The Labour Party in Scotland
Keir Hardie founded the Labour Party and championed the cause of the working class who had been badly governed for many years.
But political power in Scotland had been vested with the Tory and Liberal Party’s for nearly 240 years until the advent of change in the political scene, brought about by an awakening of the working class after WW2.
In the period 1945-1979 Party growth in Scotland was spectacular as factory workers, coal miners, shipyard and steel workers flocked to its banner.
In the same period the Party sent many able politicians to Westminster ensuring Scotland’s voice was heard in Parliament.
Scotland effectively became a one Party state as Labour dominated the political scene.
In the West of Scotland Labour votes were weighed not counted. In heavily industrialised Lanarkshire it was said that the Party could put up a donkey for election to office and it would win.
But the first past the post voting system of the UK had ensured Scotland would be governed by the Tory Party ( apart from brief periods between 1960-79 when Labour governments were elected but with small majority’s preventing effective policy delivery.)
The Thatcher years
The eighties brought twenty years of extreme right-wing government, introduced by Margaret Thatcher ending in 1997 with John Major.
Margaret Thatcher, since Scots refused to embrace her “dog eat dog society” asset stripped Scotland of its industrial base, transferring it to England and Wales.
She funded the changes abusing revenue accrued from Scotland’s oil. Using it to finance unemployment in Scotland resulting in many hundreds of thousands of Scots aged over 30 never working again. A lifetime on the dole, families at the mercy of the welfare state initially a safety net which she soon denied the children. Poverty and deprivation last witnessed in Scotland in the 1930’s. And she was proud of her government’s achievements.
Twenty years in the political wilderness was not encouraging for aspiring Labour politicians. The Party in Scotland failed to attract students of politics of the grade it had previously and yet the Labour heartlands of
Scotland persisted in voting less able individuals into office believing the alternative to be unpalatable. The capable but lazy “old guard” was replaced with incompetent corrupt regimes akin to those in place in Eastern Europe.
The Thatcher years rekindled the fires of desire to be free of a political system that had eclipsed Scotland to it’s detriment. The Scottish National Party (SNP) started to make an impact at local and national level.
But not in the West of Scotland which remained in the grip of the “Red Flag.”
The New Labour years
In 1997 Tony Blair and Gordon Brown introduced “New Labour” to Britain and inspired the electorate to get rid of a Tory government mired in scandal and corruption. The motto of the party was “things will only get better” and people believed it.
But major policy divisions soon emerged shattering the media hyped illusion of unity and harmony within labour yet the Tory Party was still in disarray and unelectable and the electorate returned New Labour to office in 2001 and 2005.
The world financial crash in 2007-8 sealed the fate of the New Labour government which had proved to be a “basket case” entity controlled by a warmongering elite who took Britain to the gates of hell in just about every aspect of an abuse of the power gifted to them by a gullible electorate.
Salmond and the SNP
In Scotland the SNP finally recaptured its purpose under the inspired leadership of Alex Salmond who had heeded the call of its members and returned to Scottish politics replacing the dull and incompetent John Swinney.
The response was electrifying. Scottish Parliamentary elections delivered an increased number of MSP’s. Disappointingly the changes in the fortunes of the Party were largely in the the rural areas and in the East of Scotland.
The Labour Party maintained it’s dominance over the West of Scotland.
The breakthrough came in 2007 when the SNP was returned by the Scottish electorate as the largest Party but without a majority and no offers of a coalition.
Overcoming many obstacles placed in his way by truculent Unionist politicians Alex Salmond formed a minority government which performed admirably and completed a full term in office.
The demise of New Labour
In 2010 many self penned Labour Party men of the people left their offices of state in a state of financial chaos contrasting their own futures which were guaranteed as peers of the realm holding positions of power and influence in big businesses (often linked to their previous employment as ministers).
Multi-millionaires one and all and no looking back at the people of Scotland who they had promised to represent faithfully but cynically betrayed.
The 2010 UK General Election
But lessons had not yet been learned by Scots and the electorate in the West of Scotland sent a bunch of incompetent Labour MP’s back to Westminster.
The red coloured political mapping in areas such as Motherwell, Hamilton, East Kilbride, Airdrie, Coatbridge, Bellshill and Glasgow stood with the labour Party.
The 2011 Scottish General Election
The Scottish electorate was impressed by the competence of the government of the SNP lead by Alex Salmond and the Party was returned to government with an unprecedented overall majority.
Once more it had provided good governance despite the imposition by the UK government of brutal financial austerity cutbacks which destroyed the hopes and aspirations of many thousands of Scots.
The 2014 Independence Referendum
The referendum was lost by a small margin primarily due to the Unionist’s clubbing together with other interested groups to deny Scotland its independence.
But Scottish desire for independence had been reawakened by their near success and the revelations of Unionist skulduggery in the 2014 referendum and the electorate was no longer accepting of mistreatment by Westminster politicians.
The 2015 UK General Election
Unionist politicians at Westminster arrogantly believed that the additional very limited devolved powers recommended by the Smith Commission would silence the Scots but in doing so failed to recognise the new political reality.
The election, only 6 months after the September referendum provided Scotland with the opportunity to send a message to politicians in Westminster that the betrayal of the pledges made by Unionist politicians in the 2014 referendum “Vow” was unacceptable to a Scottish electorate that was fed up to the back teeth being recognised by other nations of the World as a quaint wee colony of England, occupied by haggis eating, bagpipe playing, whisky drinking layabouts who existed only with the guarantee of financial handouts by a benign and over generous England. And in a shot across the bows they sent 56 SNP MP’s to Westminster with a remit to declare Scotland’s independence. That they failed to do so cast a mortal slur on the leadership of the SNP and its members commitment to the cause of Scottish independence.
The 2016 Scottish General Election
The election provided the opportunity for the people of Scotland to stand up for their rights and get rid of the corrupt, incompetent, crime ridden Labour controlled councils in the West of Scotland and Aberdeen.
But the lack lustre performance of the SNP leadership in the course of the campaign provided the Tory Party, under the hi-profile control of Ruth Davidson, with the opportunity to take seats from the labour Party, which was in meltdown. And she duly did so. Seats that should have been won by the SNP were lost to the Tory’s.
Nicola Sturgeon and her team’s indecisive campaigning very nearly brought an end to the SNP government. With the help of the Green Party it was returned to government but only after making significant unacceptable concessions. Hardly inspiring!! and things would get worse.
The 2017 General election was a disappointment for the SNP
The 56 MP’s elected only 18 months before had achieved absolutely nothing at Westminster. The Unionist dominated House of Commons mocked, ridiculed and contemptuously dismissed the opinions, views and contributions of SNP representatives as irrelevant nonsense at every televised sitting of the House.
The embarrassing spectacle and daily humiliation of Scottish MP’ in the Commons was witnessed by viewers worldwide and many Scots at home and the absence of any decisive action by Nicola Sturgeon was reflected in the loss of 21 MP’s.
The 2019 UK General Election
In the election campaign the SNP told Scots it was firmly committed and would demand the right to hold another independence referendum if the electorate indicated a desire for it by returning a majority of Scottish MP’s to Westminster.
The SNP subsequently gained a 45% share of the vote winning 48 seats and claiming second place in the 11 others.
Nicola Sturgeon told Boris Johnson he had no right to stand in the way of another Scottish independence referendum adding that the overwhelming victory reinforced and strengthened the mandate for another independence referendum.
It is now 2022 and three years on from the General Election and there is no firm indication a second referendum will be held.