The Scottish Labour Party

Primary Author or Creator:
Gerry Hassan
Additional Author(s) / Creators
Eric Shaw
The Oxford Handbook of Scottish Politics
Alternative Published Date
Fast Facts

The recent history of the Scottish Labour Party is traced and its prospects analysed.

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Labour started in the dominant position politically in Scotland after devolution in votes, parliamentary seats, ideology, and values. Yet over the course of two decades, from the New Labour triumph in 1997 and establishment of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the party has managed to whittle away its impressive inheritance, first losing to the SNP in 2007, and subsequently relegated to third party status.

This chapter addresses the evolution of Scottish Labour in recent decades and in particular over the devolution period. It looks at its organizational development, electoral performance, leadership, and political direction since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, concluding with looking at the current state of the party. The thread of how the party has fallen from being the leading party of the country to third place, runs through the chapter, which ends with a brief assessment of its future prospects and choices.