On a bleak, finger-chilling day, some heart-warming moments. At the demonstration against the bedroom tax outside the Scottish Parliament, a young Edinburgh student stirs the blood with invective against Holyrood Palace: will they be paying tax on unoccupied bedrooms? Like f*** they will. And, a trade unionist raises hopes: “This will be Cameron’s poll tax”. Loud cheers.
Well, we all remember what happened to Maggie Thatcher don’t we?
Or do we? The victorious campaign against that foolish policy is now a long time ago. Almost 23 years to the day since the riots in London, and the Scottish rebellion which saw Tommy Sheridan banged up and (eventually) Mrs Thatcher booted out.
A lot has happened since then. The latest Social Attitudes Survey indicates that a new generation care less about solidarity. Despite marches against tuition fees and support for the Occupy movement, most young people don’t see the point in political action. And, besides, the wily Coalition has decided the best way to rule is to divide the people who are going to feel the sharpest end of their cuts.’ Strivers versus skivers’ rhetoric is carefully calculated to make sure of that.
There’s another crucial difference. The poll tax would have affected everyone. I remember anti-poll tax fundraising events in middle class dining rooms and restaurants where academics, lawyers, politicians and community activists sat down together to plot the next rally. These were cross-party affairs uniting Labour, Lib Dem, SSPand SNP.
The bedroom tax (Cameroonian: ‘spare room subsidy’) hurts a much smaller segment of society: disabled, carers, single parents or people otherwise dependent on housing benefit to support the cost of their home. Under new rules from the beginning of April, the average reduction in benefit will be £14 a week for council tenants and £16 a week for housing association tenants. DWP estimates about 7 per cent of Housing Benefit claimants face a cut of £31. In total affecting maybe 600,000 people. Or many more.
New rules are fiddly and keep changing. The government can’t seem to make up its mind about them. By the time anyone reads this further changes may have been made.
And yet, maybe there is cause for hope in this characteristic Cameron clumsiness. Although the SNP government line is also complicated (they haven’t yet agreed to protect bedroom tax tenants from eviction), both Labour and SNP activists are out campaigning and Scottish middle class dining rooms are once again buzzing with the mindless unfairness of a Westminster policy which will not only cause great suffering to thousands of people, it will almost certainly not save any money.
Where tenants move they will be entitled to full housing benefit on more expensive properties. (The real problem is not under-occupancy it is under-building of properly affordable homes and over-pricing of rented properties.)
And when families are evicted because they stayed put (near jobs, schools, family support) but couldn’t afford the increased rent – well, then the council has to pick up the tab of finding them alternative, more costly accommodation.
This is a lose-lose policy and Cameron deserves to pay the price. Just like Thatcher.
I might have known better. Getting into the taxi in Queen Street Station one rainy day I couldn’t help commenting on George Square. Looking a little tidier today, I say, but what’s happening to the statues?
Budapest statue park
Never mind the statues. The taxi driver is irate at the cost of Glasgow City Council’s proposed refurbishment of the square: “£15million and they’re cutting nearly £50 million from the city budget!” By the time we’re three sides round the square ( £3.60 on the meter) he’s in full flow. “You know what they say about our old Lord Provost Pat Lally – he was never going to get invited to Moscow so he brought Red Square to Glasgow”.
That was just days before council leader Gordon Matheson made his U turn, gave in to public pressure and cancelled the refurbishment plans which would have replaced the red tarmac and maybe even moved the statues elsewhere.
I’m keeping my mouth shut on taxi rides these days. The story rumbles on and no-one is happy with the council’s handling of the project which cost £1m in a pointless design competition. But I’m looking at those statues with new eyes. What are they for?
Designed to give you a crick in the neck
A poll showed that most Save the Square supporters could not name the statues but they wanted to keep them anyway. And I must admit my knee jerk reaction was similar when I first read about the council’s proposals for improving the square. Removing the Victorian statues seemed a kind of vandalism. On my way back to Queen Street I took a closer look.
In the cold evening light they’re a chilly bunch. Poker-faced and pigeon-spattered. A poet here, a general there, a monarch on her high horse. Nothing to catch the eye or stir the heart – none of the passion of Rodin’s Burghers of Calais, not a word about the trades union rally that filled the square and brought the tanks out in 1919.
Burns, Watson, Watt, Scott. All male, apart from Queen Victoria, and all worth remembering of course but what do they say about Glasgow, Scotland’s most ebulliently creative city?
