Congratulations are in order to Kezia Dugdale on her election as branch manager of the Labour party in Scotland. So let’s congratulate her in the inimitable style of her own tweets. Well done Kezia, it’s just a shame that your party’s life is made really difficult by the SNP. Former deputy to the previous leader and body double for First Minister’s Questions Kezia says that her victory means that the Labour party in Scotland can have a fresh start without the baggage of the past. She’ll now be moaning at Nicola Sturgeon in the capacity of party leader, and not as Jim’s stand-in, so that’s totally different and completely unlike anything that went before.
The good news is that three of Scotland’s main political parties are now led by women, although since Scotland is, according to Labour’s complaints, now a one party state we really should discount Kezia and Ruth Davidson. Of course Scotland isn’t a one party state. There are no barriers in the way of opposition parties. They can form and campaign freely. They enjoy an unfair advantage in terms of press and media coverage – Labour in particular gets media coverage, and especially television exposure, out of all proportion to its shrivelled membership base and its hauf airsed representation. Scotland is that most peculiar type of one party state, it’s only a one party state because the opposition parties are crap. However we’ve now reached the point where the opposition parties, and Labour in particular, are so shite that they’re reduced to blaming the SNP for their own shiteyness. The SNP are apparently so bad that they make all the other parties even worse. That’s a special kind of bad that is. Just by sitting in the same parliament as the SNP, Labour magically disintegrates like sodden used toilet paper.
But back to Kezia’s moment of glory, such as it is. Being elected leader of the Labour party in Scotland is like winning a contest to inhale a bag of farts and then speak in public with a squeaky voice. You get to lead such luminaries as GORDON! MATHESON! who in a mercy as small as his talents failed to get the post of deputy leadership. Since GORDON! has been forced to stand down as leader of Glesca Cooncil, the chances of him continuing to pursue his political career are now about as good as Liz Kendall’s under Jeremy Corbyn, so it’s not all bad news.
It has been wondered about the SNP whether there has ever been a party which has enjoyed such massive support from the public with such poor support from the media. Outside a real one party state, as opposed to the one party state of Labour’s bitter complaints, has there ever been a part like Labour which enjoys such massive support from the media with such poor support from the public?
So how many votes did Kezia get then? The media announced that she received an impressive 72.1% of votes cast, but Labour won’t say how many votes were cast, and the Scottish media isn’t inclined to press them on the matter. Best not to intrude on private grief eh? Craig Murray has published on his blog that he hears from a reputable source that Kezia got a mere 5,217 votes, which means that the active membership of the Labour party in Scotland is a bawhair over the 7,000 mark. Probably fewer than that, as some electors had more than one vote.
Craig Murray points out that after he published the 5,217 figure, he was contacted by a senior person in Labour who claimed that the number was wrong and Kezia had received a higher number of votes, but the person wouldn’t say what that higher number was. Far be it from me to suggest that a senior member of the Labour party in Scotland might tell lies, so that must make the true figure 5,218.
The real reason that Labour hasn’t published the exact number of votes cast in their Scottish branch manager election is the same reason as the last time they had a leadership election. Labour’s Scottish leadership elections are coming so thick and fast – but mostly thick – these days that pretty soon they’ll be held every few days and the Sunday Mail can rename itself Labour Leader Weekly. Every time they have an election another little part of their support dwindles and dies. They don’t publish the figures for the election because the number is an embarrassment. If the number wasn’t an embarrassment then they’d have no problem saying what it was.
Jim Murphy claimed that Labour in Scotland had “about 20,000” members. We now know that’s “about” in the same sense that the pile of scrunched up leadership ballot papers is about the height of Ben Nevis. Or that Gordon Matheson’s tears of self pity after losing both the deputy leadership and leadership of Glesca Cooncil contain about as much salt water as the Atlantic Ocean. Oh wait, that’s probably true.
Labour’s real problem is that it claims to be the party of a mass movement but the mass has moved elsewhere. Labour is no longer the party of anything but careerists and greasy pole climbers who seek to manage public expectations on behalf of the establishment. If Labour wants to get away from the failures of the past and start afresh, then they need to start being honest with the people they expect to trust them with their votes. Because if Labour can’t trust us, then why the hell should we trust them?
You’d think a fresh start from a discredited party that wants to wipe the slate clean and begin to restore trust and honesty with the electorate might just start with being honest and truthful about its own elections. How do they expect the people of Scotland to trust Labour with their votes when Labour doesn’t trust the people enough to tell us how many vote in their own elections? Instead what Labour is telling us is that saving its own face and protecting itself from its own embarrassment is more important to the party than honesty and transparency with the public. That’s not a fresh start, that’s an attempt to brush the past under the carpet and pretend it’s not there.
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