Thursday, 9 July 2015


Someone on my Twitter feed directed me to this article by Richard Baker, which is hardly interesting in itself, except that he, as a candidate for Deputy Leader of Labour in Scotland, appears to wish to stay subservient to London (maybe because it has been so successful in the past, or maybe not! More probably because he has been told by London that that's what he has to say, or they will brief against him).

Far more interesting than his article was this reply post by Annette, which I have lifted from the original site, without her permission. I hope she will forgive me. It seems to me that maybe someone is Labour should read this carefully and maybe act upon it.
Annette says:

I am so tired of the word “nationalism” being branded about by Labour. And, oooh, they inserted the word “patriotic” in their constitution, how quaint. Personally, I don’t give a toss about patriotism and nationalism. I am an EU citizen living in Scotland and I voted YES because it is my firm belief that every country has a right to political self-determination and should not be ruled by another country. 

This is something that I suspect most Labourites would in theory agree to, because it makes them sound noble, but when applied to Scotland, they suddenly get a hissy fit at the notion of someone “wanting to break up our country.” The only explanation I can find for this behaviour is that they believe Scotland is not a country.

I’m going to help you out here, Labour, because I have watched your decline for a long time and it seems clear that you have not the foggiest idea where you have gone wrong. That is why almost everything you did to improve your prospects has only made things worse. So let me try to explain, and let me tell you in advance that everyone I have spoken to over the last few days agrees with me. Not because I am so super-clever, but because it is blatantly obvious. Only Labour seem to be unable to see it.

Forget Blairism. The con Blair pulled off worked once, but it will not work again in our lifetime, because there are things people don’t forget. Blairism gained Labour the support of a certain number of swing voters and that helped you as long as your core supporters loyally stood by you. Whatever made you think, though, that you could give up the goals and values of your real clientele and that nevertheless they would keep voting for you indefinitely?

Sure, many people feel loyal to a party and are patient with it, and there is a certain inertia that needs to be overcome before some voters desert their traditional party. But if that party continually fails to represent their supporter’s interests, these supporters will eventually walk away. The sentence I heard again and again and again these last few months was this: “I have not left Labour, Labour have left me.” That is the core of the problem.

So listen to me well, Labour Party, because if you get this wrong again you will be done for, once and for all: Don’t try to appeal to Tory voters. Tory-leaning voters might vote Labour as a one-off protest vote, but by pandering to them you alienate the people that are your natural clientele. For a few years that might work out, but eventually the Tory-leaning voters will return to the Tory fold and your own supporters will decide you’re just not worth it anymore. 

If they have any sense, they’ll move on to the Greens, and if not, there’s always UKIP. If they feel seriously conflicted, they might just stay at home and not vote at all. In Scotland, they have serious alternative now. In any case, you’re unlikely to gain back their trust as long as you present yourself as a paler copy of the Tories. Nicola Sturgeon did give you the heads-up in the leadership debate. She said that of course there is a difference between Tories and Labour, but the problem is that the difference is not big enough. It is nowhere near big enough.

There are several ways in which this failure to be properly Labour instead of Tory-lite has played out.

1.  You have failed to be an effective opposition. Instead of challenging the Tories’ brutal austerity policies, their hair-raising incompetence with the economy, their blatant favouring of the rich elites, you have done little else than bicker about details. You have allowed the electorate in England and Wales to believe against all evidence to the contrary that the Tories have is basically right. You voted with them for more austerity cuts. You voted with them for Trident renewal. You voted with them for more foolish military interventions in the Middle East, even though you must know by now how the Iraq War has damaged you. You abstained from the vote on the fracking moratorium which would have succeeded had you not been so cowardly. You have not been a counterweight to the nasty coalition, you have enabled them.

2.   You have allowed the Tories to determine the political narrative. Instead of countering their agenda with your own agenda, you kept telling us you would do much the same as the Tories, only in a nicer way, and you deluded yourself that this would keep everyone happy. All this nonsense about cutting the deficit by slashing public services and restricting government spending, when it is standard textbook economy that in times of recession the government must increase spending to help the economy recover – you could have called the Tories out on this, you could have presented the figures of how the Tory approach had made the economy much, much worse. Why did it have to be Nigel Farage of all people who pointed out in the leaders’ debate that the Tories had doubled the national debt? That would have been your role, you should have hammered this message home relentlessly instead of letting them get away with their ludicrous claim that they had fixed the economy. You even allowed UKIP to set your agenda: Instead of making it clear, like Natalie Bennett and Leanne Wood and Nicola Sturgeon did, that immigration really, really isn’t a relevant problem, you went about printing “Controls on immigration” on mugs and even inscribing it on your ridiculous monolith.

