Friday, October 31, 2014

Open letter to Terry Summers: Scotland is not the same country politically as it was before the 18th September and neither is England, the Scottish Labour Party has to evolve into the new political landscape

Dear Terry

“Wouldn't creating and autonomous Scottish Labour Party be a validation of the separatists assesrtion that scotland is different and should be governed differently than the rUk?”

No, what it would show is that the Labour Party has understood that the Scotland pre 18th September doesn’t exist anymore, the challenge is to face up to the new reality, this has nothing to do with what the SNP are doing, it’s about what is going on in the voters’ minds.

Terry, they want real change, not talk of change, not soundbytes and not being ignored.

“It is obvious that the Scottish Labour Party needs new and better leadership and that a charismatic and talented politician such as Jim Murphy could be a spear head for a renewal”.

It would be a mistake to think that one man could turn Labour round, the problem is a cultural thing, Labour never had anyone to challenge them, they never had to adapt, and while they didn’t they could just ignore people and do their own thing. Those days are coming to an end, seriously why vote for someone who will not represent you, it is almost like squandering your vote.

“Given that 55% of the Scottish population have just voted to remain in the UK and reject the separatists arguments, it is incredible that the leaderships of the Scottish Labour, Conservative and Lib Dems have allowed Yessers to have the political space and time to set the agenda and act as if they were the winners and continue to push for Independence”.

People voted No because the Yes Crowd came to the public without a prepared case, what do you think if they had the knowledge of what statehood actually entails, if they had gone down the road of a Scottish currency, if they had gone pro Faslane, if they had said the BBC would remain state broadcaster and addressed all the other huge mistakes.

It could have been a different story, their arrogance and stupidity killed indy for them.

“I don't disagree with your point that the SNP lacks talent, I would just add to that the same is true of the other three main parties, they have won the war and are busily losing the peace”.
And winning the peace requires those party not just to listen but to act on voters concerns, Ukip’s rise down south shows that trouble exists on both sides of the border, forget the referendum entirely for a moment and consider why the people have been ignored.

We have a political elite who have pushed their agendas to the detriment of ordinary people because they thought they were there to ‘manage’ people as their ‘rulers’ and not what they were elected to be their representatives.

And Terry, this is goes across all parties, some people elected to public office aren’t just lazy bastards; they really don’t have any interest in helping people.

Scotland is not the same country politically as it was before the 18th September and neither is England.

Of the contenders for leadership of the Scottish Labour Party, Jim Murphy stands out, but what does it say that there is so little talent in the MSP ranks?

Where is Labour's big thinkers of radical change?

Change is nothing to fear, if they don't then things will become rather difficult.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Ex Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair says curbing immigration would be a disaster for the UK; maybe he doesn’t fully understanding current events, the Labour Party is in seriously deep trouble internally and also externally with voters, the days of ignoring voters concerns will see them in the wilderness for decades

Dear All

Ukip’s star is on the rise, the reason for that is people are sick to death of the mainstream parties failing to listen to their concerns and act on them. This isn’t something new that has just suddenly happened; it has been going on for decades as the political class has become the political elite and the political elite that don’t listen.

Working class people and their views have been effectively frozen out of political decision making as parties treat them as people who are to be ‘managed’ but not to be represented. In Scotland, the Labour vote has collapsed to 23% in a new opinion poll, parties rise and parties fall, it seems like the Scottish Labour Party is in line for a fall due to many factors, the chief one being they have ignored the people who they are supposed to represent!

People will put up with that for so long before they write a party off, in Scotland as the Labour vote collapses, others such as the SNP have benefited not because they are any different; it is just that in this stage of the cycle, people aren’t aware that Nationalists don’t represent them either.

The current SNP con trick is to say that they are ‘standing up for Scotland’.

To try and ‘fix’ the Labour Party’s problems, MP Jim Murphy has declared that he wants to be the Scottish Labour leader and ultimately the First Minster of Scotland in 2016. It would be a huge mistake to think that on the back of Jim Murphy having a good referendum campaign with his 100 day tour that people will just flock back to Labour.

They won’t!

