The votes are in, the result is official but there is no surprise, well at least for me, I said the Labour contest would end with Kezia Dugdale as leader, and Alex Rowley as Deputy.
George Laird right again.
Ken Macintosh has had two attempts now to be leader, each attempt ended in failure, when he stood against Johann Lamont; that was his window of opportunity.
When he said he could be First Minster next year and that he was winning, I was very sceptical, during the Scottish independence campaign, he wasn’t a leading figure. A couple of weekends before the vote on the 18th September, I came across him and his family in B & Q in Darnley, to say the least I was highly surprised.
You may remember I wrote a post because someone was asking me in a worried fashion how the vote was going, I said just as Francis Drake played bowls, George Laird was doing gardening, actually more supervising, then doing the thing myself, some people……..
Anyway, since the vote, Ken Macintosh hasn’t impressed but credit where due he was onto something when he said the Labour Deputy leader should be a councillor. I thought this idea was one of exceptional merit but he needed more. And in some respects he was up against the Labour ‘machine’, the party think I assume that because Kezia Dugdale is a woman that they think she is best place to take on unpopular Nicola Sturgeon.
It doesn’t work that way, and unless Kezia Dugdale rises to the new challenges she is going to find in the most painful way how lonely leadership is when things go terribly wrong. Jim Murphy had about 8 months before he experienced the worst Labour result since 1918 for the party in Scotland.
He was seen as the most popular figure coupled with experience so Labour rallied round him.
That ended badly.
Dugdale, the favourite to win the contest, won 72.1% of the vote, while Mr Macintosh was backed by 27.9%.
Holyrood could be another ‘1918’ event which would put pressure on Kezia Dugdale, if I was in Labour, I would try to win in 2016 as normal, but the job of Dugdale is to rebuild the Labour Party in Scotland along with Alex Rowley or they will find they will down to having a rump support which does win enough seats. The Scottish Conservatives have and are experiencing what that is like, it isn’t pretty.
The new deputy leader has aalso been elected, that person is Alex Rowley; in some respects he was the only realistic option on the ballot paper. I was never convinced by Richard Baker and although I wanted to see a councillor hold the post as Deputy, I didn’t think Gordon Matheson could pull it off, and he still has ‘local’ trouble in the Glasgow Councillor Group, half his councillors want him out. He gave it a go and it didn’t pay off, that is the trouble with gambling, sometimes the dice roll not in your favour.
So, Alex Rowley is Deputy leader; his task along with Kezia Dugdale is to rebuild the party, get in new fresh blood and try and set the party back on an even keel.
"I know that the past few months have been incredibly difficult for Labour members across the country. I know this because I have been out on the doorsteps, I have been there with you. But I have a message for Labour Party members out there knocking their pan in for this party that we all love: we are down but we are not out."
"I will work night and day over the coming weeks and months to make you proud, to honour that trust that you have put in me today, to give you some hope, to renew your faith in our abilities to transform the communities that we seek to serve.
"And I have a message for the people of Scotland too: take another look at the Scottish Labour Party."
On the reasons why people aren’t voting Labour, she said:
"Firstly, a large part of the population have simply switched off from us. It's not so much that they don't like what they hear; they have stopped listening to us altogether. Secondly, those who are willing to give us a hearing say that they don't know what we stand for any more”.
Right on the first part and right on the second part!
But she failed to explain why they stopped listening; the reason for that is that certain Labour MPs and other elected people had stopped listening to people and helping constituents address their complaints?
What good is electing someone when you seek their help they take their huge taxpayer salary and just ignore you?
This year at the Westminster election, the people of Scotland did a cull of Scottish Labour MPs bar one, next year; the public judging by polls could do exactly the same and wipe out every first past the post MSPs in the Labour Party.
This could happen!
Prior to the Glasgow Council Election of 2012, the Labour Group at the Council experienced the period in their history, things were popping out into the public domain which led to the massive cull prior to the election.
Out of 45 seats contested, the Labour Party won 44, culls work!
Having said culls work, this simply cannot be the only solution to Labour’s deep seated problems, there has to be a vision and that vision must centre on community first.
The Scottish Labour needs to bring in a complete ban on councillors second jobs working for MPs and MSPs. Another matter is raising a councillor’s salary to £30,000 a year so that they can be councillors full time and not part time. Anyone who talks a paid second job during the hours of 8 am to 5 pm gets £18,000.
It will become apparent between now and the end of the year whether Kezia Dugdale and Alex Rowley will be able to change Scottish Labour, after that the Scottish election for Holyrood will make any change impossible during a full blown election campaign.
So, they better get cracking because the clock on their leadership started the second the result of the contest was announced.
George LairdThe Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University