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'Seminal moment'

Brian Taylor | 15:40 UK time, Tuesday, 26 April 2011

The reports tell of a seminal moment in the campaign. There is talk of radical change, of transformational tactics.

And what has happened to merit such analysis? The principal opposition party at Holyrood has decided to have a bit of a go at the party of government.

In normal circumstances, such an event would be routine. Thus far, this election has pursued a somewhat abnormal course.

Until yesterday, Labour has operated as if it wanted to rerun the UK General Election 2010.

Understandable, perhaps, given that they did rather well in that contest in Scotland (by contrast with England and Wales.)

The phrase most commonly heard from Labour lips has been "now that the Tories are back . . ."

They have talked of Tory cuts. By no means solely, but largely. They have warned of a Tory threat to jobs.

They have demonised the Conservatives, playing to what they believe remains visceral distrust of the party of Disraeli, Peel - and Thatcher.

Current circumstances

They hoped thereby to position themselves as the party best placed to counter such cuts, to slay the demon.

And what of their view upon the SNP? The party of government at Holyrood? The party which defeated Scottish Labour four years ago? Rather popular leader, according to the polls?

Labour's phase one verdict was that the SNP were too "distracted" by independence to be able to offer much to the people of Scotland in the current circumstances, post the UK election which returned the Tories to (shared) power.

That is not to say that they sought to ignore the Nationalists entirely.

But they did seek to marginalise them, to play down their salience.

With what result? The SNP, it seems, have contrived to shrug off the handicaps assigned to them by Labour - and to build an apparently healthy lead in the polls.

Now, that might have happened anyway. Folk are now beginning to concentrate seriously upon the election.

Perhaps they simply prefer Alex Salmond to Iain Gray.

Party in power

But, in any event, Labour has concluded that a little recalibration is in order.

As a matter of course, we are assured that such a change of tack was always in preparation.

We are told that, having established the context of a UK Tory-led government, it is time to turn the fire upon the party in power at Holyrood.

Phase two. The wicked media, displaying more than the customary insolence, seem disinclined to accept these assurances.

Anyway, the "distraction" is now back at the core, for Labour. SNP = independence = "complete disaster", according to Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor, in Edinburgh today.

As for Alex Salmond, he appears to be taking a Kiplingesque attitude to phases one and two, meeting triumph (those poll indications) and disaster (today's Labour claim) in the same manner.

To be clear, Mr Salmond has not played the independence card much in this campaign, preferring to focus on such issues as green jobs and police numbers.

His justification for this is that folk are electing a Holyrood government - with a subsequent opportunity to decide upon independence if and when a referendum can be called.

Future plebiscite

Astute observers might recognise this tactic of deferral.

It was deployed with notable success by Labour in 1997 when voters were assured that there would be a chance to decide on devolution in a later plebiscite.

However, just as devolution was intrinsic to the Labour pitch of '97, independence as an objective is implicit in today's SNP offer.

An objective which, as Mr Salmond would aver, the Nationalists have scarcely hidden.

Will phase two work for Labour? Depends, as ever, upon the voters.

An all-out attack on independence was not notably successful in 2007 - although Labour contends that, post recession and banking crisis, voters are more open to an argument that Scotland could not afford to detach from the Union.

Against that, the SNP argues that there are many who, while not immediate, overt supporters of independence, are relatively tolerant of such an eventual outcome - or, at least, not scared off by it.

Plus the two parties differ on the interpretation of Labour, phase two.

Holyrood campaign

Labour themselves say it is primarily a positive offer, contrasting their plans for jobs with what they say would be the damaging uncertainty of an independence referendum.

The SNP say Labour's tone is negative: inimical, they argue, to voters in search of reassurance and uplift.

As for the others, the current Conservative narrative is that Labour has "blown it" and that only a sizeable Tory presence at Holyrood can provide a check upon the SNP.

The Liberal Democrats offer Labour a mischievous welcome to the Holyrood campaign while stressing their own determination to focus upon individual issues such as preserving individual police forces.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Absolutely pathetic from the 'Scottish' Labour Party. Call this what it is Brian - Ian Gray is simply not of the same calibre as Alex Salmond, as is obvious to anyone.

    The fact that Gray and his cohorts are now drumming in the likes of Balls, Milliband and Brown - together with the time honoured Labour tactic of actually playing down what Scotland is capable of - reeks of manifest desperation.

    This time I believe the people of Scotland will see right through it! They can keep their lies, scaremongering and fear tactics. We'll have 100,000 new jobs in green energy thank you very much.

    NB: It wasn't that long ago we were told there was no place for Alex Salmond in a UK election debate, even though I could vote for him.

    So why are these cronies relevant to a Scottish debate on Scottish futures??

    See through the Labour lies and hypocrisy Scotland. Send a message to them and the other naysayers at Westminster! SNP on both votes.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Labour's previous campaign stance appeared to be that the purpose of the Scottish Parliament election was to "send a message to Westminster". And here was me thinking that the purpose of setting up the Scottish parliament was, er, to govern Scotland better.

    Now apparently their message is that the people of Scotland should not be allowed a referendum on their constitutional future. Vote against a referendum....??

    That is the same Labour party that was in favour of an independence referendum for Kosovo. But Scotland is different, somehow....

  • Comment number 4.

    Labour say this dramatic shift of emphasis is not a panic measure and was always in their plans.

    When will we see Labour's Phase Two Manifesto?

