2016 Scottish Election: Reid nails reality as Conservatives have opportunity to drive opposition agenda

Argyll & Bute’s former MP, Liberal Democrat Alan Reid, has an untheatrical modesty that makes him easily accessible to constituents. It has also tended to mask the acuity of his reading of political rhythms and their impact on the ballot box.

Reid is also a stayer not a quitter. He is today one of only four of the 56 Scottish MP’s unseated by the SNP in May 2015 who is still fighting the political battle for his party, back standing as its candidate for the Holyrood seat in Argyll and Bute.

He is quoted in today’s national press as pointing out that third terms – which the SNP will certainly win this May and win well – are tough for any party; and that he expects the SNP to lose momentum and direction during that term.

He is right on both counts.

In a third term, the party of government has a substantial and documented track record to defend. It has also become familiar, a bit tired, a bit boring and is running out of ideas.

The SNP’s record in government – very particularly in their critical second term as a majority government, has seen a welter of damaging failure and underperformance in every single one of the areas of major governmental responsibility.

‘Damaging’ in this case,  by the way, refers to Scotland and not to the political fortunes of the SNP – yet.

The surge of popularity has momentum in it still. The energy in the drive for independence is starting to wane but has enough left in it to carry another earth tremor of victory this May.

The waning comes from the gradual onset of realistic perspectives fuelled by empirical economic facts; and from the unease in the infantry at the SNP leadership’s failure of nerve in abandoning the moment the ground troops had delivered where they had a real opportunity to achieve independence.

The waning will continue after the victory, as the SNP confront the legacy of their governmental performance to date – and with markedly restricted abilities in their ministerial cadre for turning that situation around – where every one of the areas of substantial failure are of central importance to the country – health, education, policing, justice, transport and, not least, a spending habit unmatched by the ability to pay for it.

The May 2016 election will  be the bravehearts last stand, the final imposition of the will to remain blind to reality in the hope that if they deliver one more stonking win, the party leadership will be emboldened to move as they wish – to a second push for indy.

But that moment has gone.

Having flunked the moment they were gifted by their ground forces, the leadership is more than fully aware of the reality of the economic facts and forces they swamped with rhetoric, chutzpah and simple knowing  deception in their – in Ms Sturgeon’s – prospectus for Scotland’s Future in indyref 1.

They are also fully aware of the limited ability they have to deploy from their MSP number in any attempt to recover each and all of the failing areas of government.

The bravehearts’ last stand may well deliver the SNP a few new MSPs with competitive competence – but they will still be rookies in government; and some, if prematurely promoted, may be sufficiently arrogant about their comparative capability to create more problems than they resolve.

A post-election reshuffle will also test the First Minister personally as much as politically. Almost all of her own appointments to cabinet office have been failures – and some are her personal friends.

Chief amongst these is the hapless Health Secretary, Shona Robison, under whom the performance of the Scottish health service has increased in cost as fast as it has decreased in evidenced capability and fitness for purpose.

Ms Robison is also married to Ms Sturgeon’s Deputy Party Leader and titular leader of the SNP group at Westminster – the equally erratic Stewart Hosie.

How do you sack a friend or move her to a safe backwater where she will remain largely unscrutinised? And how do you sack that friend when the reverberations from that move may cause unrest amongst your rampant Westminster faction – the group whose micro-management is already taking so much of your time?

Then there is Angela Constance, a daily more risible occupant of the position of Education Secretary, utterly lacking credibility in her role but possessing the power it confers upon her to do harm.

Every aspect of Scottish education is now troubled in various ways – from primary, to secondary, to college to university. And the most basic skills of literacy and numeracy are proven not to be being delivered by the ludicrous ‘Curriculum for Excellence’ – at both primary and secondary level’.

Both of these Cabinet Secretaries were appointed in Ms Sturgeon’s trumpeting of her determination to recognise the ability of women. Both have devalued that currency in marked degree.

With the SNP clearly going to come under increased scrutiny in performance after the coming election, with fewer ideas, less star dust and more damaged goods lessening their chances of success, the need for a robust, well organised, well informed opposition with a clear and convincing alternative political raison d’etre could not be more important.

This need will govern the way the non-SNP electorate vote in May; and there is really only one choice available as to where to place that vote. for an effective opposition.

Whether or how either or both of the Liberal Democrats and Labour recover from their evisceration in Scotland and nationally is a matter for the future – and not an imminent future.

Kezia Dugdale, a charming Labrador puppy with as much political intelligence, is trying to make Labour an alternative to the SNP in faintly embracing independence [with no rationale for doing so]; and in pushing loose variations of a  social justice agenda.