Scotland has changed, just as the rest of the UK has changed and is still changing. Jim Murphy’s task if elected is not to try and paper over Labour’s faults and failures because that will be a disaster. Scottish Labour needs new talent, new policies, new vision, new direction and a cull. The cull won’t just be about getting rid of people who aren’t up to representing people; Murphy will have to get rid of some the professional class who don’t want to work at the sharp end of politics, which is tackling injustice. If he tries a ‘dog and pony’ show approach, all singing, all dancing, no delivery, he will be given short shrift at the ballot box. His first experience of real political pain might possibly be in 2015 at the Westminster election, if that goes bad for Labour, then in 2016, things will be even worse.

Scotland is politically poor in terms of representation, and it isn’t a secret. 

On the 20th of October 2014, the SNP Government’s 5 pence on a plastic bag tax was brought into force, prior to that happy event, the SNP screamed about the injustices people of Scotland had to put up with.

Was the big historic injustice of working class people that there wasn’t 5 pence on a plastic bag?

Holyrood is full of dross right across the political divide because no one was standing up and saying, ‘why is this shite being debated in this Parliament’?

A Parliament which you will remember that cost £440 million pounds of taxpayer’s money to build, and is served by 129 MSPs and staff.

Can you as a punter name most of them, probably not because most of them are sheep, most of them have achieved nothing, and most of them are just there to collect the money!

In today’s politics, either side of the border, it isn’t about who is popular, it is more who do you hate the least, who has the better election bribe, doesn’t sound too good does it. As the political market becomes unstable, new parties enter the market such as the Greens and Ukip. Ukip however is the party that has real traction, the Claction by-election seen by some as a one off delivered an Ukip MP, the first in history. Rochester and Strood may deliver a second, Mark Reckless like Douglas Carswell was a former Conservative MP before he defected. Bad enough for the Conservatives to lose Douglas Carswell but to have two defeats will certainly worry David Cameron and his team at Central Office. In Rochester, the Conservative candidate doesn’t look like a good bet by any means quite the opposite in my opinion.

Immigration has become an issue which until recently was simply ignored by the main parties, prior to this, anyone speaking out could find themselves labelled as racist. Several attempts have been made by people in different parties to brand Ukip as a racist party but it hasn’t worked. The party has many people from all different types of backgrounds and minorities in its ranks as members and candidates. Some senior Labour figures have been engaged in trying to make Ukip appear unelectable, including rising star Chuka Umunna. His take is to launch strongly-worded attacks on the 'absolutely vile' views of 'racists' in Ukip.

As I understand it Ukip has a strong policy against racists and will not accept people from organisations deemed inappropriate, Labour as Nigel Farage, the Ukip leader has accepted former BNP councillors into it’s ranks, playing the race card such as Chuka Umunna doesn’t work in politics, a clear example was seen in Scotland during the Euro 2014 election where Alex Salmond played the race card on behalf of Tasmina Ahmed-Shiekh. That idea was a disaster; I voted Ukip and wrote articles in support of them getting a seat. It was won by David Coburn, Scotland’s first Ukip MEP; he was the only candidate under the current voting system that had a chance of blocking Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh getting elected to public office.

Tasmina Ahmed-Shiekh doesn’t deserve to be an MEP. Prior to the Nicola Sturgeon campaign of 2011, she told me that she had done no activism for 5 years. She does some work on Sturgeon’s campaign and suddenly she is MEP material?

I think not!
As the Ukip bandwagon rolls and gathers momentum, it will be increasingly attacked from all sides such as Chuka Umunna of Labour and Alex Salmond of the SNP but it makes no difference, Ukip on the other hand could improve their standing by having better crafted policies put in a more professional and polished manner. One of the new people to start to speak out against Ukip is Tony Blair, he has decided to enter the fight by saying curbing immigration to Britain would be a 'disaster'. Like a lot of what Blair says you have to separate fact from fiction. In itself immigration is useful, all parties and that includes Ukip see the need for immigration to help boost a country’s economy done fairly and properly. No control in the world operates an open door policy on immigration and for reasons of national security cannot afford to do so.

Tony Blair says Labour cannot get into a race for voters by apeing Ukip policies. Blair and the Labour Party were responsible for the disastrous social engineering experiment which saw a huge rise in immigration that damaged the social cohesion in Britain. It was done by the use of a lie that the influx was needed on economic grounds; later the Labour Party was to admit that was a lie. Just as Labour is losing the working class vote in Scotland to the Nationalists, down south they are losing the working class vote to Ukip.

Ukip’s slogan of ‘enough’s enough has real traction with the people down south as Clacton aptly shows, other factors in Clacton were Douglas Carswell’s hard work as a local MP, you have to take this into account as well.

