Scottish Labour’s 2021 Disaster Election Plans Revealed

Scottish Labour has many things to learn about Scotland and its voters, however Guido reckons they should prioritise learning one fact: that Regus-serviced office walls in Glasgow aren’t soundproof, and bear this in mind next time they hold a big election strategy briefing. One co-conspirator happened to be in the room next door to Scottish Labour’s big meeting and diligently transcribed it through the wall for Guido readers…

Despite Richard Leonard’s public confidence, telling the New Statesman this morning that “I’m not contemplating loss” of seats in the 2021 election, the party’s Scottish organisers are very much accepting they are in “losses” territory for next year. Private polling has revealed the SNP and Scottish Tories are close to their “structural target ceiling of target voters” whereas Labour is “closer to their structural floor.” Labour admitting they have a floor of support north of the border is presumptive…

Guido also learns Labour privately acknowledge that 2021 losses in Scotland will make Starmer’s route to power near-impossible, requiring the party to win seats like Jacob Rees-Mogg’s North East Somerset with a Tory majority of 14,729 to find a path to No. 10. The best the Scottish party is hoping for next year is to leapfrog the Tories into a very distant 2nd place behind the SNP…

According to Labour’s pollster, part of Labour’s failure to recover in Scotland is due to voters seeing Labour and the SNP as indistinguishable on issues other than the constitution; with Scottish Labour losing “young, hardcore Remain young mothers in the central belt”. 

When it comes to the 2021 campaign, Scottish Labour will focus on three promises aligned to three main priorities of “middle Scotland” with a “line” on the constitution. Most likely along the lines of “Covid plan, Jobs plan, NHS plan”…

Looking again ahead to 2024, Guido learns Scottish Labour will float a formal federal devolution settlement for the party’s election manifesto. After the call ended, the organisers were heard joking about how their main worry is stopping the SNP stealing their ideas – Guido can’t imagine that’s a top desire of the Nats…

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Scottish Labour Leader says he is “Not” Going to Resign

Watch this space…

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Richard Leonard Facing Scottish Labour Party Ultimatum Following Reeves Gaffe

The leader of the Labour Party in Scotland (and one of the last senior Corbynistas in a leadership role) is hanging to his position by a thread today. The coup against his leadership started yesterday with three Labour MSPs publicly calling for Leonard to resign, and a fourth joining the calls later on. Today UK Labour Shadow Cabinet member (and general calamity) Rachel Reeves waded in, saying the Scottish leader should “consider his position”, later rowing back to tweet that “matters about Scottish Labour are for Scottish Labour”. Oops.

Now following Reeves’ reverse ferret, LabourList’s Sienna Rodgers is reporting that Leonard has been told he has “lost the majority of the group”. Labour only has 23 MSPs so just 17% of his parliamentary party have so far publicly called for him to go. He is digging in, insisting the party still backs him. One to watch…

UPDATE: Starmer is now publicly backing Corbynite Richard Leonard, despite Rachel Reeves’ slip this morning…

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SNP On Course for Record Majority in Holyrood

A new Scottish YouGov poll released last night will make glum reading for unionists. The SNP are set to achieve a stonking 57% in the constituency vote for the Holyrood elections, as well as 47% on the proportional regional list vote. Taken together, this would give the party 74 seats out of 129. No party has ever before won more than 69 seats in the parliament…

The Scottish Tory vote share stands at 20% and 21% for constituencies and lists respectively, while Scottish Labour trails at just 14% in both. Scottish Labour leader and Corbynite relic Richard Leonard had the worst approval rating of any leader, standing at -27%. With Labour’s Scotland problem getting worse, not better, Guido is surprised Sir Keir hasn’t spent more time north of the border…

In line with other recent polls, YouGov found support for Scottish independence to stand at at 53%, compared to 47% for the Union. Westminster, take note.

