CAMPAIGNING FOR SCOTLAND
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Nationalism and all that is best in Scotland."
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Issue 752 - 31st October
Compiled by Grant Thoms
Clutching defeat from the
jaws of victory
It's not often that I agree with Jack McConnell but his view that the
Scottish Labour party is in a quagmire of its own doing and heading to
implosion, if not annihilation, had an air of candour that the Arran baron
is not renowned for. Several commentators have taken a similar position. The
'winners' of the referendum are increasingly acting like losers and, vice
versa, the 'losers' are going from strength to strength.
Of course, it shouldn't come as too big a surprise. The referendum campaign
lasting over two years, imposed a strict discipline on most parties, but
especially the Labour party. The private grumblings about Johanna Lamont's
leadership bubbled under and occasionally surfaced but rarely in an open
criticism. Likewise, the watering down of their devolution commitments from
the interim report to the pale imitation that the final report was, belied
the truth that MPs and Westminster leadership were limiting whatever 'devo
max/lite/plus' would look like.
Now the co-chairs of their devolution commission - Jim Murphy and Sarah
Boyack - are to battle it out to lead the renaissance of the People's Party
in Scotland. Sadly, the socialist tribune that is known as Neil Findlay is
unlikely to win. From third place in the Almond Valley selection battle in
2012 to party leader two years later was going to be a meteoric rise too
far. Or maybe the sun is going to melt his wings, either way Findlay is more
Ithacus than Spartacus at this stage.
I'm not sure if it was Macwhirter or Bell or some other esteemed commentator
who remarked that the best leader of the Scottish Labour party is in fact
Nicola Sturgeon. It is in this observation that reality bites for Scottish
Labour. It's not just the natural leader of Labour who will now lead the
nation in another party, but so are the thousands of rank and file members.
The SNP has taken on the mantle (over a number of years it has to be said),
as the natural political party of the Scottish mindset. Something which I
learned as I grew up was the birthright of Keir Hardie followers. So not
only is the Labour party trying to come to terms with being out of
government, but the magnetic pull of political leadership means anyone
entering politics will see the SNP as the go-to party of choice. Ideology
has been turned on its head. Or rather ideology was an imperfect prism to
view political choices and we now have a more values-driven,
'sense-checking' approach to politics.
So by Christmas the musical chairs of party leadership will see two new
faces. I can't wait to see what the long term effect is on Scottish
politics. For a woman at the helm of government. For a Labour leadership
desperate to find a way to re-connect with Scottish voters at Holyrood (and
possible Westminster if current polls are to be believed). Time will tell.
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Read Christina McKelvie MSP's Weekly Diary