The general election result last Thursday was a disaster for the Scottish Labour Party. It was awful. Really, really bad. Devastating. There can be no sugar coating it. Although 700,000 Scots stuck with us, more than double backed the SNP.
But what is even worse is that all Scots have been landed with another five years of the Tories. That’s another five years of foodbanks, austerity and zero hours contracts.
People in Scotland need an effective and strong Labour Party standing up for their interests. We need to accept defeat, dust ourselves off and start on the long road to regaining the trust of the people of Scotland. We won’t do that if we spend the next few months with a leadership contest.As a member of the shadow cabinet and former chair of the Labour group of MSPs, I speak to colleagues regularly. From my conversations with fellow MSPs it’s clear there is overwhelming support for Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale to carry on as our leadership team.
They have only been in office for five months – it’s going to take a lot longer than that to rebuild the trust we have lost as a party over the last decade or so. The idea that everything will be okay if only we get rid of the leadership team who produced the most energetic and professional election campaign the Scottish Labour Party has had in years is ludicrous.
The Labour Party is at its best when we are representing the aspirations of the people of Scotland. That’s when we are listening to what Scots all across this great nation of ours are saying and setting out how we will transform it. But the Labour Party is at its worst when we engage in self-indulgent navel gazing or when we turn in on ourselves.
The only way we can restore the faith of the people of Scotland in our movement is by working together – that means elected representatives, trade unions, party members and those who support us uniting around a common purpose, that of making Scotland the fairest nation on earth.
The process of rebuilding can’t just be about the party or its leadership. It has to be about Scotland. We forget that at our peril.
So we need to get back out into our communities across Scotland listening to people, responding to their concerns and explaining how we can make this the fairest nation on earth. That work is already under way. There is no time to lose.