Thursday 15 December 2011

'Twas the Night before the Election

So, tomorrow, we will know. Not care, just know.

There has been virtually nothing interesting about the Labour Leadership contest. That in itself is however interesting.

Nobody. and I mean literally nobody, thinks that who emerges as the winner from the contest tomorrow will ever be First Minister of Scotland. Including, in their heart of hearts, the potential victors themselves.

Now, and here I genuinely mean this as no insult, the same, in terms of potential First Ministerial Office,  could equally have been said of the recent Tory contest. But that is the limit of my patronising. Because the Tory contest was still interesting. Murdo had a Big Idea. And that Ruth Davidson, as a gay woman, could get elected says a huge number of positive things not just about how Scotland has changed but, much as I hate to admit it, about how the Tories have shown a willingness to move with the times.

But the Scottish Tories, in terms of historic electoral support, are not the Scottish Labour Party, at least in my lifetime.

Until six months ago, Labour had been the dominant political force in Scotland for...........ever. Let us not forget, when Wendy was elected in Autumn 2007, the consensus, and by no means solely among the ranks of the faithful, was that the position she had assumed was that of  First Minister in waiting.

But let us not also forget that, even then, Wendy recognised that to return to power, Labour had to modernise. More innovative policy, greater focus on Scottish elections on their own merits, better candidates.

With her fall, all of that was abandoned as unnecessary, or at least too difficult. And in May 2011 the electorate passed its verdict on that assessment.

The really shocking thing about this year's contest is two things. I will come to the second. The First however is that, of the front runners, even  the more contemporary candidate, Ken, is about ten years behind Wendy in his thinking, while the other, Johann, is about six months behind Michael Foot. Pledge Cards, PLEDGE CARDS!!!!, are regarded as state of the art campaigning by the latter's camp only to be dismissed as anachronistic by their opponents who have discovered the wonders of robo calls. ROBO CALLS!!!

The second thing is however the more contemptible. Essentially both of the leading candidates start with the admission that they are no match for Alex Salmond. And so, to excuse their own inadequacies, they invest the First Minister with super-human properties.

I do not underestimate the First Minister. He is a politician of the first rank. Scotland. my Country, deserves no less for its First Minister. But big Donald gave him a doing in 1999. Jack McConnell, four years later,  drove him out of the contest altogether. Jim Murphy, as Secretary of State, ran rings round him in the run up to the 2010 General Election. Each were, in their own way, able politicians but none of them would even claim to have been wholly exceptional or unreplaceable  Labour leaders. I refuse to accept that we must now simply accept that we have no-one available of equal talent just because no suvh person exists in the current Holyrood Labour Group..

So, no matter who wins tomorrow, let those of who want Labour to win in 2016 wake up on Sunday with the resolve that, no matter who Labour puts forward for First Minister at that election, it cannot conceivably be either of these people.

1 comment:

  1. "...gave him a doing in 1999".

    Eek! Why do you labour politicians always feel compelled to give people doings?

    Maybe that's no-one votes for you ;-)