Scottish Labour must learn from election humiliations, not continue its march off a cliff – Brian Wilson

The return of Anas Sarwar to Scottish Labour’s frontbench, speaking on constitutional affairs, suggests hope that things might yet get better before May. Just maybe.

The return of Anas Sarwar to Scottish Labour's frontbench is a sign of hope for the party (Picture: John Devlin)
The return of Anas Sarwar to Scottish Labour's frontbench is a sign of hope for the party (Picture: John Devlin)

Earlier this year, Jackie Baillie was elected deputy leader, the Corbynite tide having duly receded. Last month, a humane effort to relieve Richard Leonard of his burdens failed when a couple of union barons emerged from a virtual smoke-filled room at the last moment.

Since being purged a couple of years ago, Mr Sarwar and Ms Baillie have been doing the things one expects of good Labour politicians: campaigning tirelessly, effectively and articulately on issues that make a difference to people's lives.

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For anyone following the "Salmond Inquiry" at Holyrood, the main badge of honour so far goes to Ms Baillie for thoroughly researched, forensic efforts to cut through the obfuscations and selective amnesia which have characterised evidence from the cabal around Nicola Sturgeon.

These are reminders of why Holyrood needs a strong Labour Party with MSPs of substance. Unfortunately, there is little evidence of the Scottish electorate translating this sentiment into votes.

In this week's Clackmannan East by-election, won by the Tories with a huge swing, the Labour vote fell by more than half. Last week, it was a similar story in Edinburgh where the share of the vote fell to 13 per cent, just ahead of the Greens.

Like any Scottish Labour member, I can only wonder – are lessons being drawn from these humiliations or is the march to the cliff-edge to continue, undisturbed by encounters with electoral reality?

It is not too late, particularly with the return of the purged. But time is running out.

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