As I See It
Kezia, just leave the campaign to Corbyn
Congratulations Kezia Dugdale on your election as leader of Scottish Labour. Now, if you really want Labour to have a chance in next year’s Scottish election just take nine months off, say nothing and leave the campaign to Jeremy Corbyn.
Assuming (journalists should never assume, but this looks a safe bet) that Mr Corbyn gets the job of national leader he will take the party sharply to the left and try to win back disaffected Labour supporters currently backing the SNP.
This is a dangerous battleground for Scotland as I have said in an earlier commentary. Moving Scotland sharply leftwards will take it backwards not forwards (note the economic problems in France since the election of Francois Hollande). At least a Corbyn-Sturgeon battle will be a fair fight.
Ms Dugdale, arguably the most lightweight leader Labour has ever had, will just get in the way. She has already been forced into a u-turn over Mr Corbyn’s fitness for the job, saying only recently he lacked credibility to be Prime Minister, a view she quickly had to retract.
If anyone lacks credibility it is a leader who makes such an astonishing misjudgement about her own potential boss. The worry for Labour is that she will make more silly remarks. Here, after all, is someone who is campaigning for an elected House of Lords to be relocated to Glasgow.
We certainly need a reformed House of Lords, one that is more representative of the people, but we do not need more elected members. We are already over-governed. A second chamber should be filled with appointed experts in law, education, business, the arts, science and technology. An appointed body would be more representative than the House of Commons with its career politicians (by the way, Ms Dugdale fits into that category, too).
We certainly do not want the House of Lords in Glasgow. Nor does a city which voted in May for the SNP want to become host to the second chamber. This is just bonkers politics, inappropriately seeking to play a Scottish card. Why on earth would the English, already fed up with Scotland’s insistence on more power, support such an idea?
Ms Dugdale’s comments on the economy have yet to reveal any real understanding of the role of wealth creation in underpinning the improvements in welfare that she predictably supports. She promises only more rhetoric about “equality and fairness” (as does Ms Sturgeon) with few proposals, apart from ending the charitable status of private schools, on how to achieve either. At least Mr Corbyn is unequivocal about wanting more state control. Well, if that’s what the country wants then Mr Corbyn is the man.
The campaign to succeed Jim Murphy in Scotland was never going to attract many candidates given it will end in certain disappointment next May. Mr Corbyn was in Scotland this week stating where he felt Labour had gone wrong. It began by deserting its core voters.
During her election campaign Ms Dugdale had an opportunity to at least offer some stimulating ideas and alternatives to win them back. She didn’t. She says she speaks for a new generation yet a survey in June showed that only 5% of people of her own age plan to vote Labour next year.
As such, Labour will go into the campaign offering nothing new under its enthusiastic but, frankly, scatty Scottish leader. Without Mr Corbyn’s considerable input it may as well save time and money and hand victory to the SNP right away.
Congratulations again, Ms Dugdale, on your new job. Enjoy it while it lasts.