Scottish labour

The SNP’s fall could be as rapid as its rise

Scottish Nationalists are putting a brave face on the latest opinion poll showing Scottish Labour apparently winning the race for Westminster. The Times/Panelbase survey suggests that Labour is on course to return 26 Scottish seats at the next general election against the SNP’s 21. The nationalist are currently the third largest party in Westminster with 48 MPs, so this would be a shocking reversal of fortune. The survey was conducted between 12 and 15 June – just after Nicola Sturgeon had been arrested and released under Operation Branchform – the police investigation into irregularities in party funds and fundraising. Ach, it’s not as bad as it looks, say the Nats.

Can Sarwar reverse Scottish Labour’s fortunes?

Has Anas Sarwar got what it takes to woo Scottish Labour’s lost voters? I joined the recently-elected leader of the party while on the campaign trail in Glasgow and you can read my interview with him in this week’s magazine. His analysis is that Labour was in danger of becoming part of the past for many Scottish voters. His solution is to stop talking about the constitution in an attempt to avoid the ‘divisive’ politics that has dominated the country for years now and to encourage voters to take another look at his party. He told me that the ‘big mistake that other political parties are making’ is to ‘make

Isabel Hardman

Can Anas Sarwar rescue Scottish Labour?

When the Scottish parliament was set up by Tony Blair in 1999, it seemed as if Labour would govern Holyrood for the foreseeable future. The Scottish Tories were a contradiction in terms. Devolution was sold as a device that would kill nationalism ‘stone dead’. Suffice to say, this plan did not quite work. The Scottish National party took power in 2007, the Tories were resurrected as the new opposition and it was Scottish Labour that ended up on the brink of extinction. Now, for the first time in two decades, Scottish Labour is on the up, with a new party leader. Anas Sarwar, 38, was elected in February so has

Isabel Hardman

What will Labour moderates do now?

The election results that we’ve had through so far are a pretty potent combination for the Labour party. Diane Abbott said this morning that they show that Labour is on course to win the 2020 general election, while Jeremy Corbyn skirted around what they actually meant for the party in the long-term when he gave his reaction. The potency lies in the party’s devastation in Scotland that points to a long-term structural inability to win a majority coupled with English council results that, by being less bad than expected, deceive about the challenge the party faces in winning in those areas in 2020. The party’s moderates are concerned this morning

The Tory strategist behind Scottish Labour’s revamp

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar is being advised by a key figure behind ex-Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson’s political brand, Coffee House can reveal. Eddie Barnes, a former spinner for Davidson when she led the party, has been helping Scottish Labour during the Holyrood campaign with messaging and voter strategy. He helped craft Davidson’s cheery, accessible image as she brought her party back from the brink of extinction in Scotland. It’s not difficult to see his influence in the way Sarwar has led an upbeat and confident campaign with attention-grabbing moments such as this dance class. Barnes works for Gordon Brown’s pro-Union think tank Our Scottish Future but has also

Can Anas Sarwar save Scottish Labour?

Sixty-eight days out from the next Scottish Parliament election might seem an ill-advised time to change the leader of Scottish Labour. This morning, Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar was unveiled as the winner of a low-key internal election, defeating Labour’s Holyrood health spokeswoman Monica Lennon by 58 per cent to 42 per cent. The leadership was spilled after the abrupt ‘resignation’ in January of left-winger Richard Leonard following three forgettable years of drift and decline. Labour last won a Westminster election in Scotland in 2010 and a Holyrood one in 2007; in the 2019 European Parliament elections, it came fifth and just 1.1 per cent away from finishing behind the Greens.