On her high horse
This is civic art at its most predictable, a tired old imperial ego-trip. In Buchanan Street we meet Donald Dewar as another human being and smile at George Wyllie’s running clock.
So, though my taxi driver made a good point about the cost at a time of cuts, it’s a pity Glasgow city council failed to make a proper case for clearing the Victorian clutter. They could start with that monstrous Walter Scott column (and Edinburgh should banish the preposterous Dundas towering above St Andrew Square). Give us statues we can look in the eye!
Budapest did not have the same problem – once the Soviet Union crumbled they just shovelled redundant communist icons to a field on the outskirts of the city. It’s a great tourist attraction.
In an ideal world, of course, city councils would have control over their revenue so they could invest in the public realm along with maintaining essential services. But that’s another blog.
“I hope you don’t mind”, says Kerry, “I’ve put you down for leading a workshop on Open Space Community.” I’ve just arrived at the conference and within minutes I find myself sitting with a microphone in my hand in a circle of people of all ages from all over the world inviting them to join ‘my’ workshop. What on earth am I doing here?
Open Space: threat or promise?
It’s not a complete surprise. The reason I’m here at WOSonOS 2012, this year’s global gathering of Open Space practitioners, is because Kerry Napuk wanted Leith Open Space to talk about connecting and developing a community through Open Space. He says we’re unique. Kerry, I should add, is an old friend, an Open Space practitioner and facilitator of great standing and his work with Glasgow men’s health groups was the inspiration for the first Leith Open Space event for ethnic minority communities in 2005.
That’s the back-story in brief. But it doesn’t help me much right now in Stoke Newington Town Hall buzzing with the energy of people who all seem to know very much more about Open Space than I do.
I am not a trained practitioner. In seven years of organising Open Space events I have never facilitated a workshop. To make matters worse I even have some misgivings about Open Space. Don’t get me wrong, every event I’ve attended generates astonishing energy. People seem genuinely liberated by being given the chance to set their own agenda. This is bottom-up democracy in action (if that doesn’t conjure up altogether the wrong picture). But how do you turn the action points voted on at the end of the event into actions in the outside world. And how do you reach the right people?
Whoever comes are the right people: Who Cares event 2010.
“Whoever comes are the right people,” one of the mantras of Open Space has often comforted me in those nervous moments before the event, wondering who, if anyone, will walk through the door. But, gripping the mic, I invite the circle to explore how we might reach more of the right people. It touches a chord in Andy from LA who immediately offers to merge his workshop on Marketing Open Space with mine. “You’ve got yourself a co-convener,” whispers Kerry.
The rest of the day, I have to say, is a bit of a blur. With an hour or so to go to my co-convened workshop I wander through the ‘market-place’. [See the video below]. The conference has been going on for two days which may explain some jostling for position. All groups go through stages: “forming, storming, norming, performing” and if this one is not exactly storming it is sometimes perhaps a bit more challenging than I expected, though with good humour.
“Excuse me, this space is now reserved for Being in the Moment”, a smiling delegate shifts our overrunning session on How Can We Organise Open Space in the Public Space? It’s time to move…
Props from Vision for Leith Walk open space event 2012
The Law of Two Feet (another Open Space mantra empowering delegates to dip in and out of workshops as the topics take them) is also exercised much more energetically than I am used to. “We’re more polite in Edinburgh”, as Kerry laconically puts it.
In fact there is so much movement in the hall I enjoy the irony that the session exploring Open Space in Public Space gets the chance to experience what it might be like to set up stall in the street outside.
“Life is Open Space and Open Space is life,” says Harrison Owen. He’s the almost legendary founder of Open Space, the man who started it all after observing that the most enjoyable part of any conference is the discussion that takes place over lunch or coffee. He is now making what he says is his last WOSONOS appearance. And here he is sitting right next to me, unmissable in his cowboy hat, enigmatically inviting the group to see how well self-regulation works when organisations are prepared to let it happen.
And so to the Open Space Community workshop. Andy, my co-convenor, a lovely laid-back guy, helps to generate a friendly exchange of ideas on the challenges of reaching the right people and keeping active interest going after the event. Asking the right questions, getting out and meeting real people in real life, organising follow-up events, involving the local media, never giving up… it was heart-warming to hear that Leith Open Space has often been on the right track, stimulating to find how we might do more and very flattering to discover that we are indeed unusual (if not unique) in establishing an Open Space community.
