This Thursday the Scottish people will cast their vote for who will represent them in the Scottish Parliament. Opinion polls suggest that the incumbent SNP (Scottish National Party) will again be the largest party, although look unlikely to gain a majority. This will come as a blow to Labour as they see Scotland as their own turf. In fact before the 2007 Scottish election, Labour hadn't lost in Scotland in 50 years.
The SNP are keen to play up their lead in the polls as satisfaction for their first term in office, While the press play this as a personality contest. With the SNP focusing their campaign around their charismatic leader Alex Salmond, (The parties slogan for this election is 'Vote SNP- Alex Salmond for First Minister.') against the bland Labour leader Ian Grey. However, if as polls suggest Labour do not win this election there are deeper more troubling reasons than the personality of their leader.
When I returned from working abroad in December, I rejoined the Labour party hoping to help in anyway I could to push the party to victory in these elections, As soon as I was sent my membership card I called the number on the back to volunteer for my constituency. After 5 phone calls and no answer, to my calls or voicemail messages I asked volunteers in the neighbouring seat what to do. They gave me the number of another co-ordinator who, after finally getting hold of him asked me to leaflet a nearby district. I told him I would be happy to and would he like me to collect the leaflets or have them delivered. A week later I received a response, (5 weeks to election) and was told they would be delivered on Friday. Friday came and went and after a couple more emails on my part he got back to me and asked for my number so the candidate could call me himself. Since then I have received no contact from any of them. With a week to go I emailed the coordinator for the last time and told him I had, had no contact with anyone and if he needed my help in this district or another one I would be happy to help in any way, Needless to say it's the day before the election and I am still to receive a reply.
The fact they seem to be underutilising volunteers in the district would be a surprise, yet there seems to be little campaigning going on at all, In the weeks leading up to the election, I have received 5 SNP leaflets, 3 Conservative, 3 Lib Dems, and 1 BNP. I hadn't received any mail from Labour until this Sunday, and their leaflet came across as an anti SNP/independence leaflet with a small Labour logo at the bottom.
I would say this is just a local problem, that they don't feel they can win the seat ( a predominately SNP/Conservative area) but the whole campaign has came across as poorly run with severe lapses in political judgement.
Running away from protesters, a desperate last ditch attempt to make this campaign a anti independence debate, the misuse of resources and volunteers all make them deserving of defeat this week. But it was perhaps vetoing the SNP budget, which promised 125,000 apprenticeships then campaigning with the slogan 'JOB JOBS JOBS!' which made the party seem more petty than electable.
Ian Grey comes across as a decent man, with a good vision for the future of Scotland, a serious politician in serious times is not something to be dismissed. Yet it is the management of this election, which he as leader must bear the brunt of; which has really damaged their chances. While the SNP play up the prosperity of Scotland, the capabilities and potential we have as a nation, Labour seem to talk down to the country, giving negative assessments of what the Scottish people can do, not surprisingly; this has failed to capture the imagination. Defeat in this campaign would surely mean the end to Ian Greys' leadership, but until the main problems are exposed and changes are made, there will be little difference in the party other than the top name on the ballot.
If Labour fail to win this election it will not be solely on a popularity contest, but through neglect and defeat in the battle of ideals, vision and trust. It is ambition, inclusion and positivity that win elections, on this scale Labour has failed and thus will deservedly lose this Thursday.