Tony Blair said Labour must be 'really careful' of saying things that suggested Nigel Farage's party are justified in their policies. If they weren’t would the current UK Conservative Government be tackling the immigration problem to drive down the figures? Tony Blair is a man out of his time, does he expect the Labour Party to do likewise, sooner or later, Ed Miliband will have to face a choice, side with the majority view of the British people or forfeit any chance of forming a government in 2015. Miliband isn’t seen as Prime Minister material; he will further reduce his chances if Labour doesn’t appeal to the wishes and desires of the people.  

Blair’s intervention comes as Ed Miliband faces the prospect of Labour being defeated by Ukip in the election of a new police and crime commissioner in South Yorkshire. The contest was sparked by the resignation of Labour’s previous police commissioner Shaun Wright; he stood down in the wake of the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal, where an estimated 1,400 children were abused over 16 years by Pakistani criminal gangs. A defeat for Labour would be seen as a major blow for Ed Miliband whose Doncaster constituency lies in the South Yorkshire police force area.

As politics is politics, Ukip has exploited the child abuse scandal to attack Labour. Last week, the party launched a poster featuring a young woman with the slogan:

‘There are 1,400 reasons why you should not trust Labour again’.

Apparently some people in the Labour Party didn’t want to upset social cohesion by speaking out.

The people who put Labour in this position are Labour, the professional political elite who don’t take seriously the public who they are supposed to represent; now things have changed, there is a genuine alternative and that alternative is Ukip which is taking voters from Labour and also the Conservatives. The sense of panic in the political elite class is seen by how the government is trying to woo voters with an EU referendum in 2017.

Ukip’s policy is that they want Britain out of the European Union, I am a fan of the European Union, the idea on the surface is great, the application is less so. The recent bill to the UK for £1.7 billion pounds payable by 1st December is a bombshell which few ordinary people will understand given Britain is gripped by austerity, the bill is for Britain ‘doing well’.

Do the working class people using food banks consider that Britain is doing well, no job, no hope, no future and no one to stand up and put their rights centre stage!

That was until Ukip entered the political market.

Across Europe, other people are concerned about how the European Union project doesn’t address their domestic problems and encroaches on sovereignty issues. The EU in order to go forward needs to return to a former time along the lines of the Common Market, were trade was the glue that binds.  A policy which I would like to see adopted is my idea for a EU internal immigration policy which sets a criteria for people wishing to move to another EU country, free movement of Labour has been abused, that abuse has resulted in crisis and that crisis has effected social cohesion.
The Labour Party under Ed Miliband can simply put its head in the sand and hope it all goes away, but the reality for Miliband is that ‘trouble’ exists for him on both sides of the border between Scotland and England, and it doesn’t look like he has answers to the question of Ukip or the SNP eating into his vote.

His professional political elite who have their own agenda are finding that the public don’t want them any more. Recently a friend of mine put it this way, he never left Labour; Labour left him. His family were rock solid Labour supporters but Labour has more or less lost his entire family as voters. He repeatedly tried to get Labour representation on a number of issues concerning his family only to find the elected Labour representatives failed to help or at best provided risible advice and effort.

Why elect someone who will not represent you?

One of the guys, my friend sought help from is a Glasgow Councillor, who also works for Labour MP Willie Bain and MSP Paul Martin, three taxpayer funded salaries, but my friend didn’t get the value of three taxpayer funded salaries. And if elected people don’t want to work, there is no one to hold them to account, that doesn’t just apply in the Labour Party, it goes right across the board.

If Labour MP Jim Murphy is elected as leader, he has a huge task to win back voters in Scotland just as Ed Miliband has a huge task to win by voters in England. The disenfranchised have found one thing, their voice; it is now being effectively channelled by Ukip.

The tide of public opinion has turned and who wants to be on the wrong side of destiny. Especially when the mainstream parties have been found out as serving only the professional political elite at the expense of the many who are genuinely suffering!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Labour MP Jim Murphy declares that he wants to be Scottish Labour leader on the day that an opinion poll says Labour could be left with just four Scottish seats at Westminster, Labour support in Scotland has collapsed to 23%; a quick fix won’t solve Labour’s problems, total revamp needed

Dear All

It is Thursday; Labour MP Jim Murphy has declared that he wants to be Scottish Labour leader and first minister of Scotland.

