day. In 1997 my wife had one sheet with the contact details of all her 'managers'. Today it needs a four page booklet to list all their names and numbers. Bureaucracy in the public services, always top-heavy, is out of control and of course stealing away resources from the 'frontline'. Let's hope that the SNP can sort out the mess a bit.

  • 37.
  • At 12:04 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Gail wrote:

Labour lost the election because more people voted for SNP than for Labour combined with the fact that they must be one of the most corrupt parties to date.

Despite major help from the so called Scottish pres and BBC Scotland , the SNP succeeded in gaining power. That should tell you a great deal.
Without the concerted effort by the media on behalf of the Labour Party ,who knows how many seats they would have won?
Not to mention the election which was skewed by Douglas Alexander and company , despite protestations of 'it wisnae me' I truly believe that London Labour did attempt to fiddle the result. Or was it a guddle not a fiddle?
Having sent their ' big guns ' up to Scotland in the shape of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown to ' help ' Jock
Mc Who? ( do any of them down there actually know his name ?) and having only succeeded in reminding the Scottish people about Iraq , they LOST.
And they are still losing despite the efforts of the Scottish media , who are currently leaving me in a frenzy of anger.
I echo the sentiment expressed regarding John Smeaton.

  • 39.
  • At 12:25 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Peter D wrote:

Labour lost because, led by Bliar, they gave up all values other than self-interest in big business rewards

  • 40.
  • At 12:49 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Ken wrote:

Conway, couldn't agree more. The people of Scotland want to see their elected representatives working for them, not working to satisfy the requirements of the Labour / Liberal / Tory parties in London. These parties will only be electable in Scotland in the future if they show they can stand up for Scotland when our priorities are different from those in Westminster. The days of Scotland block-voting for Labour are gone.

  • 41.
  • At 01:18 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Ric Flair wrote:

Whoops! I don't think this is the sort of response you were hoping for Brian , was it!

The majority of the people in Scotland are sick of the Labour establishment, sick of Wendy Alexander who embodies it so well and completely sick of journalists who have still not been able to climb out of bed with them.

I remember seeing on TV you and Jackie Baillie walking out of the parliament committee room together after Wendy made her 'I've been vindicated' speech a while back. You looked like colleagues. You are colleagues!

But I think the time is running out. Salmond, Swinney, Sturgeon = decent government for Scotland. Alexander, Kerr, Baillie, Jamieson, Curran et al = hopeless.

  • 42.
  • At 01:50 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Nottscot wrote:

As a scot now resident south of the border for almost the last four years I have a different point of view from the vast majority of the above posters. I spent the vast majority of my life in scotland under the shadow of a westminster tory government that tore out the heart out of many industries and communites north and south of the border. The only thing that kept me going was the hope of a new administration hopefully led by the Labour Party. I had to wait 5 years from the first time I could cast my vote before I saw that dream come true. I left scotland and moved down south in March 2004 and before that in many ways I was proud of what Labour did. The only thing that I wasn't pleased about was Iraq and that seems to irk many even now 5 years on. But wake up guys you wouldn't have a Holyrood to elect an SNP "Government" if it wasn't for Labour getting elected in 1997. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!!!! Yes Labour could do better in many areas but things take time. And I'd rather have the last 10 years under Labour than the previous 18 under Thatcher and Major any day of the week.

  • 43.
  • At 03:15 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • L.Telfer wrote:

The reason Labour lost the election was because they no longer represented the people of Scotland. They were poorly led by a man who was so enwrapped in his own arrogance that he could see no further than his reward from his God, Gordon Brown. Now he has been replaced by another of Brown's toadies, the epitome of Labour womanhood, unpleasant, unlovely ,arrogant and untruthful. The Labour party was once the province of honest politicians from the shipyards, coalmines and steelworks with the interests of the people at heart.If Wendy Alexander is the best Gordon Brown can appoint to lead Scottish Labour, then the Labour party is facing extinction in Scotland, because the only people served by Scottish Labour is the Labour party itself and its political masters in Westminster. Like the dinosaurs it's era is over.

