Labour and Better Together – It was all going so well so just what went wrong?

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  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
In one catastrophic week the Scottish political canvas so carefully crafted over the last year has been ripped to pieces.
 
Entering summer and all was apparently well with both the anti-independence campaign and the Labour party in Scotland.

  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
In one catastrophic week the Scottish political canvas so carefully crafted over the last year has been ripped to pieces.
 
Entering summer and all was apparently well with both the anti-independence campaign and the Labour party in Scotland.

Johann Lamont we were routinely told had First Minister Alex Salmond on the back-foot at Holyrood and Better Together, the Labour/Tory/Lib Dem alliance, was doing its part for the Union by trouncing their pro-indy counterparts Yes Scotland.

Moving into the first week of July and what’s going on?

Better Together are on the back-foot as their tidal wave of negativity begins to rebound and the Labour party has gone into self-destruct mode over a routine candidate selection process in Falkirk.

It’s come right out of the blue … or has it.

Better Together Myth

The performance of Better Together has been one of the most enduring myths of the independence debate.  There’s hardly a pundit or reporter who has questioned the narrative that has piled praise on the anti-independence campaign whilst ridiculing as ineffective and deficient the efforts of Yes Scotland.

But a casual glance at the last six months tells its own tale with controversial donations, false claims of sabotage and admissions on oil wealth from former Chancellors lurking in the Better Together background.

The success of the No campaign, if we want to call it that, has been in the presentation by the media of the pro-Union arguments, or scares to be more accurate.  The episode over mobile phone charges was a scare story too far and has sobered up a few of their media backers.

Even the evidence cited as proof of the effectiveness of Better Together is suspect.  Asking people how they feel after being bombarded with a never ending conveyor belt of negativity and you’ll get exactly what pollsters found – doubt and fear over independence.

You’ll find the same results if you ask people how they feel after days of miserable weather.

Lamont – reality versus image

Whilst Better Together were taking the plaudits on the constitution front, Scottish Labour were apparently dismantling the SNP bandwagon.

Over six years as First Minister of Scotland and Alex Salmond had finally met his match.  Johann Lamont was beating him regularly at Holyrood and the nationalists had run out of steam.

Scottish Labour had ‘won’ the 2012 local elections and ‘brave’ Johann was now tackling the benefits culture.  The tide was turning and Scottish Labour were back.

That was the narrative created by the media machine, and it too has now come crashing down.

Little clouds began to emerge, such as Glasgow Council’s Labour leader Gordon Matheson caught performing a sex-act with another man in a public car park.  Matheson hit the headlines again when he pulled the plug on the George Square re-development project at considerable cost to the public purse.

Johann Lamont’s policy announcements have been scarce.  However the one real attempt at seizing the initiative ended up in farce when her proposals for income tax to be fully devolved were ridiculed by her own Scottish MPs before being shunned by Ed Miliband.

Donside was a reality check when Scottish Labour disappointingly failed to make any significant impact in a by-election that presented the first real test of her leadership. 

Then last week in a surprise move several of her front bench team were axed and replaced by newcomers and failed also-rans.

The sacking of Ken Macintosh as finance spokesman to be replaced by former leader Iain Gray prompted Macintosh to reveal disagreements within the Scottish Labour group.  Lamont’s infamous and ill-advised ‘something for nothing’ speech had caused splits within her Holyrood group of MSPs.

The fiasco in Falkirk has now ensured the Labour party in Scotland enter the Holyrood summer recess in as poor shape as they have ever been in with a leader who has gone missing … again.

London has put its foot down in Falkirk.

We will start the second half of 2013 with a weakened Scottish Labour party and the anti-independence Better Together campaign having second thoughts over the relentless negativity of their campaign.

There’s one other body still to play its hand in the battle for Scotland.

Look out for Labour dominated COSLA entering the fray. 

The local authority umbrella group was hijacked by Labour in the aftermath of the 2012 local elections.  They did it for a reason.

 

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