Richard Rawles, a member of the Labour Party in Edinburgh Northern and Leith CLP, says we should conduct this leadership debate with a focus on defeating our opponents, not each other.


Some very brief thoughts about the Scottish leadership election — from an undecided Labour member.

  1. Candidates and members should avoid trashing our past. People who disliked the leadership of Kezia Dugdale because she did not support Corbyn in the recent period of disunity should reflect that with her we placed ourselves unambiguously left of SNP in policy (see the 2016 Holyrood manifesto), which is (I assume!) exactly what Corbyn supporters and all Labour members would wish, and we ought to acknowledge this (otherwise we surrender to demonstrably false claims by the SNP that they have been left of Labour all the time).

  2. Both of the candidates who have declared have gone out of their way to dampen down excessively factional spirits within Labour and to avoid making this contest a replay of recent quarrels in the UK party. They are right to do so. We may have another general election soon, and in every CLP we need to be working as well as possible together. We have new members; we should show them a party of respectful and friendly debate rather than anger and aggravation. Neither candidate is a proxy for Jeremy Corbyn or Owen Smith (or for Tony Blair!). Both are good servants of the Scottish Labour party.

  3. It’s natural to look at ways in which Corbyn has brought success to the party (increased vote share, a much better GE result than many expected — but still not a win…), and to think ‘let’s have some of that!’ Many admire Corbyn far more than any other recent leader for different reasons. We may also reasonably feel that we want the Scottish leader and the UK leader to work well together. On the other hand, we shouldn’t retreat to the ‘branch office’ status that was complained of in the past. The job of the Scottish leader is not simple ‘loyalty’ to the UK leader: she or he will have their own mandate and their own independent role in the Labour Party and part of their job will be to represent Scottish Labour and its unique interests and situation in the party as a whole.

    Scottish politics and UK politics just don’t map on to one another. The new leader should be willing to work with the UK leadership effectively, but our federalised party structure (which we owe again to Kezia — and to Corbyn) requires that they also plough their own furrow and think and act independently. Saying ‘S/he is completely loyal to Corbyn’ is not a commendation. (Saying ‘S/he and Corbyn both talk the kind of Labour language and policy I want’ is a different matter!)

  4. If you don’t think Corbyn (or Attlee!) is disqualified from leadership by virtue of being rich and from a wealthy background, don’t think this of any candidate in Scotland either! (Still, it’s quite fun if the British Asian candidate is getting cast as the posh one!)

  5. People who don’t like ‘Corbynism’ for the tribal, angry, aggressive qualities of some of its proponents: take great care not to replicate these attitudes yourselves…

  6. A strong strand in left-SNP and pseudo-left- SNP propaganda says something like ‘Ah well, Corbyn may be OK, but most of Scottish Labour is on the right and little different from the Tories!’ This is clearly nonsense (again, look at 2016 manifestos!). So don’t let any of us repeat it, even in support of a candidate we really want for good reasons. Really: not ever! It harms us and helps the Conservatives and SNP to continue to fail Scotland and the UK. If you are arguing for a good candidate, you can make your case without doing this. (This is almost the same as 1. above, but I think it’s important enough to say two different ways!)

I really am undecided, by the way. I hope we can see some good comradely debate about policy and politics in the hustings. More of that, less of ‘team colours’!

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12 thoughts on “Here we go again

  1. They should stand on their beliefs and basic political philosophy: nothing more, nothing less.
    However, the candidates stink.

    Sarwar has a dismal air about him. He seems to have been around for ever, with a hangdog face and loser attitude.
    I saw Leonard at the hustings in Cumnock a few years ago. There is more charisma and bite in a spoonful of caster oil.
    No women? No person from a normal educational background? Someone with a bit of personality and a sense of humour?
    This is heading for another Ian Gray or Johann Lamont standard of leadership.
    Ernest; dull; dutiful; with no electoral hook.

  2. Richard, many of your points are well made. There needs to be a focus on policy rather than personal attacks. Is Corbyn not a positive role model here? Last year Owen Smith was focussed far more on attacking Corbyns personal deficits than on policy. It was not productive. Your point 5-about non Corbyn supporters not replicating the bad behaviour of some of his proponents, rather implies that foul personal attacks originated with his fans. Well, here is just one example from this very website published after Corbyns huge victory over Owen-I will not mention the authors name: “Jeremy Corbyn, a clueless imcompetent incapable of leading or uniting his party,utterly unsuited to the task of leading an opposition let alone a country, a man whose decency is much stated but little evidenced in his associations has been re elected. A Labour govt looks unlikely before 2030”

    There were many examples elsewhere and also succour given by Corby’s Labour party opponents to attacks on him in the press. We hear little about this.