I meet some great people doing great work (Lill from Toronto, Jose from Lisbon, Milda from Glasgow, a lovely lady from Copenhagen whose name I did not catch), and I make one more significant discovery. Even at the World Open Space on Open Space the best conversations take place over lunch, in the queue for the Ladies or in those last few minutes when you are saying goodbye. “Open Space is life”.
Another step into the unknown, I’m on a train hurtling south from Edinburgh to London. Of all unlikely things I find myself an ambassador for Leith Open Space on my way to take part in an international conference of open spacers, more precisely the World Open Space on Open Space (WOSONOS) for participants of this defiantly participative process which – in theory anyway – gives the floor to the audience rather than the organisers. Round about York I’m casting my mind back to how it all began.
Almost exactly seven years ago, I was one of a small group of community activists taking a first nervous step into an empty open space. On a cold, dark November night we set up our stall – old trestle tables and a flip chart – in an unlit, unused retail unit at the top of the Ocean Terminal shopping mall overlooking Leith harbour. We were getting ready for our first Open Space event and we really did not know what we were letting ourselves in for. We had absolutely no idea who would turn up next day.
We had sent over 100 letters inviting people from ethnic minority communities in Leith to come together. Alarmed by a spate of racist attacks following the London bombs of July 2007, we asked: Can We Talk and Listen to One Another? Following the Open Space format we also asked them to bring their burning questions around multiculturalism.
Were we naïve? A small bunch of activists from the Leith Walk branch of the Labour Party, we were setting out to do something Labour party activists don’t usually do: give the platform to the people.
We had chosen Open Space because it is an example of grassroots democracy at work. No keynote speeches, no agenda. To my astonishment the Labour branch had unanimously agreed to support and fund a non-party political platform. Local MP and MSP (both Labour) wholeheartedly accepted the invitation to take part on the understanding that they would not be allowed to make speeches. Maggie Havergal, a professional Open Space facilitator, offered to give her time free of charge.
Some voluntary organisations were less enthusiastic. They did not want to be associated with a political party and they warned that we would have difficulty getting people to turn up. Women would probably not want to come.
But on the day people did turn up – we counted more than 70 – and more than half of them were women. In the opening circle we sat down with well established residents as well as refugees and asylum seekers and tireless community workers: a small group of Scots among Africans, Indians, Asians, East Europeans, Latin Americans…who knew Edinburgh was so very multicultural?
In the closing circle everyone asked if we could do it again….
And so one thing led to another. With no money but lots of enthusiasm we set up Leith Open Space as a small, informal community group. From our second event in the spring grew a shadow scheme to enable people from minority communities to take part in the democratic process – Opening Doors modelled on Operation Black Vote is now in its fifth year. Third and fourth events invited community discussion on Who Cares for the Carers and What’s it Like to be Young in Leith? In May 2012 we joined up with Greener Leith to seek a Vision for Leith Walk.
Meanwhile a very dynamic splinter group had formed as Leith Open Space helped to form the extraordinarily successful World Kitchen in Leith – now three years old – based on a belief that food is perhaps the best way of bringing people together: eating together transcends language barriers!
Rami Okasha serving food at Open Space lunchtime
Looking back – sunlit fields racing passed the train window – it has been a wonderful life-changing experience for me. But I know we could and should be doing so much more. For all its strengths the open space process cannot deliver change unless there are people in the closing circle prepared to turn words into actions. Although I am always comforted by the Open Space mantra (the people who come are the right people), I know there must me many more ‘right people’ who would come if only we could reach them. After the Vision for Leith event our ever-generous facilitator Maggie Havergal suggested we should start a series of mini-events in pubs down Leith Walk. Maybe we will…keep watching this space.
Monday morning, no time for coffee. The week is off to a sprinting start already. Ray’s new book arrived in a cardboard box at the weekend. The Scotsman plan a feature this week and the Telegraph covered it yesterday. Anyone would think banks were big, bad news.
The story of John Lorne Campbell of Canna is a gentler tale (though it deals with many unresolved issues in Scottish life – land ownership, sustainable agriculture and fishing policy). But banks have become a drama that touches all of us. Banks have ruined the economy and strangled the livelihoods of millions of innocent people. Each new report brings out more damning evidence and yet governments of all colours seem paralysed by fear which prevents them from taking effective action. Why let the men at the top pocket obscene bonuses? Why restrict ludicrous pay rises? They might go elsewhere?
Let them go.
