Labour is in danger of matching its 1931 election results if it can not hang onto the safe seats in Scotland. Back then, after Ramsey MacDonald had deserted the party, they were reduced to 52 seats. With the Gordon Brown impersonator, Wendy Alexander, as leader of the Scottish Labour Party is it any surprise that Labour lost its traditional support in Glasgow? (I wrote this without even realizing she had alreay resigned almost a month before because of sleaze. Things are looking up.)
Today we have union leaders Paul Kenny and Tony Woodley calling for change, one for a new party leader and the other for a return to more traditional policies. In reality one without the other will not save the party from a terrible disaster in the next election. So what has gone wrong?
I suspect it all started with Kinnock. The moment the party lost the balance of three power centers in the party, the constituency party, the parliamentary party and the unions making decision and gave instead the parliamentary party absolute power in all but words the rot set in. Of course it looked so good when Blair could win elections after years of Tory governments but it was based on policies without principles.
In 1997 Labour just had to be there. The Tories were committing suicide over Europe and with sleaze, and the public wanted them gone. In 2001 and just about in 2005 Blair could show that New Labour made better Tories than the Tories themselves. Now it looks like the Tories are back to being the best right wing party in the UK.
There was a hope that Brown might change direction after Blair went, but this was a false hope as it was Brown who had been inventing the policies of the Blair governments. For the leadership contest only 29 of the 356 Labour MPs had the courage to try and force a leadership election which included the other sections of the party. This was 16 shy of the minimum needed.
Of course most MPs are pretty selfish individuals who will do what is best for themselves but now they must realize they have not only hurt the party but also put those, even with what had been regarded as safe seats, in danger of not getting re-elected, even as opposition MPs next time.
This year there must be a leadership challenge and it must go out to the whole party. Are there 45 MPs who will do the job? Here's what the union bosses are now saying.
Tony Woodley - "The change people want - in Glasgow and around the country - is a change of political approach. Blairism should finally be buried in Glasgow's East End."
"For too long the government has put all its eggs in the free-market basket. People are now looking for more support and protection from government as we face serious economic difficulties rooted in City excesses."
Paul Kenny - "The MPs have got to make a strong decision as to whether they want to go into an election with Gordon Brown or have a [leadership] contest."