I ought to like and respect someone like Ann McKechin – a guid Scots lassie, a lawyer by profession (Scots Law at Strathclyde University), widely experienced in politics and representing the Glasgow North constituency.
But I find it hard to do either. She has been in Westminster since 2001 – the year of the Afghanistan invasion, and has been a loyal member of the Blair and Brown governments. No MP survived and prospered in either regime, as she has done, without submerging their liberal instincts and the values that used to be held by the People’s Party.
Who can touch pitch, and not be defiled by it ?
Her voting record shows the contradictions and the struggle with conscience that bedevilled some of the members of the Blair/Brown regimes’ more principled MPs.
She supported gay rights, was anti-hunting, sort of against Trident, and wanted an elected House of Lords, and to her credit, three years into her career, voted strongly against the Iraq War. I applaud her unreservedly for that.
But when the career chips were down – and you can bet they were down - she supported the most illiberal Labour regimes ever to have disgraced their party, Westminster and betrayed the country in the other contemptible things that defined Blair, Brown and New Labour.
She voted strongly
for Labour’s anti-terrorism laws
for a stricter asylum system
for allowing ministers to intervene in (i.e. intimidate) inquests
for ID cards
against laws to stop climate change
and she voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq War.
She was Jim Murphy’s right-hand woman in the Scottish Office, and together with the series of Labour apparatchiks - Wendy Alexander, Iain Gray - who replaced the men of stature who once led Labour in Holyrood - Donald Dewar and Henry McLeish – she actively participated and supported the blocking of almost every initiative by the SNP government under Alex Salmond to address the fundamental problems facing the Scottish people.
Here she is, attempting to justify the contemptible, politically expedient opposition to minimum pricing on alcohol, something supported by just about every objective Scottish institution – the Police, the Health Service, the churches, etc.
Ann McKechin has now been rewarded for all of this by Ed Miliband by becoming the Shadow Scottish Secretary, and will sit beside the members of the New Labour Scottish Old Guard who were up to their necks in that betrayal of Scotland, – Murphy, Alexander et al – and will become Westminster’s woman in Scotland, if Labour are re-elected instead of being Scotland’s woman in Westminster.