But why on earth would anyone with SNP, pro-independence or socialist sympathies vote for a blurred and uncertain alternative to the way the SNP is currently presenting itself  – for an alternative that will have no power to enact anything? You would have to be a half-wit to waste such a vote.

Voting for the SNP party of government, which has the power to deliver, is the obvious best chance of getting what you want in these issues.

It is impossible to fathom why Ms Dugdale thinks that making Scottish Labour an ersatz SNP is going to go anywhere at the ballot box.

The wild card in the coming election is the Scottish Conservatives.

Under the plain speaking and clear sighted leadership of Ruth Davidson, they alone remain unequivocally of the conviction that continuing membership of the United Kingdom is the best and most constructive place for Scotland.

Their identity today is contemporary [unpatronising] one nation conservatism; and their press releases reveal a well organised research capacity interrogating issues with results fed both to their leading frontbenchers and to the media.

The continuing determinant of how people will vote is – and has to be – whether Scotland goes for independence or chooses to remain in the United Kingdom, in its current or a revised constitutional form.

If the Davidson Conservatives were to produce a manifesto proposing a specific relationship between Scotland and the UK; showing how it would work; articulating its specific advantages to Scotland; and identifying the measures they would take to bring Scotland and the UK into alignment to make this happen, they would  be in electoral business.

This would feed and enliven the substantial pro-union vote as nothing has yet done, reassure and mobilise it, giving it something attractive to use as a recruiting sergeant; and as such, generate the capacity to attract a new vote.

Nothing will obstruct a huge SNP win in May – but if the Conservatives can mobilise their new recruit, Professor Adam Tomkins, to join them in pulling this sort of proposition together, they have the capacity to provide a counter excitement of exactly the right kind to change the political dynamic; unite the opposition vote on fresh and forward looking constitutional grounds; and direct an opposition with a chance of making an impact.

Realistically, what else is there? What have they got to lose?

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Related Articles & Comments

  • “An in theatrical modesty that makes him easily accessible to constituents.” What nonsense is this. Alan Beith has no constituents. He was chucked, booted out,by the electorate. If he thinks he still has constituents the poor Wee man is delusional. He’s most certainly in need of help and articles like this won’t help him.Theatrical modesty indeed.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 15

    willie January 1, 2016 9:43 pm Reply
  • Alan Reid- man of mystery!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 14

    Hugh Jazz January 1, 2016 10:53 pm Reply
  • I quote from “for argyll”
    “Reid is also a stayer not a quitter.”.
    Reid is a fourteen year failure.
    His party have no other candidates.
    Jamie Stone, unbelievably is top of their list.
    The libdems are finished.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 15

    KEITHO January 1, 2016 11:25 pm Reply
    • I’ll give Alan some credit,where credit is due!
      He was very good at working the media.
      He managed to get his coupon into everything that ever happened in Argyll,but rarely spoke to a soul.
      Did he just turn up for photo ops then b* gg^ r off?
      The voters will decide,again.
      My guess is that he will be 4 place,behind the greens!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 9

      Hugh Jazz January 1, 2016 11:36 pm Reply
      • Alan Reid came second in the May 2015 General Election, having increased his personal vote.
        He came second by a substantial margin to the SNP’s Brendan O’Hara – a margin which reflected the SNP’s admirable capacity in that election to mobilise a new vote as well as take votes from Labour – who had a strong candidate in Mary Calbraith.
        The Conservative candidate did not convince his own party’s voters and there was astute tactical voting for Alan Reid by both Labour and Conservatives, rallying around the one candidate likely to do best against the clearly sweeping SNP in that election. And Mr Reid did just that.
        Whether or not he wins the seat in May 2016, he is certainly not going to finish in less than second place.
        He was an honest and hard working MP who paid genuine attention to his constituents’ concerns and, deservedly for that reason, carries a substantial personal vote.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 18

        newsroom January 1, 2016 11:53 pm Reply
        • What utter Drivel!
          Alan Reid is an opportunist who was extremely fortunate that Ray Michie paved a way for him.That path is now cracked and full of weeds.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 9

