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Has Scottish Labour learned any lessons from the referendum?

This article is over 7 years, 3 months old
Issue 2427
Johann Lamont

Johann Lamont

The resignation of Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont last week was not unexpected. 

But it underlined the deep crisis in the Scottish Labour Party. 

Its leadership won the independence referendum for the British state. Yet it lost the argument with huge swathes of its working class base in towns and cities across Scotland.

Where Labour’s vote has been strongest in the past was also where the Yes vote was highest last month. Polls suggest between 30-40 percent of Labour voters at the last general or Scottish elections voted Yes.

The sight of Labour politicians celebrating with Tories at referendum counts will not be forgotten. You would think Labour might have learned some lessons from the referendum.

Yet one of the main frontrunners to replace Lamont is Blairite Jim Murphy.

The collapse in Labour’s support in Scotland, and the growth of the Scottish National Party, means Labour may struggle to mobilise voters.

It faces a bad general election in Scotland—and the Scottish parliament elections the following year look even worse.

A Murphy leadership would pitch for the right wing vote. But the crisis has pushed some leading Labour figures to argue the party needs a radical redirection.

Whether that wing wins out or not will be a decisive factor in reviving its fortunes.

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