Monday, 7 May 2007

The incompetence of the Labour party knows no bounds

Well, even in defeat, Scottish Labour has managed to take the shine of the historic SNP victory on the May 3 elections. I am referring of course to the voting and counting fiasco involving about 100,000 of rejected ballot papers, a ten-fold increase from the 2003 elections. But I will come back to this issue later.

When I wrote my previous post, at about 3am in the morning, it was looking like Labour would just squeeze in. The west of Scotland has not turned away from Labour in sufficient numbers. Fortunately, the SNP did pretty well in the regional lists in the Highlands & Islands and a solid performance in the Lothians list.

The final result of the elections, in number of seats, is:

SNP – 47
Labour – 46
Conservatives – 17
Liberal Democrats – 16
Greens – 2
Independent – 1 (Margo MacDonald, a former SNP MP)

It is worth pointing out that the SNP also has the highest number of votes, both in the constituency and regional lists:

SNP – 664,227– 32.9%
Labour – 648,374 – 32.2%
Conservatives – 334,743 – 16.6%
Liberal Democrats – 326,232 – 16.2%

SNP – 633,401 – 31.0%
Labour – 595,415 – 29.2%
Conservatives – 284,005 – 13.9%
Liberal Democrats – 230,671 – 11.3%
Greens – 82,584 – 4%

Full details of the results are in the BBC News web site.

Little mention has been made of the fact that the SNP is also the biggest party at the local council level: 363 local councillors for the SNP against 348 for Labour. The Tories now have 143 councillors, and the LibDems 166.

So let’s celebrate that, finally, after almost 50 years, Labour is no longer the dominant party in Scottish politics. Certainly it was about time!

The SNP now have the moral authority to try to form a government and Labour are licking their wounds. Their absence in the media is conspicuous. The daggers must be flying right, left and centre, and the future of Jack McConnell as leader of the Labour party in Scotland looks uncertain to say the least.

Still, Labour could not help but bring chaos to the election. Despite the concerns raised by the Electoral Commission and the Arbuthnott Commission review of the Scottish voting system, the Scottish Office, ruled by Labour MPs David Cairns and Douglas Alexander, decided to push ahead.

This article on the BBC News site is self-explanatory, even though it avoids to clearly identify the people responsible for this fiasco:

- the Labour-ruled Scottish Office for ignoring the advice of the Electoral commission to hold the local council elections and Scottish parliament elections on different dates; and

- the Labour-controlled Scottish Executive, who ignored the recommendations of the Arbuthnott Commission and other campaigners to invest more in voter education campaigns.

Another show of incompetence by our Labour masters. When will the people of Scotland, and more specifically, the people of Glasgow & Strathclyde, wake up and realise that Labour is a liability to Scotland?

Nevertheless, one could sympathise with those who argue that if people cannot read the instructions in a ballot paper, then they should not be entitled to vote. I’d rather side with Melanie Reid, who in her article in The Times, explains that it has been the poorest and most disadvantaged members of our society those who have had problems filling their ballot papers properly. Read the The Times column here.

Although Ms Reid clearly points the finger at the Scottish Office and Scottish Executive, she fails to mention that the communities with the highest percentage of rejected ballot papers are those that have been ruled by the Labour party for decades: Glasgow and west central Scotland. Why, after decades of rule by the so-called people’s party, are people unable to fill in a ballot paper?

In my own constituency, Glasgow Shettleston, the percentage of rejected papers was about 12%. This ties in with the unemployment and social poverty statistics for this area of Glasgow. That’s what decades of Labour rule have achieved for communities across the west of Scotland: people are unable to fill in a ballot paper.

Sadly, although they have lost the election, Labour has not sunk. It will take a great deal of effort, vigorous campaigning and building trust and relationships with the poorest communities in the west of Scotland for the SNP to bring about the change this country so desperately needs. Breaking the cycle of poverty and dependency will be extremely hard in Glasgow and Strathclyde. More hard work will be required. I for one am considering joining in this effort. It is time for a change. It is time to work for a better Scotland.

1 comment:

Colin Campbell said...

Well argued points. I think that Scottish allegiance must be part of our DNA. How could people continue to go lamb to the slaughter for such a bunch of self interested, venal, narrow minded political apparatchiks. Personally, I hope it is chaos for a while and that new and more inclusive elections are held again. Culturally I favour independence, but I think that has to be a longer term goal. In the short term there is a need to tear down all the negative energy and start again. Rather like a bad marriage, where one partner, the electorate, keeps getting bashed, there is always hope with a new partner.