  • Comment number 5.

    Brian, could it be that the people of Scotland have looked at the SNP minority government of the past four years and decided that they did a reasonable job, albeit with one hand effectively tied behind their back.

    As such many who were not convinced voting SNP in 2007 was in the best interests of the country have had second thoughts and are actually looking at the breadth and depth of policies offered by all the main parties.

    In this area Scottish Labour has failed to convince many that they have the ideas and vision for the immediate future of the country. Just as importantly, they do not have the depth of potential front bench personalities to call upon to take any vision forward.

    The Tories and Lib Dems will continue to suffer from the wide held perception that they are part of the UK coalition cuts which are having such a huge impact on Scotland. The Greens are the new LibeDems - a party with popular policies that they know they'll never have the opportunity to implement.

    The SNP policies may have their critics but they have shown in minority governmnet that they can take the country forward and many believe they deserve a further, enhanced opportunity to do so.

  • Comment number 6.

    Brian, you say:

    'The reports tell of a seminal moment in the campaign. There is talk of radical change, of transformational tactics.'

    Whose 'reports' are these, pray tell? If they are 'reports' from the Labour party then perhaps you could clarify that?

    Anyone listening to 'Call Kaye' on Radio Scotland this morning wouldn't have noticed anything 'transformational'. Lots of talk from ex-Labour voters, scunnered by Labour's U-turns. Even Kaye had a go at Gray. All in all, rather 'intriguing', as you might put it, Brian?

  • Comment number 7.

    Welcome back Brian?

    I'm sure I read this at the top of your blog page.

    "I'm Brian Taylor, BBC Scotland's political editor, and I'll be blogging here regularly on Scottish politics.".........?????????

    No you don't and no you haven't!!!

    I pay good money for my BBC license and I expect to have at least a decent product delivered for my my friend have not provided this in any way shape or form.

    During the past week the perception of the Scottish body politic has been transformed by the tried and proven public acceptance of the current government as a competent and trustworthy machine for the delivery of public services and the aspiration of a small but potent part of the UK partnership (?????)

    That fact and the refusal of the BBC as a public service organisation to even discuss or report on that matter has left me with no choice but to conclude that decisions have been taken within BBC Scotland in particular, that it is not newsworthy enough to report on.

    Now not being a stranger to news gathering myself I have to ask who made that call?
    Their are only 2 reasons why this would not be reported, disseminated or challenged..........either for manipulation of a particular agenda or that you have a 12 year old in charge.

    I would be grateful if you could enlighten me.

    Charlie Chrystal

  • Comment number 8.

    First Eddie Izzard graces us with his presence. Some of us may have enjoyed his comedy in the past, but his performance in Scotland was curious. Did anyone ask him what he knew about 'Scottish' Labour? Is he aware of the Labour policy flip-flopping (A&E, tuition fees, council tax, etc), the negativity, the lets-make-up-some-numbers-right-here (knife crime and prisons and NHS), the unseemly expenses of Devine, Joyce etc?

    But, lo and behold, Izzard was the fluffer for Mr Balls. What joy! And what does Balls say? Independence would be a 'complete disaster'? How does Balls know?

  • Comment number 9.

    Labour cannot protect Scotland from Tory cuts brought about by Labour'smismanagement of the economy.

    The cuts are already here and the fixed amount Scotland gets to spend each year has already been cut. But here's the thing - even although the amount has been cut the ANP managed to produce a BALANCED budget for the coming year which included funding for the continued freeze of the Council Tax AND for apprenticeships amongst other things.

    Labour voted against the budget. - against apprenticeships and against the Council Tax freeze.

    So just how would Labour protect us against Tory cuts? Would they as usual run up a deficit? Overspend with no thought of where the money would come from to balance the budget? Please, do tell?

  • Comment number 10.

    Labour campaign 're-launch' / 'phase2' / 'crikey-we're-in-a-mess-let's-bring-in-the-bosses-from-London-and-ramp-up-the-negativity-yet-further' / whatever.

    Brian, you don't seem to wonder whether Labour will get their facts right this time. You know, on things like knife crime (polis and others trashed their sentencing/prisons theory, statisticians called their NHS figures 'fantasy'), National Care Service (even COSLA baulked at the cost of the rebranding), and so on.

  • Comment number 11.

    Why are my comments in post #1 being referred? There were no swear words, absolutely nothing controversial etc. I exclaimed that the Labour moves were a/ Pathetic and B/ Smacking of hypocrisy, given their stance on Alex Salmond taking part in the leaders debate.

    What gives??

  • Comment number 12.

    I thought this was a Scottish election.

    Why does Labour need their big bosses to come up from London? Are 'Scottish' Labour too poor, too wee, too feart, to fight their own election?

  • Comment number 13.

    Nice to have you back Brian. Things have indeed moved on apace since you last had a platform for opinions to be aired.

    I heard the leader of the Labour group in Holyrood having a chat with your colleague KwithanE this morning. He didn't strike me as having the drive and leadership with this country of ours needs. That of course was before his colleague Balls arrived on the scene to tell us once again just exactly where our place was, and should still be.

    Methinks the tide of public opinion has turned, as evidenced by a growing number of polls, opinions, commentators, business leaders and other influential bodies. Are you suggesting that we should continue to swallow the negativity that the opposition party has espoused over the last four years, or should we just get our own pair of Eds?

  • Comment number 14.