3. Instead of fighting the Tories, you fought your potential allies. This wasn’t so disastrous in the case of the Greens and Plaid Cymru, given their small numbers, but I will say that having a big campaign to unseat Caroline was not only mean-spirited but stupid; those resources should have gone into targeting a Tory seat. However, it was your treatment of the SNP that might well have cost you the election. Again, you let the Tories determine the narrative. They crowed about a constitutional crisis, about a second referendum which neither the SNP nor the wider YES movement are seeking within the next few years anyway, about “breaking up our (sic!) country,” about chaos and nationalism and England being held to ransom. They and their compliant media outlets abused the SNP and the people of Scotland on a daily basis in the most despicable terms. And all you did was parrot them. Nicola Sturgeon could not have held out her hand any more sincerely, and yet you sneered at it.

What you could have done, should have done, was to challenge the Tory narrative. The SNP have been riding sky-high in the polls since September; and you had known for months that you could only form a government with their help. Plenty time to come up with a constructive strategy. You could have pointed out that the SNP are a moderate party of the centre left. You could have pointed out that they have a track record of eight years of competent and sensible and not-at-all-outrageous government in Holyrood. You could have pointed out that they stood for the kind of temperate progressive policies that many, many people in England would have been delighted to see. You could have pointed out that in no imaginable universe would even 59 SNP MPs be able to call the shots in a 650-strong parliament; that you would always be the boss in any kind of arrangement. 

You could have thrown all your might into convincing the English electorate that a Labour/SNP team effort would be good for the whole of the UK, as it undoubtedly would have been. Instead you declared a week before the election on national television that you would rather see the Tories return to power than work with the SNP. The stupidity of this is mind-blowing. And all under the banner of “not working with a party that seeks to break up the UK.” Tell me, what is your deal again with the SDLP, a party that seeks to unite Northern Ireland with the republic? You don’t even field candidates against them to give them a better chance? If you can work with them, why not with the SNP? But even today you still harp on about “nationalism” when in fact what the people of Scotland have opted for is the moderate social democratic policies which you should have offered but didn’t.

4.   Having alienated your core supporters and turned your back on your potential allies, and with no progressive track record as an effective opposition to show to the electorate, you have based your election campaign on sound bites, PR stunts and silly gimmicks. Just after Nicola Sturgeon presented her gender-balanced cabinet and promised to work tirelessly on shattering the glass ceiling, you insulted the women of the UK by inviting them to talk “around the kitchen table” about “women’s issues,” proudly brought to us by a pink van. And you didn’t see it coming that people would call it the Barbie Bus and laugh it out of town? You allowed Jim Murphy to run amok in Scotland with one insane “policy announcement” after another – remember the “1000 more nurses than anything the SNP promises?” Why not promise weekend breaks on Jupiter for the over 65s? You wheeled out Gordon Brown at random intervals to make meaningless promises and you expected people to be swayed by the pledges of a retiring backbencher? You had some wishy-washy election promises carved in a massive gravestone and you thought that was a good idea?

Yours was a hopeless, hopeless campaign from beginning to end, without vision, without structure, without conviction. And yet I, like so many, clung to the hope that surely people in England must be so fed up with the Tories by now that they’d vote for you anyway and that surely once the election day dust had settled you’d see sense and head a progressive alliance with the SNP, SDLP, Plaid Cymru and the lovely Caroline Lucas who is worth her weight in diamonds. We could have turned things around for the good of the many rather than the few. Instead the Tories now have carte blanche to suck dry the people of the UK and grin smugly while they feast on our bones. All thanks to you, Labour Party. Now get your act together and make sure this will never happen again. I cannot spell it out any clearer.


  1. I think that Labour is still not getting it in Scotland. So long as they are a branch office of London Labour, they will always be in thrall to it. They are still trying to recreated Blaitism as it gave them their only recent taste of government. They think it is a cake recipe where you chuck a number of raw materials into a tin, stick it in the oven and expect a fully iced sponge to emerge.

    That vital ingredient, soul, has been missing and they cannot fake it any more.

    The Labour Party no l;onger has a purpose in life , except to exist for its own sake. D.=arwin will soon intervene.

    The sooner it dies, the better for the body politic in Scotland.

