Parliament: August 2008 Archives

Tavish on the ropes already.

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tavishn.pngPatrick's been urging me to watch Tavish Scott's appearance on Newsnight last night. Having done a substantial u-turn on a referendum in his first 24 hours in office, Tavish then refused to answer Gordon Brewer's question. After berating the media, which is always a good idea. (iPlayer link, until it goes down)

He started his leadership very clearly (by Liberal standards): "I am not intuitively against making sure that people have a choice and opportunity to vote on these things."

Then he rotated completely, saying he was opposed to a vote that could introduce independence "by the back door".

Pressed to reconcile these two contradictory statements, he refused. His policy on the constitutional future of our country? Fuel prices are too high. It's as absurd as saying your policy on fuel prices is independence. And no-one would do that.

Eventually Gordon got an answer: "I don't see how a multi-option referendum could work."

Here's a thought, Tavish. It could work like the leadership race you just won. It would be a preferendum, and if, say, three options are offered - independence, Calman or status quo - then the public rank their preferences. 

If one option gets 50% of first preferences outright, as you did, that's the result. If not, the least preferred option is eliminated, and the second preferences of those who picked it are counted. It's not "independence by the back door", it's the electoral system your party brought in for local elections. It allows a nuanced point of view - presumably you'd back Calman 1, status quo 2. I'd go for independence 1, Calman 2 (assuming Calman ever reports, and the result isn't absurd).

Even those opposed to independence should back a vote. If they're right about public opinion, we can all put this issue to bed for a generation and get on with tackling poverty and climate change. If they're wrong, then there's a popular will for change, and they shouldn't obstruct it. What's so complicated about that?

Kicking off.

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worldcup2010.gifA week on Saturday the World Cup circus resumes, and Scotland are playing away in Macedonia, kicking off the European section

The last Euro qualifiers should be seen as the culmination of one element of our national destiny - to lose in the most courageous and unlikely manner, in the narrowest of ways. By this argument, the whole of the last phase of Scottish football, from 1974 onwards, led up to that defeat by Italy. What could be more appropriate than beating France at home and away yet still not qualifying?

So having completed that part of our destiny, I am utterly confident about qualification, and will hear no talk of jinxes. I've never been to an international tournament, but am absolutely desperate to go to South Africa for this one. By train, naturally. 

It should also be noted that the 2010 World Cup falls directly between the last date for the next UK General election and any autumn referendum on independence. How much must Salmond be desperate for qualification and any afterglow from all that 90-minute nationalism?

deadrose.jpgAndrew Berry, a trade unionist from London and Labour member, recently attended a Scottish Labour leadership hustings, and I recommend his review. Here are some unedited highlights.

On Iain Gray and Andy Kerr: "The two men spoke first and frankly it was vacuous nonsense focused on what positions they held and bash the nationalist no mention of policy, Kerr if anything was to the right of Gray who is apparently Browns favoured candidate."

Cathy Jamieson: "talked about working with trade unions and for the party to be involved in making policy, whilst much of this was vague it was considerably more political and to the left of the other two."

She won his support, but it was hardly wholehearted: "I came out of the husting believing that was I in Scotland I would have little choice but to vote for Cathy Jamison despite the history of privatising the prison service and her dreadful appearance on question time were she seemed to support DNA collection of all UK citizens from birth."

He thought Bill Butler was clearly the best candidate for deputy, but: "didn't entirely agree with every thing he said such as his view that PFI should compete on a level playing field with other public sector financing, why it needs to be in the field at all I don't know."

Does anyone know why anyone with views like this, so antithetical to the modern Labour Party, would continue to support the party of PFI, war, privatisation, ID cards, and the rest? It's a mystery to me.

Caltongate disgrace.

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caltongatedemo.jpgEdinburgh Council's Development Committee today discussed Caltongate again, and duly ignored both UNESCO and the Scottish Green Party. At least we're in good company. 

The Council stuck to their untenable position, and this abomination is being forced through despite complete local opposition and despite the threat to remove World Heritage status. There's even an EU complaint pending, but this lot are impervious to reason.

The only person speaking sense was Green Councillor Steve Burgess, whose motion to hold the decision until UNESCO have visited failed because not a single other councillor on the Committee was prepared to second it. 

