‘Glasgow Man’ and Scottish Labour

Those of us of a nationalist persuasion have been enjoying immensely Scottish Labour’s excruciating policy contortions as they desperately try and get a bit of traction into their moribund election campaign. There is absolutely no doubt that there is a new frenetic energy in Scottish Labour and there seems to be no limits to the almost daily policy ‘adaptions’. From picking a fight with London, to re-introducing booze at the fitba’, Labour are currently like a hyperactive duracell bunny on stimulants.


Whilst all of this is incredibly good fun to observe, we have to ask if any of it might actually be working? Labour has famously targeted Glasgow ‘man’. This is the former Labour voter in West Central Scotland who voted Yes and who probably also voted SNP in Scottish Parliament elections. Labour have identified 190 000 or so of these voters who now have to be lured back if Labour is to hold on to their seats in the General Election. The problem for Labour is that Glasgow ‘man’ remains singularly unimpressed with what he observes and has several unresolved issues with the ‘man’ from Scottish Labour.

Chief amongst them is the company that Labour has been keeping. The two year association with the Tories is not so easily dismissed by the waving of a flag and the unimpressive declaration of patriotism. Glasgow ‘man’ heard the ‘man’ from Labour describing his political ambitions as a ‘curse’, or a ‘virus’. He was also labelled a ‘separatist’ (and worse) from those who now seek to enlist his support to save their careers. If Glasgow ‘man’ was of a mind to perhaps forgive Scottish Labour for this as a referendum ‘thing’, he would quickly be disabused of the notion by witnessing the ‘men’ and the ‘lassies’ from Labour voting with those self-same Tories on further austerity, a welfare cap and £100 billion of Trident renewal. Glasgow ‘man’ might just be thinking that the ‘man’ from Scottish Labour increasingly bears little difference to their former colleagues – the ‘gentlemen’ from the Tories.

Labour’s problem isn’t going to be addressed by the almost nonsensical policy stunts. It is only going to be addressed with a fundamental look at the space it currently occupies. A new political era is emerging and there is a real sense that the Labour/Tory neo-liberalism that has characterised our politics for the past decades is coming to an end. Scottish Labour, like its UK head office, still seems to be very much attached to the old orthodoxies and the maintenance of a ‘more of the same’ Westminster establishment austerity hegemony. Where Scottish Labour tries to breathe life into a politics on its death bed, Glasgow ‘man’ has already moved on.

I don’t know if Labour will find the message to lure Glasgow ‘man’ back to its paternalistic bosom, but we must continue to provide him and the rest of our fellow Scots with hope and a new challenge to old ways of doing things. Labour, as ever, still seems to be picking the wrong fight with the wrong range of armoury and will probably only end up shooting themselves in the foot once again. Meanwhile Glasgow ‘man’ seems to be perfectly happy with his new home and we should give him everything he needs to sustain himself.

7 thoughts on “‘Glasgow Man’ and Scottish Labour

  1. Alexandra-M-

    They’re hardly going to lure their traditional voters back when they’re busy telling people to tactically vote Tory in some constituencies. They’re an absolute shambles.

  2. squidgybidge

    Pete either you are playing a blinder with misinformation, because you know Labour keeps an eye on your blog or you are also singularly missing the point just like Labour.

    Yes the Tories are toxic and yes Labour supporters would not have liked seeing their representatives campaigning shoulder to shoulder with them.

    However, I don’t see it as the reason that they are being deserted en masse. The IndyRef highlighted to many, many people “actual party policy” and where on the political spectrum parties actually lie. Labour have been found to be RedTories by an awful lot of their core vote. People have come to see the SNP as a party further to the Left than Labour by a fair margin. Although not a socialist party, the SNP are thought by many to be more socialist than Labour. The SNP have seamlessly picked up Labours old clothes and the IndyRef allowed people to realise this.

    Labours one and only hope is to move further to the Left than the SNP, but as they are also chasing middle England’s swing voters they are incapable of doing so. If they do not move Left of the SNP, then both the Greens and SSP who are already to the left of the SNP are going to scoop up the rest of their vote in Holyrood come 2016. Every single person who opened their eyes and there was 1.6m of us, have seen through the spin (of all parties), but Labour have been shown to be the most vacuous and the party who has moved furthest away from their core values (and more importantly those of their supporters), without their core support having truly realised it. The IndyRef shone a light on how far they had moved and it is that which has put them in their current situation.

    Their constant flip flopping since Big Jim took over and their spinning of everything, whilst their compliant media pals help them out is driving the last nails in the coffin further. Their inability to actually say to the SNP good job or we support you in this is alienating them yet further. They are trying to play party politics with everything. In a true democracy a grown up party should be able to recognise when their opposition does something right. That maturity is gone from everything they do.

    The SNP needs to come to understand why Labour are dying, it is much more pronounced than just because they stood shoulder to shoulder with the Tories for 2 years. If the SNP fail to grasp why Labour are haemorrhaging voters, then as a party they will open the door to Labour rising from the ashes like a phoenix and we cannot allow that to happen.

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  4. Douglas Porteous

    Hi Pete
    It’s not just Glasgow man I would imagine that there are many traditional Labour supporters up and down the country who are looking for an excuse to vote for them once again if they can be seen to be the working mans party. One of our priorities must be to expose the lies/policies that labour continually spout as false and show our new friends that Labour are not to be trusted so give us the ammunition to shoot down labour and we will carry on the fight into the pubs and workplaces of Scotland till Scotland is free.

    On a more personal note I am looking forward to you getting re-elected as the MP for Perth and I hope that this is the last time that Scotland sends MPs to Westminster.

  5. Alan Wyllie

    Superb article, Pete.
    For me, Labour can be summed up in one incident.
    I was speaking at a rally in Stirling outside the Tory Conference a couple of years ago. The protest was against the bedroom tax. While tenants and campaigners were outside protesting against the bedroom tax …guess who was receiving a standing ovation from the Tories….Alastair Darling. When we really, really needed Labour’s help and solidarity…they were too busy playing with their Tory pals,

    I will never forget how I felt that day. Saddened but angry…very, very angry.

  6. William Steele

    Why do you refer to the British Labour Party in Scotland as Scottish Labour? There is no Scottish Labour Party. “Scottish Labour” is a deceptive name used to convey the notion that the British Labour Party in Scotland is an independent party in its own right that acts in the interest on the Scottish people and Scotland. This is not so. It is a British party, controlled from London. Its MPs obey the British Labour Whip. They act and vote in the interest of the UK, which, in a parliament with 500 plus English MPs and fewer than 60 Scottish MPs means that Scotland is, in effect, unenfranchised. The votes of the English MPs almost always carry, and would carry without the votes of Scottish MPs. Please, let’s not contribute to the deception. Let’s always refer to the British Labour Party in Scotland by the name “British Labour Party in Scotland”.

  7. political tourist

    I’m probably “Glasgow Man” the Labour Party voter needed for SLAB to ever win again.
    Outside of them going independent of London, i doubt i’ll vote for them again.
    They blew it years ago even before indyref.
    Why did it take to this time to get a handful of new powers.
    We could have had them in 1999.
    Btw, why have no Labour MPs broke ranks and sided with the Yessers.
    Some of them must know their in the wrong party.

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