    1. Naively they seem to think that it is the way to win votes, but I think that Annette nailed it.

      You can court the aspirational middle classes with Tory-lite policies, but then, after a while your own constituency says... WHAT IS THIS? and eventually you lose them.

      You don't keep the Tory ones. They end up going back to their home turf.

      In the end, you're right, Darwin takes over.

  2. If you heard Kezia Dugdale's latest comment, you know that Labour are still not listening to me.

    1. Yes i did and have just heard what Liz Kendall tells Sheffield audience:

      "The SNP is raising national identity over and above everything we have in common as human beings."

      They are wilfully deaf and stupid.

    2. Annette...

      I hope you don't mind me making a post out of that. It was too good not to.

      I'd no idea how to get in touch to ask permission, but I'm glad you found it.

      Yes, I heard what she said. That clashes with what they all said after the referendum about re-engaging with Glasgow Man.

      Their core vote, or a large section of it, has decided that centre left policies will come not from Labour, but from the SNP. Why would they chase the Tory vote in Scotland? It's far too small and at absolute core level. There's nothing to win.

      Kezia seems to have lost the plot.

      Thanks again for writing that post. It's brilliant.

    3. You're totally welcome to share; I was hoping a lot of people would read it. Not that I am so particularly clever; a lot of people have said much the same thing, but I seem to have summarized it neatly.

    4. Yes you did and thanks for doing so.

    5. I rather think you are clever Annette! You certainly nailed this situation.

      Thanks again.

  3. Labour have lost their "good guys". They are not electable in Scotland. They are not good enough.

    So its no bad thing they are lost. They are an obstacle to Scottish self determination. After independence we may need a centre left party. But for now, leave them in the wilderness. Scotland has more pressing needs than career politicians can deliver.

    1. It's maybe lack of brains; maybe lack of direction (being pulled in the wrong direction by London), or maybe it's that they are so uninspiring they just can't recruit decent people. (Not surprising if their only policy is SNP BAD and abusive, while people are starving.)

      You're right though. We shall need good people of every political stripe.

      Just don't know where they are going to come from.

  4. Just wanted to say, great post. Nice one Annette. :-) Dx

    1. There you are, Annette. I think I'm right that this is the first time Mr D has ever commented here!

      Nice to see you D Doc!


  5. We in England owe you a vote of thanks for ensuring that we can never again be inflicted with a Labour government !

    1. I'm glad we made you happy.

    2. Now maybe you'd like to return the favour and ensure that we never get another Tory government.

  6. Great article, and I thought I wrote lengthy responses!

    I have no idea what Labour stands for now. They are making the mistake of trying to appeal to everyone, and criticising other parties without providing alternative policies / processes.

    Now that the Tories have a majority, they are able to act in the way we'd expect. A lot of it is not exactly popular, but at least you know where they stand.

    The SNP are far more clearer about where they stand since Nicola took over the leadership. They've managed to get out of the shadow of independence, and be clearer about what they want.

    The mistake in Scotland was to ignore the Labour Party up here. For all her faults, Lamont would have fared better if allowed some freedom from Labour HQ. Some people talk about Scotland being treated as some "shire" by Westminster. Well Labour achieved that with their own party.

    Labour need a leader like Dan Jarvis, their shadow Minister for Justice. But he has declined to enter the leadership race for now, which is a shame. Such an individual might start clearing away the dead wood in the party.

    1. I think that the bulk of Labour is now just Tory lite.

      There are a few stragglers that still seem to have socialism in their boots, but seriously, not many. Obviously Mr Corbyn would be my choice for the English party, but I don't really have a choice for the Scottish party. Probably I'd invite Ms Lamont to take up the job again, but this time without Miliband breathing down her neck worrying about how the focus groups were taking it in Hampstead, and without the traitorous Curran (and I mean she was a traitor to her friends, not to Scotland, so get off your twitter account Blair) being involved in any way.

      Frankly, so far as I can see there's not a single one of them that is any use at all.

      They really have to work out who their new constituency is.

      Are they interested in the needs of Glasgow man? Or is it Morningside, their last stronghold in Scotland, that really matters?

      One thing for sure, they are going to have to come up with some policies. Continually criticising the SNP is OK. Opposition requires that. But when you criticise them for being what you should be then you are on shaky ground.

      And when you make up stories to criticise them with, you have lost.

      Most of us know when the government either in Holyrood of Westminster, makes a mistake. We don;t need Dugdale carping on and on about it, but having no credible alternative to offer.