A point worth mentioning is that Scottish Labour’s problem’s cannot be solved by just one man, because their problems are so deep rooted that a popularity internal Labour contest is pretty much meaningless with the public.

Some in the Labour Party have attacked Johann Lamont for her sudden departure and the way she spoke out against what she describes as ‘London Labour’, in truth there is never a good time to leave and you could argue the merits of the basis that she left.

Jim Murphy has said there was "so much that has to change" about both Scottish Labour and Scotland.

Let’s stick with Scottish Labour and leave Scotland out of it for a moment, many people are totally disenfranchised by the Labour Party, working class people feel that Labour no longer represents them.

And that feeling is new and isn’t anything to do with the referendum, it has grown up over years and is more like decades.

Jim Murphy has a mountain to climb fixing his own party before he can journey to the slopes of reconnecting with Scotland. When he gets to the bottom of Mount Scotland, he will be looking up at a sheer face with little footholds.

Also declared is Lothian regional MSPs Neil Findlay and Sarah Boyack.

I see them as paper candidates, particularly Sarah Boyack.

Murphy said his intention was to unite the party and come up with a "Labour answer to Scotland's problems".

Question, what has disunited the party?

Jackie Baillie recently said the opposition so is Scottish Labour united or disunited?

Jim Murphy said:

"I'm standing not just to be the Scottish Labour leader, which would be a privilege in itself, but I am standing to be our candidate to be first minister."

Murphy is now declared standing for the Scottish Parliament in and to get his wish, Labour to have overturn the SNP's current majority at Holyrood and win outright or do a deal and to form Labour led coalition.

Murphy said:

"All of that energy we had in the referendum, all of that passion, all that determination, that can't just go away”.

In Pollok during the BT campaign, other than the organizer, no one from the Labour Party came out and did a single day that included all the Labour Councillrs, the Labour MP Ian Davidson, then Labour leader MSP Johann Lamont and none of the Pollok Labour activists.

The Pollok Labour Party did the Labour events.

Murphy added:

"We should bring all of that together, bottle it and use that energy from the referendum to try to solve some of the problems that we do have in Scotland - health inequality, the problems in housing, how do we improve our schools, how do we make sure that young people get a chance to have a job but also a career."

I think Jim Murphy should wise up and realise that the problems that Scottish Labour face go well beyond normal rhetoric.

Interestingly, he said:

“I've been around long enough, I've got sharp enough elbows, no-one will tell me what to do if I'm Scottish Labour Party leader - Scottish Labour decisions will be made in Scotland”.

The question arises what if Scottish Labour members support something not supported by what is termed ‘London Labour’?

Who does Jim Murphy side with then?

Jim Murphy, speaking to the BBC added:

"I see it differently from the way it's been described. The referendum was led by Scottish Labour with others providing support, like the 100 Labour MPs coming up to campaign. I just see it a different way”.

The 100 Labour MPs coming up to campaign was in reality a photo op and being here for a day didn’t win the Scottish referendum campaign, ordinary people who joined Better Together won the Scottish independence campaign, it wasn’t solely Labour.

Jim Murphy indicated that he wants a “more autonomous Scottish Labour party” but what he needs is a totally devolved Labour Party to address the new political landscape in Scotland.

Murphy to address a Lamont grievance said:

"I am very clear after the controversy we have had in the last few weeks that if I am the Scottish Labour party leader I will hire and fire whoever I want in our team. I'm big enough, I'm ugly enough, I've been around long enough, I've got sharp enough elbows, no-one will tell me what to do if I'm Scottish Labour Party leader."

That doesn’t address the issue of Ian Price, he worked in Scotland but he was fired by London, admittedly it was in his contract who he was answerable to but the question remains, all Labour employees must be under the direct control of the Scottish leader.

If Jim Murphy gets elected and then he tries to conduct business as usual, he will not win the hearts and minds of his own party or indeed with the general public.

It is said that there is a prediction going around that Labour could be left with just four Scottish seats at Westminster.

The Ipsos Mori poll for STV News found that 52% of Scots would vote for the SNP if there was a Westminster election tomorrow, this is somewhat based in that a large section of the Scottish people feeling Westminster no longer represents them or their interests.

Jim Murphy's task to turn Scottish Labour will be to ensure that elected members do represent the voters or he will get rid regardless of who's ass they cling to.