  • 44.
  • At 04:19 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • JK Doran wrote:

Well done, Brian, you certainly know you've been effective when fools rush in to condemn you as being their opponent's poodle (or worse).

  • 45.
  • At 04:23 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Ophelia wrote:

It makes not one iota of difference who is in power either in Scotland or in the UK as a whole. If, however, Ms Alexander wants to regain some credibility and integrity, I suggest she help free Dundee from the clutches of Chief Executive Alex Stephen and his cronies. While they remain in power, no-one will trust Labour, no-one will believe in the possibility of change.

  • 46.
  • At 04:26 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • slap-dash wrote:

How many months has it been now Brian ? No matter how many people give you unionists the answer you are still asking the question ! Bizarre ! Oh and I do`nt think liebour lost the election at Hollyrood, , , the Scottish National Party won it ! Is it a question of unionists do not listen to anyone but other unionists , , , , , yup , that would explain it !

  • 47.
  • At 04:26 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Ophelia wrote:

It makes not one iota of difference who is in power either in Scotland or in the UK as a whole. If, however, Ms Alexander wants to regain some credibility and integrity, I suggest she help free Dundee from the clutches of Chief Executive Alex Stephen and his cronies. While they remain in power, no-one will trust Labour, no-one will believe in the possibility of change.

  • 48.
  • At 04:43 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • JK Doran wrote:

Well done, Brian, you certainly know you've been effective when fools rush in to condemn you as being their opponent's poodle (or worse).

  • 49.
  • At 04:43 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • J Stevenson wrote:

The so-called working class, and even the under-class, who by and large come from the Labour tradition, finally twigged that The People's Party was doing nothing for them. In fact it was using them as cannon fodder, cynically, while feeding at the trough of corruption. The SNP will take a little time to get there, but they will feed there in due course.

  • 50.
  • At 06:18 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Anonymous wrote:

SNP supporters are so uptight.

Posters like #46 treat the question of why Labour lost (and yes they did lose because they were the incumbents) contemptuously and yet just scanning the above people have different takes on it. Maybe not so straightforward?

Besides, Brian posed the question as a journalistic hook to preface the story about Labour revamping their systems based on the SNP model. It's not something to get gloriously offended like soapboxers Disgusted Dorothy or djmac (not quite sure what sort of PR handout from the Labour would want to mention Salmond's lead in the popularity polls but there we are).

djmac asks where is the balance in the article - "not a single word about the moral and ethical bankruptcy". So your idea of balance is a neutral journalistic piece on Labour's plans to retrieve ground in Scotlan in the same breath as accusing them of moral bankruptcy. Essentially, balanced means approbating your own opinion.

This is a bit of a rant which I've resisted posting before but the broken record of the SNP supporters posting on this blog is tiresome.

Those who bleat about Brian being unionist are at best presumptuous and at worst plain stupid. His reporting is neutral and fair. The SNP should be more concerned with ruling because there hasn't been an ideological shift in this country. The lead is very slender. Worry more about that and less about desperately seeking hidden meanings and agenda where there aren't any.

  • 51.
  • At 08:43 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Craig M wrote:

People in Scotland began to realise that Scottish Labour are a mediocre party with mediocre politicians and mediocre policies, controlled by a mediocre centralist group of control freaks based in London. Now who in their right mind would vote for that.

