Monday, 10 May 2010

The election everyone lost

Did you hear the one about the election everyone lost?
Labour the party in power lost 100 seats and with it the chance to continue in Government after 13 years.
The Conservatives lost the victory all the polls had been promising them for the past 18 months.
The Liberals suffered perhaps the most devastating humiliation after Cleggmania turned out to be a complete and utter mirage. The man who apparently wowed us so much in the great TV Leadership debates actually lost a significant number of seats rather than gaining any.
The Nationalists also lost seats. Instead of going from 7 to 20 as Alex Salmond confidently predicted they actually went back to 6.
Scottish Socialist candidates lost all their deposits. We averaged around 1% of the votes cast,which was just as we expected, but the increase in Labour's vote in Scotland was not anticipated!
Mind you to all extents and purposes 'Scotland is a foreign land' for Westminster elections. For one thing there was no swing to the Tories whatsoever. For another the 'grate' TV Leadership debates were largely irrelevant here since so much of what was discussed didn't apply to Westminster for us. The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood retains responsibility for most of the things Cameron, Brown and Clegg argued over -health, education, criminal justice, transport.
The people who lost out most however were undoubtedly working people as usual. The neo-liberal warmongering Westminster parties concocted a deal ahead of the election not to spell out what £100bn of cuts in lifeline services looks like for working people. They ignored the very real concerns of the unemployed - with unemployment at a 16 year high. They ignore the plight of the poor - with income inequality now wider than at any time since records began in 1961. Since all three stand for the same thing there was no mention of the fact 77% of working people are opposed to the ongoing occupation and slaughter in Afghanistan.
The overwhelming conclusion the 2010 General election pointed up in Scotland was the revulsion there is at the thought of a Tory Government being returned. 'Nice Boy Dave' has been rumbled. With his odious remarks on public services and cuts, immigration and withdrawing benefits from the jobless his mask slipped badly in the course of the campaign and his vile Thatcherite soul was exposed.
Tactical voting was employed across Scotland with the candidate most likely to stop a Tory gain seeing their majority rise. This was evident in Labour seats certainly but also in SNP seats like Perth where Pete Wisharts majority more than doubled as Labour voters opted for him as the optimum anti - Tory vehicle.
Chancellor Alastair Darling, the man at the helm during the worst economic collapse in 80 years, saw his majority over the Tories double in Edinburgh South West. This was the seat I contested on behalf of the SSP. To be honest I had anticipated the charge that standing against him might 'let the Tories in' but it was never mentioned once. Had it arisen I had a response prepared - 'Which Tory did you mean like?'
We had a thoroughly enjoyable campaign with 4 weeks of active politicking, holding 5 public meetings in various parts of the constituency on our opposition to the cuts and the occupation of Afghanistan. More than 30 new people signed up to join the party. More than 75,000 SSP election leaflets were delivered door to door. The four hustings attracted nearly 700 people between them. Mind you taken collectively they were a mixed bag. No one at all turned up to the PCS event whilst 500 people packed into a church in Juniper Green to attend the Question Time arranged jointly by 3 local community councils. The SSP was widely regarded to have won the debate, however the audience were in the main 'dyed in the wool Tories'
The canvassing we conducted in Stenhouse provided us with very important intelligence about what people think of the SSP, our strengths and weaknesses. Chief among the criticisms were a sense that we are unrealistic about what we can achieve and we lack the strength to deliver on what we promise. On the other hand voters we talked to were full of admiration for our commitment to working people and the interests of the poorest in society. Our irrepressible resilience in the face of the dreadful events of recent years was also greatly admired.
As far as the result of the General election is concerned I think all the possible outcomes look unstable. The Conservatives and Liberals are in talks as we speak but proportional representation or 'fair votes' is not on the table. It seems to me most unlikely then the Liberal Democrats will ever enter a formal coalition with the Tories. Perhaps Cameron will opt to Govern as a minority in the way the SNP has done at Holyrood? The problem with a more feasible Labour/Liberal coalition is that they simply do not have the numbers to pull it off and a 5 party coalition [Lab, Lib, SNP, Plaid and SDLP] is most unlikely.
Meanwhile the SSP will continue campaigning against the economic injustice behind the cuts and the ongoing military repression in Afghanistan. These issues may have not been discussed much by the myopic media these past 5 weeks but they remain the most important features of politics in Scotland today.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Colin,
    Interesting stuff, but you fail to note that the Greens won their first MP. Odd not to mention the only left triumph of the night?