If you want a strange illustration of what the anger looks like, incidentally, check out this Evening News article. Three comments approved, then nine hundred and ninety-seven rejected. It looks like a vast amount of thoroughly legitimate swearing has gone on here, directed no doubt at the complacent councillors from the four larger parties.

Anyway, two days ago Robin Harper, Margo MacDonald and Shirley-Anne Somerville wrote to John Swinney, who is now the last person who can save the heart of historic Edinburgh. I've been critical of Shirley-Anne over this (second letter here), much to Malcolm's annoyance. Fair play, though, she signed up to the letter, and hopefully Swinney will listen to her. But if she couldn't even persuade her local councillor colleagues to back Steve's motion, is there much hope?

In praise of Jack McConnell.

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mcconnellmrworry.jpgNot as a First Minister, mind, as an ex-First Minister. Some people leave the top job and fester on the back benches, scheming and briefing against their successors. Others openly declare themselves to be back-seat drivers

But Jack saunters around the Holyrood building with the top two buttons of his shirt undone, clearly loving the fact that it's all someone else's problem now. 

It's not a Hawaiian shirt, but it clearly will be soon, and the medallion is already implicit. Even his walk is laid back, almost gravity-defying.

It's easier, in one sense, when you're gone because the public voted you out. Major famously walked out of Number 10 and down to the Oval. Both were politicians whose policies I didn't much care for, yet both have watched far inferior leaders of their parties come and go, failing in opposition and making them look better. 

Nobody even seems to know who Jack's backing to succeed Wendy, although I understand he's pretty clear on the strengths and weaknesses of all three candidates. Mr Worry's been left far behind, he's got a pension of £38k just from his First Ministership, and he's off to Malawi, which looks pretty damn gorgeous. Jack, I salute your nonchalance.

You can't argue with the man's mandate - 59% for Scott, 21% for Finnie, and 18% for Rumbles. The missing 2% presumably voted for Charlie Kennedy. Or were illegible. Or both.

Liberal members have looked at their party's response to minority government, i.e. resist any cooperation with anyone except Labour, and they like it. Personally I think that could be costly, but only time will tell.

I'm pleased to see someone yanked Jeff's chain, though.

Update: Tavish Scott seems to have had a massive and absurd rush of blood to the head. "Thank you for this, the gold medal in the Lib Dem Olympics. I'm with Chris Hoy. I'm comfortable and confident in being part of a federal political party."

So what would the events be at the real Liberal Olympics? Synchonised boredom? Bulldozer relays? Graph manipulation time trials? Long-distance fence-sitting?

In any case, I doubt Chris Hoy actually said he's "part of a federal political party". If he was a Liberal, he probably left after they led the campaign to demolish his beloved velodrome.

Rewarding failure.

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harvieIDcards.jpgThe Independent reports today that the firm which lost personal data for 84,000 convicted criminals is also lined up to work on the ID cards. This scheme is destined to fail or be scrapped, so the £33m they've been paid will be wasted no matter what, but if I had my way every company that ever fails on personal security should be blocked from any future Government IT contracts.

Coincidentally, I got a letter today from my local Liberal candidate claiming that voting for them was "the safest way to ... protect our traditional civil liberties". Odd, then, that they abstained on the issue in 2005 when Patrick had a motion down opposing ID cards.

No betting on Ross.

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captmainwaring.jpgRumours of shifting Liberal opinion started spreading earlier this month, with Tavish Scott being described as high-handed, furious with Ross Finnie for even standing, and offering no progress on their current situation. Mike Rumbles remains the outsider's outsider, but Finnie looked like a good bet. 

With this in mind, on the 12th of August, I asked William Hill if they would offer odds on the Liberal contest, and I was told that "the odds compiler has informed us that we do want to bet on Scottish Lib Dem leader, but the market is not been compiled yet".

Having seen nothing, I chased it up, and was today told that "We have forwarded your request to our Compilers who have now confirmed that we will not be offering these prices. A business desicion has been made not to offer betting on this market."

Why the change? Insufficient interest? Is it too hard for bookies to make any prediction about what this volatile electorate will do? Either way, my tenner remains unstaked.
Iain Dale, who's doing his best to corner the political blogs by telling us all how much he loves us, interviewed Salmond today for Total Politics

The story's not yet posted there, but PA reports some pretty unattractive comments by the First Minister about not minding the economics of Thatcherism, just the social side. 

