This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Could Glasgow East be the turning point?

When voters go to the polls in Glasgow East on Thursday, they have the future of the Labour Party in their hands.

Politics is a messy business at the best of times, but Scottish politics is in a league of its own. And Glasgow East could be the turning point for this government and the Labour movement.

There are two outcomes to Thursday's result: one, we lose, the Labour Party goes into meltdown and rumours of a leadership challenge turn into the real thing or two, we win (although our 13,000 majority is severely reduced) and the whole Labour Party breathes a collective sigh of relief. Either way, Glasgow East is where this government lives or falls.

Our candidate, Margaret Curran, seems like a plucky, tenacious campaigner. She has served her time in the Party, survived the maelstrom of Scottish politics, risen through the Labour ranks and for once in a by-election seems like a Labour candidate worth fighting for. She has a lot riding on her.

The constituency, which as the media loves to remind us has an average life expectancy lower than the Gaza strip, also has an opportunity to have its voice heard. Working class politics has been forgotten by the mainstream parties, much to their eternal shame. New Labour, rightly needed a big tent strategy to succeed, but we can no longer rely on our working class vote to come out for us each time. Why should they? It is not safe to assume that they have no other Party to vote for. As we are seeing, they are turning to the Nationalists, the crank parties and in some parts of England the BNP to represent them. How the Labour Party re-connects with this part of the electorate is crucial to its future success.

I think Labour will win on Thursday but Glasgow East, which is solidly white and working class, should be the wake up call our Party needs. The worst possible thing we could do on Friday morning is shrug our shoulders, breathe a collective sigh of relief and cross our fingers for the next time. This strategy, which most of the PLP seems to have subscribed to, is simply not good enough.

It is about time we listened rather than pay lip-service to the people of Glasgow East, Barking, Knowsley and elsewhere. The Labour Party can no longer, nor should it, take these places for granted. We need to speak their language, re-connect and give them a reason to vote for us. You never know, Margaret Curran could come to symbolise the new politics we have been looking for.

This is the lesson of Glasgow East.

This should be our turning point.

1 comment:

Timmymc said...

We lost. The only reason there might not be a leadership battle is because I can't imagine anyone with ambition would be stupid enough to take over when defeat looms. Better to let Brown take the flak and be the person responsible for sinking the ship.