‘, Smiley stickers. -’ < .-‘But no sooner had council leader Pat ally denounced McKay‘s book as ‘the :hrped ﬁgment of someone‘s .ritagination' than television writer . ‘ Peter McDougall was mugged at knife- : pOint while walking home along Great gr; western Road. McDougall has perhaps ! McDougall reckoned the attack had not it]: done more than any other popular 3‘15" writer to keep alive the city’s hard man i $5.1; 7' tag-
As a BBC documentary charts the rise of ‘New Labour" in Westminster, Eddie Gibb considers the changing face of the party in Scotland as it tries to wean itself off an over-reliance on its traditional support on Clydeside.
Opposition leader Tony Blair initially refused to take part in BBC2's four-part history ofthc Labour Party. The Wilderness Years. Perhaps he felt that the standard-bearer of ‘New Labour‘ shouldn't be involved in a backward-looking exercise which chronicled the party's sixteen-year political exile. in the end. Blair relented and discovered he had plenty to say on the subject. ‘The problem with the Labour Party in the 70s and 80s is not complex. it is simple.’ he says. ‘Society changed and the party did not. So you have a whole new generation of people with
were still singing the same old tune as in the 40s and 50s.‘
The ll’ilderness Years identiﬁes the death of John Smith last year as the leadership‘s linal break with ‘old Labour“. Several senior party figures were prepared to go on the record with their reservations about the party‘s move away from its traditional socialist roots. Unsurprisingly the series views Labour through Westminster eyes. but many of the winds ofchange that have swept through the UK party can be felt on a smaller scale in Scotland. Crudely. the shift of power within the party is mirrored by the shift of political power from west to east. particularly to Edinburgh. which until the mid- 80s was hardly a Labour stronghold. Winning parliamentary seats and wresting control of local government from centuries of Tory rule in the city were due in part to Labour‘s new-found ability to appeal to Edinburgh‘s middle-class suburbs.
As MP for Edinburgh Central since 1987 and a frontbcnch spokesman in Labour's Treasury learn.
rails at the idea that old-fashioned Clydeside socialism is the only brand of Labour politics Scotland is interested in. ‘The great mistake a lot of
Glasgow. is that Scotland is all the same. and that Glasgow is Scotland.‘ Darling said. ‘Because both TV stations are based in Glasgow. some media people assume that the thinking on Byr'es Road is the thinking in the rest of Scotland. and that isn't true.’
different aspirations. a different type of world and we
Alistair Darling is a rising star of New Labour who is closely allied to the Blairite tendency in Scotland. He 3
political analysts make. particularly those who live in
From left to right? Michael Foot was the last truly ‘old
Labour power in Scotland heads East
labour’ leader; the late John Smith who continued lieil Kinnock’s
reforms, and Alistair Darling. the lace at New Labour In Edinburgh
Darling talks about ‘middle Scotland' — the Bearsdens and the Morningsides — as the equivalent ofthc much talked about middle England. whose support Labour must secure if it's to win the next election. Many of Labour‘s radical. working-class supporters. particularly on the west coast. regard this kind of talk as a sign of the shift to the right within the party. Though the Labour tradition. rooted in the industrial trade union movement. is undoubtedly still strong on the west coast. the east coast style of New Labour. characterised by advocates-tnmed-politicians such as John Smith and Alistair Darling. has taken on a new importance with the likelihood of a Scottish parliament based in Edinburgh.
‘The great mistake a lot of political analysts make, particularly those who live in Glasgow, is that Scotland is all
the same, and that Glasgow is Scotland.’
‘Thc party is profoundly divided between those activists who see themselves as Scottish first and Labour second. and the senior figures who tend to be national [UK] Labour first and Scottish second.‘ commented The Inde/wndwrt's respected political columnist Andrew Marr. ‘Labour tended to be rornanticiscd down south. with English Labour leaders saying “If only we had the strong traditions of Labour in Scotland and Wales".'