So those two aren't related? The massive social dislocations around de-industrialisation and privatisation weren't anything to do with her flawed economics? 

However, the rest of the interview makes more sense. Specifically, he goes on to say that:

".. of the other parties in the Scottish Parliament, the Greens - who have been very constructive - and the Conservatives have been the ones who have got the most out of the political situation, in my opinion."

It's hard to disagree. We are often the only party opposing the Nats, especially on transport, planning, and the environment. Conversely, where we agree with them, we'll work with them. In between, we look for common ground, and always aim to be fair and honest about their record, the successes and the failures. This is what constructive means. 

Last year's budget remains the most glaring example. We told them what we wanted to see changed. We explained what changes would be sufficient to make it a budget we could abstain on, and what changes would be sufficient to make it a budget we could back. 

Net result? They made enough change to allow abstentions, a whole string of green improvements to the budget which I won't bore you with again, and their budget went through. But in the end, Labour and the Liberals also abstained and got nothing for it. My very first entry here set out how the various parties did.

For a little schadenfreude, by the way, check out the Labour comments in the BBC article about our discussions with the Nats in May last year.

Back to the interview, it's hard to disagree with Salmond's other conclusions about the various parties here:

"The Labour Party have just been heads down, charging and usually missing, bypassing the matador and heading into the crowd somewhere.

"And the Liberals? I have no idea what they're doing. I don't think they do either."

In short, Green votes elect politicians who make change happen. Liberal and Labour votes don't. On this at least, Salmond's spot on.

Facing both ways.

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makeithappenclegg.jpgNick Clegg recently published a summary of his views, coincidentally called Make It Happen (pdf link). 

Whether it's party policy or just his policy isn't clear - if you search for it, Google thinks it's called "Front Page Nick Only". They seem to have decided to go really personal, because they think that's worked for the Tories. 

Anyway, one of the sections caught the attention of a friend. On page 7, Nick says (emphasis mine):

"Labour have let us down. They make big promises about cutting emissions, but then they back dirty coal-fired power stations and plan another runway at Heathrow. And they build expensive new roads instead of funding proper public transport."

Just like Liberals when they get into power. Tavish Scott and Nicol Stephen, as Transport Ministers, rammed through a series of expensive new roads, including the Aberdeen Western Peripheral, the M74 Northern Extension (against the Inquiry's report), and the M80 project (delivered through PFI). 

But where's the Aberdeen Crossrail? The Glasgow Crossrail? Languishing still, despite four years of Liberal Transport Ministers and eight years of Liberal coalition with Labour. 

The page this hypocrisy appears on is ironically titled "Why is it so hard to go green?" Actual Greens find it pretty straightforward to go green, but it certainly seems impossible for the Liberals.

Thanks to Rayyan Mirza for the delighful montage to the left. 

Boom and bust.

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Thumbnail image for libdemlogo.jpgThe other parties claim to love prudence, even though Greens are usually the only ones suggesting actual savings (1, 2, 3, just for starters). 

Their own finances normally tell a different story. Labour and the Tories have long shown substantial and damning incompetence with their own money, even if their bankers bale them out over and over again.

It's no surprise that the Liberals are now in the same position

Their policy platforms are bankrupt, their leadership candidates are a busted flush, their largest donor is on the run from a fraud trial, and, as the auditors have said: 

"These conditions indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the party's ability to continue as a going concern."

Category mistake.

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kittenglasssmall.jpgLabour are in a total mess over post office closures. Jack Straw, for instance, campaigns to save them locally, but Public Whip reports he's strongly against being against closures when actually voting. He's not the only one, and hiding behind that double negative won't help him.

In case you're wondering what the peak of Labour hypocrisy is on this issue, I give you ... the Minister responsible for Post Office closures arguing with himself.

Darling now faces the same decision. Campaign against himself locally? I doubt it. He really sees them as loss-making businesses, owned by the Government but for some reason not ready to be privatised. 

Leave that craziness to the Liberals and just run it down instead, that's Labour's solution.

Post offices are not just a business. They're a vital public service, in the same category as hospitals or schools. They bring some money in, true, just like the NHS charges for prescriptions, but we don't complain that the NHS or the police "make a loss" each year. All Labour's problems in this area come from not understanding this simple point.