    2. Labour need to rediscover the policies that made them electable, not chasing some mirage of Blairism.

    3. They don;t appear to want to do that Dennis. Not if Ms Dugdale is to be believed.

  7. Superb, from start to finish. Nail on the head.


    1. Indeed. Full credit to Annette.

  8. Thank you Annette, yes in many ways you are quite correct many people see what it wrong with Labour, you put it into words for them but never mind they will never understand a word you said. James Forrest has repeatedly told them where they have gone wrong and he used to work for them. He has the inside track if you like.
    Labour needs to die, then all those people who have cleaved to them can set up a new party with the right ideas. They have people in the party who would be socialist but they cannot seem to go against the Party, in fact the Party with Labour has become the main thing which above all other things like their constituents, the country and even their voters must be protected. I do not know how people like John McDonnell or indeed Jeremy Corbyn and even Dennis Skinner could stand to be in the same room/building as some of the new intake. Rachel Reeves, Liz Kendall could all be much more at home in the Tory Party. In fact I believe that women Anna Soubry on QT last night said to Chuka Ummuna that hewas a Tory, and he is.

    1. fact the Party with Labour has become the main thing which above all other things like their constituents, the country and even their voters...
      That's the main issue. Bang on. It's down to the 'success' of the Party with Labour and nothing else matters. It's seems their only purpose now is to enable the Tory's

    2. Agreed.

      I genuinely believe that the Labour Party in Scotland is hamstrung by their desire to play on the big stage (even if that role is really just doing what the American President tells them to do). They see Edinburgh as a small unimportant capital on the same lines as Oslo, Reykjavik or Helsinki. Whereas London is up there with Paris, Berlin, Beijing and Washington.

      As I said, it's illusory really. London is only as important as Washington allows it to be.

      Tony Blair admitted that the nuclear capability was a nonsense, kept only as a status symbol. Britain is simply 'fur coat and nae drawers' writ large. They are pathetic to watch, as they echo everything that the Secretary of State says.

      But labour wants to be theses puppets. Because being the foreign secretary of Scotland is about as exciting as being the foreign secretary of Malta.

      They won't form a separate party becasue they know that none of them would ever be part of a British Cabinet again. So they will continue to be the poodles of the poodles and eventually they will disappear.

  9. Labour don't listen, unless it's a hand picked focus group; with a predetermined outcome, that suits their prejudices.
    They long since gave up on the working class, nevermind the poor and huddled masses, to concentrate on winning for the sake of winning; and damn the fekin torpedoes.
    It's all jobs for the boys, and an ermine jaikit at the end of it, it's always been thus.
    Pretending to, care, be of the people, be socialist, to basically give a shit about their fellow travelers.

    I've never trusted them, and I'm knocking on half a century on this mortal plain, we call life. They are as one with the Tories, taking turns to enrich the themselves; or pretend to wander the political desert. All the while, the poor, the "under privileged" (I've always detested that term, unless yer fekin royalty, we're all under fekin privileged), the working class, the immigrant, the asylum seeker,the poor feker who just wants to provide for his family; gets shafted day after day, year on year, life span after life span. It's fekin depressing.
    We in Scotland, believe it or not, are lucky. We do already have a centre left party, the SNP. They are far from perfect but, they at least put the people, constituents and country that voted for them; first and foremost.

    1. Yes, although it must work within the financial constraints of the British government, and can be taken away from us at their whim (imagine the whim of Fluffy Muddle, how embarrassing), we at least have a centre left organisation looking after some of the most important things in our domestic lives.

      Unfortunately not near enough of them.

    2. Then they (the 56) get wee Dougie saying that they're impotent, because they are out numbered, that's the fault of UK labour not the SNP, labour are unelectable because they are Tories in all but name.

    3. Not that "Labour" would have worked with the 56. Dummies would be spat and mittens thrown.

    4. That's one of the things that they really need to get over.

  10. Superb post. Nice one Annette.
    Labour stopped hearing as their collective heads were buried in the slops in the trough.... and that's been for many, many years. It has taken the electronic revolution for the facts to actually filter through to the public.
    Now they have no idea what to do or say as their platitudes and BS trips them up every time they open their garbage filled mouths.

    1. HI Hazel.

      The party has become about self preservation.

      I just don't think they are very good at it. And lord knows they should be knocking at an open door given what Osborne and Cameron are throwing at us.

      They just can't do it though. They don;t have policies for fighting the tories

      Jeremy Corbyn probably does.