19 October 2009

In which Yousuf has a hissy fit

And I don't ever want to hear people like Will or others complain that Labour are negative when their campaign strategy has no positive reason to vote SNP at all.

Thus spake Yousuf Hamid, Labour activist, general good egg, and usually quite smart. Smarter than this, anyway.

Because here's the thing, as his party colleague Kez Dugdale said this week:

In fact, most of the leaflet is spent defending the SNP Government - talking about their justice and policing policies.

So in his rush for the high horse, Yousuf clearly hasn't been paying attention to what's actually going on around him. And the mad part is this: the SNP have been in Government for two and a half years - a full decade less than Labour - and yet has a record it feels confident that it can stand on. Indeed, the press release unveiling David Kerr is pretty positive in tone. So if Yousuf wants a positive reason to vote SNP, here's one of many: SNP MPs will do whatever they can to prevent any Government of any hue cutting the Scottish Budget and putting those benefits and that progress at risk. Labour - and Tory - MPs will spend this Parliament and the next one attempting to explain why their ham-fisted economic policies and scramble to defend bankers should jeopardise measures designed to ease the lives of ordinary, hard-pressed men, women and children.

But Labour are reduced to defending the indefensible and waving the Tory stick about. My, how Yousuf has grasped it!

Of course, if Labour's record were that good, we'd be hearing all about it, I'm sure. If what Yousuf says about the SNP not offering positive reasons to vote were right, there wouldn't be people in Glasgow North East - like the first voter David Kerr spoke to on the campaign trail - who have decided to vote for the SNP for the first time next month.

Instead, we have that old chestnut: "Vote SNP, Get Tory". It's nothing less than a lie: this is a By-Election and the loss of Glasgow North East will not even cost Gordon Brown his majority, let alone put David Cameron into Downing Street. The only David that could gain from an SNP vote is David Kerr. I assume that Yousuf knows this, but has chosen to peddle the fib anyway.

And of course, this leaflet comes in the week when the SNP announce a plan to reverse one of the Tories' most devastating policies - which Labour did nothing to counter-act - in Right to Buy: a savage embodiment of the "Me first!" culture that Thatcher promoted, in which people who benefited from affordable, social housing have been permitted to snatch that right away from others who might need it, increasing the snobbish stigma around rented properties, making affordable housing for others harder to get, and forcing them to take their chances in the private sector. Getting rid of that disgusting pillar of the Society of the Self is the single most progressive thing to happen in any part of the UK since the creation of the National Health Service. And it's been done by an SNP Government.

So when Yousuf whines that protecting affordable social housing isn't progressive - he's wrong.

When he says that a vote for David Kerr is a vote for David Cameron - he's wrong.

When he says that the SNP offer no positive reason to vote for them - he's wrong.

When he says that it's perfectly all right for Labour (and himself) to mislead people in their campaign of spite and negativity, as opposed to offering a defence of their twelve years in office, or some sort of hope for the future - he's wrong.

And if he thinks that Labour losing votes, losing seats and losing power is the fault of anyone other than the Labour Party, for taking so many people for granted and letting so many people down, people that Labour was founded to look out for - then he is very much wrong!

And with all that misinformation, this high horse that he's found? Well, it turns out it's an ass.


Yousuf Hamid said...

Will some interesting points and it's always a pleasure to debate with who is without doubt the best debater in the Scottish blogosphere.

A few points:

Firstly I was talking about the strategy for the General Election not the Glasgow North East by election. As I have said who the next Government is will come down who have more MP's Labour or the Conservatives.

I think that people will have seen Labour's record and will hear what they want to do in the future and would rather have us in Government but time will tell.

I find it a tad inconsistent that you blame Labour for being negative whilst ignoring the endless stories, press releases and speeches listing Labour's achievements in Government and yet you mention what the SNP say on their record whilst ignoring their very negative strategy.

On the right-to-buy I disagree but I'm going to try and blog on that myself when I get the chance.

Will said...

Flattery will get you many places, Yousuf!

Firstly, even the General Election is not necessarily a case of "Vote SNP, Get Tory", as there are so few contests where that's the case, but also because that hinges on Tory plus SNP - and only that combination - equalling a majority, and deals possibly being done. Frankly, I doubt the Tories will win the SNP over and in any case, it could be Labour who has to do so. And even with a majority government, remember that a three-figure majority in the 2001-05 Parliament got whittled down to 25 on Foundation Hospitals, and five on Top-Up Fees. Remember also that the last detention legislation got passed with DUP casting votes. According, whatever the result, the SNP can still potentially wield influence and applies regardless of who is in Downing Street.