After all, where else are you supposed to go when you need to fill in some ridiculously long government form? Or post something that's too large for a letterbox? Or buy a tacky card with a kitten sitting in a cocktail glass? OK, there are alternatives for that last one.

Simon Jenkins did a good piece on this earlier in the year. Apparently the total cost of all the UK's non-profit-making post offices is £150m a year, or £2.47 a head. That's the same annual cost as the Royal family, for instance (despite the spin). 

Alternatively, the £76bn cost of replacing Trident could fund all these post offices for more than 500 years, if you don't want to see the Queen out delivering mail. 

Labour's decision not to fund and support this service is the kind of short-sighted ideological idiocy which will drive them from office. It's a political deathwish. Please don't break too much more before you jump, that's all I ask.

(disclosure: my local post office is scheduled for the chop too - thanks, Labour)

Sage advice.

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A couple of days ago Jeff at SNP Tactical Voting (left) floated a radical idea for the next Holyrood election, assuming the SNP remain way ahead of Labour in the polls. Other SNP tactical voters, he suggests, should consider giving the Greens their regional list vote, formerly known as the second vote. 

We are, he says, "a cracking party", hopefully in the "cracking cheese, Gromit" sense. 

Above all, for him and other tactically-minded nationalists, this is because we Greens support a referendum on Scotland's constitutional future. With Wendy gone, no-one else does, so their Bill is almost certain to fall.

However much the SNP find it rewarding to go to the country in 2011 complaining about "obstructive unionists", the electoral system makes getting 65+ seats an exceptionally tall order for a single party. 

This isn't a coincidence: it was part of the original Dewarite thinking - along with "dish the Nats" and "inevitable coalition government". Those two objectives may have demonstrably failed, but 65+ remains a mountain under the alternative member system, which was designed to give diminishing returns as you get closer to the magic number. Some wonk should do a graph. It'd probably look a bit like this

Although Salmond has an eye-popping ability to make extravagant political predictions come true, as noted here before, even he hasn't claimed they can get an absolute majority next time. In his tartan heart he knows it isn't going to happen, otherwise we'd have definitely heard about it from him.

All things must pass, as I keep reminding SNP friends, but it does remain hard to see how Labour can restore their fortunes in less than three years without an Nat implosion of some as yet unknowable sort. If the SNP go into the next election 19 points ahead on the constituency list, might it make sense for them to encourage their voters to back the Greens, at least in some regions? 

To see the sort of wasted votes they're worried about, just look at Central Scotland, where 112,596 people voted Labour on the list last time, almost as many votes as the second and third parties combined. This heroic turnout returned precisely zero list MSPs. The same applied in 2003 and in 1999. Massive piles of votes straight into the recycling, effectively expressing no preference amongst the other parties.

The same happened in Glasgow, and in West, and in South, at all three elections. In short, Labour list votes haven't elected anyone across half of Scotland since the Parliament was established. Liberal list voters in the Highlands have never elected an MSP, either, incidentally.

If the Nats start cleaning up completely in the constituencies (as per this fantasy constituency map), the same would undoubtedly start happening to them, starting in the North East, then Mid Scotland and Fife, then Highlands and Islands. Salmond's people are surely too smart to let those votes pile up for no purpose, unlike Labour strategists?

Under these circumstances, I can quite see why, leaving aside the referendum, SNP supporters might well think it better to make us their second choice. They see Labour as the obstacle, so they're absolutely out. The Liberals stuck two fingers up at them in May last, so they're absolutely out. The Tories have proved pragmatic partners for Salmond's administration but remain ultra-Unionist, so they're out for many. 

So, Green it is, then. While we disagree with a swathe of SNP policy (over transport, planning, climate change and the economy in particular), we also agree on a fair amount too (tuition fees, nuclear power and nuclear weapons, civil liberties, support for small businesses and votes at 16, to pick a few examples). 

Such an election would also not feature the squeeze which cost us so dearly last year, and which was replicated in Glasgow East. Even without tactical voting, we are clearly best placed to benefit from any desire to make post-2011 "a more interesting and diverse parliament" if we work hard and make a clear case for a green agenda. 

Jeff says "it's thyme", presumably because herbs are green too. Whatever the logic, I'm always pleased to see people making the case for Green votes. It's sage advice.


Kez agrees.

Craig, not so much.

Angry Steve, not at all.