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Scottish Labour Go to War With McDonnell Over IndyRef2

The Labour Party has descended into fresh turmoil after John McDonnell’s highly contentious comments last night saying that Labour “would not block” IndyRef2. Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP naturally jumped all over it and are now gleefully trying to widen the rift between Scottish and UK Labour.

Unsurprisingly Scottish Labour themselves have erupted at the news which threatens to rip out their electoral base yet further. To be fair, they could have seen it coming given Corbyn himself said he was “absolutely fine” with another go at Scottish independence two years ago…

Scottish Labour Leader Richard Leonard held what will have been a fairly robust meeting with the Shadow Chancellor this morning, issuing a statement:

I made clear to him that a second independence referendum is unwanted by the people of Scotland and it is unnecessary… The 2014 referendum was a once in a generation vote.

Scottish MPs and MSPs have since piled in. Ian Murray MP led a blistering attack on McDonnell, saying:

“These are utterly irresponsible comments from John McDonnell that betray our party’s values… McDonnell has even bought into the nationalist narrative that Westminster is an ‘English Parliament’, in an insult to the hard work carried out by Scottish MPs from every party.

We were promised by the SNP that the 2014 referendum was once-in-a-generation, and we have a duty to hold the Nationalists to their promise by firmly opposing a divisive second independence referendum.

But one of the architects of the Corbyn project that is destroying the Labour Party now appears willing to destroy our United Kingdom with thoughtless rants at the Festival”.

Murray retweeted fellow MP Stella Creasy who blasted:

Shadow Scotland Minister Paul Sweeney MP has also been on the attack, while Labour’s Scottish Parliamentary candidates have put out a joint statement. Never underestimate Labour’s ability to turn a crisis into a catastrophe…

UPDATE: Rather than apologising for undermining Labour policy, McDonnell has doubled down, saying the approval of a second Scottish independence referendum is also Jeremy Corbyn’s view. It’s clear Scottish Labour are not going to let this argument die down.

UPDATE 2: Labour’s MSPs have released a joint statement condemning McDonnell’s IndyRef2 u-turn:

The SPLP support the stance taken by Richard Leonard as our Leader and back the policy position that he outlined. We deplore any attempts to undermine the official policy position of the Scottish Labour Party and we express serious concerns about an apparent change in Labour’s position on a matter of vital importance to the future of Scotland and of the Scottish Labour Party itself.

Scottish party policy is very clear – that is opposition to a second independence referendum. There is therefore an urgent need for the UK Party leadership to engage constructively with the Scottish Party leadership on the issue of the party’s stance on the future of Scotland.

We are clear Labour’s position on Scotland’s future is a decision for Scottish Labour, which the UK Party must accept. We expect all Scottish Labour MPs and MSPs to vote in accordance with party policy.

The war rages on…

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McDonnell: Labour Would Block Government of National Unity, Won’t Block IndyRef2

Iain Dale’s Edinburgh Festival show continues to generate great news nuggets, last night it was the turn of John McDonnell who gift-wrapped two exquisite presents for Boris Johnson on the Edinburgh stage. McDonnell ruled out Labour supporting any sort of ‘national unity’ Government to try to stop No Deal that wasn’t led by Jeremy Corbyn. It wasn’t an off-the-cuff position, perennially rising star Rebecca Long-Bailey repeated the line last night as well…

This renders any Remainer plot to replace Boris with a ‘caretaker’ Prime Minister like Hilary Benn or Yvette Cooper following a vote of no confidence completely toothless, while it is highly unlikely that a majority of MPs would countenance Corbyn being PM, even temporarily to stop No Deal. Much as the vast majority of Tory Remainer MPs draw the line at Corbyn as PM being worse than no deal, there is nothing Corbyn wants to see less than another Blairite as Prime Minister…

McDonnell wasn’t finished handing Boris gifts, he also said that Labour “would not block” a second Scottish Indepedendence Referendum. Labour have tanked in Scotland since hard-left leader Richard Leonard took over. McDonnell now appears to be doing his best to finish them off…

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