    I would have thought that if a "seminal moment" was to be determined from the last couple of days, it would have been around two isues;

    1) Labour's claim that the SNP's 100% renewable energy plan is fantasy, and

    2) Labour's other claim that another SNP victory would be a deterent to inward investment

    This has been immediately challenged by seven of the main leaders in the renewable energy industry, who have said that not only is the SNP plan credible but it would be a magnet to international investment.

    Not for the first time, Labour present themselves as out of touch with technology, and the potential that Scotland can have on the World's stage.

  • Comment number 15.

    It is odd that according to Labour's explanation of their campaign strategy that, for Phase one, the emphasis was on attacking the Tories at Westminster, without Labour MPs from Westminster being involved.

    Now, in phase two, the strategy is an attack on the SNP at Holyrood where they are now enlisting the support of these Westminster Labour MPs.

    Surely, a coherent strategy would have been the other way round.

  • Comment number 16.

    I just want to live in my country and know that when i vote for any political party...They are a registered Scottish Party who are not beholding to some foreign power who havent got any interest in our Nation of Scotland other than to sell us out for a seat that gives them more power in Westminster....

    If any party wants to run our Nation after getting our permission...They must only represent the welfare of Scottish People....Not some foreign land that occupies our nation and treat us with contempt...We are Scottish...Its time we stood up and got serious about the welfare of every Scot....No matter if they are born here...chose to live here and participate in the success of our Nation....

    I do not and never will dislike Englands People simply because they are English...But i sure as dont want to be part of a united never was and never will be my Nation....Alex Salmond and the SNP are the only political party that truly puts the interest of the Scottish People above all others...Thats good enough for me....

  • Comment number 17.

    Similar to AMJHAJ, why do the unionist parties insist on bringing up other politicians from down south? I feel it's very patronising. Although not a Tory voter, I felt that the Conservative's Party Election Broadcast was "OK" until David Cameron showed his face. I thought these parties had clever PR guys? Just let Auntie 'Bella get on with it, she's more than capable of puting the message across!

    Plus, Iain Gray certainly wasn't very convincing on this morning's Call Kaye. If I was a Labour voter, I'd be nashing my teeth by now!

  • Comment number 18.

    Brian, how can you - in all honesty - stress that this is a seminal moment of any sorts? It is clearly a U-turn of very haphazard and desperate foundations.

    We have had energy leaders shout out about the energy potential of Scotland. And that means jobs, significant amount of jobs.

    I - quite genuinely - feel utterly depressed about your treatment here. This cannot be through lack of journalistic focus or instinct.

    It therefore must be what it is - you talking at length about what is, effectively, 'nothing' - of any consequence at all.

    Seminal? This? The only 'reports' I have read are the several dozen about the intended negative U-turn in question, about guttural attacks on the SNP, and - in fact - on Scottish ability.

    Fellow Scots, why are we represented so poorly in this manner - when our key figures from the world of Journalism are - transparently - prompted to to prop up ugly, panicked, nonsensical fibs?

    How do the tone of your blog posts compare to the manner of sentiment in the well written comments that follow it Brian?

    I am shamed by you. We all are.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well I listened very carefully to Labours relaunch/phase 2 and do you know what, it sounds very like phase 1. No new ideas, no policy shift, negative and scaremongering. There big issue seems to be that the SNP are for independence - well duh.
    Was this planned? well if it was it has to one of the poorest bits of planning, who in their right mind would chose to have a launch on a public holiday? who else would choose to do such an important message just as the media go into overdrive for the wedding?
    Once again Labour seems to be unable to offer anything positive, no vision, nothing to make you lift your head and think YES that's worth going for.
    Once again we have Labour insulting the intelligence of voters by daring to try to dress this up as a relaunch, that belongs beside their other major voter disrespect of changing to policies they had opposed for years, then deny they had.

  • Comment number 20.

    The purpose of this election is simple. Who do we want to run the Scottish Parliament for the next 5 years?

    SNP with Alex Salmond lookiing over his shoulder at the Scottish people or Labour with Iain Gray looking over his shoulder at the Labour party hierarchy in England

    All this scaremongering stuff about voting SNP meaans we get independence is rubbish.

    All that is being offered at the moment is a referendum. If the Scottish electorate vote for independence then it is another step. If they vote against then it is delayed to another day.

    Meanwhile we have to decide who is going to run the Scottish Parliament.

    I think the choice is clear.

  • Comment number 21.

    There he was swimming along with the currents of favourable unionist media backing until as he went round the bend he got stuck in triple eddy which might turn into a whirlpool sucking him into oblivion, hopefully.

  • Comment number 22.

    17. At 17:22pm 26th Apr 2011, conival wrote:
    "Plus, Iain Gray certainly wasn't very convincing on this morning's Call Kaye. If I was a Labour voter, I'd be nashing my teeth by now!"

    Sounded very much like some of the callers were ex-Labour who had already gnashed their teeth!

    An interesting point that came through from Gray on the radio this morning. When challenged on how the peculiar claim that Labour would create 250,000 jobs(!), Gray included projects like the new Forth bridge. So Labour would take the credit for the jobs associated with the new bridge!

  • Comment number 23.

    Labours policies are chameleon in nature(putting it politely).There sums just dont add up.They speak in DAILY MAIL headlines.Now,they have decided to fight this election by smear and vindictive personal attack.They do not deserve the vote of any decent person in this country.

  • Comment number 24.

