by Hazel Lewry
In the last few days there have been some exceptionally interesting developments in the campaign for Holyrood supremacy, 2011 style.
There has been the release of two new polls, the Scotsman’s at least with relatively current data, both of which when taken in context show the IPSPOS/MORI poll in the midweek Sun to actually have been surprisingly accurate.
Hot on the heels of these poll releases we have ‘Call me Dave’ changing the Tory tack, from the old buddy up principle to one of shock and fear – going so far as to imply Scotland is a tin-pot third world dictatorship with his ‘El Salmondo’ quips and condescending comments about it not being a ‘presidential style election’.
We don’t have presidential style elections in these Islands; it’s just a weird déjà-vu that has us remembering Cameron, Clegg and Brown hamming up to the cameras last year. From where I sat that was a fair imitation of a presidential election. I’ve watched a couple. It was just missing the other parties.
To the Labour party in Scotland, much more important in the short term than the sudden fits of terror running through Whitehall is that the Nationalists might actually obtain a majority.
Firstly there were reports of a re-launch on Easter Monday that was purely fear inspired. Before the re-launch could take place there were media reports of senior Labourites in danger of losing their seats. Then more press reports surfaced citing senior sources within Labour in Scotland decrying their leadership, sadly they weren’t named.
Right before the re-launch reports surfaced that the Northern Irish branch of Labour had been requested to ferry in activists to “aid the cause in Scotland”. This news was rather skeptically received until Labour’s Northern Irish branch confirmed it would be doing all it could to assist and answer the call. Activists are apparently being flown in, transport and lodgings paid, to shore up the flagging campaign.
Labour in Scotland reportedly doesn’t have the funds for these measures, a brass band in Glasgow reportedly downed trumpets at the weekend when they discovered they wouldn’t be paid at a Labour rally.
Where is the cash descending from for these resources? The logical answer is London interfering in a Scottish election. We then have it reported that the interference is largely limited to Edinburgh – which is where we’re informed the Irish activists will be flying into.
The prime reason might just be Labour trying avoiding a very, very bloody nose. The main constituency of concern close to Edinburgh is East Lothian. The constituency of Iain Gray himself. The only potential reason for these actions is if internal polling matches external trends and informs Labour UK PLC that their Scots party leader is about to lose his seat.
The question that Labour seem not to have asked themselves is what the good people of East Lothian will think about having a group of fresh faced, non Scottish imports telling them how to vote in a purely Scots election.
On its own there could be reason to second guess this line of logic, however when one considers Monday’s loudly heralded re-launch fizzled and popped, mainly due to a negative campaign following negativity in opposition being replaced by a different negative campaign. Even BBC Scotland seemed uninterested.
This is all causing alarm bells to ringing louder in London, comedians are being parachuted in to resuscitate the defrocked re-launch. Almost simultaneously we hear by “advance leaking” of news that Balls and Miliband are heading North to assist (take over?) the campaign. The semblance that Scottish Labour is anything other than an English puppet is stripped bare.
Looking at the puzzle in its totality it appears this is the first time since before the Second World War that a Labour leader anywhere in the UK party or in Scotland will fail to even hold his own seat. That’s exceedingly bad news for Labour UK, and possibly the end for Miliband the younger.
Labour are now beyond damage control, by their own actions they’re importing, they’re over-lording, they’re managing, they’re directing, but of far greater importance by what they themselves see, they’re facing their worst electoral disaster in the best part of a century.
And to all practical purposes, London and Edinburgh, they’re out of ideas.