Monday, August 29, 2016

Dugdale at war; Corbynistas are starting to talk about replacing Kezia Dugdale as Scottish leader if she doesn’t sign up to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership post election, there isn’t a lot of unity in the Labour Party kicking about as battle lines appear to be getting drawn up both north and south of the border

Dear All

Never a dull moment in politics as they say, I think it would be entirely fair to say at the present moment there isn’t a lot of “unity” kicking about in the Labour Party. The leadership contest has rolled on and we have seen allegations, counter allegations, abuse and people attempting to put their spin on what the rules of the party actually mean in practice.

I would also think it would be fair to say that this contest isn’t one of the great ones; it isn’t about a battle of ideas, I see it more about factions and how they wish to exercise control in the party.

This has led to some people getting their noses put right out of joint.

Regardless who wins and it looks increasingly likely the victor in my opinion will be the candidate that I voted for, Jeremy Corbyn, this doesn’t settle the matter.

Scottish Labour had a couple of by-elections recently, one in Irvine where Nicola Sturgeon’s father was humiliated and the other over in Fife where Labour again beat out the SNP.

So, who should take the credit for the wins?

Should it be Jeremy Corbyn or Kezia Dugdale?

If you listen to the Owen Smith camp which Kezia Dugdale sits in, Jeremy Corbyn isn’t a good leader, if you look online at pictures of Owen Smith rallies, the turn out is incredibly poor in comparison with the ‘standing room only’ when Jeremy Corbyn speaks.

Owen Smith uses a lot of buzzwords which people find meaningless, if he thought his slick PR would win hearts and minds, he got a rude wake up call when he hit the campaign. His ‘lunatic’ comment was probably the final nail in his campaign; if you have got to keep talking about your opponent then clearly you haven’t a lot to say about yourself.  

I have to say I was surprise when Kezia Dugdale declared for Owen Smith, if I was the Scottish leader I would haven’t done so publicly, there are certain times when a leader has to remain neutral and don’t let someone ‘sell you pup’ about standing up for your principles, this doesn’t fall in that category.

It seems her declaration has not done down well in some quarters, some people are apparently calling for her to be ousted as Scottish leader, some Corbyn supporters want her gone and the party reset back towards socialism because it is viewed as completely out of touch with Scottish voters. Recently I was chatting to three Labour people on the subject of disengagement by voters making the point that when people are being failed you end up with a backlash, people take their vote elsewhere when someone is willing to stand up for them.

As people in the Labour Party now know, the days of heartlands particularly in the urban areas of traditional Labour voters are gone; Scotland’s voters are in flux, if you want someone’s vote you ‘gotta earn it’ the hard way, it isn’t there on a plate. In the old days Labour completely dominated, 2015 and 2016 elections left no ‘first past the post’ elected Labour representative at either Westminster or Holyrood in Glasgow.

When Kezia Dugdale declared for Owen Smith, she made a rod for her own back, and it is known that she is close to Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray, he in my opinion wrongly resigned as Scottish Shadow Secretary.

The Corbyn crowd want Kezia Dugdale put “out in the wilderness”, if she doesn’t accept Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership once he is re-elected next election. Although Jeremy Corbyn has said he would work with her, one wonders if that applies to his followers having the same view.

At the Glasgow hustings just recently Owen Smith said Dugdale was doing a “brilliant job” which was jeered and laughed by the crowd. In the past I blogged on how Scottish Labour’s problems were created a long time ago, Scotland’s indyref was a trigger for the exodus of voters.

The Westminster 2015 election was a wipe out for the party, and 2016 Holyrood election returned the absolutely worst result for the Scottish Labour Party since its creation in 1999.

If you advocate the status quo and there is no possibility of change or a better tomorrow then people will question why they should support you in contrast to others offering hope. Owen Smith’s ‘vote for me’ and I will continue Tory policies hasn’t gone down well with the working class people in Scotland or indeed anywhere else in the UK.

Could Kezia Dugdale face a challenge from her deputy Alex Rowley who supports Jeremy Corbyn?

Personally I doubt it, part of politics is about personality and Rowley doesn’t appear to me to be a people person who can work a crowd like some other people in Scottish politics.

One of the things which are needed is a new generation of leaders, that doesn’t mean youth that means people with ‘vision’ who can work with the left and right wings of the party around common shared goals.

Education and knowledge are essential to the success of that idea; after all if you don’t know what you are talking about, you are doomed to failure once people get wise to your shortcomings.
To show what Kezia Dugdale faces possibly in future, a Corbyn source allegedly said:

“I’ve never seen that level of duplicity by one leader of the Labour Party towards another. It’s despicable. There was real personal duplicity from her with her being aligned to the coup against Jeremy. Ian Murray led the charge within the shadow cabinet against Jeremy and she’s his elected mouthpiece. The left in Scotland is in the process of realignment and that process does not involve Kezia Dugdale. She should be out in the wilderness.”

This statement doesn’t tend to suggest a ‘forgive and forget’, ‘let bygones be bygones’ approach, more like unfinished business for another day.

Bob Thomson, a former Scottish Labour’s chairman in the early 1990s piped up to say on replacing Kezia Dugdale as leader:

“It wouldn’t be sensible to replace the leader now. The proof will be in the pudding in next May’s local council elections. I don’t think she could survive two election defeats.
“Kez has to accept that if Jeremy wins or whoever wins that we have to support the elected leader. The appointment of Ian Murray to her frontbench after he had resigned from the shadow cabinet was in my view an act of sectarian provocation. If they keep up with this type of behaviour then I think she’d be signing her own death warrant.”

Next year, the council elections will be a big test that is certain; the key battle ground will be Glasgow, Scottish Labour will be pressed hard in their attempts to retain the city, the SNP want Glasgow badly. If there is a disastrous result for Scottish Labour then Kezia Dugdale will find that Jeremy Corbyn supporters will certainly be quick to highlight her role in three epic electoral disasters.

I guess that Scottish Labour better pick people who will work their socks off for the win, this time round, the party can’t afford to have any hangers on who try and coast along while leaving others to carry the load.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Right at Glasgow University

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