    Well now Brian welcome back - but why on earth do you high paid Beeb guys get such a long Easter holiday when poor punters are out there canvassing all the time??

    That said, why is your post so deprived of news about the weegreychickencarcrash yesterday turning into a life or death situation for him with his 'downright dangerous' comment about the Echmeister yesterday??

    And if that was not bad enough, he HAD to be accompanied by BALLSUP Ed in campaigning!

    And why have you not blogged on the COMPLETE ABSENCE of Scottish Liebor MPs in this camapign??

    Are they being withheld to allow the weegreychickencarcrash to happen all on its own??

    Love the reports from the Hootsman that, as things are, Grey, Whitton, Kerr, Baillie etc would all be shunted out!!

    Which brings up one of the unsaid questions of this election - who will the Liebor Party of Westminster in Scotland, push forward as their new leader for the Liebor rump in Holyrood??

    Don't you think you should tell us, Brian??

  • Comment number 25.

  • Comment number 26.

    Mr Taylor appears to be trying to portray the British Labour & Unionist Party's "tactics" as being the product of some cunningly contrived plan. From a less generously inclined perspective Iain Gray's antics appear more the product of pant-wetting panic. And anger. Anger that his party's "right to rule" in Scotland should even require the endorsement of an electorate so fickle as to demand positive policies and real political leadership.

    It has been said that the British Labour & Unionist party in Scotland is fighting last year's UK general election. It has been said that they are fighting the last Scottish general election. The truth is that they are not fighting an election at all. They are sitting on the sidelines sniping at others while waiting for the voters of Scotland to realise the error of their ways and come back to them.

    That's not going to happen.

    The people of Scotland have moved on and want to continue doing so. The SNP has helped foster this attitude of positivity and progress and has proved adept at reading the public mood and responding to it. The SNP is fighting the election by going out to the people and by drawing people in. It is evident that this approach works.

    So heartily sick are they of the stale "old politics" that hangs about the British Labour & Unionist Party like a musty shroud that even Salmond's smuggest smirk has massively more appeal than Gray's most practised professional politician's smile.

    But let us be clear on one thing. If, as current trends suggest, the SNP win this election convincingly it will not be by default. They have worked hard to gain the trust and respect of Scotland's voters. That Gray's Band of Dismay has signally failed to even try should in no way detract from the achievements of Alex Salmond and his team.

  • Comment number 27.

    With a Nationalist/Green majority likely - this means a referendum on independence will happen post-May.

    Salmond will not miss this opportunity and will focus much of the next parliament's efforts on taking Scotland out of the UK.

    And who do we thank, the Sun, the Tartan Tories and David Cameron - hmm maybe that was the plan all along - no Scotland = no Labour/Nationislist/LibDem MPs = Tory majority..... No wonder he doesn't want AV.

  • Comment number 28.

    Greetings from Raleigh, North Carolina. I don't have a vote in this election, but my parents do. They are lifelong, old-fashioned Tories hitherto opposed to independence. However, they will both be voting SNP next week. Why? Quite simple, really. Iain Gray. For the past four years they have observed Alex Salmond as the head of a competent government and feel he deserves another term. Of course, voting SNP may also help to remove their Labour MSP who happens to be Iain Gray.

    Now, if the SNP get enough support in the new parliament for an independence referendum, Alex Salmond will have to make his case to my parents and it will be a harder sell. However, that is a debate for another day. Next week, the electorate gets to choose who will make policy for the next five years in areas that affect day-to-day life in Scotland. If the electorate focuses on that, neither of Labour's strategies will work.

  • Comment number 29.

    As others have pointed out this re-launch is yet another U-turn by Mr Gray and Labour.

    They [Labour] have now performed so many u-turns that they make your average Formula 1 racing track look like a straight line between two points.

  • Comment number 30.

  • Comment number 31.

    Brian, this says it all really:

    NuLabour have abandoned their failing 2011 campaign to…… err revert to their 2007 loosing campaign.

  • Comment number 32.

    Actually the most risible policy pronouncement so far is Labour's policy to install 10,000 electric vehicle recharging points by 2015!

    I giggled out loud at that one.

  • Comment number 33.

    The soon-to-be Lord Gray of Subway has worked himself into a bit of a fix.

    How exactly do you "relaunch" a damp squib??

    And in a similar vein, Labour seems to be overlooking one of the key rules of the firework code:
    Never return to a dud.

  • Comment number 34.

    Oxbridge educated Balls comes to Scotland to tell us we are too wee, too stupid to run our own economy. The irony is he wrecked it in the first place!!!

  • Comment number 35.

    #30 cheesed_off

    I was especially drawn to the last three lines:

    “ If this is the best Labour have to offer - Miliband, Balls and a bogus anti-independence brief - then, crivvens, they're in worse shape than I'd thought possible. A cheery thought, for once. “

  • Comment number 36.

    #27. At 18:01pm 26th Apr 2011, Colin wrote:

    With a Nationalist/Green majority likely - this means a referendum on independence will happen post-May.

    Salmond will not miss this opportunity and will focus much of the next parliament's efforts on taking Scotland out of the UK.

    And who do we thank, the Sun, the Tartan Tories and David Cameron - hmm maybe that was the plan all along - no Scotland = no Labour/Nationislist/LibDem MPs = Tory majority..... No wonder he doesn't want AV.


