The State of the Parties – Scottish Greens

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I’m risking the wrath of my former Better Nation colleague James for what’s coming here… but I really do think that Scottish “Greens” is a misnomer for the party who held onto their 2 MSPs in May’s election.  I’d suggest “Scottish Lefties who occasionally talk about the environment” would be a more appropriate (if slightly lengthy) name for the party.  And that for me, is the biggest issue facing the party at the moment.  I know James will tell me that the party “don’t just pick policies out of thin air – they are principles” and that’s all well and good.  But there are ways of maintaining those principles without radically changing.

When the party was led (well, okay, co-convened) by Robin Harper from his first election to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 until he stood down as co-convenor in 2008, the party actually talked about green issues. But since he was replaced by Patrick Harvie, the party has focused much more on left-wing, social issues rather than environmental issues.  Now, as I mentioned above, this IS a principled position (the Scottish Greens have always had a left-wing tendency) but I also perceive it to be something of an electoral strategy as well.

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The State of the Parties – Scottish Lib Dems

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I did wonder whether I should bother writing a post about the Lib Dems.  I mean, it appears to be patently obvious that the party has been utterly screwed by their participation in a coalition with the Conservatives at UK level, with the loss of 300,000 votes in May’s Scottish Parliament election symbolic of the electorate’s feelings towards the party.  But my look at the parties in the Scottish Parliament wouldn’t be complete without it…

I suppose the first thing to point out (which is pretty obvious) is that there is no real distinct Lib Dem voter.  I’ve been teaching first years at university who can identify that, at least traditionally, the working class vote Labour and the middle class vote Conservative.  But where do the Lib Dems fit into that?  Well, one answer to the question as to “who votes Liberal Democrat” was “middle class people who don’t think they are middle class”.  Which I liked – and I liked it, because it’s almost true.  Lib Dem voters – at least prior to 2010 – tended to be well-educated (with a degree) but still considered themselves to not be middle class enough to vote for the Conservatives.  Hence the choice of Lib Dems.

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The State of the Parties – Scottish Labour

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It is probably quite unfair to consider the state of Scottish Labour while they are in the middle of a leadership election…  and yet it is partly because they are in such a situation that looking at the party is so interesting.  And the verdict – at least from this outsider – isn’t good.

Truth be told, I think the Scottish Labour Party are in a worse position than the Scottish Liberal Democrats.  And that’s saying something.

It might be saying something crazy, especially since a party which saw 41 MPs elected 18 months ago appears (on the surface at least) to be in a much healthier position than one which saw their representation at Holyrood reduced to just five.  But bear with me.

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