Lessons from Glasgow North East?! – The Labour Party isn’t as dead as the Tories were before 1997 and prepare for the longest election campaign ever…

David Kerr SNP - disappointing

The result in Glasgow North East has more to do with Labour success than SNP failure!

The result of the by-election yesterday will have come as a surprise to many people, and a disappointment to the SNP and to the media, which is increasingly biased towards the sensational.

Let’s look at the evidence: SNP Failure?

Well to be fair I never though they stood a chance in this by-election, and many will put this down to a failure of the SNP government in Edinburgh and a slump in support for independence. It’s probably not either of those, well not entirely. The SNP were always soft peddling their chances, after the surprise failure in Glenrothes. 

The SNP’s candidate was superficially a strong one with apparently good local credentials, and apparent media savvy.  Neither of these turned out to be true.  His media performances were weak, which surprised many, and his local credentials turned out to be paper thin.

Labour learning from the lessons of Dunfermline and Glasgow East?

I favour this analysis myself and the other main parties need to learn that Labour is relearning how to campaign.

Their Scottish by-election defeats in this Parliament, in Dunfermline and Glasgow East, have shown them very much on the electoral back foot. This has been due to them being out of touch with local public opinion, combined with a national malaise in their fortunes.

In both Glenrothes and Glasgow North East they have managed to campaign effectively on local issues, which are more important in by-elections, and toned down their national misfortunes.

This will obviously be very difficult for them to manage on a national scale at a general election but may be possible on a limited basis if they can successfully deploy human and financial resources.  The Labour Party is relearning targeting.

The main thing for the other parties to learn from this election is that long campaigns help the Labour Party; it helps them to reconnect with their electorate. The lesson is that, like John Major in 1992, this might be the longest election campaign in history.  Although the election might well still happen in early May it seems likely that Gordon Brown will go the palace to ensure that the campaign will be as long as possible, something in the region of 6 weeks, as it was in the 90s, to give them the chance of managing this reconnection.

It will also dent the impact of the financial advantage the Tories have on a constituency basis, making them spread the cost due to the restrictions on constituency campaigning, making it more of a doorstep campaign.

Labour is back in the electoral race.

Leave a comment


  1. darrellgoodliffe

     /  November 13, 2009

    Interesting post which makes some good points. Also, I think they enjoyed being the underdogs in Glasgow NE and turned this status effectively on the SNP. However, this will be much harder to replicate in a GE where they are the incumbent government…not impossible though, especially if the Conservatives blunder tactically by supporting or instigating something like the recent Sun-smear on Brown….

  2. I think it would be a huge mistake to underestimate what Labour will do in the GE campaign. You are spot on to say that they will try to use brutal and not necessarily accurate local messages to deflect from their national record. Where they are facing a strong challenge, either in a seat they’re trying to re-take or in one where a good local campaigner is snapping at their heels, I don’t think it’ll work, but if they get it right they could come out with more seats than we think.

    Only thing I will say is that I think John Major was a much more likeable man than Gordon Brown and he won in 1992 by doing the soapbox thing in a way I can’t really see Gordon Brown doing. He just wouldn’t be comfortable with it and it would be lunacy for any camppaign strategist to make him try.

  3. Robert

     /  January 28, 2010

    What do they say about one swallow and summer, the fact is many of the Labour membership have walked away.

    The recession is seen as labours fault, Cameron is not winning the battle but sadly labour has lost the fight. Brown is seen as Lumbering poor leader who likes to stab people in the back, he also has the use of a slush fund, people do not like this type of leader.

    new labour will die a death and the Tories will win the next election, and sadly it will not return to power in my life time

  1. New MP born after long Labour – Scottish Roundup

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