I’m biased, I know, but I think Hubris gives a gripping account of what went wrong with the banking culture in the last decade. Ray also explains financial complexities that so many journalists – and politicians – do not understand. Which of course has a lot to do with the mess we are in. The book hammers out a simple message. Basically banks have to balance loans with deposits and as yesterday’s Telegraph reported Hubris pins the blame on the aggressive sales-driven culture that (already emerging in the Bank of Scotland era) blew in with gusto when HBOS threw every vestige of traditional Scottish banking caution out of the window. Along with it went 300 years of steady, principled management.
The story of HBOS is part of an unwinding global catastrophe with tragic consequences much closer to home as Scotland has lost not just a much respected national institution but a reputation for honesty, fairness and plain old fashioned good service.
But there are quite a few laughs too. And some surprising characters to colour the story. Just take a look under B in the index: Bonnie Prince Charlie, David Bowie and (er) Howard Brown.
Enough of this, Monday is racing ahead and there is the new Hubris Facebook page to nurture into existence. You’re welcome to join. And you can buy the book. Hubris: How HBOS wrecked the best bank in Britain is published by Birlinn, £20 hardback copy. Of course it was discounted on Amazon when it was still in the first proof. But that’s a different story.
Perhaps all is not lost for Labour tomorrow. At lunchtime I was out leafleting in an attempt to catch the folk who were not at home last time I called. From experience of campaigns past I have learned that if you want to get into a tenement it’s best to give a bland message to the entry phone. Today I got an unexpected response.
Me: I’m delivering election material.
Disembodied voice: I’m not letting you in, we’ve had too much of that already.
Me: You can never have too much democracy [I know, I'm cringing now too].
Disembodied voice: Well, it depends… what party are you representing?
Me: I’m from Labour
Disembodied voice: Oh, in that case, you can come in.
I have to tell you that was a surprise – in the last couple of elections the legacy of Iraq more often provoked hostile responses in traditional Labour stairways – but it spurred me on to complete the rest of the road, buzzing the doorbells with more enthusiasm.
Three weeks ago I climbed four flights of stairs to be met by a politely stern young woman determined not to let any spam through her letter box. I tried the old democracy line on her too and she softened a little explaining that the flat was full of students, none of them registered to vote.
That’s the problem with democracy. It’s easily taken for granted. Today’s Guardian reports some parts of Glasgow will be lucky to get a 25% turnout. Edinburgh, fed up with the great tram robbery and a general sense that no-one is in the driving seat, may reach no more than 30%. The Scotsman carries a poll saying 72% are not at all impressed with the job the SNP/LibDem coalition have made of running the capital city. I’m surprised that so many actually know who has been in charge – many folk I meet think it is still Labour.
I’m a reluctant leafleter. I note piles of pizza parlour flyers on the floor of each tenement and wonder how many hopeful candidates will follow the pizza straight into the bin.
But I firmly believe that we get the politicians we deserve (though no-one deserves the Westminster coalition) if we cannot be bothered to vote and have no idea who is representing us or what they are doing. Until it is too late to stop them.
So here I am spending my lunch hour in a last minute attempt to encourage people to vote Labour. Or indeed vote at all. Tomorrow will tell. If my local Labour candidates (Angela Blacklock and Nick Gardner) are both elected I think I will go back and thank that young woman at No 59. The one that opened the door.
Perhaps it was just a slow night on telly. Perhaps I was cheered to hear that David Tennant had lent (if that’s the right word?) his voice to Scottish Labour. Whatever the reason, fortified with only a small glass of wine, I sat down to watch four short YouTube films one after the other. It was a strange experience and not at all scientific but if YouTube hits were real votes Labour would be beating the SNP..
Imagine you are watching from a distant planet, what impression of Scotland would you get from the 2012 party election broadcasts?