Thumbnail image for wiltedrose.jpgWilliam Hill have reopened betting on the Labour leadership, and they show Iain Gray as a narrow favourite, in line with that part of my prediction.

Gray's picked up much more of the trade union vote than expected, despite Cathy Jamieson's best efforts, and has of course won over Labour MPs with a promise not to lead them. Their votes really count, as STB has calculated.

Iain Gray - 5/4
Andy Kerr - 11/8
Cathy Jamieson - 3/1

I still think Cathy'll be more popular with the membership than people expect, enough to take second place. But no-one's offering odds on that.

Pincer movement.

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bluelobster.jpgPressure against local income tax continues to grow in the Liberal party following the Vince Cable briefing. Jonathan Calder, the party's so-called "blogfather", has a piece in today's Observer criticising local income tax and arguing instead for some kind of property-based tax. His Damascene conversion followed a Tory lady explaining the following to him:

"Do you realise why the rates are unpopular? It's because you can't hire a sharp accountant to get you out of them, the way you can with income tax." 

Quite. Just one element of that evasion, the so-called non-dom loophole, cost us £3.8bn last year. The total amount avoided by those with sharp accountants was a massive £13bn. Just think - a sum so gargantuan that you could build three Forth road bridges with it. Or you could repair the existing bridge 1,300 times over

Would the subset of those serial evaders resident in Scotland evade a local version of income tax less effectively or more effectively? My money's on "more", given the widespread incompetence local authorities have demonstrated around Council Tax.

On the other side of the argument, Andy Kerr has followed Iain Gray's lead and accepted that Council Tax must go, which has been blindingly obvious to the rest of us since about 1993. Kerr's talking vaguely about proposals from the Burt Report, which recommended a tax set at 1% of house values. 

Labour Ministers, including Kerr, rejected the report even before it was published, less than two years ago. It's curious that he should want to go back to it, given that, but I'm sure he knows what he's doing.

Burt also considered Land Value Tax, and concluded that:

"Although land value taxation meets a number of our criteria, we question whether the public would accept the upheaval involved in radical reform of this nature, unless they could clearly understand the nature of the change and the benefits involved." (p120, Burt Report, 686M pdf)

OK, so I promised to set out the nature of the change and the benefits involved. I will do so, I guarantee. But again, not today. In the mean time, isn't it interesting (if you're a tax wonk) to see how support is draining away from both Local Income Tax and Council Tax?

vincecincometax.jpgVince Cable is clearly over-lionised, and working for Shell in 1995 was a morally questionable choice if you ask me. 

However, you have to admire his courage to put across potentially unpopular positions, such as: house price falls are "painful, but necessary". 

And the Stalin to Mr Bean thing was an excellent line.

Today he's also mulling over a shift in Liberal policy from Local Income Tax. Nowhere in this piece is the actual policy rationale for such a shift set out, but no matter. If he does decide to swing the party that way, they'll apparently "defer a decision on their own policy until they have seen the implications of the SNP policy, and its feasibility". 

John Swinney'll be pretty annoyed to hear that, because he's expecting the Liberals to sit down and discuss LIT with him shortly, and they're the only semi-supportive voice for LIT in Holyrood. Unless, that is, you subscribe to the conspiracy theory that the Nats want their tax plans to fail in the Chamber so they can campaign against Council Tax again in 2011. Which isn't entirely implausible, although less likely if Labour do decide to be constructive.

However, the Cabinet Secretary should rest easy. Even though Cable is briefing the Guardian on the Scottish situation, he can probably only set federal policy. Which, in the looking-glass world of Liberal internal structures, only applies in England.

Of punks and populists.

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swinney.jpgLast night, in the space of three hours, this blog received comments from two unlikely sources. 

First, the bassist of short-lived punk band Nocturnal Vermin set out more of their history, what they're doing now, and confirmed their affection for John Swinney. 

Then one of the founders of the short-lived right-wing political party Scottish People's Alliance criticised Land Value Tax. 

I do love the internet at times like this, and to mark the occasion I'm going dig out Nocturnal Vermin's classic "John Swinney" for your listening pleasure. I originally posted it in February, and I fear it may become my audio equivalent of Private Eye's infamous pic.

Also, here's a review by Alan Cochrane of the Scottish People's Alliance's launch in 2003. Or at least of their catering.