His first order of business is new talent, new policies, a new work ethic, new campaigning model and a cull.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Scotland’s unpopular Deputy First Minster Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t appear to like democracy because of Ukip’s rise down south, is because they are addressing the views of ordinary people getting their voice heard, not even First Minster yet and Nicola Sturgeon already talking utter trash on EU referendum!

Dear All

It seems that Scotland’s unpopular future lame duck First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the UK should only be allowed to leave the European Union if all four home nations agree.

Unsurprisingly Prime Minister David Cameron has completely dismissed that idea out of hand.

Sturgeon is now finding out that she is entirely irrelevant in British politics, there are six SNP MPs at Westminster and they are meaningless.

It is looking increasingly likely that there will be a vote in 2017 regarding whether Britain should stay as a member of the European Union.

The rise of Ukip down south makes that possible as well as a Labour Party struggling to appear as a government in waiting under Ed Miliband.

Although proposals for an in/out referendum on the UK’s future membership have been put forward by the Conservatives, the leadership want to stay in and be part of the European project, their problem is that ordinary people are looking less favourably on it.

The issue of immigration is an issue, but the issue of free movement of labour could have been addressed by the EU having an EU internal immigration policy.

Free movement of labour is fine while a balance can be achieved by when the balance is out of sync it creates problems.   

Sturgeon believes for any vote to leave the EU to be valid must have a majority of voters in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to agree to leave.

That isn’t correct; a majority of people in Britain is all that is needed for an EU exit. In this issue there will be no SNP voice passing itself off as Scotland.

When Sturgeon says Scotland should not “drowned out” by anti-European sentiments in England what she is saying is that the democracy will only applies if she and the SNP agree. Alex Salmond is stepping down as SNP leader in disgrace, he is a loser and losers have got to go, but equally Sturgeon is as much a loser as Salmond as she was the ‘face of independence’.

Sturgeon isn’t the ‘new generation’, just the tail end remnants of the old.  

As she starts her a series of rallies, if is typical old dullard thinking that she thinks she is leading a government, changing the name from Scottish Executive to Scottish Government doesn’t make her case any less vacuous. 

When legislation for an EU referendum is introduced at Westminster, the SNP will table an amendment.

That amendment will fail for two reasons, no one likes the SNP at Westminster and can be bothered with them, and secondly the amendment is a load of rubbish as it seeks to undermine the sovereignty of Parliament, in this case Westminster and change the voting system.

Sturgeon said:

“It is clear from recent by-elections in England that the anti-European politics of Ukip is on the rise. An in/out referendum on EU membership in 2017 now seems inevitable - almost regardless of who wins the general election next May.”

Apparently it looks like Sturgeon doesn’t like democracy because Ukip’s rise is because they are addressing the views of ordinary people.

She added it is “entirely possible that the UK as a whole could vote to exit the EU, but that Scotland would vote to stay”.

This vote will be a British vote; Sturgeon had her chance at independence and was rejected.

My funny bit of Sturgeon’s rambling was when she said that:

“I don’t think the EU is perfect. Far from it. It badly needs change and reform”.

If that was the case why was Tasmina Ahmed-Shiekh selected as a candidate then?

Why was the SNP President Ian Hudghton?

Why was Alyn Smith?

Why did the SNP only select cronies of Salmond and Sturgeon?

The SNP even selected serial loser Chris Stephens of Pollok as a candidate, admittedly he was placed last on the list and wasn’t elected much like Tasmina.

Sturgeon added:

“But I do believe - strongly - that our interests are best served by being in, not out, of the EU. The impact of an exit on jobs and on the economy would be disastrous. And to be taken out against our wishes would be democratically indefensible. So I am making this proposal. Should a Bill be tabled in the House of Commons for a referendum on European Union membership, my party will table an amendment. That amendment will require that for the UK to leave the EU, each of the four constituent nations - England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - would have to vote to do so, not just the UK as a whole.”

Just peddling grudge, I am sure it will have the ‘idiots’ impressed in the SNP who don’t do any thinking but blindly accept the rubbish that the leadership spouts. But in reality, Sturgeon isn’t going to alter anything.

And she is utterly wrong that this proposal “transforms the terms of the UK debate on Europe - which so far has been all about the Westminster parties dancing to Ukip’s tune”.

One thing which will not be happening is Westminster parties dancing to the SNP’s tune; people don’t listen to broken records.

