What a stooshie there is over the Scottish budget and John Swinney’s plan to scrap the Glasgow Airport Rail Link. I have found the reaction from Labour very interesting. Their strategy appears to be to attempt to paint it as an anti-Glasgow policy from an Edinburgh-centric party.
Jeff thought that Steven Purcell may have jumped the gun by describing the SNP’s budget proposals as “anti-Glasgow”. But if he did, Labour certainly weren’t embarrassed about it, and enthusiastically jumped on the bandwagon. Already during the budget debate Margaret Curran had asked a pointed question about just what was in the budget for Glasgow.
Separate parts of Labour soon latched on to the idea. For instance, Tom Harris was very quick to tweet the following: “Gutted by the SNP’s decision to axe the Glasgow Airport rail link. Serves us right for not being Edinburgh, I suppose.” I also noticed an update from the official Scottish Labour Twitter account which said, “Glasgow is being ripped off by the SNP in Edinburgh.”
Will “the SNP in Edinburgh” became a nice little catchphrase, just as “London Labour” effortlessly rolls off the tongue of any nationalist? I predict that it won’t. “The SNP in Edinburgh” is slightly clunky-sounding, while “London Labour” has an alliterative, almost symmetrical quality.
Trying to associate the SNP with Edinburgh is also a bit strange given that the SNP occupy just one of Edinburgh’s five seats while Labour MSPs currently sit in two of them. At least in this respect it makes about as much sense as “London Labour”, which was always quite a curious turn of phrase given that Labour have their greatest concentration of support in Scotland, not London.
You can say one thing — Labour’s move into the realm of regional politics is an interesting strategy. But as far as I can see, most people seem to just be rolling their eyes at the anti-Glasgow claim. The relative merits of Garl aside for the moment (and I think it is a mistake to scrap it), there surely can’t be many cities that have had more public money poured into them in recent decades than Glasgow.
Do Labour risk painting themselves into a Glasgow-shaped corner? Is there any real point in Labour playing this card? If there is one place in Scotland where their vote is safe, it is Glasgow. I fear that by focussing so strongly on Glasgow, they could easily make themselves less electable in the rest of Scotland.
I mean, in what way is wailing for yet more pork in Glasgow supposed to appeal to the rest of Scotland? Most people were quite heartily sick of the Glasgow-centric nature of the Labour party, as Lallands Peat Worrier explains quite well. And the Glasbolisation of the Scottish media is as tiresome as any London bias.
But it will be interesting to see how the SNP cope with the anti-Glasgow accusation. They cannot really afford to give up on Glasgow. Nor can they reject Labour’s line of reasoning, because this sort of territorial whining is their bread and butter.
That is one of the things that puts me off the SNP so much. They try to exaggerate the cultural and political differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK, while playing down any differences within Scotland. Take, for instance, top SNP blogger Jeff, who on Friday scoffed not once but twice:
…as if there is any significant difference between Glasgwegians and Edinburgers.
Let’s all settle down shall we, factionalism is what tore Scotland apart in the early 1700s. Let’s not go back to those days.
It’s kind of funny to hear the SNP pleading against tearing a country apart. After all, it is normally de rigueur for the SNP to constantly make out that there is a significant difference when in reality there is just a bit of normal human diversity — just as long as the dividing line is the Scottish / English border.
The constant SNP refrain that a democratically elected Conservative government should not have the right to govern over Scotland because they have slightly less support north of the border is one of my biggest bugbears. As I have pointed out before, there will be regional differences within any democracy, no matter how you draw the borders.
So in Scotland you have Labour’s famous dominance of the West of Scotland. Meanwhile, the further north you go, the more likely you are, generally, to be in an SNP seat. There are no SNP constituency MSPs south of Kilmarnock and Loudoun, with the vast majority coming from north of the central belt. The other parties have their geographical cleavages of support too.
But for the SNP, the only important regional divide is the one that divides Scotland from the rest of the UK. They would have you believe that other regional differences don’t exist, or at least that they are not nearly as important.
This is one of the reasons why I reject nationalism. It is fundamentally disingenuous. At least Labour’s tactic has this going for it: it could show up the major contradiction of the SNP’s world view.