The results of the Scottish Labour internal; elections for Scottish Leader and Deputy Leader – following the resignations of Johann Lamont and Anas Sarwar were announced later ths morning, with the new Leader and Deputy Leader quickly congratulated by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
The new Leader is the front runner, Jim Murphy MP, with Neil Findlay MSP [whose profile has been substantially grown through his candidacy and who seems a worthwhile and attractively straightforward person] in second; with, also predictably, the third candidate, Sarah Boyack MSP since Donald Dewar’s first devolved administration, essentially nowhere.
Murphy took almost 56% of the vote; Findlay a whisker off 35%; and Boyack a shade over 9%.
In the break down of the three components of the Electoral College, Murphy, as anticipated, won two and Findlay one.
Murphy took the Politicians by just over 22% to Findlay’s just under 7%. Since this represented 33.3% of the Electoral College vote, Murphy’s percentage of the Politicians’ vote was just over 67% to Findlay’s just over 22%.
Murphy took the Members’ section [again representing a third of the total vote] by 21.14% to Findlay’s 10.89% – amounting respectively to 60.48% and 33.7% of the total vote for that sector.
Findlay, again as expected, took the Affiliates’ sector [essentially the Trades Unions] and again 33’3% of the electoral College – by 22% to Murphy’s 13,89%, the closest of the three sectoral votes and respectively representing 52% and 39.8% o the sector.
This last is an important result for Murphy because, Findlay did not therefore run away with the Trades Union vote as had rather been predicted.
This leaves Jim Murphy in a good position to create a consensus and a common drive forwards in a directionless and demotivated Scottish Labour.
The contest for the Deputy Leader saw a comfortable win in all three sectors of the Electoral College for the popular favourite, Kezia Dugdale MSP over Katy Clark MP. Dugdale took almost 63% of the total vote, winning the Politicians’ support by 28.63% to 4.7% – representing a shade off 86% of this sector to Clark’s nudging over 14%.
With the Members’ sector, Dugdale won 22.11% to Clark’s 11.22%, representing respectively almost 66.4% to almost 33.7%. And with the Affiliates, where the major support had been thought to be with Clark, Dugdale won by 21.2% to 12.13%, representing respectively 63.66% and 36.42%.
Given the respective strength of these two candidates known commitment to the Trades Unions and the fact that 47 year old Katy Clark has been a constituency MP since 2005 and 33 year old Kezia Dugdale a List MSP since 2011, this Affiliates vote looks a tad soft centred.
But Scottish Labour has emerged from its contest with an essentially centrist Leadership which now has to prove that it can reach parts Scottish Labour has not been reaching of late – while holding on to its current core vote.
The fact that the SNP has scorned a Yes Alliance with the Greens and the Scottish Socialists, with both declaring that they will now be fielding their own candidates, makes things a bit easier for Labour.
It was the Greens and the Scottish Socialists [and their associates, the Radical Independence Campaigners] whose foot slogging work in the streets of Glasgow brought the SNP its 45% overall vote in the indyref campaign and gave it the crucial win in Glasgow.
They will now be campaigning on tnhoer own separate accounts, sharing the pro-indy vote between three and pushing back the SNP’s colonising of the socialist agenda.
With Labour’s strengths almost exclusively in the Central Belt, this situation may ease the pressure a little in the heartland constituencies but there is still urgent work to be done
In the rural areas, Scottish Labour has a mountain to climb with the SNP having roundly stolen its clothes. If Labour could pick up a few SNP seats in the outliers it would balance some losses they are likely to sustain in the Central Belt seats.
To do this, however,the party will have to get an active grassroots evangelism going on the ground in very short order, with the May 2015 General Election on the near horizon and the SNP taking lumps out of them, as seen on this week’s council by-elections in South Kintyre and up in Moray.
At the end of the day, a seat is a seat. whether it’s a Glasgow seat or an Aberdeen one; and every drop in the Labour vote – even in seats it does not currently hold – is another move to the one-party state we seem increasingly to be headed for – which is a worryingly long way from democracy.
With the SNP’s rejection of a Yes Alliance with the Greens and the hard left and the SNP itself becoming more hard left and ore republican by the week, the attractive, open and centrist pairing of Murphy and Dugdale have the opportunity to take another set of votes back – the thinking centre vote – much of which responded to the energy of the SNP and the challenge of the new.
If Labour thinks that this is a straightforward battle for the neediest and for the far left, it is not. It remains a battle for hearts and minds and this team looks like Labour’s best crack at such a battle.
Some of Jim Murphy’s recent thinking and propositions are heading in the right direction. People like to think these days. They want changes that fit today. They need to see a society planning to care for and protect the genuinely vulnerable while capably earning the revenues to pay for that necessary commitment.
At the moment the SNP pitch remains centred on spending since they are still in the business of seducing and retaining support – but they have absolutely no strategic economic development plan for the country as a whole – nor do they possess any capacity, even in John Swinney [financial management does not embrace but must work with economic development] – for this level of performance.
If Labour under Murphy and Dugdale, can crank this one up and inspire people with the achieveability of their plans, there will be wind in their sails.