It is interesting that ‘home rule’ Sturgeon presumably to secure free seats in the Royal box at Wimbledon said:

“What I’m suggesting is the kind of double majority system you see in some federal states like Canada and Australia, that for the UK to leave the European Union it would require not just the UK as a whole to vote for that but for each one of the four home nations also to vote for it. I think that is right, it’s sensible, it’s reasonable. It would also be in line with what the Westminster parties told us during the referendum on Scottish independence was the case that is that the UK is a family of nations, a partnership of equals.”

And she can take comfort that a Scotsman can have exactly the same voting rights as an Englishman that is a partnership of equals which will apply in this debate, the SNP don’t speak for Scotland, they don’t speak for me.  

Sturgeon cannot manipulate the vote, the question or timing like the SNP could in the Scottish independence referendum, it’s all out of their hands.

Ordinary people have a right to decide whether they wanted Scottish independence, the majority said No, that question has been settled for now, people of Britain have a right to decide if they want to leave the EU.

But the SNP don’t want people to have their say if it looks like they will not agree with them, so want to change the rules, this really is pathetic stuff.

Sturgeon’s intervention looks like an attempt to use any excuse to call for an independence referendum on a made up pretext.

You lost Sturgeon, your party lost Sturgeon, your ‘jolly fat man’ Alex Salmond lost Sturgeon.

Not even in the top job and already talking utter trash on EU!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack decides to enter the race to be Scottish Labour leader, is she a natural charismatic leader, does she connect with the public, can she win back Labour support, did she have a good Scottish referendum campaign, politics is like gun fighting, you have to be able to react fast, and Boyack doesn’t have a killer instinct

Dear All

It seems that Sarah Boyack, the former Environment minister has decided to throw her hat into the ring and confirmed that she is to stand for the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party.

Is she the person to lead the Scottish Labour Party out of their current difficulties?

I would say no.

Ms Boyack despite having been a former minister has been very low key politically since she peaked.

Although she served in previous Labour-led executives in Edinburgh, and has some backing from colleagues in Edinburgh and London, she isn’t the person to change Labour around. The Labour Party needs a natural charismatic leader as a minimum requirement who has to rebuild an entire party from the ground up.

Boyack does tick on the boxes in that she has been a MSP since the establishment of devolution in 1999.

So, in once sense she has experience of Holyrood, however, she will need a whole lot more than that to be a serious contender.

Jim Murphy, the front bench Labour MP is also expected to throw his hat into the ring and is said to be forming a campaign team in preparation to make his bid. Although being an MP is no bar to leadership, ideal the person who becomes leader needs to be in the Scottish Parliament.

If Murphy does declare he will have to find a vacant seat. I would say it is hardly likely that Ken Macintosh will want to give up his seat unless he could be persuaded to switch to Westminster which would helpful as Jim Murphy has already built up a personal following in his area.

It would also be a safe bet.

If Murphy goes elsewhere he runs a risk.

Boyack becomes the first of the likely candidates to formally announce but she wouldn’t be the last, Neil Findlay, the Labour health spokesman, is another tipped to enter the race.

If Murphy declares then in reality it becomes a one horse race, Boyack compiled a report into the future of Labour in Scotland following the SNP’s landslide victory in 2011. Given current circumstances, she would be advised to do a rewrite, things have changed in Scotland.

And someone is going to have to come up with solutions to fix the current problems of Scottish Labour and their relationship with the voters.

It won’t be done by a big smile especially in former Labour strongholds where they have lost ground due to a failure to engage.

A lot of people I have spoke to have said that they never left Scottish Labour, Scottish Labour left them; the trouble with people walking is that sometimes they never come back.

Sarah Boyack, the person to bring them back?

I don’t think so!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Monday, October 27, 2014

Labour leader Jim Murphy is looking increasingly like the frontrunner to take over as Labour leader in Scotland, if he does he faces real problems such as recruiting new talent, getting new policies, instilling a new work ethic, a new campaigning model and have a cull

Dear All

Labour MP Jim Murphy had an excellent Scottish independence campaign with his 100 days tour. I attended his Glasgow event in the city centre in Glasgow; he is a good speaker and comes across well. I also met him at one of the BBC indy debates where we spoke afterwards about the show and how it had gone.

Now that Johann Lamont has stepped down as Labour leader, the pressure is mounting on Jim Murphy to declare his candidacy.

