Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Déjà vu

Now the dust has settled after the Glasgow North East by-election I thought I'd have my last wee poke at the SNP - now what was it Alex said after the Glenrothes by-election?

Let me remind you, courtesy of the Guardian on the 8th November 2008:

Alex Salmond shouldered the blame for the Scottish National party's failure to beat Labour in the Glenrothes by-election, admitting he had been out of touch with voters and outpaced by his opponents.

As his stunned colleagues absorbed their unexpected defeat, the SNP leader and first minister sought quickly to take the sting out of the result by taking personal responsibility for the campaign.

An unusually contrite Salmond admitted a series of personal and tactical errors by himself and his party: he had failed to recognise how effective Labour's attacks on his party's policies in Fife had been, failed to engage with voters, and failed to react quickly enough to Labour's tactics.

"That's my fault, for not having my finger on the political temperature in that constituency," he said yesterday, less than 48 hours after declaring the SNP would win Glenrothes. "Perhaps I should've spent more time on the doorstep to see how the temperature was changing. "

The significance of the setback to the SNP was underlined by Labour victories in two council by-elections elsewhere yesterday, particularly in the nationalist stronghold of Baillieston in Glasgow East, where the SNP had overturned a 13,500-Labour majority at the by-election in July.

Even so, Salmond insisted that Labour's success had been based almost entirely on "dishonest, disreputable and scaremongering" attacks on one single policy - the council's introduction of hefty home care charges for a small minority of voters.

The SNP failed to realise how successful Labour had been in exploiting £11-an-hour charges for home help, and a £51 charge for home alarms. They also failed to effectively rebut Labour's allegations, even though only a few hundred people were affected, or point out that 30 other councils in Scotland had similar charges.

In a rare admission, Salmond acknowledged that Labour's tactics were extremely effective. "The campaign fought by the Labour party was a negative, scaremongering campaign. It was a successful campaign, so we've lessons to learn about how we come back in future," he said.

The extent of Labour's unexpected victory became clearer after party sources said their most optimistic estimate was they would receive 14,500 votes. On the day, Labour polled 19,946, up more than 3% from their vote in 2005. That, said Salmond, was "remarkable".

The SNP had hoped for around 14,000 votes. In the event, it polled 13,209, still a 5% swing from Labour. But Labour had found 5,000 extra voters, a gap too wide to bridge. It was Labour's best Scottish by-election result in 30 years, said the Scotland secretary, Jim Murphy; Glenrothes showed the SNP's extended honeymoon with voters since taking power in Edinburgh last year was over. "It's a vindication of Gordon Brown, it's a humiliation for Alex Salmond. We have to get back to the business of governing."

Salmond said: "We had a setback yesterday and while it's certainly true we've had virtually untrammelled political success for 18 months, nothing in political life continues in that vein forever. The job in confronting a setback is to learn lessons and come back stronger."

Sounds all too familiar to me.

Good thing that didn't happen again don't you think Mr Salmond? Forewarned is forearmed and the same mistakes were diligently avoided, well done...

Just the guy we need to preside over additional powers in an economy based on banking, he can forget those mistakes too...


  1. "an economy based on banking"

    You forgot curry houses and tourism which, together with banking, form the three pillars of the Scottish Tiger economy.

  2. Too right, and I don't want anybody knocking us - we invented the world...

  3. polaris - Thanks for visiting Rational Nation USA.

    It seems we all have our "political axes" to grind. I guess it's what makes the world go around.