Scottish Labour’s long road back from May’s disaster.
In May, we took a beating at the polls.
The evidence is there to be seen every week in the Holyrood Chamber (beginning to sound like SNP party conference).
This week a poll by Ipsos mori puts SNP support at 51%. A staggering figure, I agree.
Being an anorak I had a dig through the actual data. Weighted / unweighted and all the groupings. They are ahead in all categories at the moment. There was little there to give me encouragement
my view that we are at the nadir of our support.
Things, as they say, can only get better. And they will.
Since May, El Presidente Alex I of Scotland, has had a virtually unopposed royal progress. The changing of the leaders of the other party leaders has meant some lame duck FMQ’s. His arrogance (and inability to answer any questions) and bullying, bombastic displays have gone unchecked and feebly defended.
A lack of a robust attack from any of the opposition parties has given him an easy ride.
All this will change. New leaders will find their feet and challenge Alex on his areas of weakness (facts/ details). He has had to come back to the chamber having been exposed for making up quotes and misrepresenting an expert. AND yet his personal approval ratings are soaring.
He is a canny politician but that doesn’t account for this massively successful period.
He has a readily available source of easy hits, Cameron making an erse of it by being a total tory. Easy to make himself look left when Dave punishing the poorest in our society. Add to this Ed Miliband is still not setting the heather on fire. The fact the English Tories are adopting Alex’s policies shows how right-wing they are. Tartan Tories indeed.
So in a vacuum, he looks the business. You can only beat what is put in front of you, I suppose.
The tide is however turning. We will never be this poor again.
The contagious arrogance of the leader has spread to the rest and that will yield benefits for Labour in Scotland. Mike Russell’s wholesale reorganisation of FE/HE and ram it through approach are a disaster. No sign of it in the SNP manifesto. No sign of a single Police / Fire & Rescue service either but this appears to be going ahead too.
Add to this the reduction of teachers by 4000 since 2007 (Mike Russell trying to pretend that they have maintained the numbers – lies, damned lies and statistics – fine if you change the base line – err no).
Add to this the redundancies in civilian posts within the police forces and these being filled by uniformed officers, 1000 extra officers doesn’t mean what you think it does. Not exactly an efficiency is it. Policemen are there to catch criminals aren’t they?
Add to this the lack of school building to support the reduction in class sizes promised. After all if pupils are in smaller groups they need more teachers and more classroooms right? Well teacher numbers down and very few rooms added to classroom capacity. Smoke and mirrors. Words and deeds disconnect.
Add to this a council tax freeze for another 5 years eroding local services. These will begin to bite and impinge on a great many people, and all for a few more quid in your pocket. Soon enough everyone will be able to see that the freeze has indeed changed local government services and not for the better.
Free prescriptions and Bridge tolls only make up so much.
Over arching this erosion of the fabric of Scotland by the ‘no too bad SNP Government’ is the uncertainty of what separation will mean.
So now what? How will this help us?
A New Leader and a better focus on a narrative for a future that gives an alternative to independence.
Focus on people’s lives. Focus on Jobs, standards of living, security on our streets, energy to heat our homes, food prices on the table. Focus on Educating our kids in good schools, Focus on FE/HE to help youth get the skills to get jobs, Focus on addressing Drug & Alcohol problems, Focus on Homelessness, Focus on delivering health.
We lost because we stopped focussing all our efforts on people’s lives.
These things matter more than the constitutional obsession. The referendum will arrive when it arrives. Until then we need to expose the impact on real lives of SNP choices and take to task any and every attempt to blame them on someone else.
The SNP have a majority and they must be held to account for how it is used. Held to account using facts, held to account by focussing on impact of their choices, held to account by not getting drawn into a slanging match, held to account by not allowing every question to be turned into an independence one.
Held to account Alex Salmond and his party will be.
Big boy did it and ran away will not wash any longer Mr Salmond.