Thought I’d share a little teaser of my upcoming Devo Files, which will discuss Inverclyde MP Iain McKenzie and the ridiculously fragile New Labour hold over the constituency:
If all that independence is about is getting away from a Government for whom Scotland did not vote, I would ask Members to join me in seeking independence for Inverclyde. We have never voted for an SNP Government. We have a Labour MP, a Labour MSP and a Labour-controlled council, yet twice we have had to suffer under an SNP Government. The difference is that we understand and accept democracy. I have visited north-east England many times, and I have always believed that the future of Scotland and of north-east England lie together in one country—the UK.
– HC Deb, 4 March 2014
Inverclyde has never voted Conservative either, yet look how often we got a Tory government. You seem perfectly happy with that state of affairs. 27,000+ of your constituents clearly are not. Maybe that’s part of the reason New Labour control over Inverclyde has been plummeting since 2011?
In 2010, 20,993 (56%) voted for New Labour, compared to 6,577 (17.5%) for the SNP. In your own election in July 2011, the Labour vote plunged to 15,118 (53.8%), while the SNP’s rose to 9,280 (33%). That’s not even a Parliamentary term, that’s one year. In one year, New Labour in Inverclyde lost 4,014 votes, while the SNP gained 2,703. That’s a majority of 14,416 in 2010 to 5,838 in 2011. A 59.5% decrease in New Labour’s majority. In one year. What happened to those votes, Mr McKenzie?
Your New Labour MSP friend Duncan McNeil doesn’t have it much better. In 2007 the New Labour for Inverclyde vote was 12,753 compared to 8,236 SNP; in 2011, New Labour remained practically static at 12,387, while the SNP rose to 11,976. Duncan McNeil’s been the New Labour MSP for Greenock & Inverclyde since 1999, and has consistently hovered around the 40-45% mark: in contrast, the SNP vote has consistently risen since 2003.
The council? It’s on the tightest rope of all: the last election saw Labour with 10 seats compared with the SNP’s 6, the Liberal Democrats’ 2, the Conservatives’ 1, and the independent Ronnie Ahlfeld. With Vaughn Jones coming out in favour of independence and subsequent resignation, Labour’s overall control of the council was lost. Either they form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, or even the Conservatives – as has been done in Aberdeen and Stirling. So in the same year Mr McKenzie proudly cited his constituency’s Labour-controlled council, New Labour lost overall control – and it wasn’t even an election.
All this, and not even counting the fact that Inverclyde’s SNP has flourished from 200 members to over 1,000 in the space of a month.
Hilariously, Mr McKenzie used his victory speech to try and spin this catastrophic turn of events for New Labour into some sort of victory:
Remember, only weeks ago the SNP came within 511 votes of winning here, but tonight the voters of Inverclyde have rejected them – this time giving myself and the Scottish Labour Party not a 500 majority, but over 5,000 of a majority.
Labour’s fightback has started right here in Inverclyde – my hometown.
So instead of being a loss of around 9,000 votes, it was “only” a loss of 4,000. After one year.
No, Mr McKenzie, Inverclyde has never voted SNP, any more than Inverclyde has ever voted Conservative. For the moment, Inverclyde is still New Labour. But for how much longer will that be the case?