    This is a fascinating post from a unionist. The first thing that strikes me is the assumption that a referendum on independence equals independence. Yet, time again unionists insist that only a tiny fringe minority want independence and that, if a vote were ever held, it would lose by a huge tide.

    While I am not so sure that polls showing around 35% support for independence support that, they also don't show that independence would be an easy sell--a long way from it.

    As for the "focus much of the next parliament's efforts on taking Scotland out of the UK" this is an obvious untruth or at least a strong exaggeration. The last I heard referendums are not held in parliament. There is no reason to believe this would dominate Holyrood any more than the AV referendum has dominated Westminster. Then he drags in AV which has nothing to do with an independence referendum and which the SNP are not even campaigning on.

    So why the rather bizarre assumption that an independence referendum would automatically equal "no Scotland"?

    An attempt to frighten voters perhaps who oppose the Tories by pretending the Tories are pro-independence (quite a stretch)? A fear that a lot of people would change their minds if they actually had the chance to decide for themselves?

    I suspect the former although one never knows with some of these very strange and twisted arguments. The fact is that it is very hard to come up with a rational and democratic argument why Scots should not choose their own constitutional future by voting on a referendum. They might very well choose to remain in the UK. Polls indicate that would be the most likely outcome. If they surprised people and chose to leave the UK, Labour would still be in a strong position for elections in an independent Scotland.

    Either way makes the mouth-frothing opposition from Labour shake one's head in puzzlement.

  • Comment number 37.

    If ever a politician was " well named ' it is the rotund Mr Balls. As a double act , he and the Gray chappie would go down a treat at the Festival fringe, (in the little circus of horrors ). Does the Labour party in Scotland really believe that trotting out Balls and his mentor (earlier in the campaign ) the blustering Gordon Brown , both of whom were culpable in almost destroying the UK economy , have anything to offer Scotland ? Gray I'm afraid can start counting the days till the conspirators and their daggers put their hands on his person. No doubt there are plenty of like numpties waiting in the wings who think they can do a better job, though I suspect that in the present Labour party there is not one that will make any difference.

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    Hi Brian,

    Ed Balls lecturing the Scottish people on what they should and should not do.

    Is this the same Ed balls of Labour that was educated at Oxford University, not exactly one of the common people.

    Is this also the same Ed Balls of Labour that was instrumental along with his old pal Gordon Brown who in the view of many bankrupt Britain.

    Is this the same Ed Balls of Labour who presided over the demise and bail out of the banks to the tune of tens of Billions of pounds that we have to suffer the pain of, for the next tens of years.

    Something tells me he is hardly well placed to advise anyone on anything.

    He would be better going back down south to watch the wedding with his Oxbridge friends and let the Scottish people get on with the business of taking Scotland forward.

  • Comment number 40.

    A nice turn of phrase, Brian, but attempting a sow's ear to silk purse conversion, I'm afraid, and your "Kiplingesque attitude" with respect of the FM only serves to remind us that the only thing "Kiplingesque" about Mr Gray is his Alfredesque Baker's over-cooking of the figures.

  • Comment number 41.

    Brian, feel free to pass this on to Jackie and co.

    I could see her cheeks blush with the magnitude of today's farcical reporting on offer.

    I refer of course to the awful coverage in today's 'Reporting Scotland' Election slot. A few highlights:

    1/ Sychophantic focus on Ball's rubbishing Scotland. Real, over-the-top emphasis on 'absurdity' of Independence. The bulk of your story.

    2/ Reporting a 'reality check' on SNP green job numbers. 130,000 SNP 'green jobs' really equate to 44,000. We should all beware of 'green washing' politicians.

    3/ NO mention of how Labour's green job tally [60,000] saddles up to this same scrutiny. No, you focused on the SNP aims - and rubbished that instead.

    4/ NO mention of the fact that referendum occurs before Independence.

    5/ NO mention - centrally - of the panicked, desperate, wreckless 're-launch' of Gray's campaign.

    The piece was contradictory, designed to counter pro-SNP running news. Quite simply.

    I hope the day comes when reporting of this manner - the broadcast, your blog - finds its rightful place into the history books, so generations hence can glean some manner of understanding as to the grasp of the British state in 2011, its self-serving interest, it's complete media control and the lack of key media figures who might come forward and contemplate progressive, untainted journalism.

    Please do pass this on. I - and several hundred reading this blog right now - are utterly disgusted with you all. Hope the comment at least gives you something to chuckle about over the water cooler.

    In the meantime, I wish you the very best of luck with your respective legacies.

  • Comment number 42.

    "seminal moment" -

    Seriously, who makes this stuff up?

    Please tell me it's not Magnus.

  • Comment number 43.

  • Comment number 44.

    As a summary of Iain the unready's predicament, the Herald's Gray admits SNP is closing in on victory is rather more descriptive than yours, Brian.

    Beginning with "LABOUR leader Iain Gray has admitted he is on the back foot and the SNP has a “real chance” of forming the next Scottish government", it provides at least some direct quotes from his opponents. I'm no Con, but find it hard to disagree with David McLetchie's:
    "No relaunch can put the brakes on Labour’s disastrous campaign. Just look at the facts. Iain Gray says he will freeze council tax - but repeatedly voted against a freeze. Iain Gray says university can be free – but his education spokesman had said a graduate contribution was ‘inevitable’. Iain Gray says he will keep the thousand extra police delivered by the Conservatives, but promised none four years ago and voted against the budgets which delivered them."

