Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Former First Minister Henry McLeish correctly assesses that the Scottish Labour Party has deep-seated problems within its party, fair enough, however, his answer is totally wrong, it wasn’t lack of home rule that led to Labour’s decline, it was a severe lack of delivery on social justice and representation of the people

Dear All

Some people do talk a lot of rubbish and what makes it hard to take them seriously is that they also throw in some truth in order to ‘pad’ out their views.

Henry McLeish is a former First Minister of Scotland, albeit his tenure was remarkable brief, whether he could have made something of that role we will never know, once you fall from grace and that height, no chance of coming back.

Let’s get into truth for a moment before we get into rubbish, McLeish says the new Scottish Labour leader must address deep-seated problems within party, that sounds fair enough.

But what exactly are those deep-seated problems, a few are, lack a work ethic among elected representatives, no direction and gimmicks over substance. People ask what does the Labour Party in Scotland stand for, to tell the truth, I don’t know, and probably neither do a lot of people who are members.

McLeish says he has the answer, in order for the Labour Party to re-invent itself; the party must strengthen its position on constitutional change for Scotland. Re-invent should actually be re-discovering itself, and the constitutional change argument is a red herring. Ordinary working class by enlarge don’t know a lot about politics or take an interest in it. Labour did lose a rather large chunk of its voters because people are unhappy about who collects their income tax.

The notion that people want the Labour Party to recapture the "left-leaning feeling" north of the border is just nonsense in part. People, Scottish people like people everywhere else want fairness to be delivered to them and their communities, and they really don’t care who delivers it, only that they aren’t getting it and they should be.

I would agree with McLeish that the matter of autonomy for Scottish Labour is also an outstanding issue which should be dealt with as an internal matter for the Labour Party nationally. The Scottish leader should not be a figurehead, but should have total control of all elected officials and party employees, without exception.

Policy in Scotland regarding the Scottish Parliament should be set in Scotland, policy regarding the EU Parliament and Westminster should be one of joint co-operation with the rest of the Labour Party through-out Britain.

It is said that Henry McLeish doesn’t intend to endorse any one of the candidates to replace Johann Lamont. That is entirely his choice, the current front runner is said to be Labour MP Jim Murphy; also standing is Sarah Boyack and Neil Findlay who are also MSPs. McLeish added whoever is the new leader should accept the party has "drifted over the last seven to 10 years", and that with "a bit of humility we say to Scots, look we did get it wrong".

Sorry maybe the hardest word but whoever is leader will have to do a cull of some people in the party to re-establish Labour as a dynamic force, if there isn’t a cull in favour of business as usual, then papering over the crack will have disastrous results.

No change really will mean No chance for Labour especially in 2016 even if Jim Murphy becomes leader. Although Jim Murphy will be a big personality as leader, as Henry McLeish, the party has deep-seated problems within party.

A big smile won’t fix that, it is as stark and as brutal as that, ‘I’m your pal’ wouldn’t cut it with the public.

On Labour's position on devolution and the constitution, the former politician said:

"The campaign for the referendum was not wisely constructed, because the Better Together campaign should not have included, in my judgement, the Conservative Party. But that's setting aside the problems that befall the Labour Party (which) are much more significant than merely that potential mistake. We have ebbed and flowed in terms of our interest in the devolution question."

The problem with the Better Together campaign wasn’t the inclusion of the Conservative Party, although the Conservative Party in Scotland has a serious image problem and lack of connection with the general public.

Better Together suffered because despite a lot of goodwill by the activists who went out, they had too many Labour people in key positions who weren’t experienced enough, add to it, the Labour Party didn’t ensure that enough of its members attended Better Together events.

In Pollok; the former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont never on a single occasion turned out to work with ordinary people of Better Together I was part of, and yes, I am discounting the standing at Sliverburn nonsense. Neither did Ian Davidson, the Labour MP venture forth either, both Labour Pollok Councillors never came out, as well the entire rank & file of Pollok Labour members if they exist at all in Pollok.

McLeish added:

"The constitutional question is crucial. Labour needs to take it more seriously because it is a burning issue”.

Bullshit! The level of people’s interest outside the political bubble regarding the constitutional question is minimal at best. No one sitting is Glasgow is experiencing angst that someone in East Kilbride isn’t collecting their taxes in preference to someone at Westminster.

People want fairness.

McLeish also touched on:
"Second of all we have got to heal the rift between Westminster and Holyrood, and start singing off the same hymn sheet, that is going to be a challenge for the new leader."

Here is my take, you gather everyone together and ask; if you lose your seat by de-selection can you pay your mortgage? This question really applies more to MPs rather than MSPs who think that the ‘Scottish Labour leader’ is just a stand in when Miliband isn’t here.

McLeish also touched on the social justice argument:  

"The person has got to be able to argue: what does Labour stand for. And what Labour stands for is the whole issue about equality, the whole issue about social justice and the common good. I think there is a kind of left-leaning feeling in Scotland and we have got to capture that ground again."

Fairness, equality and social justice isn’t just the preserve of the left and never was, is McLeish saying that someone who is politically right wing cannot understand social justice?