The sad state of Scottish Labour is bad news for Boris

Nicola Sturgeon has laid down the gauntlet to Boris Johnson over Scottish independence: if the SNP wins, as it inevitably will, in May’s Scottish parliamentary elections, a ‘legal referendum’ should be held. How should the PM respond to the First Minister? The uncomfortable truth for Boris and the Tories is that there may be no good way out of this situation. Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, has so far offered his riposte: the Scottish Tories will boycott the whole thing. As counterattacks go, it’s not without its strategic merits. However, one thing looks set to completely undermine this plan: the weakness of Scottish Labour and the other opposition parties

Scottish Labour leader: If it’s England vs Scotland, I support England

This weekend, Richard Leonard proved that an Englishman can succeed in Scottish politics. The Corbyn ally – who hails from Yorkshire – beat Anas Sarwar to be crowned the leader of Scottish Labour. However, it remains to be seen whether an Englishman can ever be First Minister. While Scottish Labour members may be over to get over their leader having an English accent, Mr S wonders if the latest confession by Leonard will prove a step too far when it comes to the general public. With England and Scotland enjoying a fierce rivalry in sport, Leonard was asked today, on Radio 5live, what side he was on when it comes

Could an Englishman ever be First Minister of Scotland?

Could an Englishman ever be First Minister of Scotland? That’s the question the Scottish Labour party are having to grapple with this week after Richard Leonard announced his candidacy to succeed Kezia Dugdale as leader. A former trade union organiser and chair of Scottish Labour’s executive, Leonard sounds like the perfect Corbyn candidate – until you get to the fact that he is also English. Leonard’s opponents have been quick to jump on his nationality – briefing out that his English heritage is no small fry. They claim his Yorkshire accent could make it ‘hard’ for him to ‘connect’ with the people the party must win over to increase their vote share. One opponent

How Kezia Dugdale made Mission: Impossible more difficult for herself

When Kezia Dugdale was elected Scottish Labour leader, she tweeted: ‘Mission: Impossible has a happy ending, right?’ As she steps down from the job, Dugdale is getting enough praise to suggest that her mission has a happy ending. But is that really fair? She leaves with more Scottish Labour MPs in Westminster than she started with: impressive, given many had assumed Scottish Labour was dead for at least a generation after the SNP surge in 2015. But then again, she leaves with her party in third place at Holyrood. Her critics on the Left will argue that the party’s recovery in its Scottish seats was far more down to Jeremy

Alex Massie

Kezia Dugdale’s resignation leaves Labour in turmoil all over again

Even in Scotland, ‘Name the post-devolution leaders of the Scottish Labour party’ is a pretty decent pub quiz question. There have been so many and so few of them left much of a legacy. The people’s standard has been borne by Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish, Jack McConnell, Wendy Alexander, Iain Gray, Johann Lamont, Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale. Eight leaders in eighteen years. (In the same period, the SNP and the Tories have each only had three leaders.) And now there will be a ninth. Kezia Dugdale’s resignation as leader of the Scottish Labour party surprised even some of her closest allies and senior aides. Many of them are, not

Kezia Dugdale: Why I have quit as leader of the Scottish Labour Party

Earlier this year, I lost a dear friend who taught me a lot about how to live. His terminal illness forced him to identify what he really wanted from life, how to make the most of it and how to make a difference. He taught me how precious and short life was, and to never waste a moment.  Being leader has always been a difficult but fulfilling challenge. One that until now I have enjoyed, driven by a clear guiding purpose and goals, many of which I have achieved. I am proud of the fact that I’ve demonstrated how the parliament’s powers can be used to stop austerity with progressive

Jeremy Corbyn thanks the SNP… at Scottish Labour conference

Oh dear. Although Paul Mason has taken to the airwaves this morning to suggest that Scottish independence would be a good thing, it had been thought that comrade Jeremy Corbyn was still on the side of the unionists. So, Mr S was curious to hear the Labour lead thank the SNP in his speech at today’s Scottish Labour party conference. Referring to plans for a new Scottish Labour policy to increase child benefit, Corbyn confused delegates by thanking ‘our SNPs’: ‘I’m delighted Scottish Labour announced a new policy to use powers of Scottish Parliament to increase child benefit, which will lift thousands of Scottish children out of poverty. Well done Scottish Labour

