Why Labour won in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Yes, the SNP won the local elections overall, had the biggest share of the vote, and ended up with most councillors.  And yes, overall control of two local authorities and a share of power in several more is a great result.  All of it remarkable for a party in government at the midterm.

And yes, the party made significant gains in our two largest cities. But it was Labour wot won ’em.  Even though in Glasgow, in reality, they were really only holding.

Beware the power of narrative and expectation to distort the facts….

But even if those on the ground didn’t really believe the hype, even the most hardened activists thought they’d do better than they did.  So what went wrong?  Or rather, why did Labour beat the SNP in Edinburgh and Glasgow?

1.  Voter strategy Labour’s was better in both cities: the SNP went for broke and it broke.

The aim to extract two and even three councillors out of some multi-member wards worked better for Labour than the SNP.  Some of this will be explained by the unintended consequences of alphabetical listing of candidates in some wards;  in others, it will come down to low and differential turn-out, as well as the ability to make votes transfer across preferences (and Lallands Peat Worrier has performed miracles in setting this all out).

Was a role also played by the SNP starting from the wrong baseline of support? If where to place multiple candidates was based on the 2011 Scottish Parliament election showing, it was wrong.  The baseline should have been the 2007 council result.

Was there enough voter identification done during and crucially, before the election to test the strategy?  To some extent, it is a moot point:  if the SNP was to take enough seats to be the dominant force in both cities, it had to go for it.  But the failure to make the strategy work in all wards has resulted in the SNP losing experienced and committed councillors – Rob Munn in Edinburgh, for one – and missing out on having some excellent candidates elected – for example, Jonathan Mackie in Glasgow and Alison Lindsay in Edinburgh.

2.  Candidates Johann Lamont promised a shake-up of who stood for Labour and duly delivered.  Yes, there were still a lot of worthies and time-serveds around.  But in Glasgow they had a big clear out.  And in Edinburgh, they picked their new candidates carefully, people like Karen Keil in my own ward who is well-known in the area and has years of community activism behind her.  She got elected.

There were some like her standing for the SNP, but not enough.  In truth, the secret to selection for the SNP is contribution to party and cause, not to community.  It’s an approach that doesn’t always work.

3.  Leadership Gordon Matheson had a better and bigger profile;  Allison Hunter did not, and for all her various and enormous strengths, being a frontispiece for the country’s highest profile council contest was never going to be one of them.  The SNP could have managed this much more effectively than it did and saved a woman who has given a lifetime of service to the party she loves from public ridicule and humiliation.

Leadership played less of a role in Edinburgh, except for Steve Cardownie and Andrew Burns both surviving scares and only getting back by the skin of their teeth.  Edinburgh voters were lashing out generally at its political establishment, methinks, but for the SNP, in particular, it’s time to change the leader.

Then there’s the Salmond question, which has been much commented on elsewhere.  Did the Murdoch stuff have a bearing?  Possibly.  Scots, after all, are renowned for their attitude to luminaries who get above themselves.  And Lamont’s performance in recent weeks, playing the couthy card, representing the view of the common people, might also have helped shape the psychology of voters to a small degree.

4.  Manifestos Okay, now that hostilities are over, I can speak verily.  The SNP’s manifestos for Edinburgh and Glasgow were rotten.  They were so safe (anodised and neutralised by HQ no doubt) as to be meaningless.  Labour went bold and gave electors something to vote for.  Innovation and creativity in Edinburgh;  big commitments in Glasgow (some might say, giving pensioners a cheque at Christmas amounts to bribery…).  And it had an impact.

The SNP knows from its spectacular successes in 2007 and 2011 that a party needs to give people things to vote for.  For some reason, this basic premise was forgotten in 2012.  Far too many ifs, buts and maybes in the Glasgow document;  not nearly enough specifics in Edinburgh’s.

5.  Resources  The SNP did not put nearly enough of its central resources into winning these prizes: its war chest is being filled for the coming referendum.  By contrast, this election was one where Labour had to show some sort of a comeback and the threat to Glasgow was too big to ignore.  Apparently, Glasgow Labour had two full-time party staff and a secondee from London, as well as all the usual full-time union officials working on their campaign.  It showed.

The SNP might have emerged from this campaign with resources scarcely dented but at what cost in terms of momentum and electoral infallibility?

