A sign of the trouble Labour faces in Scotland?

Liberal Democrats face their challenges in Scotland, there’s no doubt about that, but what about the party that that for so long dominated Scottish politics? The Evening News reported this week that the Labour Party has had to cancel a fundraiser due to lack of interest in one of their key seats in Edinburgh:

Deputy Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, local MP Sheila Gilmore and a shadow minister from Westminster were among the speakers lined up for the Edinburgh Eastern fundraising event on Saturday.

But after poor ticket sales, the local party executive decided to cancel the supper, promising refunds to those who had booked.

Former Edinburgh East Labour party chairman Paul Nolan said the event had been a popular fixture in the diary for many years and usually attracted up to 150 people.

But he said he understood fewer than 50 tickets had been sold and admitted the situation was embarrassing.

He said: “It is worrying that we can’t get members to come to a fundraising Burns Supper two or three months before an election.

“If we can’t get the activists motivated, it’s going to be even harder to get ordinary voters to turn out on polling day.”

Mr Nolan said last year’s Burns Supper had raised around £1000.

Edinburgh East will be a key constituency at the general election in May as Labour fights to stop a predicted advance by the SNP across Scotland.

This is another sign that the Labour Party is still in the severe doldrums in Scotland. I don’t think the SNP will win all but 4 seats in Scotland as a poll suggested this week, but there are all sorts of signs that Jim Murphy is not yet having much of an impact. I think that will change because he’s quite a bruiser and he never gives up. Mind you, after this week’s poll, he’ll be able to claim any result on 7 May as a triumph.

In contrast to Labour’s troubles, Edinburgh South Liberal Democrats had a very successful Burns Supper last night, at which Michael Moore gave the Immortal Memory.  I was there, at the Naughty Table with several friends. I have to say I feel a lot more with it than I deserve this morning. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of Burns. Let’s face it, anyone who advises a “henpecked husband” to “charm her (his wife) with the magic of a switch” is not going to secure my approval. The Reply to the Toast to the Lassies, delivered by Siobhan Mathers, gave him quite a hard time, though.

If you’ve never been to a Burns Supper before, it is quite an odd experience. There’s no denying that it is strange to see to what is basically a sausage being piped in, venerated and toasted in whisky.  It’s all good fun, though.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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13 Comments

  • paul barker 24th Jan '15 - 1:11pm

    There are rumours that SLAB membership has suffered a drastic decline & that some Scottish branches of Unite want to support The SNP in The Elections next year, something that would lead to disafilliation for The whole Union if allowed.

  • Labour’s problem is that their core offer is identity politics and the SNP are offering more identity than they are.

  • “In contrast to Labour’s troubles, Edinburgh South Liberal Democrats had a very successful Burns Supper last night”

    Just to put Labour’s troubles in Scotland in to some sort of perspective, according to the latest Scottish opinion poll (Sunday Times, 18th Jan) :-

    Labour 31% (down from 42% in 2010 election)
    Lib Dems 3% (down from 19%)

    Labour have lost 26% of their voters, but the Lib Dems have lost 84% of theirs.

    As a Labour voter myself I don’t doubt that they have a big problem in Scotland, but at least the polls have been showing the gap at the top closing consistently since the SNP peaked immediately after the referendum.

  • Andrew Watson 24th Jan '15 - 6:15pm

    A very successful Burns Supper will be of scant consolation when the majority of Lib Dem Scottish MPs are defeated in May. Of course it is all-to-easy to divert attention from the impending electoral catastrophe by pointing the finger at the undoubted troubles of another party. Messrs Otten and Barker seem to glean more comfort from such petty playground ‘politics’ than by sorting out their own difficulties. I’m assuming the latter could be put to immediate work by the national party as he seems to have such a remarkable and detailed knowledge of future political events, if not I’m sure he will be snapped up by SKY or the BBC to provide in-depth analysis.

  • Unionists having a Burns supper without any sense of irony?

    Sic a parcel o’ rogues in a nation!

  • If you’re in the water with the waves going over your head don’t waste time ridiculing those in the lifeboat.

  • David Howell 25th Jan '15 - 10:13am

    Forgive me for saying this, but if you have even 1 Liberal Democrat MP left in Scotland after May, you should count yourselves fortunate indeed.

    Polls would consistently appear to suggest a total wipe-out of LibDems MP’s and the 1 Tory in Scotland.

    As for Jim Murpy being “quite a bruiser”; I don’t consider folk who run away from a disgruntled Labour supporter cracking an egg on his back are generally thought of as being “quite a bruiser” . . . more like “quite a drama-queen”. :0)

  • I am thinking of drawing a new map of the British Isles according to the amount of space devoted to each of the nations of the UK accorded space in LDV articles.

    Scotland would be slightly bigger than England, Wales would be a lot smaller, Northern Ireland would hardly exist.

    Interested though we all are in the Burns Supper of the Eastern Edinburgh Labour Party you might forgive some of us as we stifle a yawn and return to munching our way through sheep offall and mashed swede and spuds.

    I should add that my delightful wife Rosemary (who grew up in Glasgow and therefore insists on these things) prepares a wonderful version of this traditional dish.

    Strangely when I suggested that on the anniversary of Peterloo we should eat traditional Manchester food washed down with Vimto whist reciting the poems of John Cooper Clarke she was not so enthusiastic.

  • nvelope2003 25th Jan '15 - 2:22pm

    The most recent opinion poll (21.01.15) gives SNP 52, Labour 24, Conservative 12, Green 4, Liberal Democrat 4, UKIP 1 and others 1 of those certain to vote. The total surveyed was only slightly different. This seems to indicate a further fall in support for Labour and a rise in support for the SNP.

  • nvelope2003 25th Jan '15 - 2:30pm

    In the FPTP part of the 2011 elections for the Scottish Parliament the SNP got about 45 % and Labour 31 % which gave Labour 15 directly elected seats out of the 73 elected this way. As there are no top up seats for the Westminster election out of the 59 seats I would expect Labour to get less than 10 and probably about 4 unless there is a marked improvement in their support. As Professor John Curtice has pointed out, Labour support appears to have fallen most in their strongest seats. We shall have to wait and see but the omens do not look good for Labour to be the largest party with the Greens nibbling away in England and Wales as well.

  • nvelope2003 26th Jan '15 - 2:36pm

    If the online posts are anything to go by Scottish Nationalists are not interested in economic reality. They just want the English out of their lives, no matter what the cost. Voting SNP is like the Greeks voting Syriza – hope over expectations – except, surprisingly, less than 64% of Greeks voted at all. Very low considering the hardship they claimed to be experiencing.

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