Bust-up over influence of Scottish Labour

Now that Jeremy Corbyn has won, the fight moves to the jungle of Labour Party rules, regulations and procedures. Whoever controls these controls the party. Last Tuesday, for example, an eight-hour session of the party’s governing National Executive Committee (NEC) concluded that Scotland and Wales should each have their own member on the NEC. This seemed a bizarre, almost trivial outcome: so much argument and such a paltry outcome? The answer is simple: if the Corbynistas want to proceed with a purge of the Labour Party they’ll need a majority on the 33-member NEC. At present, power is balanced – but if there were Scottish and Welsh members then the

Scottish Labour ask entire mailing list to stand in local elections

With Scottish Labour now the third biggest party in Scotland following disastrous election results in May, it’s safe to say that its members have seen better times. However, there does appear to be one positive to the beleaguered party’s lagging popularity: it’s never been easier to get involved. Today Scottish Labour have sent out an email to their full distribution list — including members of the press — asking recipients to stand in the local elections: Alas it turns out the party have now got cold feet about asking members of the media to stand. A second email has been sent out, explaining that it was sent ‘in error’: However, given that the party

Nationalist sentiment won’t fix Scottish Labour’s identity crisis

Scottish Labour is in a pretty bleak place at the moment. It is recovering from its second drubbing in an election in two years, and its leadership is naturally scratching its head about how on earth to recover. So the consultation that the party has launched this week that includes questions of whether it should separate itself further from the UK party is in many ways not a surprise. But what is perhaps striking is that the party thinks that this could help its predicament in Scotland. It is another way in which it is giving in to the nationalist narrative of Scotland being separate and different to the UK, and

Why is Scottish Labour putting so much effort into its Trident policy?

It’s perhaps not a surprise that Scottish Labour will oppose Trident renewal in the party’s manifesto for the Holyrood elections. The party did hold a symbolic vote on the matter at its conference last autumn, and delegates voted against renewal of the nuclear deterrent, despite Kezia Dugdale’s own preference for multilateral disarmament. And it’s not a surprise that this has enraged trade union GMB Scotland, which is pushing for a vote in favour of the Trident successor programme at today’s Scottish Trades Union Congress conference. SMB Scottish Secretary Gary Smith accused the Scottish Labour party of playing ‘fast and loose with thousands of livelihoods at Faslane, Coulport, Rosyth and across

Will Ruth Davidson’s ski-doo stunts pay off at the ballot box?

Just a few days into the official campaign for the Holyrood elections and Ruth Davidson has had to change her tactics. The plan had originally been for the Scottish Conservatives to run a serious campaign which has fewer tanks than the election campaign, and more serious speeches. ‘We tried that whole idea of you know we’re going to do this really stripped down, just speeches, and just like listening to people bla bla bla,’ says Davidson. ‘And then kind of all the press went this is really boring and we went, yeah, it kind of is.’ And so Davidson has been playing ice hockey, racing blue and red cars, and

Watch: Jackie Baillie’s disastrous Sunday Politics interview — ‘to call that a “car-crash” would show a lack of respect to automotive accidents’

With the Scottish Parliament elections set to take place in May, the SNP are expected to once again top the polls. As for the other parties, Kezia Dugdale’s beleaguered Scottish Labour will be attempting to fight off Ruth Davidson’s conservatives for second place. So, with Dugdale desperately needing to win back disillusioned voters, she may live to regret sending Jackie Baillie, the Scottish MSP, onto yesterday’s Sunday Politics. In an interview with Gordon Brewer, Baillie attempted to put forward her party’s new economic policy which claims to offer a way to end austerity which is not ‘prescriptive’. Alas Brewer was unconvinced, suggesting that the policy amounted to promising to put people’s taxes out without

Scottish Labour attacks SNP from left with tax rise plans

Those of you who live in the rest of the UK will have no idea what a relief it is for us Scots to have some real politics to deal with at last. Scottish Labour’s announcement today that it wants to raise income tax for everybody in Scotland is terrific – simply because it means that this year’s election will be a real contest about real policies. For the first time in years we are going to get an election which is not about the constitution. The tax powers which Scotland is going to get in April are fairly inflexible. A lock-step has been imposed which means that, if you want to raise one