Sunday, November 20, 2011

Poll : if they were wise, who would Scottish Labour elect as their new leader?

Apologies for going quiet of late. I suffered a bit of a setback during the latter part of the summer - it was a very minor thing, on the face of it, but for some reason it had a profound effect on me, and I've been (for want of a better phrase) reassessing my priorities ever since. To begin with I was able to 'blog through it', so to speak, although it was probably noticeable that my posts became somewhat half-hearted. But just recently I've found that I've completely lost all interest in following political news, which makes writing a political blog a touch difficult! It may just be a temporary phase I'm going through - time will tell. In the meantime, one thing I can still do is run the poll that I've been planning for a while on the Labour leadership contest. The question is the same as for the Tory poll I ran a few weeks ago - it's not about who you would like to see as Labour leader (because it would work in the SNP's favour or whatever), but who Labour would pick if they were wise. And there's no cop-out "who cares?" option - we all know that would win by a mile, and tell us absolutely nothing!

I must admit, though, that I haven't really got a clue what my own answer would be, other than "not Admin, obviously". Macintosh is the more likeable and assured of the two credible candidates, but he's so softly-spoken that I can't help wondering if he might run into the same problems that John Swinney had as SNP leader. It also shouldn't be forgotten that he made a spectacular error of judgement over the Shirley McKie affair, giving foursquare support to the breathtakingly arrogant pronouncements of fingerprint experts who had already been utterly discredited.

You can find the voting form in the sidebar, and the poll will close tomorrow.


  1. Ezio Auditore da Firenze - Florence ForwardNovember 20, 2011 at 3:48 AM

    On behalf of the people of Florence, I want to wish you all the best, James. Whatever it is that has got you down, I can only hope it is temporary and you'll be back to your old self ASAP.

    Your blog would be sadly missed as well!

    Keep the chin up, dear fellow!

  2. All the best, enjoy reading your blogs and know that writing one is not something that is done in five minutes. Focus on yourself first to come back even stronger !

  3. It’s hard to see where Labour goes from here. The quality of candidate is low, coming as it does from a pool of low quality.

    Mind you, you’d wonder at who exactly would want to lead Labour in Scotland. No matter what they say about change, it’s going to be a thankless job. There are far too many people who will interfere with the new leader and try to outshine him or her for their own ends.

    For a start there is Margaret Curren. Maggie isn’t going to be a wilting violet for anyone. Unlike the previous shadow SS, whose name no one knew, Curren is never off tv, nor out of the newspapers. Oor Maggie has a name to make for herself so that she can guarantee a place in the next English cabinet, maybe even as the saviour of Scotland for the union.

    And then there are the so-called “big hitters”.

    No, don’t laugh, but Jim and Dougie are what Labour call “big hitters”, even if their political arguments can be torn to shreds by listeners on a Radio Scotland phone in. But they too want to be seen and heard in Scotland, even if they have Defence and Foreign Affairs briefs in England.

    Only the other day Dougie was telling the press how Labour would take a new attitude to devo-max. Now, I realise that I’d like the Shadow Foreign Secretary of England to be dealing with Scotland, but that day is 3 or 4 years down the line yet.

    The leader of the Scottish branch had better have a big personality to break through all the would-be senior statesmen of Labour’s London team. So who would that be out of the three?

    Ahhh yes. Stony silence.

    OK. Passing on. If they chose an MP from London, they simply re-enforce the Englishness of the Labour party, and the “branch” status of Scotland. There was no one good enough from the Scottish parliament so they had to bring someone in from London. And in this case, whoever is deputy leader will be the de facto leader as seen here on tv. It’s been done before by the SNP, but they didn’t have to worry about the “Englishness” of their brand. And then they will have to “fix it” so that Admin can get into the Scottish parliament as soon as possible. A retirement of a list MSP maybe, with a seat in the London Lords sometime afterwards? In the meantime, what would his contribution be? Ideas? Surely he can contribute them without being the leader. Plenty others do.

    No. They’d be mad to go with that option.

    Johann Lamont seems to have managed to spend the last 3 years or so as deputy leader without having made any great splash, and considering that she wouldn’t have been required to shine brightly to out-do Elmer, it seems to me that she’s hardly likely to look anything but shadowy standing next to Curren.

    And then where two women are concerned there will be the inevitable clothes and hair comparisons to add to the mix. ‘Nuff said.

    And that leaves what’s his name. The man that Ed forgot.

    So although he’s been in parliament since the day it opened he’s not made enough impression on his boss that he could recall his name. Maggie is going to outshine him too without having to worry about her hair or the colour of her suits. We don’t really know what kind of performances he will put up against Alex, because we’ve never seen him in operation.

    Hard choice. I think that out of the two, they’d probably be better with Johann, but it’s a close run thing, based more on shutting my eyes and making that stab in the dark.

    Actually from an SNP point of view I feel much the same. I don’t see either of the two Scottish based candidates providing Alex with any great competition in debate. Nor for that matter the London based one.

  4. I’m sorry to hear of the setback you talk about. I can only hope, as I’m sure you do, that the effects will be swiftly dispatched, but I’m aware of how hollow that may sound from someone who doesn’t understand what the cause is.

    However, I hope you will take it as it is meant, with my very best wishes.

    I’ve missed your writing. SGP is one of the few blogs I’ve turned to as a matter of course over the last few years; it seems to me to be the hallmark of quality political analysis, based as it is on good research and intelligent analysis mixed with a “liberal” (pardon the word) sprinkling of humour.