6.  Philosophy  This relates to the fundamental approach of both parties.  Labour’s is one of bottom-up;  the SNP largely of top-down in political terms.

Labour’s historical essence is grassroots – from community base into local government and then onwards and upwards.  True, it had taken this approach for granted in recent years, but Johann Lamont is nothing if not a traditionalist.  She realised – as others did – that the first step to recovery was to reconnect with its grassroots.  To start building again, from the lowest base.

Holding Glasgow, making gains in Edinburgh – and in other areas like Fife – gives the party a solid base upon which to continue the recovery.

The SNP has always been a party where people arrive from adherence to the core cause.  They come in from the top and the side and are then organised into branches: often, there is little connection to community nor engagement with community beyond party structures.  Moreover, there has always been disinterest – and in some cases, disdain and scorn – for the role local government plays in the political firmament.  Things have changed in the SNP in recent years, but not nearly enough.  There is still insufficient support or respect for councillors from the centre:  local government is viewed as an add-on, rather than the bedrock.

The key to success in Glasgow and Edinburgh is to learn lessons from cities like Dundee and areas like Angus where it has achieved real traction, connection and success at all electoral levels.  All the building blocks of organisation and capacity are nurtured and resourced.  In both local authority areas, there is a real synergy and connectedness across the layers of government in how the party approaches elections.

But the SNP in Glasgow and Edinburgh should not be disheartened:  it made significant gains in 2012, just not enough to claim first prize.  There are lessons to be learned, for future council elections, and even parliamentary ones.  Crucially, resolving some of the weaknesses exposed by the 2012 campaign will aid the Yes campaign.

And for Labour, well, it’s a start but there is still a long way to go before the party can claim to have won back the hearts and minds of voters.  Glasgow was a good hold:  Edinburgh represents a decent gain.  But one swallow – or even two – does not a summer make.

37 thoughts on “Why Labour won in Edinburgh and Glasgow

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  2. Spot on analysis Kate and I’m heartened by the quality of debate in the pro-independence movement. Hopefully the centralist, top-down philosophy will be loosened sooner rather than later.

    On the Murdoch issue I think the biggest annoyance to many progressives was the fact that the leadership refused to accept it was an issue. It was. You can’t pretend to be pro-corporation and expect not to lose votes on the left/ green wing of the party.

    Members of political movements need to question their leaders and be open to sensible debate.

  3. Pingback: Less male, pale and stale? Reaction and analysis on Scottish local elections 2012 | Gender Politics at Edinburgh

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  5. Good article it’s good to debate, however I have to say I am not overly impressed with looking for scapegoats – sure some things could have been handled better especially in Glasgow, but what’s done is done and I don’t think resorting to foul language gets us anywhere. I agree with much of what Dave McEwan Hill says in relation to the media. If we want to play hard ball then we are going to have to address the lies, smears and downright distortion of democracy which has become the norm for the BBC/MSM when reporting independence issues. Dave is right, the media attacks on Alex Salmond were “vicious, orchestrated and fundamentally dishonest” and we can expect more of the same and then some. Let’s be clear on the task ahead, we are about “ripping Scotland out of Britain”, “separating Scotland from the rest of the UK”, “destroying the greatest political partnership the world has ever seen” etc. etc. Without being in the least critcial of Alex Salmond and the SNP Ieadership (we are, after all, where we are, thanks to, as Johann calls him “Wee Eck” and his pals i.e. on the cusp of independence). However, I would add one note of caution to the debate, let us not underestimate our enemy, we are up against one of the most imperialistic nations the world has ever seen. I am not being anti-English, some of my best friends are English and the funny thing is they all want to live in Scotland, which I welcome. England has looked for ‘international development’ since the 12th century.
    The Westminster establishment view those of us in the Scottish independence movement as nothing more than latter day Bravehearts, an irritating insurrection to be neutralised by any means. The media onslaught of the last few weeks was nothing more than a few opening salvoes, the real barrage starts later this month with the launch of the independence campaign. We must find an effective counter to the unionist lie machine.

