Aileen Colleran’s Blog

Partick, Politics and Passions

Long hot summer

In keeping with my previous blog post about focussing on the ward and the city, I’m not going to add my voice to the cacophony of comment about the “Events” of the past week and the febrile and hysterical atmosphere that is prevailing at Westminster. Other than observing that if I was a Labour councillor in England who had lost their seat this week I would be sick to my stomach at the thought that I was paying the price for parlimentarians greedy mistakes and self-serving egotistical spasms. It looks like a long hot summer of political drama – oh, to be a political journalist and have all this ready made copy falling from the skies…Anyway, I’m prompted to post about the Drumchapel/Anniesland by-election , not just because we won, but to give a perspective of why and what this means. Yes, it was one our safest seats in the city and we were expected to win the fourth seat in the multi-member ward when Bill Kidd stepped down – not that the SNP press release on announcing his giving up of the two job mandate recognised that. A very bold statement was made to the effect that this would be a referendum on Steven Purcell in his own backyard and particularly on our education policies and school mergers. Also that the SNP councillors would be very active on the ground in the ward, campaigning on this issue. If that was the plan, then it went sadly awry as the SNP councillor bloggers themselves have revealed by their posts about how they were campaigning in their own wards for the European elections – we were on the ground every day and ended up having a daily “Spot the SNP councillor” sweepstake. Given that they knew Bill Kidd was stepping down and had time to prepare, their first piece of election material was woeful – anyone can be caught out with the odd typo, but 14 spelling mistakes in one newsletter ? Also, a very odd message about their candidate not always seeing eye to eye with the MSP ? Not understanding that this was the wrong ward to be attacking us on schools and not having a positive message of why to vote SNP was also puzzling – surely the line should’ve been, you have 3 Labour councillors , why have 4 out of 4 ? It was a real back to the future campaign , relentlessly negative and petulant, and sending a pledge letter to one of our sitting councillors in the ward on eve of poll suggests there wasn’t a great degree of local knowledge in directing activities. Much has been made of the swing in the result, but to call a loss a “fantastic result” is really taking spin a step too far. In the current circumstances, holding that ward with 48 % of the vote is a real vindication of the local Labour party and the sitting councillors. I find it offensive and insulting to voters for opposition apologists to use the “monkey in a red rosette” argument to explain away the result here and in Coatbridge and Bishopbriggs. The fact is we are well aware that we have to work hard all year round and campaign effectively to win seats – we won because we had a good local candidate with solid roots in her community, we had a good track record in that ward of hard working councillors, we took nothing and no-one for granted and worked our socks off in the campaign. The times have changed, there isn’t a tribal vote anymore, the voters aren’t sheep, they do know what they’re doing, I’m not under any illusions about where we are as a party right now, probably in my own ward the Labour share of the vote would mirror the national picture right now on 23 %  ( I’m the sole Labour member in the Partick West ward elected on 29% of the vote in 2007 in one of the most electorally diverse wards in the city) and Sunday’s Euro results will be grim – but to hold 3 council seats in by-elections in Scotland this week is swimming against the tide ..and only the most rabid members of the opposition won’t recognise that.

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June 5, 2009 - Posted by | Council, councillor, Elections, Labour party, SNP | ,

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