Links between the party and Scottish trade unionists are still generally close. but there has been a frequently-voiced suspicion that the UK party takes
traditional Labour voters' support for granted.
1; assuming that left-wing politics are almost a cultural
habit rather than a choice. This leaves the
2 Westminster leadership free to move to the right to
capture middle England. ‘Efforts by the Labour Party
: to distance itself from the trade trnions at a UK level
are very short-sighted,’ said Bill Speirs. deputy
general secretary ofthe Scottish Trades Union
i Congress. ‘lfwe get a Labour government. it will face great expectations and will need all the friends it
can get. There are some in the Labour leadership who think the unions will support the party no matter
I what. The big task for the Labour party is not just to
win the next election. but the one after that.‘ Darling denies the party is taking its traditional
support in Scotland for granted. arguing that
Labour's ‘core values' of equality anti social justice
I remain untouched. ‘Clearly the Labour Party was
part of life in west central Scotland and the industrial trade unions were very strong.‘ he said. ‘We need
support from all parts of society and the idea you can
just survive on your original support is nonsense. Of
course there's a cultural tie. btrt to rest on your
laurels and rely on something that was a phenomenon
, in west central Scotland would be a recipe for 3 heading for a museum.
‘Edinburgh is very powerful in the Labour Party
because it can deliver seats and votes. The thinking in the party is changing and ifthere is a Scottish
parliarnenl. which I'm increasingly convinced isjust a rrratter of time. then the political focus in Scotland will change as Edinburgh‘s role continues to increase.‘
' The Wilderness Years begins on Sun 3 Dec (1! 7.30pm
AND FINALLY... i
The gloves are off. and the combatants are getting down and dirty in the war of words. Journalist Ron McKay. 'I‘he Observer‘s Scottish correspondent. has I reopened old wounds with a new book called Mean City which up-dates the famous story of 1930s razor gangs in | Glasgow that has long dogged attempts to improve the city's public image. This 1 was the open sore that the city fathers have. with some success. tried to cover up with a cultural Elastoplast and Mr .
1 Peter McDougail: downed by some big boys image. with dramas such as the Jimmy I Boyle story A Sense Of Freedom and
} gangland comedy Down Among The
l Big Boys. A badly messed up
been a bit of spontaneous TV criticism. ‘They didn't know who i was.‘ he said. i
, eye swollen and closed. on
figment ofthc imagination.
5 self-image. The good news
‘If it hadn't been me it would have been someone else.‘ The gruesome picture of McDougall‘s coupon. one
the Daily Record demonstrated that this ; kind of random violence was no
That was the bad news for Glasgow‘s
District Council had persuaded the Post Office Board to sell the former GPO building on George Square. become the nation's second national art ’ gallery. And with the building will
3 come a sizeable stamp collection.
including the world's ﬁrst issue of Penny Black. Naturally. Edinburgh's Lord Provost Norman lrons suggested the capital should have been given a
1 chance to bid for this handsome stamp
: album. but his heart didn’t seem to be
For the Royal Mail. all this talk of stamps and art must have come as a
welcome diversion from the bitter
postal strike which started in Edinburgh
with a dispute over the down—grading of posties' rounds in Portobello and ended in a backlog of 12 million letters and parcels.
Glasgow's second triumph ofthe
fOrtnight was securing yet another ‘city
of' accolade to put on its rnantelpiece
alongside ‘culture' and ‘architecture'. It
I seems the city is. among other things. a
I centre ofexcellence for table tennis
(call it ping-pong at your pen'l) and its
contribution has now been recognised.
Glasgow has ofﬁcially become Britain’s third city of sport — after Sheffield and Birmingham - and
should now be well placed to attract
major intemational events. Even John
Major had a good word: ‘Glasgow well
deserves its award and 1 know that the
city shares my commitment to ensuring that sport plays an important role in our national life.‘ Oh yes. (Eddie Gibb)
the front of
The List l-l4 Dec 1995 5