Another wee guest post from Aidan Skinner, this time shorn of Python references.

Loot.There’s been a lot of chat about why the Scottish Labour Party lost the election on Thursday. A lot of what people are saying now in public are what was being said in private (and not so privately by some) during the campaign – too negative, few distinctive Labour policies, little discussion of any policy at all, the one we discussed most being a non-sensical and somewhat ephemeral one on non-mandatory mandatory minimum sentences for knife crime, matching the SNP’s regressive council tax freeze, failure to engage with Lib Dem voters, Iain Gray being a nice, thoughtful man who had presentational problems, lack of engagement with party membership, complacency at early poll leads. The wish list of high minded, hummus munching, social democratic, starting-to-buy-the-Guardian-again-after-last-years-Lib-Dem-endorsement, might-possibly-have-second-voted-Green lot is as long as the arms of their cardigans.

A lot of them are entirely accurate, and we absolutely have to address them. They’re why we lost badly. Why people like Andy Kerr and Pauline McNeill aren’t MSPs any more. They’re not why we lost though. They affected the scale of our defeat. They gave Alex Salmond his majority, which is why everybody’s working 5 days a week now instead of the 3 we were working previously. But we have fewer MSPs than the SNP because we were outspent.

The SNP had an almighty war chest thanks to Souter matching donations, likely to be 3 to 4 times the Scottish Labour Parties entire annual income. And, far more than any other factor, money wins elections. It’s not just the media buy, or the slick presentation or helicoptering the leader about. It pays for full time workers, for policy development, for media training and for set pieces which create the atmosphere and allow parties to create a media narrative. Something which we in the Labour party failed at, we let the SNP create the narrative around things like Subway-gate and Asda-gate. With money comes a professionalism which dedication alone can’t substitute for.

Of course, the process isn’t quite as simple as turning votes into money but there is a very strong correlation and, I would suggest, a causal relationship. The Scottish Labour Party must address our fund raising, and we had a particular problem with money having just fought the UK general election last year. A lot of the other things we need to do, particularly involving the party membership more and having a more coherent, positive approach will help. But you can’t win an election on intellect and spirit alone. Cash is king, unfortunately.