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Where it all went wrong for an unprepared party

TALKING to a long-serving Labour MP as the party re-launched its manifesto two weeks ago, he said that anyone with money to spare should put it on the SNP’s Kenneth Gibson holding on to the Cunnnighame North constituency.

He believed Mr Gibson to be a worker who had embedded himself in the constituency but his views were a reflection of a wider feeling that Labour had not targeted its campaign.

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It had not exposed SNP weaknesses, nor had it proposed sufficiently attractive alternatives to the Nationalists’ agenda.

The most glaring aspect of the relaunch was a shift from fighting a Westminster campaign to attacking Alex Salmond.

Because Labour had done so well in Scotland during last year’s General Election, its planners decided they could employ the same strategy again.

Only when polls showed the SNP wiping out the Labour lead and then overtaking Iain Gray and his team did they realise a change was necessary.

But that assumed voters had not already noticed Mr Gray’s sudden change of mind on policies like freezing the council tax, a flagship SNP pledge.

Nor, it appears, did they take into account the sophistication of the Scottish electorate.

Switching the focus to highlight the possibility of the break-up of the UK under the SNP, did not take into account that many Labour voters realised the SNP victory four years ago had not led to the heavens caving in.

Nor did it embrace the notion that people could distinguish between voting for Mr Salmond because he was their best choice for First Minister and choosing to say “no” when he gets around to holding an independence referendum.

And, as was displayed by senior Labour figures as they lost their seats, they sought to blame the disillusioned LibDem vote for deserting to the SNP.

They failed to ask themselves why they had not been working harder to attract those votes.

Labour also made one other mistake leading to the demise of some of their heavy hitters such as Andy Kerr and Tom McCabe.

They are so used to winning first-past-the-post in places like Glasgow and Lanarkshire, they do not put their names on the regional list. They might want to review the policy and take a lesson from their arch-rivals.

Nicola Sturgeon was a comfortable winner in Glasgow Southside but she would still have returned to Holyrood as number one on the party’s Glasgow regional list.

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