    The Herald's leader, Gray leaves it late to pull a rabbit out of the hat, does its best to whistle up a fair wind for dour Iain but leaves him in the doldrums by closing with:
    "The speech went down well with the Labour faithful. A more sceptical public may question Mr Gray’s disavowal of the blind auction style of politics, pointing to the unrealistic-looking pledges on cancer waiting times, student contributions and prison terms for knife wielders. Nevertheless, the biggest weakness of Mr Gray’s speech was its timing. A week may be a long time in politics but most pollsters now believe that even nine days is not long enough for Iain Gray and Scottish Labour."

    That said, one picture in the CalMerc says it all about Labour's campaign to date - definitely worth a few thousand words.

  • Comment number 45.

    25. At 17:58pm 26th Apr 2011, cheesed_off wrote:
    Caption comp!

    "Come on, Ed. I know a great place for lunch. Ed? Ed? Eddie?"

  • Comment number 46.

    I can't think why my #40 was referred, as it contained nothing profane. Bowdlerised version 1:

    A nice turn of phrase, Brian, but attempting a sow's ear to silk purse conversion, I'm afraid, and your "Kiplingesque attitude" with respect of the FM only serves to remind that the only thing "Kiplingesque" re Mr Gray is his Baker's over-cooking of the figures.

  • Comment number 47.

    ed balls, eddie izzard & ed miliband?? scotland is getting invaded by an army of to send them homewards to think again....

  • Comment number 48.


    I have never been a fan of Mr Murdoch, and his "Scottish" Sun's 2007 campaign was scurrilous to say the least, but at least they now provide a counterweight to the propaganda put out by their failing competitor, the Record. Today's counterblast was happily bang on topic with: Fright to the finish.

    Starting with "DESPERATE Iain Gray tried to relaunch Labour's floundering election campaign yesterday - by FRIGHTENING Scots into not voting SNP", it goes on to list some of the "scare stories" and counteracts them with hard facts. Not, perhaps, an approach which one associates with the tabloids, but at least a meaningful attempt to educate their readership unlikely to be emulated in the Record.

  • Comment number 49.

    According to the Press Association, Balls diatribe on Scot economic independence included these phrases -

    "utter catastrophe"
    "totally crackers"
    "economically it is madness"

    Now it is perfectly possible to make an argument that Scotland gets some benefit from being part of a larger economy (that is, after all, the point of being in the EU), but such intemperate language from Balls is simply a restatement of "you are too wee, and too poor" to run your own affairs.

    For an English politician to come north to tell us that isn't just crassly bad politics, it is insanely stupid.

  • Comment number 50.

    are the bbc goingto commission another poll on the manifestos to see what is most popular with voters now that they are all out??

  • Comment number 51.

    Iain Macwhirter is hardly an SNP acolyte, and from the title of his latest blog entry - Tommy Sheridan to the Sun - is anyone NOT backing the SNP? - one might expect an attack coming on, but it's actually an amusing critique of the Labour campaign so far, closing with:

    "One long-standing but alienated former Labour activist put it to me yesterday that he was beginning to feel really sorry for Iain Gray. Perhaps that's the way forward. A celebrity campaign of sympathy endorsements along the lines of "I'm not voting Labour, but I do feel sorry for Iain". Come on people. It's time to Save the Gray"

  • Comment number 52.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 53.

    47. At 20:17pm 26th Apr 2011, Megz wrote:

    ed balls, eddie izzard & ed miliband?? scotland is getting invaded by an army of to send them homewards to think again....

    One word EDIT.

  • Comment number 54.

    #18. Warrior badger.

    I totally agree with you.

  • Comment number 55.

    Seminal Moment? Don't think so Brian. Every time there seems to be such a thing this blog immediately closes, such as say a new poll hits the press or someone goes for a sandwich, and doesn't re-open until the dust is assumed to have cleared some days later.

    So, couldn't be a seminal moment, just another Balls up, by the labour party as reported by their broadcasting arm, or as seen by the BBC on the comings and goings of its political wing.

    But there will be a seminal moment on 6 May, and you'll have to talk about that one.

  • Comment number 56.

    #47 Megz
    " to send them homewards to think again...."

    An "off with their Eds" policy, eh?

  • Comment number 57.


  • Comment number 58.


  • Comment number 59.

    "The reports tell of a seminal moment in the campaign. There is talk of radical change, of transformational tactics."

    Only here and at the Labour web page. In the real world the only difference is Balls.

  • Comment number 60.

    A Seminole Moment?

    What have the native Americans from the Florida peninsula have to do with Ian Gray being the most inept Scottish strategist since Ally McLeod?

  • Comment number 61.


    no not an off with their eds policy i'm thinking more of an off with their (ed) balls...

  • Comment number 62.

    Negative campaigning will only help in keeping the turnout depressed by turning off potential voters. We should all be encouraging anyone we know to cast a vote next Thursday and propel Scot Parliament turnout well over the 60% mark (dare we hope for 70%?).

    The SNP now have a clear path to a major victory if they stick to positive messages for the next week - any negative unionist stuff from whatever parties could seriously backfire. Surely floating voters are looking for positive reasons to vote rather than negative stuff.

    The Greens in coalition would be a great wee bonus - Scotland is well placed for renewables, helping to gradually wean us off oil in the years to come.

  • Comment number 63.

    60 gunnergoz

    A Semolina moment?

    What have "the coarse particles of wheat left after the finer flour has passed through a machine" have to do with Ian Gray being the most inept Scottish strategist since Ally McLeod?

