davidgowDavid Gow says talk of a Scottish leadership election flies in the face of the evidence, and Scottish Labour’s real task must be to do the hard work of rebuilding its policy platform distinct from that of UK Labour, not to focus on spurious unity.

 

The knives are out again for Kezia Dugdale, with commentators assuming she’ll be another short-lived Scottish Labour leader. She’ll be a goner by Christmas is how many put it.

This emerged after she cast doubt on Jeremy Corbyn’s real desire to unite UK Labour after he – utterly unsurprisingly – secured a bigger share of the vote than in the 2015 leadership election and proceeded to try to backtrack on recent decisions to ensure Scottish Labour has representation on the party’s ruling body.

Paul Hutcheon, the Herald’s investigations editor, wrote of “a strategic blunder” and “jump(ing) into the swamp”. On Twitter, Kezia’s interminable interview with Gordon Brewer was rated “car crash” – almost entirely by SNP/Yes supporters – as she failed to explain contradictory statements in response to the same question repeated a dozen times.

It wasn’t a great interview to be honest. But Scottish Labour should stand back and consider some salient facts before blundering into yet another leadership election.

First, the party’s standing in the latest Panelbase poll is third at 16%. Not exactly a brilliant performance under Jeremy’s wonderful leadership – another wipe-out on the cards at the council elections next May unless there’s a dramatic change in fortune now he’s cemented his position for four more years.

Second, according to admittedly partial and unofficial evidence, largely via YouGov, Scottish Labour members (not associates or supporters) voted by a significant majority for Owen Smith. The figure in the room yesterday was 58% – or the same proportion as of Scots who voted to Remain in the June 23 EU referendum. Owen was vocally pro-EU – unlike Jeremy who is a lifelong Eurosceptic – so on that score alone, Smith is more in tune with Scottish opinion.

He was also right to stress Labour’s unelectability under Jeremy, who commands poor and sinking support among voters. In Scotland we know a lot about being unelectable – and there is zero evidence that Jeremy and Momentum will change that with their combination of demanding Stalinist loyalty politically and proposing 1970s-style state ownership economically. In any case, the SNP has taken on many of Labour’s policy stances – and won with them.

Kezia supported Owen and, like many of us, seriously questions whether the Corbynistas want to unite the party on anything other than their own terms. So far they have shown zero tolerance for alternative views. So in my view, Kezia should have stuck to her guns and demanded evidence that Jeremy and his leadership team genuinely “want” to unite the party. Where’s the beef? Show us the money. Like on Scottish political autonomy.

Instead she’s attempting to placate, talking about accepting his leadership and ability to take on the Tories and win in 2020. But the interests and goals of Scottish Labour and Labour in England (excluding London) are very different. For starters, Scottish Labour faces two opponents: the SNP and the (somewhat revived) Tories. And it is being squeezed between independence and unionism.

Scottish Labour’s problem is not Kezia but the incoherence of its policy positions: is it pro- or anti-Scottish independence via a second referendum? Is it pro-federalist? What kind of society and economy does it want to shape using all the powers available to a Scottish Government? It needs to discuss and decide on these core issues, and the Corbynista solutions so far on offer are inimical to any Scottish Labour revival, not least on the EU where Jeremy’s re-election buttresses the prospect of a hard Brexit, however emollient his words on the single market and freedom of movement.

A UK Labour Party run by largely hard-left cadres using the enthusiasm of tens of thousands of new members to win its positions is of little or no use to Scottish Labour as it fights to re-establish its credibility as a centre-left, social democratic force for political, social and economic change – and, unlike the SNP, to deliver on promises of tackling inequality, educational under-achievement and poor health among the working and unemployed poor.

A radical break, or even a rupture, may be the required outcome; spurious unity is to be avoided at all costs.

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11 thoughts on “Time for a radical break?

  1. “On Twitter, Kezia’s interminable interview with Gordon Brewer was rated “car crash” – almost entirely by SNP/Yes supporters – as she failed to explain contradictory statements in response to the same question repeated a dozen times.”

    Have you seen what Scott Arthur refers to as “Car crash” interviews? It only requires the presence of a member of the SNP to qualify.
    If you’re unable to admit that the interview was a car crash then you openly prove you’re own capacity for corruption and deceit.

    “First, the party’s standing in the latest Panelbase poll is third at 16%. Not exactly a brilliant performance under Jeremy’s wonderful leadership – another wipe-out on the cards at the council elections next May unless there’s a dramatic change in fortune now he’s cemented his position for four more years.”

    So what suddenly happened to the autonomy and Kezia Dugdale’s Leadership?