    Your writings are the kind of work that we need. Bloggers make a difference. You make a difference. For my own selfish ends, as well as for yours, James, and for independence, I hope you’ll be back to your old self very soon.

  5. Not knowing you in any sense beyond your blog projection I am nevertheless sad, for very selfish reasons obviously, and hope that whatever it is, it will be soon be "was", and you can roll out your thoughts and blogs to our delight again.

    Just a small point vis-a-vis the poll, it is a pity there was for an "sfa" button for, I feel, that the tipping point for the Scottish Branch of today's Labour, has passed and from now on it is all window dressing. That I find sad, if only for their proud tradition.

    Their true spirit and movement will be reborn in an independent Scotland but, they will need to change their culture and do away with their nursery based progression of career politicians.

  6. not an "sfa! button, sorry

  7. Macintosh is so obviously the best candidate that I can't understand why there's even a discussion. An MSP; increased his majority in difficult circumstances; not Glaswegian; not mental; and a disciple of Murphy, the strongest card in Labour's deck. Murphy himself would be better, but he prefers the far less uncertain prospects of his current job.

    For deputy, they'd probably want a more overt Natbasher to complement Macintosh. So Davidson.

  8. Thanks to all of you for your kind wishes! I'd been pondering the idea of writing a post to say I was taking a break from blogging, but the last time I did that I ended up finding something to blog about within two days, and felt a bit silly for having made the announcement! So I'll just play it by ear this time and see if I get the politics bug back at some point.

    Interesting to see that Admin is doing quite well in the poll so far - perhaps we have more of a sneaking regard for him than I thought.

  9. Personally I would love to see “admin” as leader just to see how well a proto-English Scottish Tory dressed up in the red flag and tartan knickers would do. The comedic value alone would be enormous and God knows I like a good laugh. But in terms of being best for Scottish Labour I thinks his pro-Westminster right wing mindset would go down with would be Labour returnees like a lead balloon. Probably best option for them if the wish to lose the rest of their Glasgow seats.

    The problem for them all now is who is to emerge from behind the enormous ego of the Shadow Scottish Secretary? Unlike Anne whatshername Curran would never be able to stop herself from making a pronouncement on anything and everything. Indeed in the few months she has been shadow SS I have seem far more of her than I did of Anne in the entire year she had the job.

    As for Lamont, well she has spent the last parliament being a nodding dog for Iain Gray. When in shot at FMQs we see her nodding and clapping with such vigour as to put the very worst mindless apparatchik from North Korea to shame. So she seem to have a doormat’s doormat kind of personality that would always put the interests of the Labour party first and foremost. She is shrill and hatchet faced with a voice that sounds like finger nails being drawn across a blackboard. She might help their recovery in Glasgow and the West of Scotland but would I fear have very limited appeal to the rest of the country.

    Macintosh I don’t know. He seems to have managed to have been in parliament since 1999 without making any impact at all beyond his own patch. How could anyone with leadership aspirations be a virtual unknown despite being one of the few old boys left? This does not fill me with confidence.

    So in answer to your question who would be best for Labour. Ideally none of them. But at the end of the day I will have to plump for Macintosh and hope that being leader will awaken some spark that we have not seen hitherto.

  10. Good wishes to you from France - keep going.

  11. Macintosh is the best they can do out of these 3. If Murphy cared for the future of "Scottish" Labour, never mind Scotland, he should be going for the job which is surely his virtually by acclamation.

    Good luck James-I am an avid reader and admirer of your blog.

  12. Hey James, I click on your blog from my fav. list most days to see what your latest offering is. Most often than not you are able to bring a positive slant on most topics published by the biased msm.

    I do hope your creative juices flow once more, as I for one will miss your valuable insight into what is really going on.

    The independence movement need guys like you to state the other side of the coin. Every blog is more than precious when you consider the stranglehold the media have on what the people hear, or for that matter what they don't hear.

    More power to you ma man.

  13. James - like Anonymous here I click on your blog every day (well recently less so!). One of my favourites, the humour being no small part of that. I comment on blogs rarely, and the time I sometimes spend composing one comment puts me in awe of guys like yourself who do this sort of thing regularly. SGP would be sorely missed, so I hope you get your mojo back soon.

    Regarding the Labour leadership, I am unable to state a preference. Whenever I come up with a choice of the three I'm immediately thinking "Naw, Jeez, never, come on!" Basically - who'd choose those three as potential leadership material in the first place?

  14. James
    I hope you are well and that what you are contending with may soon be resolved positively and happily - great good wishes with that.

    As with the above well wishers and respondees to your poll and given the shallowness and supineness of the pool of "talent" on offer, I went for the Quiet Man rather than the Harridan or the naked opportunist that is Bomber Bullshit in the hope he might yet evidence the full flame of decency, morality and intelligence that seems to flicker with him; but who knows (?) for things have come to a pretty awful pass with the current nihilism of the last dregs of principled socialism in Scotland (MacLean, like Christ in the temple amongst the money lenders, would have taken a whip to these manipulative and blood suckingparasites on the body politic of the people of Scotland).

    Thus, I will go for the candidate whose name I can barely enough remember to spell in the face of the other two horrendous options and que sera, sera.

    Wishing you well from my bit of the diaspora in the Far East.