Friday, July 25, 2008

Thoughts on a roller coaster ride ...

It was indeed a real roller coaster ride last night (earlier this morning!) ... definite echoes of the 4th May last year :-(

... and I do repeat my congratulations to John Mason, the winner.

Now, I did promise some further general thoughts on it all ... so here goes:

As a self-confessed political anorak, I've admitted that I have been variously completely fascinated and slightly aghast at the antics of this by-election.

It has though been a 'relatively' clean-fought contest (just think back to Monklands in 1994 ... and remember I come from Airdrie!), so I wouldn't want to overstate this ... but, Glasgow East has been a VERY traditional first-past-the-post by-election with two large 'Party Machines' slugging it out to the almost total exclusion of all others concerned.

Frankly, and this is not a whinge but a statement of fact, I think the media haven't helped by just-about completely ignoring all other candidates beyond the, so-called, 'four main Parties' ... that categorisation in itself has been woefully incorrect in the context of Glasgow, witness in particular the Greens who have several Councillors and an MSP in Glasgow and were yet 'lumped' in with the SSP and Solidarity as 'also-rans'?

And its true that the nature of the contest did dictate the style of messaging adopted by both main contenders, but lets be honest, it wasn't exactly a feast of well-thought through policy debate ... from either side. And, to some extent, that style of political campaigning will be dictated by the rules of the game.

But the fact is the rules are now very, very different for the Holyrood and Westminster levels of Government. Many have argued, with some justification, that Labour ran a far too-traditional 'winner-takes-all' style of campaign last May ... and that habit (unfortunately for me, politically) continues apace in current contests, no matter what the rules. But both main Parties did revert to that type over the last three-weeks - the SNP more successfully, obviously :-(

Politics has moved-on unrecognisably from the mid-1990's and I just sense, that as is often the case, most of the main Parties are really struggling to actually keep pace with public expectations now that the landscape is so drastically changed ... and, in particular, Labour is struggling with this.

So yes, the Glasgow East campaign has been both uplifting in the sense that it did unquestionably involve hundreds (if not thousands) of Party activists from both the SNP and Labour; but it was also deeply depressing in that it took the shape of such a traditional 'slug-fest' between two main contenders to the exclusion of all others.

It is a truism that 'traditional' politics is in deep, deep trouble in this country. I don't think Glasgow East has helped extract us from that trouble - at all.

None of that should distract from the immediate significance of the SNP victory ... but are simply my thoughts on the longer-term significance for wider-politics - and, sadly, I'm not convinced its the 'democratic' turning-point that some are claiming, and many of us are desperate to see.


P.S. None of that, for one second, is to deny this is a very, very bad result for Labour :-((

3 comments:

John Wallace said...

Do you think that John Mason added a new link to his browser's favourites this morning before he went to bed. Possibly, www.johnlewis.com

There was no truth in the rumours he went by for a drop of window shopping on his way home.

I'm sure when he next visits Edinburgh he will notice that they have a free 5 year guarantee on TVs and on Siemens Diswashers. Maybe the guarantees will last longer than his job. Hope not.

John Wallace said...

Quote of the day:

Fraser Nelson on Sky

"When Gordon hits rock bottom he will start drilling"

Anonymous said...

You are talking to yourself again. why not take a break and have another regal kingsize?