    “Kezia supported Owen and, like many of us, seriously questions whether the Corbynistas want to unite the party on anything other than their own terms. So far they have shown zero tolerance for alternative views”

    He obviously doesn’t have your knack for expressing tolerance unity and comradeship.

    ” In any case, the SNP has taken on many of Labour’s policy stances – and won with them.”

    Now that is true! congratulations you do recognise reality when you see it but you forgot to qualify that Labour took on many of the Conservatives policy stances and lost with them.

    “A UK Labour Party run by largely hard-left cadres using the enthusiasm of tens of thousands of new members to win its positions is of little or no use to Scottish Labour as it fights to re-establish its credibility as a centre-left, social democratic force for political, social and economic change”

    Ah so you still don’t want the policy stances the SNP are winning with?

    Its the kind of attitude that can come out with drivelling shite like this that destroyed Labour.

    1. I think “corruption” is too strong a word for Mr Gow’s reluctance to admit Ms Dugdale’s performance was anything other than catastrophic. Blinkered denial is probably closer to the truth. It was indeed a “car crash” interview. All it lacked was the wailing of sirens, the whup-whup of helicopters and spotlights piercing the darkness. How many more gaffes does she have to make before the penny drops in “Scottish” Labour?

  2. The latest poll shows labour at 16% in Scotland, surely that’s Dugdales fault she’s your Scottish leader how can it be Corbyn’s ?

    And if you think it was only the SNP who rated Kezia’s interview as a car crash you need to change your rose coloured specs very quickly, it was abysmal. And remember if all the labour members had been allowed to vote instead of being blocked, Corbyn’s figures could have been nearer 90% instead of 60 plus %.

    As for being a goner by Christmas, try May. Still at least you have said your considering a split, I take it your looking to call yourselves the “Unity Party”.

  3. “A radical break, or even a rupture, may be the required outcome……………………” Could that be called independence David?

  4. “A UK Labour Party run by largely hard-left cadres using the enthusiasm of tens of thousands of new members to win its positions is of little or no use to Scottish Labour as it fights to re-establish its credibility as a centre-left, social democratic force for political, social and economic change”

    Actual LoL to that …. that statement is so outrageous in it’s disingenuity it’s laughable.

    How stupid do you think that the Scottish people are? I can assure you that the answer is not that stupid, SLAB on the other hand don’t appear to be getting the repeated messages it is getting….

    Also, can you please make up your mind as to whether SLAB are autonomous or not? Dugdale seemed pretty sure in the summer in her correspondence to the SG ( “Scottish Labour is an autonomous party” iirc), yet here you are blaming ” Corbyns Labour” for the woes of SLAB.

    Just as a matter of interest, what policies of Corbyns do you think are turning off Scottish voters from Labour?

  5. The raw sample size for the Scottish part of the Yougov poll was 53 witch has a margin of error of about +/- 14% (19 times out of 20 the sample will be within 14% of the real value, 1 in twenty it will be out by more). It provides no meaningful data about support for Corbyn in Scottish labour. Dugdale may well be on the wrong side of most of your members. The interview she did was truly awful but not that far below par for her. She has pretty much failed to hold the SNP to account in the Parliament. The question of whether she should be replaced isn’t whether she is a good leader in tune with the membership it’s is there someone better who is willing to take on the job.

  6. “Scottish Labour’s problem is not Kezia but the incoherence of its policy positions: is it pro- or anti-Scottish independence”

    This particular “problem Kezia has created all by her self, she has flip flopped all over the shop on the issue.

    Kezia has to go, she is too factional and is therefore part of the problem and not the solution. We need a leader of the Scottish Labour Party that all wings of our party left, right and center can unite around.

    In my opinion, Jenny Marra would make a very good leader of the Scottish Labour Party

  7. “A radical break, or even a rupture, may be the required outcome; spurious unity is to be avoided at all costs.”

    Let me guess, groundwork for a split, perhaps using the Co-operative Party infrastructure? That’d explain why Johann Lamont was trumpeting about an “increase” in Co-op MSPs recently. Notably, that particular intake did not include Neil Findlay or Alex Rowley.

  8. Perhaps you could clear up a few points for me, David.
    1. You seriously believe that the abysmal showing of Labour in Scotland is due to Corbyn?
    2. You think Dugdale’s interview with Brewer WASN’T a car crash?
    3. The tories, in the eighties got 24% or the vote and were wiped out. In the last Holyrood election they polled 22%. You characterise that as a revival?
    4. You think giving two cotradictory answers to the same (more or less) question and then trying to bluster your way out of it is a good way to placate people?
    Kezia seems to have learned a lot from her time as Murphy’s deputy, and none of it good.

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