Would Jim Murphy be a good choice, I would think so, he is a big hitter from Westminster and the field seems strangely sparse.

Already Labour MSPs Kezia Dugdale and Jenny Marra along with Anas Sarwar have ruled themselves out.

One name in the MSP ranks does stick out as a contender in my mind but no one it seems is talking about him that is Ken Macintosh, he would obviously need some work but the field is pretty limited. Macintosh's difficultly is that he didn't have a great referendum campaign in the way that others such as Murphy and Brown did. One Sunday during the campaign while I was in B&Q in Darnley, I saw Ken Macintosh in there with his family doing some shopping, surprised me as I thought he would be out campaigning on the weekend.

Whoever gets elected has to come up with some seriously impressive Scottish policies to ensure the Westminster 2015 returns a majority of Labour MPs to the House of Commons, it isn’t an X Factor contest.

It isn’t about how ‘popular’ someone is seen in the Labour ranks; it is as it always has been but trust.

When Lamont stepped down from the Scottish Labour leadership, she received a fierce backlash following her attack on the party and its MPs. What Lamont did point out correctly is that Scotland has changed since the Scottish referendum.

There is no going back!

On her way out the door Lamont branded her Westminster colleagues "dinosaurs" and accused party HQ of treating Scottish Labour "like a branch office".

A colleague of East Renfrewshire MP Mr Murphy said:

"Jim has to do it. The party is in a hole and needs someone of his stature and skill to get us out of it."

Another person said:

"MSPs need to accept that Jim is going to be our next leader and that they should agree among themselves a candidate or two for who will be his deputy."

Although technically the leader could be an MP, it really needs someone to be in Holyrood that is where the real fighting politically takes place in Scotland.
Jim Murphy would have to get an MSP slot, but he might not want that given he is certain to get ministerial office if Labour wins the 2015 election.

If he did stand he would get support simply on the basis of his name. 

Malcolm Chisholm MSP warned:

"If we have an MP as leader we will turn a crisis into a catastrophe."

I would have to agree with that statement, whoever is leader has to do First Minster’s Questions and to attend that you need to be an MSP.

Chisholm also rightly said that the party should first clarify the role of Scottish leader.

Another contender who is also a big hitter is the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Gordon Brown, he had an excellent referendum campaign much like Jim Murphy but he says he has no desire to return to front line politics.

As well as the leadership contest, there is a group called Labour for Scotland, they want the party to consider changing its name to the Independent Labour Party.

Jon Findlay, the co-organiser of Labour for Scotland says the Scottish party has to set its own priorities "without Westminster interference".

I would agree with some of that, there has to be a fit between Westminster and Holyrood.

He added:

"The leader must come from the Scottish Parliament and it should be someone from a new generation."

The only problem with that is the ‘new generation’ isn’t up to the task, small point obviously worth mentioning.

Whoever becomes leader has to rebuild the party and that means going on a cull much like Labour did in Glasgow prior to the 2012 council election.

That cull has to be savage.

Given the brand of Scottish Labour is so strong and already established this isn’t a good idea, changing the name without changing the policies, people or fixing the democratic deficit in Labour is meaningless. Labour’s internal crisis is serious but it pales when you look at the external crisis they are facing with the voters.

Whoever becomes leader needs to do a review that review will have to run while preparing for the Westminster election.

One senior source apparently outraged by Johann Lamont's "undignified" departure said:

"She has shafted people. She has told her supporters 'f*** you'. It's totally unacceptable. If she is trying to turn Labour seats into Nat seats, she is doing a good job."

In some respects Lamont did Labour a favour, it is rather like someone saying ‘watch out that big truck is going to run over you’. They get ignored the person gets hit and then complains it is the fault of the person who shouted out the warning.

Scottish Labour has internal and external serious problems.

Some senior figures, including it is said Ed Miliband believe the injection of passion and drive exhibited by Gordon Brown could reinvigorate Scottish Labour in the face of the Nationalist threat and help the UK party win the 2015 General Election.

I would say, did the balloon and big smile work for Alex Salmond and unpopular Nicola Sturgeon?


What is needed by the Labour Party is new talent, new policies, a new work ethic, new campaigning model and a cull.

And time is getting short!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont resigns as leader, she stands down with immediate effect, citing Ed Miliband and those around him treat Scotland as a “branch office”, Labour’s Scottish troubles just got a whole lot deeper, Labour needs new talent

Dear All

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has resigned with immediate effect.

