THE BLOG
08/02/2016 06:14 GMT | Updated 06/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Labour Lists Show a Party Unwilling to Change

Scottish Labour will seriously lose out in this election, of that there is little doubt. Amid speculation that the Conservatives may even beat them to the punch as the SNPs main part of opposition, Labour released its regional list rankings. How will the makeup of the parliamentary party have changed after May?

Considering the lists in isolation, there seems to be somewhat of a change in the party's tactics. 54 of those listed are not current MSPs, nor are they ex-MPs left jobless in 2015 as many expected. At first glance this suggests an attempt to refresh the face of the party. It becomes apparent this is not the case when taking into account the actual rankings.

In 2011, many excellent candidates lost out on becoming MSPs because of a number of unexpected SNP constituency victories. Labour seems to have wised up to this and placed many of their brightest and boldest (read: well-known) at the top of each list.

Thirty of the 86 spots are taken by sitting MSPs, whilst a further two are recently ousted MPs (Anas Sarwar and Thomas Docherty). These are the people we are most likley to see represent the much-reduced party post-May.

According to analysis from self-proclaimed election geek, Allan Faulds, the party is currently polling at 27 seats. Faulds estimates 18 of these will be won by sitting MSPs, that the two former MPs will succeed and just seven of the 54 new names will enter Holyrood. Whilst this means 12 sitting MSPs will not be returned, it still signifies little change in the party.

Further, five of the new seven ere either former MSPs or sitting councillors. The exceptions to this are Richard Leonard, topping the Central Scotland list, and Carol Mochan, fourth for South Scotland. Whilst not an experienced politician, Mr Leonard has been a prominent campaigner and former candidate (he was meant to inherit Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley from Cathy Jamieson, but was edged out by the SNPs Adam Ingram in 2011). Only Ms Mochan, out of the 27 predicted seats, is a newbie.

Whether the lists reflect a party tactically deciding to put its most notable names forward to retain as many seats as possible or whether it is a symptom of Labour's waning popularity in Scotland is unclear.

What is clear is that Labour will struggle with its reputation and the race for second place will likely be the most interesting fight this election. Looking across at the Conservative lists, where many fresh-faced candidates have come forward, it seems like it might well be a battle between old and new.