Elections General Election 2024 Graham Campbell Janis and Graham Ungagged Labour Left Politics Liberal Democrats Reform Scotland Scottish Greens Scottish Independence SNP Tory Party Ungagged Writing

Election Analysis: Cllr Graham Campbell, SNP Socialists

This is my initial analysis: “I’ve now had a bit of sleep and seen enough of the detail of results to form some observations from an SNP Left perspective:

1) given the disastrous starting background to the election for us the core SNP vote actually stood up pretty well at 30% – this wasn’t an SNP vote collapse. However
There were tectonic plates moving that we could have done nothing about it.

I think Scotland has a number of very defined electoral microcosms – Edinburgh / Lothians and now some of the suburban Central Belt is electorally & demographically similar to parts of the south of England. Glasgow region and the western urban central belt (including some Indy voters) has reverted to results similar to the north of England. Rural and outlining areas vote similarly to such areas in England with Scottish Tories still retaining core votes in the Borders and North East. This means SNP National messaging really doesn’t work across such a varied electoral landscape.

2) SNP messages of ‘Vote SNP to beat the Tories’ had little traction only really working against Douglas Ross with Seamus Logan (yay!) however overall few Labour or Green voters seem to have tactically voted SNP anywhere. Winning in Aberdeen Dundee, Angus & Perth indicates SNP messages on just transition & defending North East jobs worked well there – the fence sitting on new oil & gas partly vindicated by Stephen Flynn’s & Kirsty Blackman’s victories in Aberdeen.

3) Scottish Labour successfully ran as an opposition party to the SNP Scottish Government / Council record in office. The ‘14 Years of Tory failure / 17 Years of SNP failure’ and ‘vote for Change’ lines worked well for them. As did ‘vote Labour to beat the Tories’. Greens also ran as opposition & picked up votes benefiting from ex FM Humza Yousaf dumping the Greens and the Bute House agreement so unceremoniously.

4) massively disturbing trend was Reform UK doing so well (Stop the Boats had traction thanks to 24/7 Farage coverage on MSM) Them coming third in a lot of seats (3 out of 6 Glasgow seats) shows a possibility of future Holyrood success – although their party is so new that their candidates didn’t turn up to the Glasgow count despite doing so well.

5) It’s clear that about 15% of the Glasgow electorate who voted Indy & voted SNP since 2015 have gone back to Labour for Westminster elections regardless of Indy. There’s probably also a bandwagon effect of wanting to vote for the winning side – fact that the result was never in doubt – SNP perhaps mistakenly led with ‘Labour are winning in England- Scotland’s votes are irrelevant’ which is probably not the right message in hindsight – although you could argue it worked.

6) the ‘far left’ vote (in Glasgow it’s historically 10-15% that 20 years ago voted SSP) now votes solidly Green.

A key sector SNP have lost support from are public sector workers – especially teachers & lecturers. The influence of these workers battling an SNP Scottish Govt for funding was influential in the SNP getting the actual blame for austerity not just the Tories. The line of ‘being failed by both governments’ also had some traction.

7) Independence played almost no part in this election as even for Indy voters it was an issue far behind two of the three SNP ABCs – Austerity Brexit & Cost of Living (COL) crisis – it was Austerity & COL. Alba’s ‘Indy now’ agenda was totally irrelevant – and was totally rejected by voters. They had no impact on our vote but no doubt most folks with Alba-type or ultra Indy politics likely voted tactically SNP.

Even for our own campaign (rightly) the SNP focused on the ABC (Austerity Brexit & Cost of Living) not Indy. We’d have got fewer votes had we obsessed on Indy the way Alba did. Voters knew we couldn’t deliver Indy with this Westminster election as there’s no mechanism to do so. Such an approach would’ve been seen by voters as the SNP simply not listening to voters’ key COL concerns.

8) even the Climate crisis was a more important issue than Indy – hence sizeable Green votes everywhere but especially in Glasgow & Edinburgh. In cases like Glasgow North 5,500 Green votes was enough for Alison Thewliss to lose to Labour. Whilst Tommy Sheppard lost he bucked the Lothians trend in the city’s most Yes voting constituency to poll 33% – 3% above the SNP national average 30%. But there was a 10% Green vote there too – enough for us to have won some more seats.

Conclusion : So what does this mean for the Indy left? We’re left with 2 of the 9 SNP MPs elected (Kirsty & Chris Law) on the identifiable left. Anti austerity messages were sound but being in Scottish govt is going to be a tough next 2 years. Starmer is unlikely to open up public spending for SNP run Holyrood or councils. There’s an argument to be had for an early Holyrood election now to let Labour run it for next 2 years. 2026 would have SNP in office 19 years. Those loyal to John Swinney may argue that bringing Kate Forbes back into the Scottish Govt tent as Depute First Minister steadied the SNP horses. But we know her presence (and of the now departed Joanna Cherry KC) cost the SNP support from mainstream left progressive & pro LGBTQI voters.

That left & centre left coalition Indy majority was somewhat fractured in this election. We have chances to bring it back together on a left perspective but must now use our influence more loudly within the party and not allow any slippage to the right.

PS: Gotta say how delighted I was by Jeremy Corbyn winning, Diane Abbott returning and Jonathan Ashcroft & Liz Truss both losing).

[Graham’s podcast with Janis Wilson, including their post GE 2024 analysis, can be found HERE]

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