The future for local taxation.

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Labour leadership contender Iain Gray has declared himself to have an open mind on local taxation, and suggested talks with us about land value taxation (LVT). The Green group will of course be happy to have this kind of conversation with him, or with whoever does come out on top. If Cathy wins, we'll also be happy to talk about fixing the railways. The door also remains open to the other parties, of course.

The mere idea of talking to others in Parliament shows progress in Labour's thinking. One of the Holyrood pack told me that Wendy's strategy was simply to sit back, come up with no alternatives, and let the SNP/Liberal local income tax proposals fail. That's irresponsible politics - imagine the cost of another failed local tax - and it's good to see signs that Labour are starting to be a bit more constructive. 

The arguments for LVT will appear here another time, but given today's developments, the party-political cart will be considered before the policy-wonk horse. So, some history for the anoraks..

Ever so gradually, the arguments for a Scottish LVT have been taking root in Holyrood. In 2003 a motion from Robin Harper was passed (stirring speech here) which committed Parliament to "considering and investigating the contribution that land value taxation could make to the cultural, economic, environmental and democratic renaissance of Scotland." Not that such consideration and investigation ever happened, but y'know, still progress.

Voices in Labour back it, and some Tories too. It's also Liberal party policy, although you wouldn't believe that to listen to their MSPs talk only about local income tax. It's a federal policy, see, and federal policies only apply in England, which in a peculiar way recreates the West Lothian question on a smaller scale. Do they even understand what federalism means? Anyway, I digress.

In 2006 the SNP's Rob Gibson put down a motion which regretted "the lack of a land value tax in Scotland". Signatories included now-Ministers Fiona Hyslop, Kenny Macaskill and Adam Ingram, as well as former awkward squad members Alex Neil and Christine Grahame.

Earlier this year Parliament approved Green wording on local government finance which committed Ministers to consideration of "fairness, local accountability, the need to reduce tax avoidance and the wider social, economic and environmental impact of any proposed system of local tax reform on communities across Scotland". 

Try testing other local taxation models against that list, starting with a local income tax which exempts share income. Patrick Harvie is on YouTube explaining the significance of that vote.

With Iain Gray at least tentatively on the bandwagon, the wind is really blowing in the direction of LVT. Here's a prediction: Council Tax will be abolished during the lifetime of this Parliament, and will be at least partially be replaced by a form of land value tax. Churchill would be pleased.


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drinkcabinet.gifTaking one's drinks cabinet out around the country is a simple way to look more engaged. Never mind that the meeting involves the same people, your Ministers, or that the locals don't get a look in. They feel engaged, and that's what counts.

This old idea reappeared thanks to Alex Salmond: no surprise there. But for Gordon Brown to copy it the same day? Did they think no-one would notice?

Update: others subsequently came to the same conclusion.

An election Labour can win.

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wiltedrose.jpgSo nominations have closed for "leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament. 

Let's start with who's not in. Ken Macintosh didn't get enough names, and I understand he's blaming me for what was taken to be an endorsement. No hard feelings, Ken, I hope. Maybe your turn will come next time. 

On the other hand, it can be no surprise to anyone that Charlie Gordon didn't get enough names; he was the clear scandal continuity candidate, and even Labour isn't that daft.

Although it does feel like intruding upon private grief, here's my take on the runners and riders.

Cathy Jamieson is being promoted by the unions and the left because they think she will return to the somewhat more radical approach she took before she became a Minister in 2001. I think they're wrong, in exactly the same way they were about Gordon Brown. Close second a likely outcome. 

Iain Gray is being promoted by the London machine and plenty of the younger lot around this building. The latter think he'll be a passionate campaigner, and cite his Oxfam experience. The former know better, and think he'll be easier to keep on a leash. Although brown and gray are the least exciting of colours, I think Labour will plump for Iain.

Andy Kerr is the compromise candidate, without an obvious constituency as far as I can see, although he's given himself a slightly radical edge by keeping an open mind on the referendum issue. I predict third place.

One Labour activist told me he was pleased that there will at last be an election Labour can win. But none of these contenders look to have enough in the tank to take on Salmond.

Update: John Curtice and I never normally agree. But when the conclusion is this obvious?

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Parliament category from August 2008.

Parliament: July 2008 is the previous archive.

Parliament: September 2008 is the next archive.