Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Scottish Elections 3 - Blair

This is Post 3 of a series of 4. For other posts here.

The Scottish Political editor of The Times, Angus Macleod, in an article published on Tuesday, 10 March 2007, described Tony Blair’s likely strategy for attacking the SNP. Unfortunately I could not find a hyperlink for this article and, so, I will use only a few extracts.

Here I critique this strategy.

The Prime Minister intends to make several visits before polling day on May 3, and wants to give Labour’s campaign more edge and ingenuity. He believes that the key to overtaking the SNP is to motivate Labour’s core voters and make them realise what is at stake if the Nationalists win.

According to aides he plans to ‘inject more drama’ into the campaign. Although details have been kept under wraps, sources said that Mr Blair would be engaging more directly with voters and taking a risk with campaign events. ‘These will be aimed at bringing home to labour voters the risk they run if they allow the nationalists to win,’ said one.”

This is a risky strategy such is the dislike in which Blair is held – ‘contempt’ might be a more appropriate description. Whatever effect Blair might have on Labour voters, his presence might drive more to vote against Labour. The more he highlights risks the more the SNP can claim Labour is losing. Cynical I may be but “drama”, “ingenuity”, and “edge” reminds me of the worst of spin: “lies” and “liar” are likely to dog Blair.

Mr Blair believes that if Labour can mobilise the 35 – 40 per cent of Scots who vote for the party in the general election, it can beat the SNP.

If!!! This feels as though Blair is dreaming. There is no doubt that Scotland has voted more strongly Labour than other parts of the UK but that vote is suffering as it is elsewhere. Blair is the new Thatcher: a figure despised who hasn’t realised the loss of power. But how is Labour to motivate its voters?

These are the people he will come up and appeal to. We want to bring home to these people that the SNP message essentially is ‘If you are discontented, come to us’ and that much of their support is from a random ragbag of disaffected Tories, Greens and Trotskyists. The SNP cannot win on policy’ The Times was told.

Perhaps the SNP cannot win on policy but Labour can lose on their previous and current disastrous UK policies for which Blair is predominantly at fault. Punishing Blair – even in these Holyrood elections – is the cross Labour has to bear.

Also the arrogance in the statement “We want to bring home to these people..” is unlikely to go down well. Whatever our allegiances we know that the SNP will garner votes from other parties to defeat Labour. Labour itself was not averse to using this tactic when Thatcher / major were in power.

Obviously Labour will be highlighting “FEAR”; fear of the consequences of an SNP win but voters know that there is a long road between this election and independence.

The strangest point of all is the fact that Blair believes he is an electoral asset. My faith in human nature will be shattered if Blair pulls this off.

A bloody nose for Labour is an attractive sight. A bloody nose and no more will be a good result for Labour.

A bloody nose for Blair would be a wonderful result. Sorry, my bias shining through.

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