Frankly, in terms of people's preferences, I suspect that with both parties proposing budget cuts, there's realy very little to choose between the parties so the stark contrast approach doesn't quite work this time around.

And I'm araid, Yousuf, that for all the lists of achievements, look at the theme of Labour campaigns after 1997: in each case, the message centred around attacking the other side more than anything else, whether it's the morphed face of Hague and Thatcher, the picture of Scotland actually physically breaking from the rest of Britain, Michael Howard and Oliver Letwin's faces superimposed on flying pigs and the Little Alex campaign. To say nothing of Dave the Chameleon and the 'Tory toff' campaign in Crewe. Labour campaigns have - for ten years - revolved around the other side.

We'll have to agree to disagree on Right To Buy but I really find the Thatcher approach of making it easy (and almost expected) for people to take away vital housing from those who need it absolutely sickening.

Bucket of Tongues said...


Indy said...

If you haven't seen it, you should really try and get hold of Labour's campaign newspaper for Glasgow North East. It is breath-takingly negative. The front cover features a woman whose family was attacked and goes on to claim that the SNP want to release 650 dangerous knife criminals from prison to walk the streets. There is big play of the Megrahi issue with the SNP being in favour of releasing mass murders (no mention of the fact that he is dying of cancer and of course no mention of the fact that UK Labour ministers supported the decision). Then there are a lot of very personal attacks on David Kerr. Possibly the most outrageous article is an out of work teacher blaming the SNP Government for the fact that he can't get a job. No mention of the fact that it is the Labour Council which has frozen teacher recruitment despite being funded to maintain teacher numbers. And of course the usual nonsense about the SNP picking on Glasgow.

It is all negative; all about attacking the SNP and most tellingly of all there is no Labour branding on it at all - not a single thing to identify it as a Labour election publication.

Yousuf Hamid said...

This isn't a Lib Dem style 'Only Labour can beat the Tories here' leaflet with dodgy bar charts though Will!

It is a national point that if you replace Labour MP's with SNP one's there is a greater chance of a Tory Government which is true.

Will said...

Ah, but Yousuf, we've had a Tory Government with Tory policies for the last 30 years: it's just been run by the Labour Party for the last 12. And, let's be frank here, that you oppose the ending of a Thatcherite policy like Right to Buy says a lot about Labour's progressive credentials. If we're going to be in the business of saying what we should and shouldn't say to one another, then don't bother slagging off the Tories (or comparing the SNP to them) again: you back the most iconic policy of the Thatcher years, and we do not. Fact.

In any case, Labour had an overwhelming majority of Scottish MPs in the 1979-1997 period. Where did it get Scotland? What good did it do? How did they protect Scotland from the worst excesses of Thatcherism?

During the last Tory Government, Scottish Labour MPs were as much good as a chocolate teapot, and I don't envisage them being any more productive this time around. Let's face it, even under a Labour government, they're more interested in imposing top-up fees on English students than in protecting Scottish public services from Treasury-dictated budget cuts. Scotland needs better MPs, who will do what is necessary to get a good deal.

circus monkey said...

Thank you ALL for confirming that Scottish politics REALLY is a circus run by monkeys. I feel right at home now!

Anonymous said...

"Getting rid of that disgusting pillar of the Society of the Self is the single most progressive thing to happen in any part of the UK since the creation of the National Health Service. And it's been done by an SNP Government."

Utterly fantastic. Well done Nicola.

Pro-Independence Green. Not SNP.

Jeanne Tomlin said...

"This isn't a Lib Dem style 'Only Labour can beat the Tories here' leaflet with dodgy bar charts though Will!

It is a national point that if you replace Labour MP's with SNP one's there is a greater chance of a Tory Government which is true."

Actually, that is perfect NONSENSE.

It doesn't matter HOW Scotland votes. The election will be decided in England.

With SNP MPs there is a chance of having a large enough block of Scottish votes to sway some issues in a direction favorable to Scotland. That is the MOST that any Scottish party can hope to do within the UK system.