Dropping like flies.

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bearresignation.jpgAs others have pointed out, the first week of recess has proved way more dramatic than the last week of session, and a bad time for political hacks and amateur bloggers to take time off. 

I suppose anyone who's followed post-devolution politics could have expected the Liberals to follow close behind Labour but nevertheless it's odd to read that Nicol Stephen has gone (see left). Was he ever here? 

Let's start with Labour, though. There's an inevitable runners-and-riders debate, and I considered even offering odds, except where prohibited by law, but the bigger question is "what is the Labour Party now for?" 

The post being offered isn't even the Leader of Scottish Labour, it's simply the Leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament. What a narrow ambition. To lead only in the chamber, in the committees, and in the canteen. There's a whole nation out there, admittedly one no longer crying out for Labour leadership.

Is Scottish Labour just to be the voice of New Labour in Scotland? Is it simply to tinker at the edges of a Westminster Labour government's policies, or to try and hang onto them in the face of a Tory government down south? Or is Scottish Labour prepared to innovate, where that doesn't always mean privatise?

Even within the Scottish Parliament, is Labour interested in being an organised and competent opposition now? It certainly hasn't been one since May, shocked by the loss of power, unable to reach out to make a majority in the chamber, talking only to the Liberals, and bereft of purpose. (clue: that purposelessness is why they lost)

I think anyone who wants to take this job on needs answers to these questions. And they need to say "I will stand for the post of Scottish Labour leader, not just the Parliamentary leader, after all I will be selected by the MPs, councillors, MEPs, and activists as well as the MSPs. Or, alternatively, stuff your impotent post."

Also, they need to decide whether "bring it on" remains policy. I've got a tip there: if Wendy's successor abandons it, their troubles will be without end. Salmond's Plan A was to cause Labour massive electoral difficulty by bringing forward a bill for a referendum and having them vote it down. How much weaker even than that anti-democratic position would Labour's be if another U-turn intervened?

Anyway, I can't resist offering a few "outside the box" suggestions. Not many Labour MSPs stand out from the masses, but three of those that do are Patricia Ferguson, Lewis Macdonald and Ken Macintosh.

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This page was published on July 3, 2008 6:48 PM.

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