Monday, November 28, 2011
Labour MP Tom Harris throws a political hand grenade in Scottish leadership race by saying ‘cataclysmic defeat was MSPs’ own fault’
Tom Harris has a point.
Most of the time, he is just grandstanding, but he is correct that the “cataclysmic” defeat at the Holyrood 2011 election was down to Labour MSPs.
For four years, they produced no real work, no vision and no policies worth a damn, it was spin and gimmicks and precious little else.
Let us take knife crime, fronted as a key Labour ‘priority’ during their time 2007 to 2011.
There was countless by-elections were this was used, petitions started but no private members bill.
But there was a daft slogan, ‘carry a knife; go to jail’.
The only problem was it was flawed in several respects, first, the policy changed the nature of law in Scotland; it made a person guilty until they proved their innocence.
Anti human rights and technically incompetent!
Secondly, it is for judges to decide appropriate sentencing not politicians that is what it means to have an independent judiciary.
Thirdly after the Labour Party realised how incompetent it was they changed the policy to anyone who was ‘convicted’ would be put in jail regardless of the circumstances.
Gordon Brewer ripped apart every Labour MSP on Newsnight Scotland and in particular Andy Kerr, who tried to pass off the incompetence by saying if Gordon Brewer was in the same situation, he wouldn’t be going to jail.
Brewer then lambasted Kerr on the point that the mandatory sentence was nothing of the sort.
Highly embarrassing someone of Kerr’s standing should be so ignorant not just on policy but law itself.
And that highlighted Labour’s problem between 2007 and 2011, no one was prepared to do the research and the work.
Substance was entirely replaced by spin.
This episode is a clear example of what was wrong in the Labour Party which led people to see the Labour Party at Holyrood as not a credible government in waiting.
Their campaign was so bad and ineffective to the point of incompetence; people who weren’t clever were running a campaign in which they thought they were.
Towards the end, it became a popularity contest were personalities took over, for the SNP that worked in their favour, but popularity comes and goes, it has to be more in politics, it is all about substance and vision.
The Labour Party in Scotland didn’t have either, hence we saw a massive landslide; the SNP built on their four years of delivery and the changes of using social media effectively.
Labour’s problem wasn’t just an isolated incident which could be looked at as ‘the problem’; it was right across the board, people, policies and strategy, all wrong.
So, as I say, Labour MP Tom Harris has a point when he talks about how Labour MSPs brought down a “cataclysmic” defeat on themselves by shutting their minds to new ideas.
They got into a rut by not working; it was almost like they thought they were ‘celebrities’ and Holyrood was a version of ‘I’m a celebrity’.
Well the public got them out of here!
As part of Tom Harris’s campaign to be Scottish Labour leader, he has sent an email to party members writing that the party is “too conservative” and unwilling to change.
He is calling for a radical shake-up of Labour north of the Border, he said:
“If we’re not careful, ‘That’s how we’ve done it in the past’ will be the epitaph carved on the gravestone of this party. We used to be a movement – now we’re a monolith. We say we want change – but only the kind of change with which we’re comfortable, change on our terms, not the electorate’s.”
That hits the nail on the head.
From being public servants, the Labour Party adopted a mentality that they were public rulers, sheer contempt oozed out right from the very bottom to the top.
Does Harris have a chance?
Well since he is allowed to take part, yes, he does, but does his message get home?
I think there is a lack of a debate, May was 6 months ago, and Labour in Holyrood just sits there, not knowing what to do, they are like drones.
There are only a handful of real politicians in Holyrood out of 129 MSPs.
It is shocking that so many people are just cannon fodder who are totally out of their depth.
Three people are standing for the leadership of ‘Scottish’ Labour, Tom Harris, Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh and Glasgow Pollok MSP Johann Lamont.
The front runner is the worst candidate, Johann Lamont, if she is elected, then she should only do set pieces because she cannot think on her feet, countless Newsnight Scotland interviews show this.
I don’t believe the grassroots will take to her, Harris is the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, he is in Westminster and Labour needs a Holyrood leader in the chamber.
That leaves Ken Macintosh, the best of the worst.
Someone who has never held ministerial office but his claim to fame is that he isn’t Johann Lamont or Tom Harris.
If Harris was sitting in Holyrood, he would have had the time to build support but I think his chances are slim.
This could be an election were the worst candidate is the winner.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University