    • “We must find an effective counter to the unionist lie machine”


  6. A really interesting and thoughtful post. Certainly there was too much emphasis put on winning Glasgow and then it looks as if you lost. Certainly the media didn’t make it easy but lessons need to be learned.
    I saw the campaign from afar but my mother in South Glasgow was called up by a Lib Dem and was phoned personally by Archie Graham who apparently gave a good showing for himself. Certainly the Glasgow leader was not strong enough. The You Tube gaffe was unbelievable by any standard and totally unacceptable a top level politics. On the Murdoch issue its difficult to say. Perhaps it didn’t play very hard in Glasgow but it might have been of significance in Edinburgh and elsewhere. What about the sectarianism bill backlash did this have a factor – either via hard core Gers or Celtic fans? It remains to be seen. As an anecdote I also heard my mother speaking to a friend (who happens to be a person who had supported Salmond and the SNP and is coincidently Catholic) and in the conversation the Gay Marriage issue arose so I wonder if any of that was playing with any sections of the electorate rightly or wrongly – in my view wrongly. Labour was sitting ready to milk much of that sentiment again righty or wrongly.

  7. Excellent piece.

    I don’t think Murdoch was as a big a factor as some may think. But that is going to get bigger, especially if it turns out his phone was hacked.

    I am going to have to defend Alan for his comments about the ppb. It was total and utter patronising crap that reminded me of an episode of Balamory. Such broadcasts are generally mince anyway, but the SNP managed to take this to a new level. Treating voters like pre-schoolers is not how you gain support. Dave, go and watch it again, then watch Balamory and you will see what I mean.

    If you want to judge audience reaction, then you have a sample screening and take on board the comments. The problem with creative people is that many of them don’t have an ounce of commonsense.

    • I didn’t say the PPB was good. Not for me. I don’t need that kind of thing. I am already SNP. I know many who thought it pleasant and enjoyable. The local young fiddlers club here have learned the tune from it and play it now. It did a job. We don’t do PPBs for our supporters

      • The tune was the worst thing about the PPB (at least from the SNP point of view).

        Do you even LISTEN to the lyrics?

        Together we stand
        Divided we fall
        Come on people
        Lets get on the ball
        and work together
        People, when things go wrong
        As they sometimes will
        And the road you travel
        It stays all uphill
        Let’s work together

        It was an advert for the union!! An absolute GIFT!!! Whoever approved the tune should be either a) sacked [if you’re an SNP supporter] or b) knighted [if you’re a supporter of anyone else].

        An SNP Party Political asking people to unite together – Priceless!

      • Rubbish . Our wee fiddle group played it last night and brought the house down.

      • Don’t take this wrong Dave, but many SNP supporters would approve of anything that the SNP produces.

        But this was so bad even some of the diehard brigade over at NNS were critical of it.

        And just read the lyrics on John’s post. Who the hell came up with those? But since it is almost certain that Alex approved them, I don’t think he can be sacked!

    • I thought the PPB was dire. I couldn’t stand to watch it. It was obviously professional and slick and expensive. It just didn’t say anything. It seemed to be saying, “vote for us, we’re cool,” but I think we needed more than that.

      I tried telling myself it must have been carefully crafted by PR people who understand these things, and delicately pitched in some subliminal way to catch the floating voter. But I don’t really believe that.

      Now, the “But what has the Scottish government ever done for us?” Monty Python thing was inspired. This one came over to me as patronising drivel. I think it’s too much to hope that I was the only one it had that effect on.

  8. “Labour held on in Glasgow and Edinburgh and did better than expected elsewhere because of a vicious ,orchestrated and fundamentally dishonest assault on the SNP and Alex Salmond across all the media including the BBC for about six weeks.
    That is all. And we should all understand this.
    Anything else was peripheral and insignificant and we shouldn’t be persuaded to start castigating ourselves (as this article does) for our inability to negate the forces ranged
    against us.”

    Sorry Guys. I stand 100% by those comments

    I know lots of Catholics vote SNP. Myself and most of my family belong to that group.
    Have you been down to the pub recently to be told how the SNP is going to close all the Catholic schools? That’s how it works.

    • Dave, on the schools issue, Salmond is on record that he is for “celebrating diversity in Scottish Education” and he’s made that clear. Yep I’ve been down the pub and heard the opposite being claimed and I’ve been able to quote Salmond on the subject.

