Letter: Hope for Labour

Can Labour gain some political dividends by focusing in the Scottish Parliament on the real life problems of individuals?

Tom Peterkin highlighted what appears to be First Minister Alex Salmond’s weak point – an emphasis on gritty reality rather than the vision thing (Perspective, 30 March).

The publicity about the blanket shortages concerning pensioners Helen MacBeth and Jack Barr may yet prove significant.

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It makes ordinary people startled – “good heavens, that could have been me or a friend or relative”. It is the sort of thing that worked for Labour in the Glenrothes by-election in late 2008.

The plight of individuals allegedly damaged by home care charges may have worked to the party’s advantage.

It was a negative campaign but with a subliminal message. Labour was on the side of pensioners and the disadvantaged and the SNP was not.

The issue-based approach, based around aggrieved individuals, may work in the short term. But in the headlights of a national election campaign it comes up against more potent factors. These are overall competence in government and a clear sense of direction from a party.

Indeed the interesting thing about last year’s Holyrood poll was that negative campaigning got its comeuppance.

In the end, though, politics is about the liberty and security of the individual.

Mr Salmond must remember the MacBeth/Barr case in the heady referendum days ahead.

Bob Taylor