The 2017 General Election may well go down in history as the “Ironic Election”.
A seemingly popular PM decides to go to the Country on a weekend walk in Wales after denying no less than seven times that she would call an election. Summing up just how much the concept of collective responsibility matters now.
The same PM campaigns on a mantra of bringing “strong and stable” government and claims that if she is not returned to No 10 there would be a “coalition of chaos”. She is returned to Number 10 (albeit on a very short lease) and creates the worst possible coalition of chaos. She spends the campaign berating Corbyn for his links with the Irish terrorists and jumps into bed with Irish terrorists in a desperate bid to extend her political life support system.
Ruth Davidson spends her entire campaign demanding that a Scottish Referendum is taken off the table only to find that the very Union her party was formed to protect (with N Ireland, not Scotland) may well now make a referendum on a United Ireland inevitable.
Additionally, she is now in cahoots with the most socially backwards bunch in UK politics who would deny her the same sex marriage if she lived under their rule! Having won a handsome majority of 13 seats to the SNP’s meagre 35, Ruth feels so voter supermarket!
Corbyn started the campaign being given no chance and disowned by his own Party. Then turns into a poor man’s Bernie Sanders and generates a wave of youthful enthusiasm which should have swept him to victory if his own party had actually supported him. Produces Labour’s most radical manifesto in years by lifting most of the SNP Governments programme over the last 10 years. Then rules out an alliance with the SNP because we “are not progressive enough”. Goose & Gander come to mind.
Kezia, like Ruthless, spends an entire election demanding no Indyref2 and telling Labour voters to vote Tory to stop the SNP. In doing so keeps Theresa May in number 10 rather than Jeremy Corbyn. History will not be kind to the Labour Leader who kept the tories in power! A new definition of Red Tory!
The Labour Party in Scotland, which has relied on support from the Catholic community since the days of the Wheatley reforms now manages to put the party formed by Ian Paisley, (because the Official Ulster Unionists were not anti-Catholic enough), into power across the UK! and like Ruthless her same sex marriage would not be allowed in N Ireland but hey, what the heck they’re not the SNP.
Wee Willie Rennie echoed everything that his Better Together masters said and continued to make his party a relic of bygone days. Return to your constituencies and prepare for irrelevance!
Put together the yoonionist campaign talked of nothing but Independence, it didn’t matter what the question was, the answer was to take indyref2 off the table. Then they complained that people were fed up hearing politicians talk about Independence all the time.
Better Together has rarely been such a sick joke!
For the SNP which has been a driving force of radical thought for so many years, the greatest irony of all is that we dragged the ghost of Labour campaigns from the last 40 years from their crypts and boldly proclaimed that only a vote for us could stop the Tories!
Spent the entire campaign trying not to talk about Independence because it’s just the raison d’etre of the entire movement.
The BBC, like most of the media, has reported that the Tories won the election in Scotland with a massive 13 seats, roundly defeating the SNP who barely managed 35. And people wonder why I wouldn’t trust the BBC with the football scores.
But while this was not our greatest or most inspiring campaign we are where we are and to paraphrase Bashir Ahmed, it’s not what we did wrong that matters, it’s what we do now to rebuild that counts. While we need to learn the lessons from every campaign, we should do so in order to improve not to cast blame!
In the Deputy Leadership campaign, last year there was a general acceptance that we were drifting rather than driving, managing rather than being radical, and that the grass roots of the party were in need of some serious nourishment in the form of involvement in policy. We are not here just to deliver the leaflets and populate Activate. We are in politics because we care and want to help decide the direction of our Party and our Government. Many good ideas to replenish those grass roots were proposed by all four candidates and now that Angus has unfortunately got too much time on his hands we should be looking closely at how to implement them.
For me at least nothing sums up the ossification of our internal processes than the lack of serious debate at Annual Conference or National Council. Sure, we still turn out numbers of delegates that other parties can only dream of, but how many of those delegates now go along because of the Agenda? I can recall perhaps only two real debates in recent years. The superb debate on NATO membership which was such an example of impassioned but factual debate. The second did not reach those heights, but the Land Reform debate was also an excellent example of what this party has in terms of quality and ideas.
They also have in common that the party leadership did not foresee either. I’m not sure whether I think that is a failure of the leadership to read the party or the result of the party becoming too unwilling to challenge the leadership for far too long.
Either way we now have the chance to start doing some radical thinking in terms of how we create policy and involve our membership in doing so. Many years ago we had a vibrant and influential National Assembly where ideas could be thrashed out with some very serious expert input before policy proposals were submitted to Annual Conference for debate and amendment.
I accept that as a Party of Government we sometimes need to react to events and cannot always wait for our internal debates to work themselves through, but it seems to me that we have reached a stage where internal debate is viewed as a luxury we cannot afford and that the membership is merely expected to “rubber stamp” the decisions of Ministers.
Conference now has become little more than a clapfest with no real decision-making role outside of elections. This needs to change and change and change urgently.
Over the last 6 years we have been in almost constant campaign mode. We, just like the voters, need a bit of respite and the opportunity to reflect from 2014 onwards. To learn the lessons of both success and relative failure. What we did well and what we would not wish to do again and of how to manage expectations more realistically.
Perhaps the greatest irony of the 2017 election will be that we replenish those grass roots with the input of some of our most capable thinkers, freed from the pressures of office and able to bring experience of the decision-making process in government to bear on our own structures and policy making.