In leaving the post as leader she has accused the UK party of treating Scotland like a "branch office".

The Labour Party in Scotland is now at a crossroads, when you look up at the sign posts there is really only one name stands out within the MSP ranks Ken Macintosh.

The other alternative is that Labour elect someone who is a big Westminster hitter such as Jim Murphy or Gordon Brown, both had very successful independence campaigns.

In an ideal world, a replacement would have come from the MSP ranks, but the choice is so poor.

And you can add to it that Scottish Labour can’t be just a name anymore because as Lamont found out key decisions, including the removal of Scottish Labour general secretary Ian Price, were made without her input.

During the Yes campaign, her constituency Pollok returned the highest Yes vote in Glasgow so Johann Lamont has other problems to consider like holding onto the seat in 2016. 26.802 people voted Yes and Lamont’s vote in 2011 was 10.875.

As she has resigned as leader, she will find the extra help in constituency at election will also disappear, which means she really does face a long hard slog all the way.

The 56-year-old MSP indicated in her decision to resign that she had "had enough" well her troubles are just starting in her own backyard.

As to the removal of Scottish Labour general secretary Ian Price, it wasn’t a secret that the Labour campaign was poor on the ground, and it wasn’t a secret that equally Better Together suffered in Glasgow because of it.

Something had to be done with or without her input.

MP Anas Sarwar has become interim leader of the party north of the border while a successor is being chosen.

Former Scottish Labour first ministers, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell, spoke to the BBC about the big problems that now faced their party.

Like loss of direction, lack of policy and drift, matters haven’t been helped by the infighting to rebrand Labour by people unhappy about the way the party was going.

Lord McConnell said he was "very, very angry" and insisted that the UK leadership had serious questions to answer.

Henry McLeish added Scottish Labour was facing a crisis following a decade of decline, this was in part caused by a total disconnection with the people who found out something rather incredible, you go complain to your elected Labour member and then you don’t get help.

This is one of the reasons why so many people are turned off by Scottish Labour.

In a parting shot Lamont described some Labour MPs as "dinosaurs" who failed to recognise that "Scotland has changed forever" after September's referendum.

She told the newspaper:

"Scotland has chosen to remain in partnership with our neighbours in the UK. But Scotland is distinct and colleagues must recognise that. There is a danger of Scottish politics being between two sets of dinosaurs - the Nationalists who can't accept they were rejected by the people, and some colleagues at Westminster who think nothing has changed."

I would have to agree with that, things have changed but there isn’t a will to accept that in Labour.

Lamont added:

"Party members up and down the country, voters on the doors, have spoken to me about the change they want. And that's a Scottish Labour Party which reflects their views. That's what I have been trying to build. However, some wanted me to become the issue. The Scottish Labour Party and its renewal are more important than me. That's why I am standing down - so that debate our country demands can take place."

In her resignation letter to Jamie Glackin, chair of the Scottish Labour Party, she said:

"In order that we can have the real discussion about how we take Scottish Labour forward, I believe it would be best if I took myself out of the equation and stepped down as leader."

As they say never a dull moment in politics.

Henry McLeish says the resignation was evidence of his party in crisis, he is right, in very party there is a rise and fall; the trouble is that renewal can forestall that process if the Labour Party in Scotland can re-invent itself.

And the re-invention is returning to it socialist roots which have been abandoned along with the ethos of public service.

McLeish added:

"This crisis in Labour didn't happen yesterday - this has been a decade now of decline. We've seen that they [Labour] have failed to match the other parties in terms of devolution commission reports and of course we have had this suffocating control of Westminster during this period. And this leads to the need for a very different modern Labour Party as we go ahead."

That sounds fine but the real nub is disconnect with people they are supposed to represent, the Labour Party’s business getting satisfied customers in the areas they represent, can they honestly say are pro active in doing that?

I am sure that many people in the Yes campaign will be very happy today, but they should remember that Lamont took out Alex Salmond prior to stepping down.

As to my own feelings about her resignation, I am neither happy nor unhappy by this event, I once went to Johann Lamont with a complaint, it was a genuine complaint, and it got tossed in the bin.

I got no help.

The Labour Party need to do something major to sort out their problems which is a bit hard in a party struggling and on a downward slope at present!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University