    However the really interesting is what constitutes a personal attack? If someone questions decisions taken by a prospective leader in their personal life-is this totally out of bounds? Consider Diane Abbots decision to send her child to a fee paying school. She was rightly called out on that by other Labour MP’s. While she acknowledged that she had been ‘selfish and self serving’ she nevertheless attempted a lame defence of the fact the schools in her area were poor. So why should Anas not also be asked to defend his decision? If we do not raise these issues and confront them our opponents surely will. Likewise, although Anas is a minority shareholder and is not directly responsible for employees being paid below the minimum rate, should he not speak out in clear terms about this matter. Should he not threaten to sell his shares if this is not rectified?

    I agree the fact he is rich should not exclude him. However with a high level of cynicism about politicians creating one rule for the many and another for the few (themselves) such questions are, I think, unavoidable.

  3. Richard its the Labour Party. Where would we be without a good rammy ha ha

    I agree with you we must not refight old battles .I am sure we wont I supported Kezia one thing she had to her credit she held the party together no civil war.
    I want a candidate who will when needed say to the UK leader this is Scotland we need to do it this way.
    I am voting for Richard Leonard when I had to retire through ill health my union the GMB were with me all the way .
    They were asked by my employer for help in getting me my ill health pension .HR told my full time Union rep that I was the first employee to go the full way.
    The company asked the union for help because the rules were complicated the union agreed immediately .The GMB got me my pension. That’s what good unions do.
    Richard for me fits the bill .
    He knows what he wants how to get it. He has a proven track record outside politics. This is important for me he will be on my side. As I felt Kezia was .I will unite behind our leader whoever we elect.
    We need to focus on things like the SNP programme for Government
    A lot of it is Labour policy We need to ask why did you not present those policies before Tuesday

  4. Your 2016 manifesto has been policy in Scotland since 2007. The answer to your dilemma is simple. Wake up get a grip of reality and acknowledge you’re in the wrong party when it comes to delivering social justice social democracy and social welfare.
    You’re actually in the party that has been opposing social justice social democracy and social welfare since 1997 all wrapped up in an SNP bad dogma.
    But I suspect you already know this I bet you’re not really interested in anything other than your own place within the Labour party like the rest.

    1. Very good, Mike. It has been policy in Scotland since 2007 to increase income tax to fund public services and to have a 50p tax rate, has it? Strange, then, that this has not happened… ‘My own place’ in the Labour Party is ‘member’; nor do I have in mind to do anything more ambitious than knock on a few doors, deliver a few leaflets, and from time to time to speak my mind as I have here.

      1. Is that your take on the Labour manifesto 2016? That’s what you got from it? Is that right?
        Labour is all about increasing taxation. That’s Labours answer? The left of the SNP solution to everything?

        Or maybe there was a lot more in the manifesto? A written testimony to SNP policy perhaps?

  5. Think that horse has already bolted TBH, Sarwar supporters have already come out with the idea that Scottish Labour should not be run by an Englishman & Leonard supporters have been sharing widely the story that Sarwar’s company pay’s employees exploitative wages.

    1. Jim

      Genuine question- which of Sarwars supporters have been playing the English card? Not heard this. It is true that some of Leonards supporters have retweeted etc the exploitation story. However it was a journalist who put it in the public domain.
      Leonard has been claiming that ‘Scots like Yorkshire people…’ I need to see full verification of this by an independent sampler- surely this is only fair.

      1. “it was a journalist who put it in the public domain”.
        Wake up, Adrian, the coffee is getting cold.
        So called “journalists” are a big element of the political process in Scotland, in a way that happens no where else in the democratic world that I have seen. They are more involved in partisan propaganda and polemics rather than seeking truth and informing the public.

      2. I’ve seen it any number of times on Twitter Adrian. Thankfully each time it has been shouted down, even by supporters of other parties.

  6. Here we go again. Labour working with Tories to pass Brexit bill. Labour don’t seem to have any problem at all opposing the SNP for opposition sake even when they agree with their policies but when it comes to the Tories they have no problems or conscience concerns voting with them far too often.
    It doesn’t matter whether Labour are in power or opposition they are equally corrupt self serving and ideologically Tory.

  7. Mike you are talking Jeremy Corbyn here .Labour imposed a 3 line whip to oppose Brexit on Monday
    Ruth Davidson has now told the FM she is prepared to work with her on Brexit.
    I take it you will be happy with that.
    The FM has no problem working with the Welsh Labour FM Does that make her ideologically Tory.
    The FM has given a commitment to lift the pay cap a Labour policy.
    Does that make her idealogically Tory She has given a commitment to raising tax . Does that make her idealogically Tory and do you agree with her proposals. And when local authority workers now put in for above the pay cap wage demands will you support them .And when Local authorities of all parties have to ask for more funding to meet the wage bill will you be out there supporting them.
    Remember Austerity is over. The SNP are in government in Holyrood. That’s why we oppose .
    Alec Salmond was prepared to work with Jeremy Corbyn at Westminster . He did work with Annabel Goldie The Tory Leader at Holyrood. He worked with the Labour and LibDem leaders to get devolution .After the SNP withdrew from the convention he had to force the SNP conference to back devolution. He worked with Tony Blair to get devolution Does that make him corrupt self serving and ideologicaly Tory

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