The world has turned upside down. The sun rises in the west. Unionist hate trolls really are just bantering satirically. And the Tories are ahead of Labour in a Scottish opinion poll. The last time that happened rationing was still in force, the Scotsman was still a respected newspaper, and people thought that the BBC news was unbiased.
Mind you, the last time the Tories were ahead of Labour in an opinion poll in Scotland they were actually the largest party in a country which was still in thrall to sectarianism and deference. Scotland has changed, for the better, now the fact that the Tories are doing better than Labour has a lot more to do with how badly Labour is doing than any great rivival in the fortunes of the you’ll-have-had-your-teas. Ruth Davidson might be getting bigged up by the desperate echo chamber of the Scottish mainstream media, but the attractions of a Tory on a tank appeal to only a very minor segment of the Scottish population.
The new poll from Yougov puts the Tories on 20% and Labour on 19% in the constituency vote. The SNP on 50% still have quite a bit more of the vote share than the Tories and Labour combined, but these days in Scottish politics an SNP landslide is about as surprising as the A83 being blocked at the Rest and Be Thankful after a torrential downpour. The great Tory revival has seen their vote share increase by just a couple of percentage points, and since they were to begin with about as welcome as Jar Jar Binks at a Star Wars convention, their recovery still leaves them in the critical ward. The Tories remain as out of place in Scottish political sentiment as a raised toilet seat in a convent, so the puff artists of the right wing Scottish media would be wise not to get too excited. But then they’re too busy these days protecting their banteresque trollish pals on Twitter.
The real reason that the Tories have overtaken Labour is because Labour’s support is getting deflated even more quickly than James Kelly in a Holyrood debate. Sadly for Labour in Scotland the voters just don’t stop raining on the party’s chances of doing anything but sink even further into a big muddy puddle of despair. Fieldwork on the new opinion poll was carried out while Labour made its dramatic announcement that it was going to raise income tax on everyone, but without explaining clearly how it was going to compensate the low paid for the loss in their income.
Despite all the help that BBC Reporting Scotland can give them in the guise of unbiased reporting of independent think tanks that just happen to have Labour directors, Scotland’s voters are not impressed by a policy which entails taxing the low paid and then promising to compensate them by unspecified means. We’ve all heard Labour’s promises before. Labour doesn’t have a policy problem in Scotland. It has a trust problem. They’ve lied too often. They’ve taken Scotland for granted too often. The self-proclaimed people’s party has put party before people too often. People in Scotland look at Labour’s policies and they see a Donald Trump combover.
The policy was an attempt to woo back the SNP’s more left wing supporters, but no one was seduced by Jackie Baillie’s arithmetical prowess or James Kelly’s assertion that he was taken seriously as he attempted to probe the Scottish Government on its tax plans. The tragedy for Labour in Scotland is that the only time James Kelly gets anywhere near a probing is when he visits his proctologist. There are more people who take Zippy from Rainbow seriously than there are who think that the Labour MSP for Rutherglen is serious political heavyweight, and Zippy has got a hand up his backside too.
Despite totally independent and impartial think tanks which just happen to have former Labour advisors as their directors assuring us, via a BBC that doesn’t think its relevant to mention their links to Labour, that the tax policy is progressive, the public in Scotland clearly have different views. Left wing voters are not flocking back to Labour because the image of Labour politicians standing side by side with the Tories and gloating as the British establishment is seared into their memories. No one on the Scottish left is going to forgive Labour any time soon for turning its back on the working class communities that gave it birth. On the other side of the political spectrum the party’s attempts to position itself to the left of the SNP are only alienating those Unionist supporters who believed that Jim Murphy was dangerously socialist.
The only fight left in Labour is the fight amongst its politicians to secure themselves a place on the party’s regional lists. Conducted with a degree of bitterness that even makes normal party meetings seem like a 1960s love-in, failed Westminster politicians have been fighting no-mark MSPs in an attempt to save their political skins. It’s rumoured that Anas Sarwar is poised to take the first place on the party’s Glasgow list. When Anas Sarwar is your saviour, you’re already condemned to a well deserved perdition. When you try to assert that imposing income tax rises on the low paid as well as the better off is progressive, you’ve gone off on a linguistic tangent where words no longer mean what everyone else thinks they mean.
Meanwhile the Tories make their pitch to the diehard Loyalists, the Rangers fans, and the better off who are more concerned about the price of their properties than they are about the future of their country or the welfare of their fellow citizens. With its tax plans that leave the rich and big companies unaffected, Labour makes it easy for them. A fairer Scotland is not one where people on below average wages pay more in order to make up the shortfall caused by Tory cuts that Labour didn’t oppose. No wonder that the right wing Scottish press devotes acres of coverage to Labour’s plans.
While Labour ties itself in fiscal knots and substitutes assertion for reason, the Tories are positioning themselves as the only real Unionist party left. As the flute and whistle brigade march off to the Tories, Labour’s voter base crumbles even more, and the sun sets in the east on the upside down world of the people’s party.
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