    On second thoughts.....

  • Comment number 64.

    To Warrior Badger at #18

    Excellent post !

    Sorry I missed it until Astonished pointed it out.

  • Comment number 65.

    Labour is missing the boat a bit with this reference to the Independence referendum, it shows you how out of touch they've become.
    This May 5th is a completely separate issue, we get to vote to stop the madness of a Labour administration, halting to some extent at least, the financial train wreck.

    For any independence referendum vote we get to vote against the dangers of Independence, or to be more precise, we get to vote to maintain the status quo.

    It's just a case of checks and balances at work. Democracy.
    Politicians are a funny bunch of folk.

  • Comment number 66.

  • Comment number 67.

    Listening to Scotland at Ten I have just heard the first cuckoo of this year must record it with the RSPB!

  • Comment number 68.

    #27 Colin ...'And who do we thank, the Sun, the Tartan Tories and David Cameron - hmm maybe that was the plan all along - no Scotland = no Labour/Nationislist/LibDem MPs = Tory majority..... No wonder he doesn't want AV'

    You may have something there. I wouldn't be surprised if he thinks the job will be easier just having to run England and Wales. Perhaps he believes the whole unionist mantra of scrounging Scots and wants shot of us.

  • Comment number 69.

    Labour campaign leaflet time to vote out every single Labour MSP this sums up their mindset.

  • Comment number 70.

    Apparently there was an EIS hustings tonight and not only did Andy Kerr not turn up but nobody from the Labour party at all either ? Are the teachers not important to Labour since they keep going on about the supposed 3000 missing ones under the SNP ?

  • Comment number 71.

    I have also just heard Mr Gray on the BBC Scotland radio 30minutes ago and also this morning. It's pretty obvious he's packed it in! He's realised the seminal moment was the retreat to the cafe when challenged by a few protesters. Add that to the U-turn(s) in adopting SNP policies ( treating the voters as stupid) and finally, having Balls and Milliband high jacking a Scottish election ( patronisng and threatening Scots into voting for Labour). This is a case where two Ed's are definitely not better than one.

    PS: Where are the Labour MSP's - No sign of them out and about with Ian Gray.

    Its probably all over and the fat lady (not you Brian) will sing.

    I sincerely hope and trust that the Scottish people will return an SNP team to run the government for 5 years.

    As for the Labour team Gray ; Kerr ; Baker and the Baillie (the singer)
    They deserve to be toast.

  • Comment number 72.

    70 Ubinworryinmasheep

    Just saw Andy Kerr on Newsnicht. Maybe Grey expected Rhona Brankin to turn up for an education debate - forgetting she was retiring.

  • Comment number 73.

    Labour really have lost the plot. They pick on independence, an issue identified earlier in the campaign as near the bottom of the list of manifesto commitments regarded by voters as important. They also forget that a vote on May 5 isn't a verdict on independence because a referendum is needed.
    Taking their campaign into negative territory just tells floating voters that Labour has little to say that will actually resonate with the public and inspire us to vote for them. And before the Red Rose contingent seek to dismiss me as an SNP lacky, look at my user name, I'm affiliated to none of you.

  • Comment number 74.


    Disgraceful :

    Yes and we have the same here in Fife +all the shroud waving SNP accused of this and that etc.

    Its so negative and yet it seems to be doing Labour no good according to the polls. Thank goodness the SNP have stayed positive.

  • Comment number 75.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 76.

    andy kerr was too busy flapping his jaws on newsnight to care about showing up to a hustings. talk about taking voters for granted.

  • Comment number 77.

    #72 I think Gray is not in the right frame of mind to be guiding his lackys. With both Eds prowling beneath the surface I think his job is over no matter what happens on May 5th. Maybe time to go for an acting career ....Rambo V Subway Submission would make a good film.

  • Comment number 78.

    So - still nothing on the EBC UK Politics page about the Scottish election - ho hum - move along, nothing to see here! Don't they get it?!

  • Comment number 79.

    'Seminal moment'

    Brian Taylor 15:40 UK time, Tuesday, 26 April 2011

    "The reports tell of a seminal moment in the campaign. There is talk of radical change, of transformational tactics."

    Seminal......It is nothing more than a realisation that Labour have misread the public yet again, it's a climbdown, an admission of error strewn campaign.

  • Comment number 80.

    Seminal moment indeed, Brian.

    Brian after reading/participating in your blog over a number of years you have never struck me as an economic anorack. But none the less I would treasure your thoughts on the effects to the UK and its economy when in 2016 the Chinese economy outstrips that of the USA.

    Share of World GDP Purchasing Power Parity

    Do you reckon Scotland should bale out of the union now or go down with the sinking ship in 5 years time?

  • Comment number 81.

    "26th Apr 2011, gunnergoz wrote:

    ...Ian Gray being the most inept Scottish strategist since Ally McLeod?"

    Laughed out loud at that comment. Frightened the dog.
    When a politician has become a figure of fun We think it's all over..!!

  • Comment number 82.

    4 years ago, Gordon Brown was busily grooming himself for his career-crowning premiership - a disasterous tenure that lurched from crisis to crisis, ultimately damaging the UK economy in a wholesale manner previously unknown in peace time.

    Despite numerous warnings from observers throoughout the media and elsewhere, Labour approached the 2011 Holyrood election as a re-run of the 2010 UK election - the very same that ended Brown's career and (mercifully!) put him out to grass - for no other reason than that Labour got most votes in Scotland last year!

