For so long Scotland belonged to Labour. Indeed the last time that the Tories actually got a majority of Scottish seats in the UK parliament (and to be fair it was a coalition of seats for the Unionist Party and the National Liberal and Conservative Party) was in 1955.

PartySeatsSeats changeVotes%% Change
 Conservative (Total)36Increase 11,273,94250.1Increase 1.5
 Unionist30Increase 11,056,20941.5Increase 1.6
 National Liberal & Conservative6Steady217,7338.6Decrease 0.1
 Labour Party34Decrease 11,188,05846.7Decrease 1.2
 Communist0Steady13,1950.5Increase 0.1
 SNP0Steady12,1120.5Increase 0.2
 Other0Steady8,6740.3Increase 0.2
From Wikipedia :

So, from 1959 until 2015 Labour held sway, at least in the UK parliament.

They lost control of the Scottish parliament in 2007 by one seat, and in 2011 they had 37 seats to the SNP’s 69.

In the Westminster election of 2015, possibly thanks to their part in the unkept promises made in the now infamous “Vow”, in concert with the Cameron-Clegg coalition, and, at the same time, the arrival of the arch right-winger, Jim Murphy, as “leader”, they fulfilled Mr Murphy’s pledge not to lose one seat to the SNP.

They did, however, lose the other 40, which he had failed to mention in his pledge.

I suspect that it must have come as a truly dreadful shock to Labour in Scotland. It had taken the votes of the Scottish people for granted for 60 years. Why they couldn’t see that coming after the loss of hegemony in Holyrood, I really cannot imagine. (Note to SNP. For heaven’s sake, don’t be that stupid.)

Since 2015 it has been a downhill all the way. In 2016, under Kezia Dugdale, they lost the title of of official opposition in the Scottish parliament, and although there was a brief revival of fortune in the UK parliament in 2017 (with 6 seats), all but that one were lost again in 2019.

Now people are calling for scalps.

Mr Leonard has not been a success as branch leader. His abysmal performances at First Minister’s Questions must have been an embarrassment to fellow left-winger, Mr Corbyn, as time after time he demanded that Nicola Sturgeon do something that she had either already done, or that was outwith the remit of the Edinburgh government.

And now rumours have been circulating that Sir Keir Starmer, from another wing of the party, has his concerns.

Given that there is a strong argument that, without some 35 to 40 seats from Scotland, Labour has little chance of ever forming a UK government, I’m sure that Sir Keir, who seems to be an arch unionist, must be looking carefully at his team in Edinburgh.

Andnow, according to “inews”, three other MSPs (Mark Griffin, Social Security, Jenny Marra and Daniel Johnson) have also demanded his resignation. His response has been that THEY might want to resign and make way for more enthusiastic members.

Impasse, je crois.

However, Munguin reminded me that with UK parties in Scotland, orders can arrive from on high… witness the unceremonious removal of the car salesman and his rapid replacement with Messers (not a spelling mistake) Ross and Hair, affectionately (and appropriately) known as DRoss and Hair Brain.

Sir Keir, faced with such dismal Conservative leadership, may well be thinking to that this is the time to get someone decent in there and because of the list system, they don’t have to be in the least popular.

George Foulkes, Baron Foulkes of Cumnock - Wikipedia

But who? Maybe the Noble Red (faced) Baron, Lord ffoulkes?


    1. If that is the calibre of the brexiteers who vote Conservative, no wonder Westminster is in the state it is.

      Thank you for that, I was in need of a hearty LOL or several

      Liked by 2 people

    2. This is just the start, today Calais, then Poland, then the sunny uplands of, of EMPIRE to, too, ffs 2 here we go, here we go, herrre weeee goo ooo oo.

      And some folk say it would be boring if we were all the same, possibly but it wouldn’t be as embarrassing as this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dave: You would have hoped so, but the account and tweet have disappeared, so I’m thinking that someone with a red face is pouring themselves a large drink in the hopes that when they wake up tomorrow the hangover will be all they will worry about.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. Maybe someone with the necessary surgical skills should check and see if @SJS_Private has got “Calais” engraved on his heart. Having “Calais”, or even “Philip”, engaged on one’s heart has always struck me as a life-threatening condition – after all, Bloody Mary of England and Ireland is reputed to have died of it. Hardly surprising given the state of medical knowledge back in the 16th century, I always say, even though as Queen Regnant she would undoubtedly have had a private room rather than being in a public ward.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Tris

    British Labour in Scotland problems go much deeper than Leonard. I would argue that Kelly is a bigger liability than Leonard. I think Leonard might be a decent if misguided man to be honest. Unless Labour embrace democracy in Scotland they are over, why vote for Labour if your priority is to keep Scotland in the union when you have the Tories, there is no middle ground anymore in Scotland, you are either yes or no. If Scottish Labour want to recover they at the very least need to support another referendum but their best hope is to come out for yes and then sort themselves out in an independent Scotland and form a socialist government.


