Well, it has taken me a number of days to get round to blogging about the by-election result. After one of the most hectic months of my life, the first day I had off (from work and campaigning) was yesterday, so I scheduled the task 'do nothing' in my diary!
Anyway, after a long, cold, wet and windy campaign, we didn't manage to win the council seat for Kilsyth ward - despite working hard, and having an excellent candidate in Claire Fyvie.
Lab 1855 - 62.95%
SNP 891 - 30.23%
GRN 66 - 2.24%
CON 50 - 1.7%
SSP 48 - 1.63%
L/D 17 - 0.58%
However, we did get a swing towards us after improving on our share of the vote from the council elections last May, and we have had a surge in membership applications in the area.
There is still massive loyalty to the Labour Party in this ward, so actually winning here was always going to be an uphill struggle. Generations of loyalty to Labour can't be undone during the course of a by-election. And while I find this loyalty to Labour frustrating, I can understand why people are still so attached to Labour and admire them for this loyalty in some ways.
Going round the doors in the area I was struck by just how many people mentioned their absolute hatred (and I'm not exaggerating) of the Tories, and their attachment to the Labour Party - who at the time of the last Conservative Government - positioned themselves as the defender of Scotland against the London Tories.
The Kilsyth ward is an ex-mining community. It suffered under Conservative rule, and it formed even stronger attachments to the Labour Party. I'm sure I've written about this before, but so many Labour voters in Scotland see Labour as part of their identity. They don't look at the different parties in the run up to elections, and weigh up who has the policies that would benefit them, their community, and their country. They ARE Labour, so they VOTE Labour. I had a number of people apologise to me during the Scottish Parliament elections because they were Labour, so they had to vote Labour. It's part of who they are, part of who their parents are and their parents before them. This kind of loyalty is admirable.
I do find it rather contradictory though, that in the age of the so-called consumer voter, that people do continue to vote out of loyalty rather than to put their own interests first. I was speaking to a man in Cumbernauld about 5 years ago, who told me that he was in his eighties, and that he had been a 'Labour man' all his life. He told me he was disgusted with them, particularly because of the miserly 75p increase in the state pension Gordon Brown had set soon after Labour formed the government. He felt absolutely betrayed because he thought that low state pensions and means-testing would be a thing of the past under a Labour Government. I asked him if he would consider supporting the SNP. 'Oh no', he said, 'I'm a Labour man - have been all my life - I'll give them another chance'. He smiled apologetically...
I don't think the Labour Party deserve this kind of loyalty, and I don't believe they can inspire it for too much longer. They have just become so removed from the founding principles of their party, and let people down too many times. People in Scotland deserve better.
I am incredibly proud of the SNP campaign for Kilsyth ward. We all worked extremely hard to get round as many doors as possible to speak to people, and when we did, we found a warm reception from most. I'm sure that with continued hard work, and with an excellent SNP councillor for the area in David Key, even more people will see that the SNP is on their side and fighting hard for their communities.