      I don’t see that we are castigating ourselves but I think its healthy to talk about where things could have gone better. The Purcell business was pure manna, yet it wasn’t used to ram home what Labour meant in Glasgow. And he was supposed to be “quality” Labour! Even now the Glasgow press especially have thrown a cloak over the whole shocking business and continue to protect Purcell (and the truth) from being exposed for the phoney he actually was.

      • Exactly, Jo.
        That is precisely what I am saying. The press invents and inflates absolute nonsense about Salmond and the SNP and ignores actual criminality by Labour all of the time.
        The media (and those who control it) is our only major opponent now. Not the Labour Party -but in West Central Scotland we have a very specific problem with a section of the population who should naturally be supportive of us. As I’m of that section of the population, as I taught in Catholic schools, as I contested for the SNP in Lanarkshire (a many years ago) I have always been very aware of the undercurrent – and I’m aware of the delicacy with which it has to be dealt.
        We have made much progress over the last few years on this issue. But much remains to be done. There is still a significant block vote which the Labour Pearty cultivates assiduously on this issue. At council elections on a low turnout it is a hugely significant factor. It is very easy to instil fear or lack of confidence into less well informed voters and this is the name of the game. And it will be how it is played as we approach the referendum. If you had ever been in council election in Lanarkshire watching the Labour Party going round the ward in Celtic jerseys and playing rebel songs on their tannoys you’d understand what I’m talking of. That was years ago but the Labour organiser who put that show on is an MP in Westminster at the moment

    • Dave, the other thing that really scared me about Glasgow showed up on a NN Scotland thing the other night where they went up to an area now known as Canal (I think) and talked to those living there. Only ONE wee guy out of many they spoke to actually voted. The rest when asked why not answered in words that made one fear for us all to be honest.

      There are hordes out there who can barely string a sentence together and who do not care about their communities, about politics, governments or the future. In the run up to the elections last week many were more interested in the Gerbil’s murder trial than in the elections.

      And I know we can say poverty does this but I didn’t grow up in a rich environment yet there were principles instilled in me and voting was one along with playing one’s part in the community.

      In Pollok and Shettleston a few weeks back two Credit Unions were publicly condemned for practices discovered by some Watchdog or other. In Pollok the CU had loaned SEVENTY FIVE per cent of their funds to a local project that wasn’t even a member of the CU. In Shettleston the Directors on the CU had given themselves preferential loan rates. No formal action was taken against the people running those CUs. It should have been. I used to think CUs were a great idea but since reading about these two I have become worried about them. For if locals are running the show there then how many more ordinary folks in ordinary communities are being screwed by their own? So even when we set up things designed to help ordinary communities we see that in places like Glasgow, maybe elsewhere, they can also simply be the latest opportunity for the wideboys to exploit for their own gain.

      • Indeed. And so much more. And not reported or skimmed over. The media has just been complicit in allowing an bunch of self- serving incompetents to retain control of Glasgow despite huge areas of legitimate concern about a huge number of enterprises and very dubious practices. The media is happy to pay that price (or for Glasgow to pay that price) to defend the union. That is the bottom line. The SNP has to be beaten by whatever method, honest legal or otherwise so we should be screaming at the top of our voices what a terrific result we have just achieved.
        We have to find a way to counteract the poison and the online media is very far from being in a position yet to do the whole job for us.There has been a degree of complacency but we really do have to get an act together on the media.

  9. Andy’s comments on having a constitution are not just relevant to local issues. This is key to winning the referendum too. Proposing a constitution, ideally created by the people as was done in Iceland will prove to everyone that Scotland can be truly different to Westminster where we are continuously told we have an ‘unwritten constitution’. The Unionist parties will never support this as they do not wish to be held to account like this. We can only hope that the SNBP will espouse this

  10. Great piece, much more sensible than most of what I’ve been reading. Also worth looking at where are the women? Good analysis by party here: http://genderpoliticsatedinburgh.wordpress.com/

    And Andy, completely agree re local control of local revenue raising. Did you see Mike Smith’s post on Bella Caledonia with Lesley Riddoch’s comments linking local spend voter turnout?