    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, Bruce.

      If I had to choose between Richard Leonard and James Kelly, I’d go with Mr Leonard. A more charmless man than Kelly would be hard to find.

      But he has a point. Mr Leonard may be a nice man but he’s not a leader and, like so many of his predecessors, he and his advisors seem to have little grasp of what is going on in the country.

      I can’t count the number of times that Labour leaders have had their backsides handed to them on a plate from Wendy Alexander to Richard Leonard and all points in between.

      They really need a good leader. But where will they find one?

      Labour has always been a Home Rule Party. I understand why the British Labour Party moved to the right. I’ve read Peter Mandelson’s book.

      I think that would have been the time that it might have made sense for Labour in Scotland to reassess their values and their loyalties. An affiliation with British Labour for sure, but a separate party and a clear leader whose priorities were the priorities of Scotland.

      The divide in our country now appears to be between those of us who want independence and those who do not.

      At least, as you suggest, Labour should recognise the changes in circumstances that have taken place since the 2014 referendum, and support another referendum in line with the mandates given to the Scottish parliament for both Greens and SNP.

      Otherwise they seem to be saying that the will of the British people must be respected, but the will of the Scottish people can go fiddle.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. tris, out canvassing during the independence referendum campaign, and in subsequent elections, in former Labour strongholds which are now solid S.N.P voting areas, it was remarkable how many people said that the Labour Party had betrayed them, and they would never vote for them again.
        However, I’m still of the opinion that if the Labour Party in Scotland, by some miracle, became independent and supported an independence referendum, then the S.N.P would have a heck of a fight on its hands, in any future elections.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. You say Labour have always been a Home Rule Party but they actually dropped that commitment from their manifesto in 1959.
        True, they came up with something called Devolution 2 decades later, but only to spike the guns of an ascendant SNP and create a fire-break against “separatism”… their heart wasn’t really in it.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. “The divide in our country now appears to be between those of us who want independence and those who do not.”

    tris, it has been a bit like that for a while now, has it not?

    There seems to be an intellectual arguement going on about whether the SNP really, truly, wants independence.

    I joined the SNP because I really, truly, want a majority of our electorate to agree, either by voting for parties that are aligned in that direction or through a plebiscite.

    That is the true ‘gold standard’. Doesn’t really matter how we get there. What matters is that we have an unequivocal majority.

    If that happens, then the UK is on a very wobbly nail.

    The SNP can lead us towards independence, but without a majority of the electorate voting for it, or it’s allies, we are not going to win.

    The broader movement, like AUOB and indeed you, are what is needed to get the overall vote up to insurmountable numbers.

    It is a peoples movement, at the end of the day.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I do believe that the SNP wants independence.

      I just think that they are determined to do it by legal means.

      The alternative would probably mean isolation.

      The EU, EEA or EFTA would reject us as would most international organisations if we had an illegal referendum.

      I don’t know the way forward, but I bet a pound to … whatever, that Nicola and her team do.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. “if we had an illegal referendum.”

        Define illegal? There is nothing illegal about having a non binding referendum i.e. one without a section 30 clause (at the moment!). Advisory referendums ie non binding ones are perfectly legal. Brexit was a non binding referendum.

        The question is does the Scottish government have the authority to hold a non binding indy referendum? Is that not the question that Martin Keatings is asking the courts?

        I’m still not a lawyer but I think they can, a la the Strathclyde Water referendum.

        Of course it could be boycotted by unionists if held without a section 30. But does that make it illegal? I’d say no. We aren’t Spain where secession is banned by the constitution. However there are plans afoot at Westminster to legislate a new Act of Union and you can bet your bottom dollar the plan is to make leaving the UK illegal and push it through using English votes. But would the international community accept that? Spain’s constitution was ratified (albeit under duress ie the threat of continued military rule) by either the majority or all of the Spanish regions. Scotland’s MPs would vote No but Wales? NI – especially with Sinn Fein absent?

        Anyway I’d be wary of conceding legality without a Court ruling. Remember few countries become independent with the prior agreement of the existing state.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Agreed, PP.