    No leadership, no policy, no vision and no principles required.
    Just as long as the Gray Man could become FM 'by stealth'.

    And now, they are actually surprised - nay, panicked (!!!) - about how spectacularly their pathetic strategy has panned ...

    Their solution? Predictably, to "relaunch" with even more negativity, even more fabricated hysteria, in the hope that the public too might 'lose the plot' and hand victory to Labour - because, after all, it is 'their Parliament', and their divine right to govern, isn't it???

    You may wonder what an actual Gray administration might then do in the face of a real political crisis.

    Relaunch the government??!!

  • Comment number 83.

    Seminal moment, huh? I pondered that a while. Since almost anything has the possibility of future developments which is all seminal really means, I suppose it's accurate enough. Unfortunately for Labour, the future development may well be an SNP victory.

    I'm not quite sure Mr. Taylor was thinking of it that way, but who knows.

  • Comment number 84.

    I have read some of the stories that are coming out of the Labour media outlets this morning and it turns your stomach.

    What a choice the voters of Scotland have next week -

    1. Return an SNP government that only has the goodwill of Scotland at the heart of their policies, or

    2. Let in a Labour government who are prepared to scrape the bottom of the sewers to regain power.

    It looks like Labour have no low.

    It shames me to think that I gave them my very first vote.

  • Comment number 85.

    Do you reckon Scotland should bale out of the union now or go down with the sinking ship in 5 years time?

    If it hadn't been for London we'd be in the same boat as the Republic of Ireland with debt up past our nostrils.

  • Comment number 86.

    Each Irish citizen owes around half a million dollars.

    If we assume that Scotland wasn't spend-crazy with it's oil revenue, (fat chance, I know) our oil cash would now all be going on servicing our bank debt.

    A Darien disaster part 2...

  • Comment number 87.

    Brian Taylor and BBC Scotland = the world according to Scottish Labour

  • Comment number 88.

    #85 ady
    How can you tell? Would we have had G Brown in charge, a "Labour" man doing all he could to save the shareholders at the cost of us the voters? Is that what "Labour" stands for nowadays, the shareholders party?

  • Comment number 89.

    Re 85

    The pickle that Ireland and Iceland got themselves into was not a function of their size or independence; it was the result of irresponsible policies. USA's and UK's size and independence hasn't prevented USA and UK being currently insolvent or recklessly invading other countries.

  • Comment number 90.

    #85 ady

    If it hadn't been for London, there would most likely be no 'bailout' required!

    And just remember - the Scottish people have been on the receiving end of the banking crisis - NOT the cause of it!!

  • Comment number 91.

    We'd probably be in the same boat as after the Darien scheme....

    1707: Ruling classes join with England to alleviate debts from Darien scheme.
    1979: Ruling classes take Scotland into independence to enjoy oil money.
    2011: Ruling classes take Scotland back into the Union to alleviate debts from Banking Crisis.


    Alex is going to be extra-extra-extra nice to us all because if he isn't...he aint going to get what he wants.

    Makes a pleasant change for us to be using them.

  • Comment number 92.

    #85 Ady

    I don't know what would have happened had a government not based in Westminster been in charge at the time, but I do know that because of the London establishment we are currently saddled with a great lodestone round our neck, although admittedly not as large as Ireland's - I don't think that was a wise analogy there!

  • Comment number 93.


    “If it hadn't been for London we'd be in the same boat as the Republic of Ireland with debt up past our nostrils.”

    If either the London based Financial Services Authority or the London based Treasury Department, in conjunction with the London based Labour Party had fulfilled their combined duty as the London based tripartite bank overseers.

    The truth is Labour failed, as did the Treasury Dept and the FSA.

  • Comment number 94.


    Lose much on the Darien scheme personally, did you?

  • Comment number 95.

    Lose much on the Darien scheme personally, did you?


  • Comment number 96.


    Now, I did advise you previously to learn some history before posting on it.

    Scotland wasn't bankrupted by Darien, many landowners were. The urban bourgoisie had more sense than to invest in the dodgy scheme, and were poised to foreclose on their loans to the lairds and aristocracy. The Union froze Scotland into an outdated economic system.

    Whether the UK Union was a net benefit or loss to Scotland can be debated, but the immediate effect was to delay Scotland's industrialisation by 50 years or so.

  • Comment number 97.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 99.

    The Darien scheme was a bold adventure - of which there were many at the time.

    A key point about it was that it was scuppered, not insignificantly, by London interests.

    That may be the primary thing it has in common with the modern banking disaster.
    In both cases, indeed, London has sought to cast itself as the “great saviour”, and gone to significant lengths to absolve itself of its self-serving and critically detrimental involvement.

    Those who have historically swallowed such imperialist duplicity clearly now labour under the belief that Scotland’s assets should belong to London in perpetuity, while we ‘get by’ as a pocket-money dependency, since we cannot trust ourselves to look after our own basic interests.

    Such servile self-doubt and second-class citizenship has no place in the lives of modern Scots, and the days are numbered for those who perpetuate the shameful chicanery at its root.

  • Comment number 100.

    Its actually hilarious to listen to Gray expounding his belief that he will provide everyone in Scotland with not one, but at least two jobs, whether we like it or not.

    Someone should tell him that there's no more money for his largesse in the kitty, his pals at Westminster spent it all


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