    “Remoteness and loss of power have prompted low turnout – not reversed by the advent of PR in Scottish council elections. As Paddy Bort, of Edinburgh’s Centre for Governance, argues in Scottish Left Review, looking round Europe, there’s a pattern. Councils in Scotland raise 20 per cent of their budgets and have turnouts of 30-50 per cent. French councils raise half their budgets, and have turnouts of 50-60 per cent. In Switzerland 85 per cent of revenue is raised locally and turnout is 90 per cent.”

    This highlights for me the stupidity of recession response by central govt, creating this ridiculous confusion between deficit and debt. The deficit was caused by a failure to raise revenues when spend needed to rise to counter recession, very simple. But the best way to raise revenues was cut off by the council tax freeze. It is my conviction that voters will support increased tax (although it would be nice if we had less regressive versions) when asked to choose between the increase and doing without something they care about, like local jobs in the public sector.

  11. Real good article, especially about the SNP being a top down party, something most members remain oblivious to. And well said on the Murdoch issue – Alex cost votes with his mirky dealings over bskyb But I can sum it all up in video – the SNPs own. The high heid yins thought this so good they played it 5 times on national TV. Apolitical partonising shite, and expensive with it. Find out who commissioned, signed off, and then repeated this utter drivel, and SNP members will have learned something valuable for 2012, There even is a clown in it, like everyone else in a paid actor in this overpriced 100% ineffective pap I’d say less that 100% ineffective – a vote loser. But it goes deeper. This annodiine, “don’t scare the voters” approach” is sure fire independence loser

    • Disagree almost entirely with all of this.
      It is an exactly an example of the naivety I was referring to in my post.
      Have you any evidence whatsoever that Alex Salmond’s dealings with Murdoch were “murky ” or is the fact that the Daily Record, the Telegraph and the Scotsman said so enough for you?
      The media and the BBC have succeeded in smearing Alex Salmond merely by constant and continuous attack through innuendo – and some SNP supporters have been sucked in.
      As for the PPB. Its your attitude to it that’s patronising.

      • Dave I really think you can’t just condemn other SNP supporters for feeling concern over the Murdoch business. Remember we all have the right to a view. I’ve debated the Murdoch issue elsewhere with you on a separate Burdy post so I won’t go into that again here but really, you can’t just say to feel concerned is a sign that one is naive or has been “sucked” in by the media. To take that view is to insult others who do not criticise Salmond lightly. It is also unhealthy to tolerate no criticism of Salmond or the SNP. When mistakes are made, and I think they have been made, people should feel free to say so without being accused of swallowing lies peddled by a pro-Union Scottish media. The very existence of such a pro-Union Scottish media should make Salmond and the SNP tread warily and remain squeaky clean.

      • No where do I suggest Alex Salmond should be free of criticism but to be singled out for continuous vicious criticism for doing something that he was probably politically obliged to do anyway that all the others have done – but only much more so – was entirely dishonest.
        And I repeat the lower than expected result (which still meant we made advance) is entirely due to six weeks of vicious anti Alex Salmond smearing by all the press and the BBC. How the same people must now be enjoying us critcising each other as they now distort and manipulate the result they orchestrated dishonestly and put it down to a great Labour campaign.

        Have you not noticed that Scotland’s biggest selling tabloid and most widely read broadsheet are not attacking the SNP?

        It’s only going to get worse -and every time elements in the SNP get frazzled and over -react when some other ridiculous concoction against Salmond or Sturgeon is manufactured and we start to blame each other they must be rubbing their hands in glee. .

      • I agree that the muck-spreading over the Murdoch affair had an important effect. It probably changed what could have been another bandwagon into merely a decent win overall. And indeed it was massively over-hyped. What Salmond did was so insignificant compared to what both Labour and Tory parties did in their time it was risible. And the constant assertions that he had prostituted the office of FM for the Sun’s support in 2011 were entirely unsubstantiated.

        But how can that be countered? The media as a whole is virulently, rabidly anti-independence. They’re not going to get any better, or start giving the SNP or the independence argument a fair hearing any time soon. And that is something all supporters of independence have to think about.

        I also believe the leadership issue was a vital one. A lot of the SNP vote in 2011 came from people who were aghast at the prospect of a Gray/Labour administration. But a Labour vote last week wasn’t going to put Lamont in Bute House. On the contrary, Allison Hunter was not coming across as the Great White Hope for Glasgow. We needed a charismatic figure voters would trust to run the city, and we didn’t give them one. Is it surprising a lot of them decided to stick with the devil they knew?