          Speaking not as a lawyer but as a linguist with some experience in (mainly international) legal matters, I can confirm that there’s a distinction to be drawn between “illegal” and “unlawful”, though not everyone seems to agree on what it is exactly (cf. Black’s Law Dictionary, which in my opinion gets it wrong). In common parlance the two are indeed most often used interchangeably, and if you throw “illicit” into the mix as well, what we have is a semantic bugger’s muddle (technical term).

          In my professional life as a linguist and translator, however, I found the most useful definitions were that something that is illegal is expressly prohibited by law, whereas things that are unlawful are not authorized by law but are not expressly prohibited. In other words, “unlawful” is a synonym of “illicit”, not of “illegal”; however, a significant reason for not using “illicit” in English in an international legal context is that in French there’s as much confusion in the minds of native speakers between “illicite” and “illégal” as there is between “illegal” and “unlawful” (and illicit) in English – so using “unlawful” constrains our translator colleagues to use “illicite” as the translation and not “illégal”. Which is correct in French, but only if you think about it, just like the difference between “illegal” and “unlawful”.

          Maybe you have to be a translator to make any sense of what I just wrote. Anyway, the English-speaking judges I did translations for never complained, which they most definitely did on occasion, so I think I’m most likely right about my definitions.

          In our own, Scottish, context, although an advisory referendum might be considered unlawful by some, I do not believe it could be considered illegal because there is no legislation specifically prohibiting it. That is, unless the Usual Suspects prevailed in an argument before the court that holding such a referendum would be ultra vires for the Scottish Government and Parliament in the light of Westminster’s reserved powers in matters constitutional, and that it would necessarily be prohibited on those grounds. That would be an argument even weaker than using the Spanish constitutional “indivisible Spain” provision to justify the criminal prosecution – some might think, the criminal persecution – of Catalan politicians elected on a popular platform of holding a (non-binding) referendum on independence for Catalonia.

          As you say, PP, an independence referendum could not be considered legally binding on the Westminster regime – or even on the Scottish Government – because for it to be legally binding on both parties, both parties would need to perform separate legal acts to make it so, as was the case in 2014. On the Westminster side, that’s the famous §30 order, as I understand it.

          (BEGIN digression/) Speaking professionally again, I found that the thing to do in legal translation is to work out what the basic principles involved first, and then tease out any actual relevance or significant references and precedents from the remaining verbiage. Then the translator must make it sound authoritative while not missing out anything relevant or traducing the underlying arguments – and that means you have to understand it first. That’s a general principle of translation, of course, but in legal translations it really is impossible to wing it.

          In my most protracted gig that required legal translation, I was lucky enough to share an office with the French translator, who was not just very smart but a good friend and a wonderful person too. We were able to use each other as both sounding boards and sources of inspiration and understanding, and good enough friends and colleagues to attract each other’s attention by chucking scrunched-up balls of paper at each other’s heads. He was also truly bilingual, in that his mother tongue was Wolof, and nearly as bilingual between French and English.

          We also had access to the (at least bilingual) prosecution lawyers, and to the most often bilingual research staff working for the court – actually, courts, because the court in question was the appeals court for two international criminal tribunals, so they changed hats as the situation required.

          In the light of that experience, it seems fairly plain to me that at Westminster too few MPs avail themselves of the resources of the Commons library or read the many and varied briefing and informational products of its research staff. If they did, they wouldn’t so often make such fools of themselves. In other words, far too many Westminster MPs are some combination of indolent, ignorant and mendacious, which is bad enough in one of the many howler monkeys on the Tory back benches, but unforgivable in a government minister – or prime minister.

          There’s also far too much raw stupidity going about down there and not infrequently getting pissed in the various duty-free bars – the ineffable Baron Foulkes of Cumnock comes instantly to mind, as does the ghastly genital-groping Ross Thomson – for which people must be forgiven (the stupidity, not the genital-groping); it’s just a shame that their parties are foolish and lax enough to put them forward as candidates, their electors are foolish enough to elect them, though in practice it is often Hobson’s choice and the least of selection of evils, and their Heid Honchos are so often foolish enough to reward their failures with ermine – in Parkinsonian terms, by percussively sublimating them up into the Lords. (END digression/)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Indeed Ed and you don’t need to be a translator to get it. Merely to remember the Supreme Court ruling on Prorogation of parliament. It was not illegal since obviously parliament can and indeed needs to be prorogued when in recess. It was unlawful however.

            The question is whether a Scottish government sanctioned referendum would be unlawful or ultra vires if you want to get all dead language about it. I don’t know but the Strathclyde water referendum gives precedent surely. Obviously Strathclyde council (pre devolution) could not bind Westminster but that didn’t stop it asking the question and the whole thing being called off!

