14 Jun 2009

In Search of Labour's Soul

Today's Sunday Herald carries and excellent feature by doyen of diarists, now returned reporter Tom Shields. I recommend a full read , but below for me are the most striking paragraphs, especially as we mark ten years of devolution: The infamous 1998-99 selection process, when a Blairite London appointed committee, chaired by Rosemary MacKenna, supervised by Jack McConnell, and fully endorsed by Donald Dewar and Gordon Brown, ripped the intellectual and independent soul out of the Labour Party in Scotland before the new parly even met. Where it all started to go wrong for Scottish Labour, what in big measure explains where it is today. Tom Shields takes up the story:

"....The party does nothing to encourage or recruit energetic, colourful or independent-minded individuals. The default choice is for the candidate who will be a safe pair of hands. Which usually means docile and biddable. The decline of personality in the Labour ranks is a legacy of the infamous selection process of 1999. The great and good of the party were supposed to choose the brightest and the best for the Scottish parliament. They singularly failed to do so.

"Applicants with a spark were excluded in favour of people who had made no mark and would make no mark. People in their 30s and 40s who had left no fingerprints of achievement were put into our national legislature. We were landed with legislators and tribunes who were ineffectual and unaccomplished, with no track record as strategic thinkers or ability to communicate. They were never going to bloom. It is a legacy which affects Labour and Scotland. ........."
Full article

3 comments:

naldo Thursday, June 18, 2009  

Nice post and Denis Canavan is the name that springs to my mind on reading it. The elctorate of Falkirk (cannae mind if East or West) showed the Labour Party what they thought of their treatment of him.

SNP party members vastly exaggerate the electorate's attachement to Labour. They should stop hoping for a Tory victory at the nest Westminster election unless they are indeed the right wingers that i suspect some of them to be.

Aye We Can ! Friday, June 19, 2009  

naldo

I dont think it is a question of the SNP being right wing or left wing - the reality is the party is a broad church

But, whether hoping for a Tory Government or just ( like most people) expecting one, I am nor even sure the SNP is correct in thinking a Tory victory will lead to some huge desertion by Labour voters to them when confronted by the reality of "English Tory Rule", Because ths is not what happened in 1979 and all though the 80s and 90s. Labour in opposition might prove far more electorally popular that Labour in power. And its old cry of "only labour can get the tories out", whilst hollow to me these days, did seem to work pretty well for almost two decades. Who is to say it wont work again?

In short, the SNP has to make its own case, not rely on who runs westsminster to make it for them. And whilst I am not predicting a red revolution, Labour out of office mught change for the better

naldo Friday, June 19, 2009  

Couldn't agree more, Alan. Just wish a few more of your SNP chums thought the same way.

They have very short memories and seem to be unable to see the big picture because of their venal hatred of all things Labour.

They let party politics get in the way of the important matter at hand which is independence. Once we have that, the real arguments can begin.

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