The Labour Party don’t have a Scottish leader – what they have is the Leader of the Labour group at Holyrood, whose only function has been to keep his MSPs on message and in line, on behalf of his London master, Ed Miliband, and the UK Labour Party.
But now Labour wants a Scottish Leader – a kind of gauleiter. (I will use a more apt and charitable name for the regional leader of a national party if there is one – suggestions welcome from Labour supporters.) Why do they want this? Because they lost the last two Scottish Parliamentary elections. 2007 could be dismissed as an aberration: 2011 was a rout.
It has been an ill wind, one that has blown little good for Labour, although it has provided a role - and presumably a nice little earner - for John McTernan, who has produced a seemingly endless series of articles telling Labour how they got it wrong and what they must do to put things right. More of the same today from John in The Scotsman. He looks south for inspiration, i.e. Westminster and a Labour MP.
Scottish Scots have been no bloody good – the ‘high-road-to-England’ version are what is needed. Of course, John McTernan has never submitted himself to the democratic process – to my knowledge - by running for Parliament. Instead he has been special adviser to just about everybody in the Labour Party. He is of that strange breed, a political strategist for a party whose political strategy has failed utterly in the UK and in Scotland. He blogs for The Daily Telegraph, exactly the right newspaper for a member of the Tory Lite Party, once known as the Labour Party.
John McTernan sniffs the wind carefully, and yesterday a breeze was blowing from Tom Harris MP, who on radio and on Newsnight Scotland threw his hat – well, sort of sneaked his hat – into the leadership ring, such as it is. I know all I need to know about Tom Harris, MP. He supported Blair, strongly supported the Iraq War, supports Trident – and, of course, he supports the UK.
Quote from today’s Herald: “I do not believe there is any great contradiction in looking after Scotland’s interests and the UK’s interests.” Tom Harris.
Tom Harris has already attracted the support of Louise Mensch, a Tory MP, and David Torrance, the Tory blogger and commentator and former Parliamentary Aide to the Tory Shadow Scottish Secretary David Mundell at Westminster. Louise Mensch was positively gushing in her delight at the prospect of Tom Harris’s candidacy. By their friends shall ye know them, as they say …
A seasoned politician, Tom Harris confessed to Gordon Brewer last night on Newsnight Scotland that he knew nothing of the mechanics of electing a Scottish Labour Leader. Well, the Westminster village does that to a Scot – the state of his native land becomes a faint rumbling way up North – not to be taken seriously unless career is threatened or an opportunity presents itself. Tom, a man steeped in journalism, media and PR, scents both possibilities.
So Scottish Labour may have yet another Iraq apologist, Trident/WMD enthusiast and staunch Unionist as gauleiter. Well, they are all in the job specification. But we could have done worse – it could have been Jim Murphy …