Posts Tagged ‘Jimmy Allison’

Unfortunately for Labour, the voters are never wrong

10/05/2011, 12:00:41 PM

by Tom Harris

The late Jimmy Allison, legendary Scottish organiser of the Labour party, addressed the Scottish reception at annual conference in 1990, just a couple of weeks after I had started work as a press officer. “We won 50 seats at the last election, despite the fact that, unlike England, we have a four-party system,” he proudly told approving and slightly drunk delegates.

That claim jarred with me at the time, and I contemplated it for some months afterwards. There was an error in Jimmy’s logic that, as a new arrival at Keir Hardie House, I didn’t have the confidence or the authority to challenge. Our landslide victory north of the border in 1987 was despite a four-way split in the vote? Or because of it?

Last week settled the argument conclusively. While a dominant party could win seats thanks to the three-way split of the opposition vote, that no longer holds when the multi-party system the proportional voting system for Holyrood was designed to enshrine gives way to a traditional two-party system.

And Labour found itself the victim of a huge tactical vote against it, as former LibDem voters, still reeling from the guilt of putting David Cameron into Number 10 last time, switched entirely en masse to Labour’s main challengers.


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