Iâ€™d like to talk about the Labour leadership election. No, no, not that election but the Scottish one that no one is paying any attention to. On 16th May Jim Murphy announced, having won his vote of no confidence, that he was standing down, not there and then like his esteemed leader but a month later. That month is up next week.
As always in the Alice in Wonderland of Scottish politics, Scottish Labour can’t go back to yesterday because they were a different person then. Today Labour must run as fast as they can, just to stay in place. And if they wish to go anywhere they must run twice as fast as that. They have not made a propitious start.
Firstly, what are the rules? Well, so far as I can tell Scotland continues to be bound by the rule book that elected winners like Ed Miliband. Unlike that other leadership contest we do not have OMOV in Scotland although they could certainly do with the Â£3.
Ken Macintosh, one of the potential candidates has written to Jim Murphy and others saying:”This is a time of exceptional political engagement in Scotland and people have never been so active in the politics of our country.Â Â I want to enlist their help in re-shaping and rebuilding the Scottish Labour Party.Â Â I am not going to make bland assertions of seeking party unity if that means protecting or preserving the influence of vested interests, but reclaim this party for the people we seek to represent.”
I believe holding open primaries throughout Scotland will offer Scottish Labour a real opportunity to engage with a politically energised electorate, to listen to their concerns, their hopes and their aspirations and allow our movement to share our principles and our passion for Scotland free from the constraints of an election.
If there has been any reply, it has not been made public. Murphyâ€™s plan was to have a coronation for his deputy and friend Kezia Dugdale who is the interim leader. If you look at the Scottish Labour website you might think that had happened already. There are currently the only two declared candidates but since Murphyâ€™s month has not been used to organise any election, primaries or rules there is plenty of time. After all, â€œIf you don’t know where you are going any road can take you hereâ€. Neil Findlay, who came a respectable second to Murphy only last year, is not standing.
One problem that Ken Macintosh might face is that he is a Constituency MSP. He is in a seat where the Tories were a close second but after May 2015 the SNP lurk dangerously in every Scottish seat. Kezia, despite attending my school in Dundee where she was head girl, is a list MSP for Lothian and may have a better chance of hanging on. She says: â€œThe Scottish Parliament is now the centre of Scottish politics, the Labour party has taken a long time to recognise that and I want to be part of a new generation of Labour members that lead that, that put the Scottish Parliament front-and-centre of our party.”
Even as a Tory I recognise the truth in that. Surely Scottish Labour cannot have another leader losing their seat. Despite being Murphyâ€™s anointed (a distinctly mixed blessing) and only having been an MSP for 4 years she looks favourite to me but the only betting odds I have found to date make her an unattractive 1/5 with Paddy Power. Curiouser and curiouser as Alice would no doubt say.
(This is the first post from DavidL, a regular contributor on the site for several years, who has been invited to join the guest slot team to help build up our Scottish expertise. Welcome!)