The Shredding of Scottish Labour

Who would have believed that mighty Rome, with its careless security of wealth, would be reduced to such extremities as to need shelter, food, and clothing?


My grandfather once told me, “once you hit the floor, you can’t fall any further”. His intention was to communicate a Pythonesque ‘look on the bright side of life’ concept. Hit the bottom, things can only get better. And while many journalists are eagerly applying this logic to SLABs Holyrood election results, they seem to be missing the central shocker. Namely, those election results were not ‘rock bottom’ for Scottish Labour. Latest evidence has their free-fall continuing.

Professor John “king of psephology” Curtice is arguing that the outlook for Dugdale and SLAB – in the face of SNP and ScotCon pincers – is unutterably bleak.

The figures show, 45% of those who voted ‘No’ to independence now plan on backing TeamRuth; up from 34%. Meanwhile over the same time period SLAB’s Unionist support has crumbled from 37% to 25%. As Curtice puts it, “It’s pretty clear that the Labour party has already been shredded by the nationalists’ vote going to the SNP in the wake of the independence referendum. It now seems to be suffering from the fact that the unionist vote is now wandering off to the Tories, leaving the Labour party high and dry.”

And their polling if an election where to happen tomorrow is equally abject: “The YouGov survey, carried out in November, put support for Labour at 15% in terms of constituency voting intention. That is a one-point decrease since August, and eight points less than the 23% vote share that Labour picked up in May’s Scottish elections.

For Scottish Labourites it all seems a tad akin to King Alaric’s sacking of Rome.

And one does wonder, in the face of the latest analysis, polling and widespread Scottish public sentiment whether Dugdale realises how low ‘rock bottom’ just might be. Does Dugdale ever look out at the scene and ever imagine if the end might actually be total destruction? It’s an interesting thing to try and do, imagine the thoughts in a political leaders head. Did Emperor Honorius ever actually conjecture that the Visigothic sacking of Rome in 410 pointed to the imminent collapse of western civilisation? As Rome succumbed for the first time in 800 years to an invading force, it shocked and shook friends and foes alike. The plight of the eternal city in 410 was a nexus, and Holyrood 2016 is certainly another nexus (albeit far less dramatic to the welfare of civilisation).

Holyrood 2016 might be Scottish Labour’s 410, and Dugdale playing the part of the hapless and incompetent Honorius. And with these latest numbers coming out, one wonders if SLAB will need to wait 66 more years for their final demise to come. Dugdale’s allies (and those just plain sympathetic) argue that she provides ‘stability’. I’m happy to concede this, it is true – she does. But it is the ‘stability’ of Honorius, the stability of the damned.

Camley’s cartoon, Monday April 25th

Scottish Labour, once fortified by safe seats abundant – stripped of their power, wealth and relevance. The former masters and conquerors of Scotland’s political map, engaging in beggary. ‘Please,’ Dugdale cries, ‘let’s talk about anything except the constitutional question!’ Political paupers.


  1. I suppose that there has been a realignment in Scottish politics.

    For many years the Tories were like a really bad swear word in Scotland. Mrs Thatcher’s doing (although it took Major to lose every single UK parliament seat).

    The Tories had once been popular. Someone told me that they had more seats than Labour in the 1950s, but Heath, and then Thatcher saw support off bit by bit.

    Following on from that, possibly because of Thatcher, Tony Blair came to power and brought a Home Counties sort of Labour to Britain. People in the leafy suburbs were persuaded that there was pretty much no point in voting Tory, but the likes of Alistair Darling, Jim Murphy or Tom Harris were every bit as good.

    Now, of course, all three of them (and others) have been cleared out.

    In the meantime London Labour has got rid of its right of centre leadership. Try though they might to get rid of Corbyn, the membership, largely in England I suspect, has thwarted the Blairites and voted in someone that the tabloids present as hard left, almost Stalinist. He’s not of course, but the BBC don’t like him and the Daily Mail HATE him and that’s the kiss of death.

    And in Scotland the quality of leadership has been declining since poor old Donald Dewar died. Each one worse than the one before. (Who ever thought Murphy was a good idea?) At present it is abysmal.

    The leafy suburbs of Glasgow and Edinburgh are returning to the Tories.

    With Nicola Sturgeon as leader, the SNP moved to the left of where it was under Alex Salmond, who had moved the party to the left of where it was under Wilson (a right of centre,man). There are bound to be rightish SNP country people who have moved away from Sturgeon’s social democracy.

    At the same time, it would be fair to say that the Liberal Democrats have more or less disappeared. With 5 members, one less than the Greens, they are the 5th party in the Scottish parliament (and with 9 members a seriously minor party in Westminster). Surely some of their more rightist voters have moved to the Tories.

