The long road back for Labour in Scotland.

Author:Nass, Lina

The UK Labour Party has been gesturing at the need to 'win back Scotland' since 2015. Only uniting behind positive left-wing policies and adopting a radical stance on the constitution will enable it to do so.

A few days before the election in December 2019 I knocked on the door of an elderly couple in the Glasgow South West constituency. The woman who answered spoke first about the NHS and her concerns about privatisation. Next she voiced the view that Jeremy Corbyn was fundamentally an honest politician, even if he didn't always get his point across. She went on to express that she wanted to see a Labour government at Westminster, and to get rid of a vicious Conservative Party which had governed Scotland for too long. Finally, she told me she was voting SNP.

Glasgow South West was an SNP/Labour marginal, with only 60 votes between the two parties in 2017. There was clearly no risk of the Tory candidate winning the seat, but my efforts to explain this came to nothing. In fact, it emerged it was too late anyway - she had posted her vote days before our conversation even took place.

Door-knocking stories like this are not uncommon, but what they might do is shed some light on why so many voters, especially working-class voters, turned out for the SNP at this election, and in the process turned their backs on Labour in Scotland.

On polling day, Labour's Glasgow South West campaign office was busy with people, and abuzz with the energy that election day brings. Over a hundred activists had volunteered their time to go canvassing. While some were the party veterans Scottish Labour has long relied upon, many were new. Of these, the majority were in their twenties: this campaign was youthful and vibrant. Our parliamentary candidate Matt Kerr was a postie, a life-long trade-unionist and a local councillor. Our canvassing up to election day had been the usual mixed bag, but there was a degree of optimism about what the night might bring.

That was savaged by the exit poll, and over the course of the night, all but one Scottish Labour MP lost their seats. In Glasgow South West, we lost 5.9 per cent of our vote from 2017, and Labour came third, behind the SNP and the Tories, across Scotland. This position has become alarmingly commonplace over the last five years - with the party performing as badly as fifth in the European Parliament elections last spring. A new status quo has emerged in Scottish politics in which a once hegemonic Labour Party is now relegated to the periphery.

Many of us on the left of the party have long had explanations for this fate. A banal managerialism overtook the party following...

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