Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wendy and Labour - Bitter To The End

I can't say its a huge surprise, but Wendy Alexander has this morning quit as the Leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament.

Throughout, she and her aides have twisted and spun to try to put the best possible gloss on what was, let's not forget, a deliberate attempt to keep campaign donations secret. The law was broken, and while I think it merited only the sort of token admonishment she received from the Standards Committee on Thursday, even then, Labour seemed unable to accept fault.

Instead of bluster about honesty and integrity and lack of 'intentional wrongdoing', she should simply have put up her hands and accepted the hit. Had she done so, she may have started to show a human side which hitherto has often seemed to rather drift in and out of focus.

Labour is trying to blame the SNP for this - everyone, in fact, but themselves. This is cant, pure and simple. Wendy and her team were the architects of their own misfortune, and the briefing against her came from within her own party throughout. I've no doubt that she's pretty bright, certainly by the standards of her colleagues, but ultimately, it's her unfortunate personal style, lack of attention to detail and inability to take others with her that has been her political undoing.

This is a personal tragedy, but it's also one of her own making. My sympathy would be complete and entire, if only there would be some recognition in Team Wendy that maybe, just maybe, it wasn't the horrible nasty Nats who turned her over. The answers, as ever in Labour, lie much closer to home.


Ricky Simpson said...

Poor Wendy, she took on a thankless job. Sure, she made some mistakes - but falling on her sword today may be the best thing that has happened to Scottish labour since our loss....

Just think, if your party didnt vote for suspension she would still be party leader and the SNP would have an easy target.

Labour (I HOPE ;) will have an open contest and the press will be all over it.....

Richard Thomson said...

You might be right, Ricky. However, if Labour members had moved for a lesser admonishment instead of insisting that she didn't do anything wrong, that may in the end have carried the day.

Either way, I think we're into straws and camel's backs territory here.

Anonymous said...

I was just beginning to feel sorry for her until I sought out her 'resignation speech' ... then I remembered one reason why I can't stand her!

It is a tragedy on a basic human level, she was so out of her depth, but having sympathy following the constant whinging is diifficult at best.

As fun as it is for the SNP to have a had a 'soft target' for all this time, it's not conducive to good governance. There must be effective opposition ... Wendy wasn't it.

DougtheDug said...

The interesting part is going to be how Labour select a new Scottish parliamentary leader. Under the rules, unless they've changed, any contender for the election has to gain seven nominations from the current crop of Labour MSP's to be eligible to stand.

The problem is if one nominee gains a lot of nominations then it becomes very difficult for another in a multi-contender contest to get seven nominations. The election can be decided by the Labour MSP's beforehand if they only put one candidate above the nomination threshold. This is what happened when Jack McConnell was elected unopposed.

If there is more than one candidate then it will go to a mini-electoral college or a full electoral college. Jack McConnell was confirmed by the mini-electoral college which was the MSP's and the SEC. A full electoral college would probably be all party members in Scotland and trade union affiliate members, MPs, MSPs and MEPs.

If there is more than one candidate it will mean that Brown could have a major influence on who gets voted in if they use the full electoral college. In that case any candidate who rejects the idea of an independence referendum and any loosening of Scotland's ties with Westminster will get Brown's support and Labour will stagnate further in Scotland.

It looks like interesting times ahead for Labour.

There is a very interesting article by Stephen Birrell (in pdf form) about the mechanisms used to elect Labour's last Scottish Parliamentary leaders.

Richard Thomson said...

Agreed, Alasdair.

Thanks for that, DtD, and particularly for the link. I shall have a read of that later - time to get the popcorn out, I think!