Sunday, 27 March 2016

"Never Again" - Scots give their opinion on Scottish Labour's chances of governing

There's an interesting poll in today's Sunday Post, taken by Survation, which - amongst other things - reveals that the majority of respondents don't believe that the Scottish Labour party will ever govern the country again. 

It's not an unreasonable belief. Having lost many lifelong supporters, particularly in working-class areas in the West, over their two-year alliance with the Conservatives, they seem Hell-bent on alienating the rest of them. Whether it's "Kez" Dugdale's Paisleyesque anti-Catholic rants, or their plan to tax the lowest-earning workers to pay for not taxing wealth, they seem to be retreating into an uneasy core alliance of Edinburgh lawyers and far-Right loyalists.

It's interesting to note, though, the extend to which the moribundity of the branch office has affected their electoral performance. It's probably relatively widely-known that Scottish Labour has never gained a seat in a Scottish Parliament election (they lose, on average, six seats per Holyrood election, with "Kez" on course to triple that in May), but what will almost certainly be less-widely known is that they haven't managed to gain a seat in a Westminster election this century.

There are people who will vote in the General Election in six weeks time who were not alive the last time Scottish Labour gained a seat in a Parliamentary election - a section of society to whom electoral success for Scottish Labour is something they learn in history; like dinosaurs, or Jim Murphy.

So, on the day we celebrate Christ rising from the dead in a comeback unmatched until England's performance in Berlin this evening, I thought it might be fun to explore what the world was like the last time Scottish Labour gained a seat in an election.

Holyrood: Scottish Labour has never gained a seat in an election to the national legislature.

Westminster: We have to go back to last century to the last time Scottish Labour gained a seat in a Westminster election. They won seven! 

The last time Scottish Labour gained a seat in a Westminster election, John Major was British prime minister. The Scottish Parliament did not exist, nor did the Republic of Montenegro. The Euro had not yet come into being. Kezia Dugdale was 15 years old. The day after their triumph, Katrina and the Waves won the Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin for the United Kingdom. 

In 1997, Bill Clinton was president of the United States, and Che Guevara was buried. Apple hired a young man called Steve Jobs. South Park appeared on television for the first time, and Princess Diana was looking forward to a nice break in France. al-Qaeda carried out its firs terrorist attack, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was discovered that vCJD was caused by Mad Cow Disease. For the first time ever, a woman succeeded another woman as elected head of State (in Ireland; both women were also called Mary. The election of Michael D. Higgins in 2011 was the first time since 1973 that someone not called Mary won a Presidential election). 

9/11 was a popular band, and the World Trade Center (sic) was best known for being a place of business.

Europe: Scottish Labour's last gain in a European election came through winning seats in South of Scotland and North-East Scotland from the Conservatives (they lost the latter to the Nationalists in the very next election) waaaaaaay back in 1989. 

In 1989, Japan's Emperor, Hirohito, who had lead the empire through the Second World War, died. Cuba withdrew its troops from Angola, the Soviet Union left Afghanistan (whose insurgents, led by a young man called Osama bin Laden, were armed and funded by Nato, in what may have been something of a strategic error), and Ronald Reagan departed as president of the United States, being replaced by CIA chief George Bush. 

Sky Television was launched - literally - and PW Botha resigned as president of South Africa, where Nelson Mandela was in jail. Salman Rushdie had a fatwa issued against him, and the Estonian flag was raised for the first time in half a century. CFCs were prohibited. 

Three months before Scottish Labour last gained a seat in European elections, Tim Berners-Lee proposed the Internet, and the Communist party lost seats in the Soviet elections.

Namibia was still Southwest Africa, Yugoslavia was still Yugoslavia, and the USSR was still the USSR, making it substantially easier for Scotland, England and Ireland to qualify for the upcoming Italia '90, which was won by West Germany. The Soviet Union issued its first Visa card. John Paul II was a young, reforming Pope. Margaret Thatcher was British prime minister. Disney World opened, and the USA invaded Panama. 

Ireland opened its first university since the establishment of the State, and planning was underway to build its second motorway. In Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested. West Germany won a double in Wimbledon, with Steffi Graf and Boris Becker taking the honours. The Lebanese hanged an American colonel for espionage. 

Two million citizens of Latvia, Estonian and Lithuania demonstrated in support of independence from the USSR, as Voyager-2 passed Neptune. FW de Klerk's National party won the South African elections, and East Germany closed its border with Czechoslovakia. The Hungarian Communist party became the Hungarian Socialist party, and then became the Hungarian opposition. 

When Scottish Labour made its last gain in this election, Erich Honecker was president of East Germany, Apartheid existed, Gordon "Mental" Wilson was leader of the SNP, and Brazil was preparing for its first election since 1960. Gandhi was the prime minister of India, and Mikhael Gorbachev considered legalising religion. The last Japanese troops from World War Two surrendered. Daniel Radcliffe hadn't yet been born. Ken Barlow was married to Deirdre (the first time). 

Kezia Dugdale was preparing to celebrate her eighth birthday.

Scottish Labour's electoral success, truly, is part of history. A party of the past, fit for the past, and soon to be consigned to the past.

When I was doing the research for this article, I discovered that the flag of the Republic of Turkmenistan symbolises the carpet industry. It was nothing to do with anything above, but I thought you'd all like to know that.


  1. Very interesting article. My parents were Labour all their adult lives. My Uncle sat on the Labour NEC in the 80s. I was a Labour voter for many years. I can say categorically that I will never vote Labour again.

    Long may their decline continue. When Scotland is free from their baleful influence, Scotland will be free.

  2. A while coming to the denouement, but may the May Holyrood elections start to really seal the deal (with the subsequent local council elections helping to set the scene for the coup de grace; the UK/EU BREXIT debacle and the internecine UK Unionist parties's strife offering a constitutional assist).

    End-game times:)