Friday, July 25, 2008
SNP 11,277 last 18,775
Labour 10,915 ------5,268
Tory 1,639 ------2,135
Lib Dem 915 ------3,665
I think the lesson of Glasgow East is not about policy or presentation but about party organisation. The turnout in the middle of the Glasgow Fair when much of the population is away, should have been abysmal. Instead it was only slightly down on the general election, though by-elections are always considerably lower. What that means is that somebody got their vote out. The constituency was hoaching with SNP workers (& posters) while Labour workers were thin on the ground & a high proportion of them were MPs. This in the centre of Labour’s Glasgow heartland were Labour activism used to be almost a tribal rite.
Like a large company which increases its profits by getting rid of its workers & hiring Chinese & eventually finds it is nothing but a brand name, Labour, over the last 11 years has hollowed out its supporters & is now little but a brand name. The SNP’s victory is a triumph for old fashioned party workers knocking on doors. As such it is a very good thing for democracy even though I disagree with their main policy.
The other disaster was for the Lib Dems. All the smaller parties got squeezed because there was a real contest this time rather than all the opposition parties going through the motions almost equally. The Tory vote dropped slightly even as a proportion of turnout. Nonetheless it is good for the Tories because it suggests in seats where they are the challenger to Labour they may expect success.
However the LibDem result was catastrophic. They have lost 3 out of 4 votes from being in a not disgraceful 3rd place. This is even worse since it is generally agreed that their candidate put on the best performance. At the last Westminster election they got their vote rose to 2nd place in Scotland & were widely seen as the more progressive & innovative part of the governing coalition (not so difficult when the other side were Scottish Labour). Now they are barely in the game.
The LDs embraced greenery & nanny statism & distanced themselves from economic liberalism even more thoroughly than Labour, going for the literally insane objective of 100% windmillery, & have justly paid the price. To quote Benny Peiser of CCNet
There are many good reasons for the deterioration of the centre-left's political influence and power. But perhaps one of the most crucial is the abandonment of their traditional core value of progressive optimism. After all, the left used to derive large amounts of its popular appeal from a firm belief in social and technological advancement, a political philosophy of societal optimism and hope. During the last couple of decades, however, it has eagerly adopted a green ideology that has replaced its confidence in future progress with the ever more intimidating prediction of climate catastrophe and environmental disaster, culminating in calls for economic sacrifices and collective belt-tightening.
In short, Britain's Labour Party has discarded its "progressive" principles for environmental fear-mongering and salvationist rhetoric in the expectation that voters would accept that only government control, central planning and higher taxes could prevent global disaster.