May 5 looks like it’s going to be a day to forget for the Labour Party —
especially north of the border.
The party is set to finish third in the Scottish Parliament election, and concede the role of the SNP’s official opposition to the Conservatives in the process.
Scottish Labour, led by Kezia Dugale, has lost 13 seats in total, taking its share of seats in Scottish Parliament to 24 out of the 129 on offer.
Ruth Davidson’s Conservatives now boast a record-breaking 31 after gaining 16.
Here is the final result:
Scottish Parliament, the final result:
SNP: 63 MSPs (-6)
CON: 31 (+16)
LAB: 24 (-13)
GRN: 6 (+4)
LDEM: 5 (-)
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) May 6, 2016
This is the Labour party’s worst performance in Scotland in over a century, and the Tory’s finest ever. It’s horrific news for Jeremy Corbyn — for three major reasons.
1. History tells us Scots always prefer Labour over Tories
Scotland was once a very safe bet for Labour. When the party stormed to a landslide victory under Tony Blair in 1997, the Tory opposition failed to return any Scottish MPs to Westminster. Zero. This was mainly an indication of just how hostile the majority of Scots remained towards the party after the divisive premiership of Margaret Thatcher.
The memory of Thatcher and her legacy in Scotland just didn’t fade away. From 1997 onwards, the Conservatives racked up disappointing result after disappointing result in Scottish parliamentary elections — its previous high being the election of 18 MSPs in the 1999 and 2003 elections. Fast forward to 2016, and party has almost doubled its presence in parliament. History has been turned on its head.
2. Labour needs Scottish voters to win the general election
A number of things must fall into place for Labour to win the 2020 general election. One of these is a strong backing from voters north of the border. One of the reasons the party slumped to an unexpectedly bad defeat under Ed Miliband last year was because its Scottish voter base was effectively wiped out by the rise of the SNP.
Labour went into that election with 41 Scottish MPs, and came out of it with just one.
One of the biggest challenges facing Corbyn is rebuilding the party’s credibility in Scotland. That project was supposed to begin on May 5 with the Scottish parliamentary election. A third place finish will be the stuff of nightmares for Labour leadership.
3. This should be Corbyn’s honeymoon — not his nightmare
Let’s get one thing clear: Historically, opposition parties don’t perform badly in these elections. When people in the UK go to polling stations in any election which isn’t the general election, the opposition is expected to make modest gains at the very least. In fact, throughout British political history, this trend has been almost routine.
If anyone should be having a awkward night, it’s David Cameron. His party has certainly given the public some reasons to distrust or dislike them: Jeremy Hunt is at war with junior doctors, Iain Duncan Smith resigned from his post over welfare policy which he thought was indefensible, there’s a crisis in the British steel industry, and the party’s MPs are publicly butting heads over the upcoming EU referendum. But this week the narrative has barely shifted from Labour’s woes.
If Jeremy Corbyn thought he was having a bad time with opposition from within the party, well, it’s about to get a whole lot worse.
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