Under the Scottish National Party, we all live in Happy Street among smiley, smiley neighbours: going out to work, moving into new homes, heading off to college, taking in parcels for neighbours, shopping, laughing, not a care in the world. In Happy Street there is no sign of unemployment or housing shortages. Someone has clearly advised the SNP to campaign for local council votes with the feel-good messages that worked so well in the Scottish Parliament elections. Confident, optimistic and ever-so-slightly smug. [YouTube hits at the time of writing: 2994]
In Labour’s Scotland people put themselves in the picture, literally drawing a good life: jobs, homes, childcare, security for the elderly and a future for the young. David Tennant may be doing the voice-over but real people are talking to camera and they seem to mean what they say. As a Labour voter I am obviously not unbiased but I am often highly critical of (and deeply disappointed in) the party I have always voted for. This time I am cautiously impressed by the message, not least by the last word encouraging everyone to vote whoever they vote for. [YouTube hits: 5,100]
In contrast both LibDems and Scottish Tories have gone for the cheaper option of talking straight to camera against a backdrop of areas all benefiting from their good management. At first Willie Rennie for LibDems does a pretty good job: energetic, enthusiastic, urgent. Er, maybe too urgent. After the third repetition of “We need more Lib Dem councillors” he begins to sound more desperate than keen. Not for the first time I find myself wondering why they turned down the chance to continue in coalition with Labour after the 2007 election. [YouTube hits: 124]
And the Scottish Conservatives? Well, you’ve got to admire Ruth Davidson’s determination but she lacks the warmth of Annabel Goldie and when she starts to enthuse about the great job the Tories are doing in Aberdeen (What?) you begin to stray into a different fantasy land. Is it a restricted budget or a design feature that introduces random black and white scenes? Either way, it gives the effect of intermittent power cuts. Not a good message. [YouTube hits: 19].
Whether party election broadcasts influence anyone is open to question. I’m certainly not suggesting these YouTube hits are a guide to voting results on May 3. But it’s interesting…unless I was just one of a lot of Labour supporters with nothing better to do than tune into YouTube. Oh come on, it’s no worse than watching dancing cats!
A great night in the museum: how much was it worth?
Tickets are going fast, the press release says. If you want to enjoy the next Museum Late you better book soon. Sorry, I missed out three vital letters, this is the second of theRBS Museum Lates at the National Museum of Scotland.
RBS. Those three little letters. Will they be help or hindrance to organisations receiving sponsorship from the bank? I guess the answer depends on exactly how much the sponsorship is worth and whether the British government finds the will to change the system that tarnishes the brand. If banks make a genuine investment in culture and community and if – a bigger if – government ensures that the pay of top executives returns to the real world, that could certainly detoxify the brand. But we probably should not hold our breath.
So this is not just another rant about bankers’ bonuses (tempting though that may be) it’s a brief reflection on the value of money – and how that value changes according to where you stand.
There was a great feel-good atmosphere about the first Museum Late night in November – music, dancing and booze in the splendid hall of the National Museum of Scotland. Even then I remember some young musicians marvelling at how often the sponsor was mentioned ( not exactly rock n roll to have to keep saying RBS). And that was before recent public outrage over the proposed £500m bonus payout to top directors. Or the symbolic stripping of (Sir) Fred. How will it feel at the second event on 24 February when bright young talent thank their sponsor at regular intervals through the microphone?
‘It sticks in the craw’ was the phrase used by journalist and blogger Ian Fraser in a Facebook discussion, stirred by seeing the bank’s name displayed at rugby matches over the weekend. Others felt differently.
“Take the money,” they said. And, indeed, while the government slashes public spending on every aspect of life in Britain you would have to be very idealistic – or just daft – to turn down sums like the £20m funding which Ian Fraser says RBS has reportedly stumped up to stay lead sponsor of the Six Nations tournament.
To Ian, it’s a kind of ‘brand laundering’. But judging from Facebook and Twitter response to my two previous RBS blogs, I feel it might not wash. If anything, without any intervention from policy makers, bank sponsorship will add to public cynicism. We’ve got a long hot summer of Olympics with Lloyds TSB, our other publicly owned bank, as one of the lead sponsors.
I have no idea how much RBS is investing in Museum Lates, an imaginative and uplifting project which aims to attract a new young audience into the building. But, welcome as any investment in the arts may be, it cannot wipe out the disillusionment of most people who now feel completely detached from both politicians and bankers. Of course, as shareholders and voters, we can (should) let them all know what we think and what we expect of them…
Found through the balcony at the first Museum Late night.
Just wondering, in the event of revolution where would Edinburgh crowds gather, where is the city square, where the city’s heart? (Twitter Mon 21 Feb 17.50)
It was an impulsive question on Twitter. I didn’t really expect a response. During the Arab Spring it occurred to me that Edinburgh lacks a true centre. In the unlikely event of revolutionary fever spreading through the capital, where would crowds gather? Autumn has brought an answer of sorts.
I had asked a similar question (without the reference to revolution) when I first joined the board of the former Edinburgh City Centre Management Company. Excited by new plans for improving public space, I suggested we might hold a competition to find out exactly where the centre is.
