The result of general election 2015 in Scotland variously described as cataclysmic, seismic, catastrophic, unprecedented, historic watershed, labour humiliated. A Scottish Lion roaring says Alex Salmond, and David Cameron gets back into number 10 saying “It’s the sweetest victory of all.” If this result proves anything it is that the system is broken. The Green Party for example get over a million votes and only one seat, the Tories win an overall majority with little more than a third of the popular vote and the Lib Dems effectively wiped out. And UKIP get 4 million votes and a mere 1 seat.
In Scotland the decimation of the Labour Party is complete, 1 seat and only a few years ago if you had suggested this you would have been locked up in the nearest psychiatric ward. So why has labour been so comprehensively hammered? I think that it is down to the Labour Party’s treatment of Scotland since the ’97 election. Labour’s expectation was that the Scottish Parliament would shoot the SNP’s fox, how wrong they were and they have no-one to blame but themselves.
When the Scottish parliament was inaugurated, one of Labours real intellects, Donald Dewar led the party and became the First Minister of Scotland. Donald Dewar was a giant in Labour politics and the politics of Scotland. When he died in 2000 Henry McLeish took over, an academic and well travelled he resigned in 2001 after an expenses scandal. From then on Jack McConnell became first Minister following McLeish’s resignation. McConnell a party apparatchik lasted until 2007, but he was haredly Mr. Charisma. He was followed by Wendy Alexander, Iain Gray and Johann Lamont. None of these three had the ability to seriously challenge Alex Salmond and latterly Nicola Sturgeon. It seems that once Labour had gifted Scotland its Parliament they decided that that was job done. Nothing more was required. The best and the brightest of the Labour party continued to see Westminster as the place to be. And the parachuting in of Jim Murphy as a new labour leader was too little and too late.
The SNP did the reverse Alex Salmond returned to Scotland; he led a disciplined team of very experienced and strong MSPs. After the 2007 Election the SNP ran a successful minority administration in the Scottish Parliament until the stunning majority of 2011. In power, the SNP used the holes 1998 Scotland Act to continually elbow their way into areas that were never supposed to be devolved. They stretched their influence into places where the authors of the Act never thought would be open to them. Since then they have built a reputation for competence as well as playing politics of grievance cards.
The Labour party in Scotland is in a deep hole of its own making and if they are to recover they have much thinking to do.