    Added to that, the SNP has been in power in Scotland for 10 years. It would be ridiculous to think that they wouldn’t haemorrhage some support, although to be fair, it doesn;t seem like it is much. But governments simply can’t go on forever.

    All that said, Ruth has done well. As you will remember I had a real and deep respect for Annabel Goldie, and I still think that she was a clever leader, but maybe a younger leader was needed for the Tories. It’s certainly what Ms Goldie told me.

    Ruth has some dead weights close behind her, though. Jackson Carlaw is surely a liability, as is someone I once thought had potential, Murdo Fraser. I’d have backed him for leader when Annabel stood down. His idea about detoxifying the party by calling it something else in Scotland (as it used to be before Heath insisted on uniformity in all things) seemed sensible, but Cameron wasn’t having it. Ruth did it by selling herself as the leader of the opposition rather than selling the Conservative brand, and it worked.

    I’ve never taken to her personally, but many people have and she’s to be congratulated.

    What we are moving to is the SNP along with the Greens on the left, the Tories, with the Libs on the right, and what is left of Labour falling apart in the middle, not really knowing what it stands for, or what it is about.

    Another way of looking at it is that the SNP and Greens are pro-independence, and the Tories, Labour and Liberals are pro-Britain. Maybe people are making their choiced based on that.

    It’s an interesting time in politics.


    • The Scottish Conservatives were the first (and to date, still only) party to ever achieve a plural majority of the vote in Scotland. But that was in the 1950s, and slowly times (and generations) changed.

      But unlike the Scottish Tories; who took four decades to collapse; SLAB seems to have disintegrated altogether faster. One possibility is probably the indyref – it accelerated the already present decline in SLABs core vote. Add into that a decade of truly hapless leaders north of the wall – a recipe for electoral destruction. Especially when you consider just how divided Labour has been in Scotland for quite some time. Tris, you’ll remember as well as I do (maybe even better) just how vicious Scottish Labour treated their own side during fights about party policy etc. It became notorious.

      And I agree with your last point, the YES/NO dividing line on separation seems to be the key dividing issue of identity for voters, politicians & parties for here on out. I’m genuinely unsure whether I like this new reality. Scotland has never felt so divided upon itself.


  2. You can gloat for now, but your turn will come.
    We’re dealing with the wolf in sheeps clothing first then we’ll come for the wolf.

    You “Yes” yet?


    • Our time will come? I doubt it.

      Not least since the voters voting Scottish Tory are the types of people who will never be reconciled to the SNP, or independence. It is highly unlikely that the Nats will ever gain traction with these voters.
      Plus, I think we’ve now passed ‘peak SNP’. Over the coming years I expect the SNP to start falling back from their high watermark of last years general election.

      Besides, the only ‘wolf in sheeps clothing’ seems to be the SNP government in Holyrood. Gleefully gloating about how constitutional crises are a “good thing” while Scottish education crashes, and rail networks crumble.

      Truly detached from reality.


  3. I think your the one thats detached, my friend. Rail network problems caused by Westminster tory NatRail issues. Education isn’t crashing, just unionist propaganda.

    SNP government is doing a brilliant job despite being constrained by lack of funds from tory gov.

    High water mark, your a card. Its only going to increase especially after Brexit.

    You are correct though hard core Loyalists will never vote SNP. They probably will stick or gravitate to the tory fascists, they are UKIP in disguise epitomised by paul nutters and his extreme views.

    Hope you enjoy that kind of company dean because their behaviour reminds me of a previous time in the 1930’s and someone said.. and I quote
    “First they came for the communists and I wasn’t one of them so I didn’t care,
    then they came for the catholics and I wasn’t one of them so I didn’t care,
    Then they came for the jews and I wasn’t one of them so I didn’t care,
    Then they came for me, and there was no-one left to stick up for me…..”

    Good luck with your new friends in bittertogither.

    Tick tock the union is dead……


    • “SNP government is doing a brilliant job despite being constrained by lack of funds from tory gov.”

      SNP control education policy, without any limitations. They have more tax powers than ANY Scottish executive/Government since devolution began. They spend approximately £1623 MORE per head on education than England.

      Yet PISA figures show maths, reading, science outcomes have never been lower. Yet evidence mounts than standards and outcomes are collapsing.

      Meanwhile neigh on 10 years of an NAT gov’t you have the gall to blame London? SNP record, their responsibility.

      £1623 more per head. It has NOTHING to do with a lack of funds. It has everything to do with incompetence by the Nat gov’t, everything to do with the curriculum for excellence.

      But hay, “constitutional crises are good for Scotland” aye?

      Tell that to the generation of Scottish kids your side has let down.


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