Saturday, 26 July 2008

Tipping point elections

Every so often there is an election which matters more than others because it becomes a critical juncture and changes the direction of politics. 1979 was one, obviously, although 1983 was perhaps more pivotal (entrenching the change), just as 1992 mattered more than 1997 - 1992 allowed the New Labour project to destroy the Labour party.

You can find the same in other countries - the 2002 French presidential election, the 2005 German federal election, US Presidential elections in 1981 and in 1992, and the 1993 Japanese election, for example.

Bye-elections can be in that category too - Hamilton 1967, of course, and Garscadden 1978 - and Glasgow East fits in there. Where Garscadden was an election which knocked the SNP in the run-up to a UK General Election, Glasgow East was an election which confirmed the strong position of Scotland's Party following a successful Scottish General Election. One was a set-back for the SNP and the other was a significant advance for the SNP.
To understand just how significant an advance winning Glasgow East is, consider this - the Labour party was created in 1906 from the Labour Representation Committee. Ever since John Wheatley won his seat in the 1922 election Labour provided the UK Parliamentary representation in the east end of Glasgow - until Thursday. From November 15th 1922 until July 24th 2008 - not far off 86 years. This isn't Labour's heartland, it's right in the heart of what used to be Labour - and the electorate has switched its support.

It's an indication that the SNP's determination to improve Scotland is resonating with people who are fed up being told they shouldn't 'get above their station', that they shouldn't aspire to be anything more than they had been told they were allowed to be.

The worst crime Labour committed against Scotland was the long, slow and painful damage to hope. That damage is being repaired now - a long, slow process in itself - and we have a new optimism. Bring it on!

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