  • 52.
  • At 09:02 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • scyinical sid. wrote:

well brian, labour LOST for a host of reasons:they had no new idea's the infighting had already begun, i'm still waiting on the sky falling and the plagues of locusts we were promised if we had the odasity to vote for the much worse off were we supposed to be again? a lot of the electorate had obviously had enough and were left with no other option but to vote for the snp. as all the polls are showing the jury is out on the snp .they need to show us the can run our country effectively for the next few years before in my opinion we can start to look at even thinking about preffered option is giving the scottish parliment more and more powers first.only problem with that is paw broon will need to roll over and die before he will allow that to happen.very interested in the comment from a previous post about "if it wasn't for the labour party we wouldn't have a parliment" we all now know that "giving us " the parliment was supposed to stop the snp in there tracks in fact "stone dead" and that was the only reason we were granted it. oh well another big misjudgment by the labour party. i could go on and on but i think thats enough to be going on with. cheers sid

  • 53.
  • At 06:58 PM on 20 Mar 2008,
  • George Laird wrote:

Dear Brian

Why did Labour lose?

Easy, they lost the trust of the people.

Labour is the Party of social injustice and inequality.

Wendy Alexander is a sympton of their sickness.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

  • 54.
  • At 07:48 PM on 20 Mar 2008,
  • George MacDonald wrote:

Labour have a generation to wait. They need to become Scottish before the people will ever trust them.

The taboo about Scoland going to hell in a hand cart if the SNP ever get in has been discredited.


  • 55.
  • At 05:03 AM on 21 Mar 2008,
  • Michael McFarlane wrote:

Until the last election I had always voted Labour. However it is now obvious that the Labour Party is now run by Tories. When we achieved Devolution many of us expected a return to traditional Labour principals. Instead what we got was a few second rate politicians and ex town councillors who are mostly concerned with image and personal careers.

  • 56.
  • At 07:56 AM on 22 Mar 2008,
  • Alex Smith wrote:

Brian-!-!-!-!- The Poodle

  • 57.
  • At 10:00 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • chris wrote:

'Why did Labour lose?' is not the most interesting of questions.

To me, it's even more intriguing to look at how Labour only lost so narrowly. There were 101 reasons NOT to vote Labour last year - take your pick. Iraq, complacency, a tired administration, London string-pulling, Blair, a poor campaign. And there were some good reasons for voting SNP - primarily Alex Salmond, but also a well-organised, well-funded campaign, and a huge level of grassroots enthusiasm.

So how come Labour still managed to poll around a third of voters, nearly matching the SNP?

I have absolutely no idea. It is a mystery to me. I used to canvass for the Labour Party in the 80s but wouldn't dream of voting for them now. Yet they STILL get a third of the vote in Scotland? Who are these people? Are they all people whose 'faithers voted Labour, so ahhl vote Labour', or 'I've voted Labour all my life'? i.e. unthinking habit-formed voters? I suspect that is largely the case.

But if it's true, it also means that Labour have a standing start of about 15% in any Scottish election.

Let's say around 30% of voters will go with Labour no matter what. And around 15% of voters are so pro-independence that they'll vote SNP no matter what. It means the SNP have a lot to do in order to win any election. They only just managed it last year, with so many factors on their side. If there's any complacency within the SNP it should be dispelled...

  • 58.
  • At 01:53 PM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • Duncan wrote:

I believe Labour lost the last election because of their position on Council tax - it certainly lost 6 votes from my extended family, self, wife, daughter, her husband, my two brothers - all of whom have voted Labour in the past, (one a former member for many years and another who used to canvas for Labour at Election time).

My grandfather was one of those who voted the first Lanbour Government into power.

None of us ever objected to paying our fair share of taxes, based on our income, and we voted for Labour over many years, even when two of us held Manager's jobs with good salaries.

All of us strongly object to paying and despise this unfair tax. All of us, (4 are now pensioners with reasonable pensions), will be much better off if it is replaced by income tax, preferably British National, but if we can't have that then Scottish National, (or so called local income tax), will do as a poor second best.

Council tax reminds me of the Irish Tithe taxes where the poorest were charged the most, whilst the richest paid the least in proportion to their income. Eventually this tax was dropped because of the opposition to it - a bit like the Poll tax introduced by the Tories, where, once again, income was not a factor.

Labour in Scotland better wake up - we are not slaves to be dictated to by the politicians who run this Country and they fail to recognise this at their peril.