The idea never caught on. So I was astonished at the number and speed of responses on Twitter. I stopped counting when 14 people answered within minutes. Sadly I never got round to making a copy of them; in retrospect they gave a hint of political upheaval to come.
“We could storm the palace then occupy parliament,”
Members of the SNP mostly suggested that Edinburgh’s political epicentre should be outside the Scottish Parliament. “We could storm the palace then occupy parliament,” I paraphrase but that was the gist back in February. (You can tell SNP tweets, by the way, because they sport the party symbol – if anyone wonders why the nationalist party now occupies parliament, if not the palace, just take a look at the social media savvy of their young bloods.)
A few Labour followers opted for Parliament Square, outside City Chambers, or round the Tron. Others just despaired: “We don’t even have a Pearl Roundabout let alone a Tahrir Square”. As far as I remember no-one suggested St Andrew Square. But now here are the non-party-political anti-capitalists politely setting up camp in the garden recently opened to the public. The land, leased to the council and maintained by Essential Edinburgh (which emerged from ECCM), still belongs to property owners round the square, including the Royal Bank of Scotland
Apart from admirable coverage by STV Edinburgh, the media has largely ignored the camp (though Occupy Edinburgh has a good website and well supported Facebook page). Some would say that’s because the occupy movement is not newsworthy, or not in Edinburgh anyway. But I am impressed by their good-natured organisation and the general confidence that the movement will take shape and spread if they talk and listen to enough people.
Maybe, maybe. At any rate I’m delighted to see that ACTive Inquiry theatre company is taking their latest forum theatre play to St Andrew Square. On 19 November Not for Profit explores alternatives to spending cuts among anti-capitalist campaigners.
And at night (pedal-powered) lights shine on rebellious banners slung round the plinth of that disgraceful old rogue Henry Dundas. Why does Edinburgh celebrate the last person in the UK to be impeached? And for misappropriation of public funds! St Andrew Square has reason to become the revolutionary heart of the city.
PS: Not many people know this but St Andrew Square is also Edinburgh’s Poetry Garden. The founder membersnurture dreams of projecting poetry on to the plinth. Thanks to Occupy Edinburgh we can see it would show up nicely after dark. And make good use of old Dundas.
The morning after. Through my window I see a lampost spattered with red, orange and green and none of those colours will make much of a splash in the new Scottish Parliament. As a Labour supporter I take some comfort from the posters taped to our living room window. Malcolm Chisholm has survived what looks likely to become an SNP landslide.
Oddly, I can’t begrudge the successful party their celebrations. I remember the euphoria of that May morning in 1997 when strangers smiled at one another in the street. Despite a hangover (whisky and then bubbly as one Tory after another toppled) the New Labour dawn felt fresh and exciting.
Doesn’t feel like that this morning to us old Labour losers. The scale of the loss is a shock but not a complete surprise. Canvassing for Malcolm on the doorsteps of North Edinburgh, I heard Labour supporters comment on the appeal of Salmond as First Minister.
I am sure I was not the only one who was voting for Chisholm rather than Labour – not least because the former Minister for Health had the courage and integrity to defy the party line when it was pure bonkers. Labour would have gained respect and possibly public support if it had backed the SNP in their attempt to set a minimum price for alcohol.
The best Labour policy – investing in young unemployed – got lost in the noise about independence. But worst of all, Labour has lost the human touch. There is no vision to inspire, no language to uplift. In contrast Salmond’s party speak as if they believe in Scotland and the people who live in it.
A couple of years ago I heard Margaret Curran give a speech that was uncharacteristically passionate, full of warmth and sympathy for the deprived and marginalised members of her constituency. But she was speaking to a hall full of Labour supporters. In the coffee break I complimented her and asked why she didn’t speak like that to the outside world. Her reply was depressing. She said she knew she was among people who would agree with her. It would be more difficult to engage with the unconverted.
Will this be one of the ‘lessons to be learned’, to use the phrase of the morning? If anyone wants to know why Labour lost so many voters they could do worse than try the Voting Compass quiz which CSPP recommended to ‘undecided’ voters. Out of curiosity the other night I tried it and found if I followed my policy preferences I should be voting Green or SNP. I voted Chisholm.
But what happens to all those policies now? I remember how euphoria became despair. Labour has many lessons to teach the SNP. With luck they will also rediscover how to become an effective opposition. Scotland needs well informed and properly debated policy.