            So Court of Session will be asked by Keatings to rule.

            Barrhead boy had an interesting blog post yesterday. He claims to have insider knowledge!


            Liked by 2 people

            1. Thanks, PP! I’ll definitely read that Barrhead Boy thing later. However, right now I feel a spot of languishing coming on, exhausted as I am by putting a sideplate in the dishwasher.

              When I was sort of co-opted to serve on a student committee back in the days of my dewy youth, “ultra vires” was a big thing in student politics after repeated attacks by the Usual Suspects on the right, who kept insisting that anything we wanted to do that smacked of leftwingery – such as supporting Mandela, gay rights or gender equality; denouncing apartheid, Pinochet and abuses against Palestinians; or taking South African wines and Jaffa oranges off the shelves in the on-campus shops – was ultra vires, though naturally enough any nastiness which they wanted to commit – such as inviting offensively racist speakers to address the student body and supporting the abolition of student grants in order to restrict university entry to the entitled scions of the deserving rich – was perfectly legitimate in their view.

              Anyway, my point is that my student days were so long ago that it’s hardly surprising that the language is now dead.

              Liked by 2 people

        2. I just don’t want anything to go wrong PP.

          I reckon we may be able to have a totally non binding referendum, to let the government (Scottish) see what the feelings of the Scottish people are… on having a section 30 granted referendum.

          As for what’s going on in London, it is terrifying that they could do.

          A nre treaty signed only by one of the union partners?

          Surely that would be illegal. But does Mr Cummings care about that?

          I wish them joy if they try to write something that the Scottish parliament would vote against.

          Plus, I wonder how can they write an agreement for NI? As of Jan 1, it is a semi detached member of the UK (lucky it).

          Liked by 1 person

        3. They’re all advisory in the UK. The effect of any referendum depends on parliament implementing the result with primary legislation. Even a referendum held on a question of draft legislative text depends on the government introducing it to parliament and parliament voting for it without amendment.

          Referendums in the UK are to make decisions. Their purpose is to make decisions that the legislature feels it cannot make. As a consequence, referendums in the UK are backed by a political commitment to implement the result with legislation. Every recent referendum has been held on the principle that the outcome has political force rather than legal force.

          A referendum held without a political commitment to implement the result is a strange kind of referendum. What is its purpose? Will the government and parliament agree to implement the result of such a referendum? What do voters understand by it? Are they making a decision or merely expressing a preference? It is completely unknown. There is a compelling argument that a referendum billed as purely advisory ought to be disregarded because voters understood they were not making a decision but merely expressing an opinion. If you believe that Westminster will never consent to S30 then it is inconsistent to also believe that it will repeal the Act of Union on the basis of such a referendum.

          The legal argument made by Forward As One is that referendums do not have automatic effect but that they require political acts to take effect. This is true but it is mising the point. I’m absolutely certain their legal team understand the subtleties here but I’m less convinced that Forward as One have any idea whatsoever about the constitutional position of referendums in the UK.

          I don’t honestly see the value in having a referendum that is not backed by a political consent that it is a decision-making event. How many referendums exactly are left in the referendum bank?

          Liked by 2 people

          1. From what my uncle (who lived there for 30 years) told me of Switzerland where he reckoned they had referenda at state, canton, town and even village level it’s much the same in Switzerland.

            But I think I read (I could be wrong) that at one point not too long ago there was a vote on freedom of movement of people from the EU. The vote very narrowly went against the continued FoM and Bern delivered the result to Brussels, which pointed out (like the Swiss didn’t already know this) that the four freedoms came as a package and of course Switzerland could stop FoM of people, but it would lose the other three freedoms in the package… the government didn’t pursue it. (Or did I dream that?)

            Wasn’t there also a referendum not so long ago which is overturned because it was found that one of the sides had lied…

            Now that would be an interesting precedent. Eh, Gove? Enough to make yet drop all the hards that you hold!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. That was the 2014 referendum on mass immigration. The referendum question was whether to accept or reject a specific amendment to the Swiss constitution that would have placed a quota on immigration numbers. This would have broken a FoM provision in one of the bilaterals it has with the EU regarding the rights of EU citizens. The bilaterals have guillotines clauses, meaning that if one is broken they are all voided. The government and parliament took the view that there was no consensus to break the bilaterals because this outcome was not discussed during the campaign. However, the referendum imposed a specific timeframe for government action and parliamentary agreement. Something had to be done but it need not be the proposed amendment to the constitution. In the end, a cosmetic change to the bilaterals was accepted by the government, parliament and the EU. It was a fudge and nothing changed in practical terms.

