There now seems to be a view emerging from Labour "sources" that the next head of their Scottish branch office is likely to be a Westminster MP, rather than an MSP. Unsurprisingly, some metropolitan bubble commentators such as our old friend Mike "can't be arsed" Smithson see absolutely no problem with this, so starstruck are they by the 'heavyweight' status of the London darling who has suddenly emerged as frontrunner (although I'd be very interested to see any concrete polling evidence that Jackanory Jim meets the Scottish people's own idea of an A-list politician). But back here where it actually matters, there does appear to be at least some recognition of the difficulties, with Malcolm Chisholm MSP arguing that having a Westminster MP as his party leader would turn a "crisis into a catastrophe".
One thing that intrigues me about the assumption that the leader will be an MP is that it presumably means that if Jackanory Jim decides not to stand or falls by the wayside for whatever reason, the expected winner is Anas Sarwar. Er, why? I can understand the argument that Kezia Dugdale (33 years old) and Jenny Marra (36 years old) might be a bit too young and inexperienced, but given that they're at least in the correct parliament, why is Anas Sarwar (31 years old and in the wrong parliament) so self-evidently more suitable? I hold no brief for either Dugdale or Marra - in fact, I'm aware of no evidence at all that they "get it" about the need for a much more radical devolution package (Marra infamously claimed in a TV debate that if she was designing a constitutional system from scratch, she'd make it exactly like the one we have now!). But to prefer Sarwar to either of them seems crazy, which is probably why there's a reasonable chance that Labour will do it.
Incidentally, I should acknowledge at this point that Duncan Hothersall said the other day that any suggestions from Labour's opponents that certain candidates were unsuitable would be interpreted as evidence that those are in fact the people that we "fear" the most. So in the desperate hope that such reverse psychology will actually work, could I just say to Labour : DON'T elect Sarwar. He'll be a DISASTER. Please don't do it, we're ONLY THINKING OF YOU!
Doubtless the point will be made that Labour are merely proposing to replicate what the SNP did in 2004, when they chose Alex Salmond as leader and First Minister-designate, in spite of the fact that he was a Westminster MP at the time. But there are three very good reasons why that is a totally bogus comparison...
1) As much as this truth rankles with the London-based parties, the SNP are perceived by the electorate as a thoroughly Scottish party in a way that they are not. So the temporary anomaly of having a Westminster-based leader didn't matter so much for the SNP - Salmond was always going to be seen as an authentically Scottish leader regardless of his physical location. Labour won't enjoy that luxury.
2) Salmond answered to no-one in the SNP Westminster group between 2004 and 2007. By contrast, Sarwar or Murphy will be a humble backbench Labour MP, required to take the instructions of Miliband's whips. The monumental conflict of interests for any so-called "party leader" is obvious.
3) Labour have tended to regard their Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland (or Secretary of State when they were in government) as a kind of parallel leader of equal stature - witness the way that Jackanory Jim himself was put forward for the Scottish "leaders' debates" in 2010, rather than Iain Gray. OK, at least they're now going to be liberated from the mind-boggling dilemma of having to put forward either Johann Lamont or Margaret Curran, but is it really credible to have TWO Scottish Labour leaders in Westminster, and ZERO Scottish Labour leaders in Holyrood?
* * *
To return to the subject of Mr Smithson, I gather from Mick Pork that he's once again been wittering on about the "disaster" supposedly suffered by the SNP in the 2012 local elections - you know, the elections that the SNP comprehensively won across Scotland, with more votes and seats than any other party, and also a bigger increase in votes and seats than any other party. From what I recall, Smithson's main excuse for his bizarre claim is that only the result in Glasgow mattered, because it's such an important city. But that means...the Yes campaign won the independence referendum? That's right, isn't it, Mike? I don't see how you can have it both ways.
As for Mike's fetish for Jackanory Jim, it may well be true that Murphy would have a slightly better chance of getting a respectable result for Labour in 2016 than Johann Lamont, albeit that says far more about Ms Lamont than anyone else. But I really struggle to see what use Mike thinks a Murphy "leadership" would be to Labour in next year's UK general election - the only difference it would make is that Murphy would be Labour's representative in the second-string Scottish TV debates. The whole reason that the SNP have angrily rejected the broadcasters' proposals as they currently stand is that nobody pays a blind bit of attention to the second-string debates. And then there's Mike's claim that Murphy emerged from his referendum street-barking tour with his "reputation enhanced". Really? If you measure a politician's mettle by the "weapon" it takes to silence them, Jackanory Jim proved to be literally as tough as an egg-shell.
Now then. *Clears throat.* There's something I've been needing to get out of my system for months, and it's going to gnaw away at my soul if I don't get it out of my system sooner or later. So if you'd just indulge me for a few moments by imagining that Neil Morrissey is singing the Bob the Builder "Can We Fix It?" song, with adapted lyrics in tribute to Mike Smithson. Here we go...
CAN - HE - BE - ARSED?
NO - HE - CAN'T!
OK, good, it's out of my system now. Incidentally, I saw a cartoon on Twitter the other day with a caption which I thought perfectly summed up Smithson's PB moderation policy -
"You do realise that exposing the illegal things your government has been doing is illegal?"
By far the quickest way to get banned for no reason on PB is to point out that others have been banned for no reason.