  • 59.
  • At 02:26 PM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • Stewart wrote:

The election last May was very interesting as the SNP won power but the enxt one will be even more so because of what Labour will do.

The real unionists out there will have to vote for Labour because they will be so scared of an independent Scotland .

Normal people might also be put off the SNP as it may signify a vote for independence when really its a vote for the SNP administration.

I think Labour will play the same old tired cards next time and will be surprised if it doesnt work but then the torries will be in power and they will probally play the same old scaremongering offering to be a voice for the left in the right wing government of Britain

  • 60.
  • At 02:48 PM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • Liam wrote:

Labour lost the election because they are tied to policies designed to appeal to voters in the South of England.

Only if Scottish Labour can make a clean break from the UK party and pursue radical and progressive policies more in keeping with the founding principles of the Labour movement will they beat the nationalists.

I think labour lost for many reasons and in different areas - local factors came into play even stronger.

Dundee for example feel to the SNP because of the Black Watch Regiment betrayal.

Reap what you sow.

The reason Labour lost this election,simply follow the link.


Good Question.

Diificult one Brian, not sure whether it was Labour incompetence or simply Labour corruption, perhaps a combination of the two.

  • 64.
  • At 10:24 AM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Grant McLennan wrote:

I think that people were just sick of Labour at last year's election. Not exactly a surprise.

Based on their curremt performance, Labour will be out of power in Scotland for a long time to come.

It is just as well that Wendy Alexander is not looking to court short-term popularity, as she would be on a hiding to nothing. Not that I think she will have any success over the longer term, mind you.

  • 65.
  • At 10:54 AM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Wansanshoo wrote:

Is it possible Labour missed the word ''Short'' when introducing their new logo?

Change is what we do

  • 66.
  • At 11:39 AM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Sandy wrote:

The SNP won for a variety of reasons.

They're well-funded, particularly from a certain fundamentalist businessman. They made encouraging noises about Muslim faith schools in Glasgow, though it's unlikely they'll follow through with it. Salmond is a skilled and well-known politician, who frankly gets an easy ride from most of the UK media. They have a legion of (paid?) bloggers to dump cut 'n' paste responses onto places like this.

This tickled me.

''The Scots Labour leader was invited to dine with Sarkozy and his former supermodel wife Carla Bruni.

But she declined because she wanted to prepare for her crucial speech tomorrow to Labour's Scottish conference in Aviemore, their first since the party lost power.

A source said: "Brian was especially disappointed. He had been looking forward to meeting Carla Bruni''

  • 68.
  • At 11:51 AM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Malcs wrote:

Quoted from Scots Labour vision at-a-glance

"Constitutional commission should consider both more powers for Holyrood and handing some back to Westminster."

That'll be control of planning for Nuclear Power stations, and

Watering down of the Scottish Legal system for GB's (Gordon Brown not Great Britain) fight on terror. Maybe getting out of Iraq would be a better option Gordon?

Clearly Wendy is a puppet leader having her strings pulled by Westminster.

The only thing I cant understand is what's in it for her.

  • 69.
  • At 08:40 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • William Doyle wrote:

It is quite obvious that the New Labour party has renounced any affiliations to a Socialist organisation and has just become a refuge for political careerists.Why have they not got the courage to drop the word Labour and be more truthful and call themselves the New Tory Party

  • 70.
  • At 10:24 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Euan Purchase wrote:

Labour lost the election last year because the people of Scotland were fed up with their old policies and their overwelmingly negative campaign. And now, as the party heads for its spring conference, we see two styles emerging. The first one is Gordon Brown being dellusional by suggesting that Wendy Alexander will be the next First Minister of Scotland. You couldn't be any more dillusional! The second is arrogance from Wendy Alexander by giving herself a 10 out of 10 for her own performance in parliament (though this could probably count as being dellusional as well).
The SNP is doing great in government and Alex Salmond is doing great as First Minister.

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