Jordan Ferguson talks frankly about his own personal experience of falling out of love with Scottish Labour
With five weeks to go until we elect arguably the most powerful parliament Scotland has ever known I find myself party-less. That is to say I no longer have membership of a political party. I let my membership lapse last month through predictable forgetfulness and my refusal to arrange yet another direct debit. So I decided to make the most of my unexpected political freedom and shop around a little.
After a month of high expectations it turns out I’m not green enough for the Greens, not liberal enough for the Liberals, not conservative enough for the Conservatives and, having no interest venturing as far left as Rise, was left with Labour.
Like most people from Glasgow, I was brought up to support Labour and overall I mostly agree with Labour policies. I grew up around the whole Cool Britannia thing and was just young enough to think Tony Blair was cool because he had Oasis at No. 10, although I am now however ashamed to admit I ever thought Noel or Liam were cool. I like what Gordon Brown did as chancellor and most of what Labour achieved for Scotland. Thing is, the only time I ever voted Labour was 2010 and that was more a vote against the Tories. So why have I only ever put an X in the box next to labour once?
It’s not because the candidates where I’ve lived have been bad they have been quite good at times. I just find the parties taste in leaders terrible.
Now, I’ve heard veteran members in pubs and podcasts praise Kezia’s leadership of the Scottish Labour Party and for the life of me cannot understand why. My assumption is she does a lot behind the scenes that only party members are aware of. Well that would make her a good politician not necessarily a good leader.
I genuinely cringe when I hear her talk at FMQs. She stirs up memories of sitting through countless university presentations when someone read a script on something they neither understood nor cared about. She has just the right amount of media training to know to over emphasise key words but, to me, still comes off as disingenuous and entirely unnatural.
At FMQs, Kezia seems to follows a very simple format. Open with an attack on the SNP, big or small, back up the statement with some mock outrage and then slot a question loosely relating to the first statement at the end. It seems to me as though her objective is to slag off the SNP and asking questions is really just an inconvenience for her. Is this really the great Labour plan? A strategy modelled on Andy Dufresne’s escape from Shawshank, just chip away small amounts over 20 years and eventually you’ll break through.
Like it or not the SNP are quite popular in Scotland. They may not have won the independence referendum but they definitely won the Scottish people. They hold a majority government in a parliament designed specifically to stop any one party having a majority and come May that majority will probably increase.
They have realised a potential of the Scottish Parliament that Labour never could. And let’s be honest, they have actually done a good job of being in Government. Even its record on education isn’t really as bad as Labour tries to make out. Actually all attempts at vilifying them have backfired and given them more credibility. So maybe, just maybe, it is not a good idea to attack as Labour seem so determined to do.
I understand the role of the opposition is to hold the government to account but only when there is something to be held to account on. I thought with parliament dissolved she might see her role differently. As I watched the leaders debate I realised I was wrong.
The other leaders seemed to have moved away from the expected SNP bashing with Patrick Harvie staying remarkably quiet and Ruth Davidson choosing to target Labour in the fight for second place.
Either arrogance or ignorance has led to this positon where the party feels no need to justify past actions or even attempt to repair its reputation. Instead it seems to me that the Labour Party in Scotland only exists to destroy the SNP. It seems to have no concern for its own reputation or in holding power. Instead it appears focussed on ruining one party so badly that it’s willing to destroy itself in order to do so. As a result, I suspect I will remain in my party political no-mans land for a little while yet.