        There are lessons there for the independence campaign. Know that every piece of mud that can be thrown is going to be magnified a thousand-fold and hurled repeatedly, while the beam in the unionist eye will be ignored. Know that we have to offer the people of Scotland a positive vision of a far far better country than the one they have within the union.

        And do something about the PPBs. I agree, that offering was absolutely dire. I switched it off, repeatedly. And if a die-hard SNP supporter is switching off a PPB because she can’t stand to watch it, something is wrong.

  12. Labour held on in Glasgow and Edinburgh and did better than expected elsewhere because of a vicious ,orchestrated and fundamentally dishonest assault on the SNP and Alex Salmond across all the media including the BBC for about six weeks.
    That is all. And we should all understand this.
    Anything else was peripheral and insignificant and we shouldn’t be persuaded to start castigating ourselves (as this article does) for our inability to negate the forces ranged against us.
    There is nothing our opponents like better than to see us pointing fingers at each other.
    Labour won nothing here. They are not capable of winning anything so we should not subscribe in any way to media distortion of the results The media did the work and Labour in Scotland is merely a limp instrument of UK establishment plot against the independence movement.
    The fact that we came out of this skewed election actually stronger than we went into it is a teastament to the relentless nature of our progress.
    I am disappointed to hear media attacks on significant figures in our effort repeated here. The media, with a yelping Labour chorus, of course were going to attack the principals in the SNP Glasgow campaign. That some SNP commentators appear to believe this was an honest or accurate assessment is very strange indeed.

    One area the SNP has not fully got to grips with yet is the Scots-Irish (for want of a better description) vote in particularly Lanarkshire,Glasgow, Inverclyde and Dumbarton. We have a huge nationalist community in this area – West Central Scotland – paradoxically still voting for the Union Jack – though they don’t see it in those terms. This is the vote that provides the bedrock of Labour support and a community that Labour shamelessly abuses and has done so in all the years since the 1950s that I have been in politics.
    It is going to be a critical feature in the referendum campaign and this community could determine whether we win or not

    • “One area the SNP has not fully got to grips with yet is the Scots-Irish (for want of a better description) vote in particularly Lanarkshire,Glasgow, Inverclyde and Dumbarton. We have a huge nationalist community in this area – West Central Scotland – paradoxically still voting for the Union Jack – though they don’t see it in those terms.”

      For want of a better description you say: do you mean the so-called “Catholic vote”? I think you are quite wrong to say they are all “still voting for the Union Jack”. Indeed many Catholics currently vote SNP and have admired Salmond for a long time. I think you’re being stereotypical to an extent. I also despair at the whole “Catholic vote” business sometimes because let’s face it, if Scotland had an actively engaged electorate at all the Catholics among them are hardly going to change much, well, apart from in Coatbridge maybe. ; ) The problem is tho’ Dave as soon as any politician engages with any particular group other groups react. I think Salmond is probably very wise to seek to engage with the Scottish electorate as a single body. Its a hell of a lot safer I’d say.

      Salmond has irritated me deeply on various occasions in the last few months but I won’t go into that here. I think tho’ that he has taken his eye off the ball in many respects and I think it was insane to be seen to be cosy with Murdoch.

      I also think in declaring the SNP would take Glasgow he was naive and that is why the media has been able to claim Labour “won” in Glasgow because, let’s face it, they did when Salmond’s prediction didn’t come to pass. He was the one who issued the challenge and it didn’t happen in Glasgow or in North Lanarkshire. I think he’s become complacent even if only slightly. That is not a good idea. The SNP got re elected at Holyrood because of the things they did in that first term. Scots saw this and the policies the SNP intended to bring in and responded last May. He connected back then: he needs to do that again. I think he should maybe even consider losing some weight as I worry about his health a bit to be honest. Plus, the weight gain reminds me of all those Labour-worthies who got to the Commons on the back of Scottish votes and acquired little other than hanging jowls and ever increasing waistline measurements. Salmond is not an old man but the extra weight he is carrying puts years on him. I think he should sort that.