              I wish I could say that was the end of the story. The SVP, Switzerland’s very own populist nutters, have now got another referendum coming up in September. This rerefendum is to break all the bilaterals with the EU in order to reduce immigration. It looks like losing but if it does win life here will be very different and not in a good way. I just can’t see this winning, expecially after the experience of closed borders during the early days of the covid crisis. Is there really a clamour to leave Schengen? I just don’t see this and definitely not now.

              There was a referendum that was overturned. It was considered that campaign literature was misleading so it will be re-run.

              Many referendums are local and have a more defined outcome like seeking permission to knock down a tree in order to extend the library or seeking permission to spend money to extend the tram network. It’s just the referendums will undefined and complex outcomes that cause issues.

              I bet Gove still believes the UK holds all the cards.

              Liked by 2 people

              1. Tris, I could say that I am quite, quite sure that Terry would do a bang-up job of making Munguin’s breakfast, and that even the famously pernickety Mr. M would have no cause for complaint, but I would spare Terry’s blushes. Similarly, in real life I would never call Mr. M pernickety. Well, not to his face, certainly: it might cause him distress, so it would be profoundly regrettable if word of it were ever to reach his ears by any means whatsoever.

                I rely on your discretion.

                Liked by 2 people

  3. You erudite folks may recognise this, expressing my thoughts on Labour gauleiters in Scotland, écrasez l’infâme. Possibly, abiit,excessit,evasit,erupit.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Well, Richard Leonard is now fatally wounded and so the question is who will replace him?
    Who has been on manoeuvres lately ? Does anyone know ? I really haven’t been paying them much attention recently.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are all so third rate.

      Jackie Baillie’s turn. It has to be. But she supports nuclear weapons and the members don’t. Still, when did they care about their members?

      Maybe they’ll put their one MP, Auld Union Jacket, at the top of a list?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. On the subject of auld Union jaikets, Tris, BLiS should put Manky Jaiket Man in charge. Then they should hold a competition with major prizes, such as a staycation at home, a fortnight shadowing Jackie Baillie or a romantic, all-expenses-paid cruise for two round Scotland’s many substandard PFI schemes, for the first person to notice any difference in party policy.

        Or they could ask the court to appoint an Accountant in Bankruptcy and go into sequestration, that is, if BLiS is found to be a separate entity from its London mothership…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. British Labour realised some time ago that England is a Tory country and if you want their votes,you have to adopt Tory policies.
    Unfortunately for British Labour in Scotland,we aren’t a Tory country.
    They can dance around that simple fact all they like but Scots won’t buy their promises of social reform when we know they won’t or can’t deliver on it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is more or less what Mr Mandelson said.

      Mrs Thatcher changed the country. The South of England, in which a third of the population lives, votes for Conservative policies. If we fail to take that on boards we shall be forever in opposition, from where we can do no good at all.

      He was right. And as has been pointed out here before, for all Blair made some terrible mistakes (mainly involving sucking up to George W Bush and helping him kill and maim hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and inflame wars in the Middle East) he did do some good stuff too. Stuff that Major or the odious Haig would never have done.

      But I think it just emphasises the fact that Scotland and England are two very different countries.


  6. I have just seen a resignation letter from somebody called Griffin and telling Leonard to go. Never heard of him, Labour seem to have a lot that are political invisible.


    1. Of the quartet demanding that Lenny Richards resign, I have only heard of two, Kelly and Marta, and only in negative or comic contexts. I take an active interest in politics but I have never heard of the other pair. Given that there are so few Labour MSPs and MPs, how do they manage to make themselves so obscure?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Kelly is a totally pathetic embarrassment and to be criticised by him shows how poor Leonard has been. Bring back Cathy, you know it makes sense!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I wrote to Cathy Jamieson in 2006 when she was playing at Justice Secretaries to ask about registrar’s refusing to conduct civil partnership ceremonies. She has taken such care over her studied reply that I look forward to reading it.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Late to the party, someone dug up my internet cable by accident. Aye it’s Cicero, good news from Barrhead boy, now I have to run and do the Guardian crossword. Whew. It’s great the internet.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ach, but does yer heart no go oot to wee Glenn? He’s been a wee sook and an’ a faithful wee sodjer for years and now it’s a’ up in the air an’ he’s gonnie have’ti reorganise his speed-dial tae get his instructions on whit tae lead as todays scoop/leading story.

    Liked by 2 people

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