3 April 2016

Old Habits

This may be a record. The first full week of the Holyrood campaign has whizzed by, and already - already - Scottish Labour figures are making headlines by briefing the press against their leader.

In the Sunday Times this morning, under the legend, "Labour at war as Dugdale gaffes," ubiquitous and available "senior figures" in the party are quoted. Their verdict on Kezia Dugdale's week isn't terrifically healthy. She is, they suggest, "badly damaged" as the result of her muddled comments on how she might vote in a future independence referendum. One even described it as her "Subway moment", recalling the moment when Iain Gray sought refuge behind a meatball marinara, waylaid by Sean Clerkin in Glasgow Central Station in 2011. 

Now, Dugdale has not had her troubles to seek this week. There has been indiscipline. There have been mispitches. But surely there are enough folk like me in the firmament to point this out, without her comrades gleefully piling in, breathing unholy life back into a bad news story which would otherwise be on its last legs. The killer quotations:

“This is an almighty clusterf**k,” said one senior Labour source. “It just plays into the Tory line that they are the true defenders of the Union, even though that’s not true because it’s the Tories who introduced English votes for English laws and caused the EU referendum. Kez should have been landing blows on them, not on the Scottish Labour party.” 
One said Dugdale had “handed a massive gift to the Tory party” at a time when they were under pressure as a result of a backlash against the chancellor’s budget. “Kez has again let them off the hook.” 
Another said it was Dugdale’s “Subway” moment — a reference to the defining moment of Labour’s ill-fated 2011 Holyrood campaign when its leader Iain Gray sought refuge in a sandwich shop after his election campaign launch was hijacked by a protester.

As a hardened partisan, and no friend of the party, I suppose I ought to meet news of this utterly gratuitous infighting with an evil chortle. But Scottish Labour's capacity for indiscreet and poisonous internal briefing remains a thing of wonder and horror to me. Even electoral calamity - apparently - can't wean the party off its old habits of backbiting and internecine conflict.

After disaster has engulfed the party in Westminster, as it fights for its life in Scotland, as its untried leader faces a little turbulence along the way, as all election campaigns must -- you decide to spill the beans to the press, well knowing that an article of this kind is the only logical outcome? Jeezo. You wonder which bored and embittered former MP might be responsible. "If we must lose, let's lose in the most internally divisive and publicly exposed way possible." Just a little lick of the cloak and the dagger, for old time's sake.

Their analysis may be perfectly sound, but quite what they imagine they're achieving is beyond me. Snark of this kind provides a little entertainment for folk like me on a wet Sunday morning. It adds to the gaiety of the nation. But if these "senior sources" are true friends of the Scottish Labour Party, their shadowy, counter-productive interventions are - fundamentally - crackers.


  1. Yup. The collapse of SLAB has been SO spectacular and complete that surely it has been masterminded from within.

  2. We know who the likely suspects are, the ghost of Tony Blair hangs heavy over slab. Until they exorcise it completely they are doomed to repeat these scenarios endlessly.

  3. Maybe the Scottish Labour Party's strategic master stroke is to pitch themselves as a universal opposition party?

    Not only will they oppose the government of the day, but their own leadership and proposed policies. Only time will tell if this 360 degree opposition strategy will win votes.

    In an effort to find a positive angle - it may mean that a certain Labour activist will have dramatically fewer people to tweet "why don't you just vote SNP then?" He can then focus his attention on 360 degree opposition.

  4. To be fair,I think Jim Murphys "I'm not a Unionist" left the door open for Kezia to be more bolder.

  5. As polling shows something like 73% of Scots expect Scotland to be independent 'at some point' and also show around 60% of folk would vote Yes after a Brexit it seems SLAB is quite happy to appeal to less than half of the 40% left.

    It also shows that any ideas they may have had of winning back those of us who voted Yes last time have been taken out the back and summarily shot, burned and buried under 10feet of concrete. SLAB are going for the hardcore of unionism and nobody else. Why vote for the SLAB unionists when the Tory and Unionist party has it in its name?

  6. The pleasure in hearing Dugdale was elected Labour regional supervisor/ blackboard monitor, was second only to the glee of Jim Murphy's appointment.
    But it is always a danger that if Dugdale looks too incompetent she might get replaced by someone better.
    That is a "competent grubby careerist" instead of an "incompetent grubby careerist".

    1. But where are they going to find one?

    2. Arise, James Kelly. Your moment of destiny has arrived.

  7. What I find mystifying is why some SLAB politicians cannot see the obvious way forward.

    Position themselves as Yessers with a different vision of an Independent Scoyland. Set themselves apart from the SNP group in Holyrood. The destination is the same but the route is different.

    All SLAB politicians are careerists so why not be a Yes supporting careerist?


    1. Perhaps because in their present state of disarray it is actually quite difficult to name "some" SLAB politicians with any real political nous

  8. Sometimes I think that the most charitable explanation for many of these Scottish Labour attacks upon itself is that 'drink had been taken'. The numbers involved are relatively few, reflecting the membership, and the hacks in the msm will be aware of whom can be given a few 'wee goldies' to loosen the tongue. The media/ SLAB circle is pretty small, probably barely 100 in number and they have control over almost all of the print and broadcast media.

  9. It would have helped if Labour's branch office in Scotland had turned their cannon on the real enemy, the Tories, but instead they seem to have a deathwish-like inability to do anything except attack the SNP. Every time they do so, support for the SNP grows. How many times do they have to riddle their own feet with bullets before they realise that they're deliberately sabotaging themselves?

    Their belief that they are somehow entitled to govern Scotland and that they have been thwarted by the eeeevvvilllllll SNP is insulting to the electorate. If they'd regrouped and had a period of introspection they might well have emerged again as a party worth attention within a short period of time. As it is, they're consigning themselves to irrelevance for the foreseeable future, and instilling in the electorate's mind nothing but bitter memories of betrayal and incompetence.

  10. Senior Labour sources say they should be fighting the Tories!! in Scotland the Tories are not in the running looks like eyes that are always looking backwards.

  11. Just for fun, after a period of introspection the Scottish branch came up with the following wheeze;
    1) Labour would offer to renegotiate the Treaty of Union, essentially bring it into the 21st Century and reflect the new reality of Scotland in the UK, in Europe.
    2) Scotland would have its own place in Europe not beholding to the UK.

    There, told you it was a wheeze, came up with it in two minutes. On reflection, this could be a real political hand grenade. Pity SLAB could not come up with it, or something similar.

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