      Burdy rightly points out that Glaswegians don’t actually know Allison Hunter. Why didn’t they see more of her since the big push for Glasgow was announced? I think she should have been given more exposure for sure. Mathieson is hardly a character. No one knew him when he emerged after the Purcell debacle. Speaking of whom why wasn’t more made of his term in office and the fallout when the truth about him came out and someone touted as a future FM went into public meltdown as his political career disintegrated? Arms-length companies, Councillors sitting on them taking payment for doing so, dodgy connections with other companies tendering for contracts, links with gangsters………the list was endless yet Purcell was one of the “big-hitters”. A missed opportunity for sure.

      Sorry to have gone on a bit Burdy. And your post is excellent I would say.


  13. Scottish Labour in Glasgow & Edinburgh obviously did well.

    However, Labour & Co-operative has work to do in the rurals…I’m disappointed that some voters still have no representation in those areas. It concerns me that STV, obviously advantageous to the Parties, the results still misrepresent voters’ intent and fails to represent a sizeable vote in more rural settings. I am concerned that the democratic process is still not democratic enough.

    *not flag waving, but articulating shortcomings*

  14. A very perceptive analysis, as per usual. However, I’m not sure that Angus, at any rate, would be a sign of how the SNP could win – here they made many of the same mistakes as they made elsewhere. Manifesto’s were very bland – mainly just doing what the SNP Government wants us to do (one leaflet said EXACTLY that), pictures of Alex Salmond on everything etc.

    What was different in Angus was that the SNP were in opposition, and they managed to mop up a lot of dissatisfaction with the ruling administration. When they were specific, they were mainly negative – they were against this thing that the council were doing, or against that thing. The only ‘master stroke’ was to harness a local campaign to stop a new school being built – that in one ward alone didnt give them all the gains they needed.

    If there was one thing which I think did help them – and I’m not sure it was deliberate on the SNP’s part – was they set themselves out from the start as the natural winners. They were the only party to stand enough candidates to take full control – and they used every opportunity to remind people of it. That was a powerful signal to people of the inevitability of an SNP victory, which probably helped with momentum. I was not the only activist who heard that the reason why people weren’t bothering to vote was that there wasn’t any point – the SNP were going to win anyway. If they had come out, that might not have altered the result – but it indicates the mood.

    As for Dundee, I’m not sure. Factors were different (the SNP were already in power for starters).

    • Thanks for the analysis John – very perceptive. I think the point I was trying to make is organisational. Angus and Dundee have all levels interconnected and work them well, in the SNP. But your comments re the mood music also valid.

      • I guess what I was trying to say was that here, the SNP looked like an administration in waiting (in the same way the SNP did nationally last year) in a way the other parties obviously weren’t. Thats not necessarily the case elsewhere where all parties have stood enough candidates to take control so could at least claim to be an alternative.

    • “If there was one thing which I think did help them – and I’m not sure it was deliberate on the SNP’s part – was they set themselves out from the start as the natural winners. They were the only party to stand enough candidates to take full control – and they used every opportunity to remind people of it.”

      See, whilst I think that’s a winner in Angus, I don’t think it would have worked in Glasgow. The SNP were too ambitious in Glasgow, and in some wards where they could have got 2 councillors, they ran 3 candidates in pursuit of a majority and ended up only getting 1 elected.

      Priority number one in Glasgow should have been stopping Labour get a majority. That line of attack would have appealed well to Glaswegians – cutting Labour down to size in the city, as it were. And a minority Labour administration wouldn’t have lasted long.

  15. Excellent analysis. In particular, the observations on differences between Labour & SNP on candidate selection and political culture (and how people are attracted) is spot on. You only need to look at the Scottish green’s success in Edinburgh to see that candidates such as Gavin Corbett who has been working hard locally for 20 years or so topped the poll even beating Andrew Burns. Local Government is about local government (even though I don’t think it is either local or government!) but you get my point. that is how it should be and how it must be in future. I would like, for example to see local government enshrined in a constitution for an indy Scotland so that no national politician ever again can go to the electorate in a national poll making promises about the level of local taxes (council tax freeze). If Angela Merkel did that in German Federal elections she would be prosecuted as such a claim would be unconstitutional. It is noteworthy that the Scottish Parliament could, if it wished, wind up all local authorities. They have no entrenched powers.

  16. Pingback: Why Labour won in Edinburgh and Glasgow | Politics Scotland | Scoop.it

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