Jim Murphy is a Blairite, and Blairites aren’t centre left.

In reality, the leader of Scottish Labour should come from the MSP ranks at Holyrood, the problem is a lack of talent, and most of what is regarded as Labour’s premier league has gone to Westminster.

And who can blame them, Holyrood by comparison doesn’t have outstanding MSPs right across the board.

A survey of Unite trade union members revealed backing for an MSP to fill the role of leader, so if Jim Murphy get elected, he has to go find a seat somewhere. He could try his chances in Pollok if he decides to cross the border; Ken Macintosh has decided he isn’t going to give up his seat. Alternatively, he could get himself ranked on the Glasgow list as number 1 as a short term measure.

When asked who should lead Labour in Scotland - an MP or MSP - 78% of the 5,000 members questioned said they wanted someone from Holyrood to do the job. You can understand why as most domestic matters are run out of the Scottish Parliament.

Pat Rafferty, leader of the union, said:

"By four to one, members are calling for the Labour leader in Scotland to be based in our Parliament. Holyrood is where the Scottish people now see political power, and the party must pay heed to this."

Unison has already backed Neil Findlay to be the new leader.

One of the interesting little groups that have popped up is a campaign for "meaningful and sustainable home rule" in Scotland.

That Campaign for Scottish Home Rule brings together people from all five of Holyrood's political parties, alongside figures from the business community and civic Scotland.

So, we have Former Labour first minister Henry McLeish, and ex-MSPs Andrew Wilson (SNP), Margaret Smith (Liberal Democrats) and Derek Brownlee (Conservatives). Other members of its steering group include former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland Dr Alison Elliot and former Olympic badminton player Susan Egelstaff.

Just to home in on a fact, that is six people, six people who support home rule, which apparently is the possibly the new Sturgeon mantra. This group has made its own submission to the Smith Commission. That body was set up in the wake of the independence referendum to look at further powers for Holyrood.

The Smith Commission isn’t there to deliver devo max, that isn’t the remit; there will be 'an offer' that Westminster won’t go beyond. One of the assumptions of this new group is that its campaign members said they believe the No vote in the referendum indicated there is a desire to see "meaningful home rule" within the UK.

That is opinion based on wishful thinking, 'home rule' wasn’t on the ballot paper, it was a straight forward question; do you want Scotland to be an independent country.

Over 2 million people said No!

Derek Brownlee said:

"If we want to avoid endless discussion of the constitution, and to focus on the other political issues which matter, we have to find common ground and build a genuine constitutional settlement which lasts."

Brownlee was tipped as a future replacement to Annabel Goldie back in the day, but his career can to a rather sharp end due to circumstances out with his control.

Andrew Wilson, the ex SNP MSP said:

"The whole country needs to come together and secure the highest common denominator that will unify the vast majority of us that want progress and a much more responsible Parliament. The twin goals of economic prosperity and social fairness must be pursued with the same passion and vitality that drove the referendum. This is a journey without end. But we must move at a pace that builds deep and wide foundations of support. Now it is time to build a bridge between the '45' and the '55', not dig a trench."

Maybe Mr. Wilson should have taken a more closer look at the behaviour of the 45% or to given them a truer name, the 37.7% who voted Yes of those eligible to vote. There is no coming together; this country is split into two camps, ‘them and us’; that is how the Nationalists engineered their campaign of grudge, grievance and malcontent.

The new group is chaired by Reform Scotland chairman Ben Thomson who pops up on the radar, every now and then; he said the campaign aimed to establish principles.

Thomson added:

“What we seem to have at the moment is a process and a timetable, we have a few specifics that people are debating, but we haven't really got where it is we are trying to get to, what is the principle behind home rule."

Home rule isn’t on the table, it is highly doubtful it ever will be, the principle is independence or nothing, and the Scottish National Party isn’t good enough to deliver it, they can’t convince the 2 million plus who voted against it.

The ‘55’ isn’t going anywhere.

Regardless of who is the figurehead is of the Scottish Labour Party, and increasingly it looks like a slam dunk for Jim Murphy if he plays his cards well, they will have to tackle the lack of social justice both in Westminster and in Holyrood. That person cannot simply think there will be business as usual because things although they have changed maybe about to get much worse as budgets cuts which have been delayed by the Scottish Government via additional money pumped in by Westminster are coming home to roost. Austerity is coming down the track because Alex Salmond and unpopular Nicola Sturgeon couldn’t be arsed to reform the Scottish Government or local government because they were off chasing indy.

One thing is certain, Sturgeon will pick up were Salmond left off regarding blaming Westminster for their faults, even if home rule was possibly, it won’t fix the social justice problems because there is no one who stands for social justice in the Scottish Parliament, if there was, we would have heard from them by now, and not be sitting wondering why some dick thought up 5 pence on a plastic bag!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The decline can be attributed to people like McLeish.
A F*cking known thief who got let off by Her Majesty's Establishment.
The Political Elite.
The Law and the Rules are twisted to serve scum like him.