Wednesday, 24 August 2011


The Labour party in Scotland has been in chaos since the SNP won the Scottish parliamentary election in 2007. The party has limped along, under the leadership of Iain Gray, with the sole purpose of opposing any policy the SNP proposed. On many occasions Labour's lack of sensible debate has been embarrassing.

After four years of turmoil and another election defeat, Labour still haven't come to terms with losing their Scottish fiefdom and it would appear they are still in disarray. Iain Gray stated he would be standing down in the autumn.  Autumn is nipping at the door and all Labour can say is that there is a consultation still in progress.  More embarrassment for the party which once ruled Scotland and now looks like a disfunctional small party labouring on rudderless in an attempt to regain their heartlands.

Yesterday the Labour MP and retired blogger Tom Harris stated his interest in becoming the new Labour leader in Scotland.  Initially I thought Mr Harris was being his usual ambiguous self with his statement, but when I watched him on Newsnight Scotland last night, I realised just how deeply Labour is wounded, perhaps beyond redemption.  Mr Harris couldn't answer many of the questions posed except to say he would like to see a leadership election and hoped more MPs would consider the position.  Unfortunately, he didn't know if there would be a position once the 'consultation' published its findings.

Tom Harris is no stranger to self-publicity and, if he is as seriously interested in the post as he says, then  surely he ought to be able to use some influence to pressure his party into resolving the issues within its Scottish division sooner rather than later.

Would Tom Harris be a good leader of the MSPs in the Scottish Parliament?  Who knows. Alex Salmond set a precedent when he was re-elected as SNP leader when he was an MP, but the difference then was Alex Salmond, although he continued as an MP until the next general election, had an exceptional deputy to keep his seat warm in the Scottish Parliament.

Labour are insulting their Scottish voters by not sorting out their affairs.  The longer it goes on the better the case for the SNP.

Is Tom Harris foolish to put his name forward?  Possibly not.  He was rejected by Ed Miliband when he applied to be a member of his cabinet, so all he has to lose is money.  Being a family man and with his family firmly based in Glasgow, losing a little money may not be too important. Not all politicians are in the profession for financial gain are they?


WitteringsfromWitney said...

I have 'a lot of time' for Mr. Harris even though I am opposed to his underlying beliefs.

Until the present system of democracy under which we live is changed in this 'United Kingdom' there is, however, little to be gained by the people, by changing one believer in the present system for another.

Another question which would appear needs resolving is whether Scotland wishes to remain a member of united kingdom but having total 'national' control; or wishes for total independence? If the former then one would think the constitution of the UK needs to be 'federalised'; if the latter then so be it - and where would they head? If towards the EU then any wish for independence can, I suggest, be forgotten? It would seem the basic question is being avoided by all concerned?

Just asking, you understand SR?

subrosa said...

Maybe that's why Labour is in a total mess up here WfW. They still haven't accepted their 2007 defeat but they realise independence could be a reality. Hence their confusion.

As for your other questions, may I answer another time?

JRB said...

They say one should never speak ill of the dead.

For ‘dead’ is how I consider today’s Scottish Labour Party or the Labour Party in Scotland or whatever they might wish to call themselves.
And if not already dead then most certainly they are in the advanced stages of terminal decay and the signs of rigor mortis have already set in.

Sadly, with the choice of candidates available, Tom Harris, or other, one can hold out little hope and the prognosis for the party remains bleak.

Socialism still exists in the heartlands of Scotland, and rightly so.
But the hopes, aspirations and ambitions of those who are its traditionally supporters are no longer being met by the Labour Party in Scotland.

DougtheDug said...

Iain Gray won't resign until after the Labour October Conference in Scotland and under Labour's rules that gives them until their Spring conference to elect a new Holyrood group leader. It also gives Labour a breathing space to work out what to do with the Murphy/Boyack review.

Though I don't think the review is going to change the status of the Labour MSP group leader to an actual Labour Leader for Scotland there may be more than just Tom out there willing to give it a go once they find out from the review what powers and/or responsibilities the current group leader post will gain, if any.

No-one in Labour except for Tom is willing to throw their hat into the ring for for a post that is currently powerless within Labour and may still be powerless after the review.

subrosa said...

Beyond resuscitation then John? I'd like to think so as they don't deserve the support they receive.

subrosa said...

Doug, I was wondering if he would wait until then but could find no definite information.

So they have another 6 months to dither and pour over the review/consultation? Another year lost in navel gazing.

In some ways I admire Tom for his efforts to stimulate some energy into the whole demise.

DougtheDug said...

As far as I'm aware the Murphy/Boyack review hasn't reported back.

If Iain Gray resigns now then they have to hold an election at the next Labour conference which would give them less than two months to discuss the report, implement any findings that they regard as important and hold an election.

I can't see all that happening before Spring but stranger things have happened.

subrosa said...

You're right Doug. Tom said last night on Newsnicht that it still hadn't been completed and he had no idea when it would be finished.

Ah thanks. I find their rules quite baffling and perhaps remnants of their communist past, no?

Hamish said...

Like Witterings, I have a lot of time for Tom Harris. I greatly enjoyed reading his blog. It was individual and interesting.
It was also funny. He often turned the joke against himself. Rare for a politician.
No wonder he was persona non grata to the big Scottish beasts like the dour Gordon Brown, who instantly dismissed Tom from the government post in transport.
Why? Clearly nothing to do with policy. Nothing to do with competence.
Was it the blog that did Tom in?
Or were there other, pettier, reasons why he was fired by Gordon?

I too struggle with the arcane rules of the Labour party, but I think it's not a case of Ed Miliband refusing to give a job to Tom in his shadow cabinet. Tom did not receive enough votes to be eligible.

subrosa said...

I rather like Tom too Hamish and admired his openness.

My opinion as to why Brown dumped him? Tom was too much of an independent mind. That was also why he didn't receive enough votes for the shadow cabinet. Ed Miliband, if he had wanted him, could have organised something no doubt.

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