          Hugh Jazz January 2, 2016 5:35 pm Reply
          • Alan Reid at a hustings in the Queens Hall Dunoon (1st time I’d ever had the misfortune to hear what he had to say) during last years GE got one of the most negative receptions I’ve witnessed toward a politician. Instead of giving the packed hall reasons to vote for him his party his party’s policies and the effect this would have on our region he when responding either opened with or managed to sneak in a tirade of verbal swipes at all things SNP or the word ‘independence’ into almost every question that was put to him. Fixated. People had heard independence, lots of independence, Nicola Sturgeon advised us the GE wasn’t about independence, this was to be shelved with more immediate concerns such as the gaining of stronger Scottish focussed representation to fight Scotland’s case from Westminster pursued.
            Thing is though, Mr Reid knows fine and well that Scotland isn’t the one party state unionist mouthpieces continuously attempt to stain us with. What he also knows is that Scotland is a one issue country when election time comes around, independence the only show in town, the only battle to be won. Not to try and derail this risks leaving those who view Scotland’s independence as a prerequisite to anything that can substantially be of benefit to the people who live and work here safe in their beliefs, equating to continued SNP support at any opportunity.
            Let us not forget that even if the unionists and unionist promoting British media were correct in their claim during the referendum that Scotland would uniquely amongst most European nations fail in terms of our economy, our national security and so on, that almost half of those who voted in our referendum chose either to ignore or had a belief in the people of Scotland’s abilities to succeed and voted YES. To these voters, myself included, and a growing number of those who for whatever reason since the referendum have abandoned Westminster politics as a way forward for Scotland, our independence is the key to Scotland’s shackles and the SNP our transport there, the vehicle. Thankfully people in Scotland now have a much better idea of the constraints Scotland’s governments have to work within, the limitations working without key powers inflict on a nation. This greater incentive rightly or wrongly to continue to vote SNP has much more appeal than the shuffling of a stricken HMS UK’s deck chairs by voting for people and parties such as Alan Reid and his Liberal Democrats in the forlorn hope of bettering the lives of those who live in Scotland.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 9

            JnrTick January 3, 2016 12:54 am
  • Oh,by the way!
    This nonsense from Mini -Hack is exactly why the SNP will be in Power until we we get Indi!!
    The SNP are far too astute to be hampered into battle too soon.
    They will strike when the Tories de side Boris is the Answer to Britnat glory.
    67% YES when that comes to Fruition!!
    Yoons are rightfully worried!!!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 16

    Hugh Jazz January 1, 2016 11:43 pm Reply
  • Maybe somebody should tell him he doesn’t have any constituents. Break it to him gently like. Tell him that the people really loved him and that it wasn’t his fault that they didn’t vote for him.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 13

    willie January 1, 2016 11:48 pm Reply
  • Your judgement on the SNP government is not shared by the electorate. Voters’ estimation of a government is based on their experiences of the effect of government policies on them and their families.

    The numbers who complain about education, health, etc. over which the Scottish government has control are politically insignificant and there is no evidence of a sustained movement which can be mobilised to undermine the pubic perception despite the worst efforts of the media

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 16

    Graeme McCormick January 2, 2016 6:57 am Reply
  • Alan Reid supported the Tories with Clegg. That’s why he lost.
    He put the bankers first and constituents of Argyll and Scotland well behind. Just desserts. Lib dems are going to be punished again.
    The editor of for argyll and Dixon – Spain owner back the wrong horse again. Dixon Spain is a friend of Russell — maybe there is some double cross going on!?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

    No Cheese Here January 2, 2016 11:25 pm Reply
  • Why is this posted by “Newsroom”? It’s not news, it’s an opinion piece. Not only that, it reads as if it was written by Mr Reids mum…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6

    James Cassidy January 3, 2016 2:03 am Reply
  • Sorry, on re-reading this it comes across more like Comical Ali. The only thing missing was that the ‘Bravehearts are committing suicide at the walls of Inverary Castle’. Delusional stuff.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

    James Cassidy January 3, 2016 2:07 am Reply
    • Welcome aboard James Cassidy.
      Love your posts and a cracker from JNRTCK also.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

      KEITHO January 3, 2016 9:40 pm Reply
  • Aye, the cult members are gathering – there must be an election in the offing! Did the propaganda training courses go well?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

    JimB January 4, 2016 10:29 am Reply
  • This all sounds like loads of wishful thinking. Alan Reid is a unionist spear carrier who got what he deserved in May. He might creep in on the List but, if so, will sit quietly claiming his pay and expenses and voting whichever way he is told.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

    Dougie Blackwood January 4, 2016 12:13 pm Reply
  • Great posts on here now.Lovie the one from Dougie Blackwood.Very straight forward and honest comment.
    A breath of fresh air,in fact!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

    Hugh Jazz January 4, 2016 2:28 pm Reply
  • Watch out JimB cult lover is on the move.

    THe ukippy yooniist cult is a mysterious and dangerous thing. They are cultists.

    SNP WIN !!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

    No Cheese Here January 4, 2016 4:50 pm Reply

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