Tuesday, 6 May 2008


What was that rushing by? Surely not the last vestiges of Labour's credibility flying out the nearest window? Yup, 'fraid so - you mustn't laugh, that isn't nice.

In the political equivalent of resigning before you're sacked, Wendy Alexander has gone the whole hog. This one, in fact, might be a wildebeest since el Gordo is refusing to back her on this one, his official spokeschappie repeatedly saying
"The position taken by the Labour Party leader [Wendy Alexander] is a matter for her."

Translated into English, this means "I'm not taking the blame for that one, she's on her own."

So let's see where she is now and where she's been - absolutely opposed to independence, a referendum or any increased powers for Scotland's Parliament in May 2007; still opposed to independence and a referendum but now convinced of the need for more powers in November 2007; still opposed to independence but now convinced of the need for a referendum and more powers in May 2008.

I see a pattern - every six months she gives a little more - she wants a referendum before she ends up supporting independence herself! Gotta get it in before November - only six months before she turns independenista...

A few points arise out of Labour's spin as well - they claim to not be afraid of a referendum, but why would anyone be afraid of a referendum? What's to be frightened of in a ballot paper? What a strange thing to say.

Another thing is, Labour can't count. Simon Pia, quoted in this morning's papers, when talking about a referendum in 2010 said
"It is not in Scotland's interests to delay (a referendum for] another three years. The SNP should not have four years of fraying the relationship (with the UK] in Scotland's name."

It's only two years, old bean.

Then there's Wendy's assertion that a Bill takes nine months to pass through Parliament - erm, no it doesn't. Abolition of Bridge Tolls Act - introduced 3rd September 2007, passed 20th December 2007, became law 24th January. Graduate Endowment Abolition Bill - 22nd October 2007, 28th February 2008, 4th April 2008.

I was puzzled about this - she used to be a Minister after all - so I looked at her Ministerial career: Communities Minister 1999-2000, Enterprise and Lifelong Learning 2000-2001, added Transport to that 2001, resigned in 2002. The only Bill she saw to completion was the Graduate Endowment (tuition fees) Act - and Nicol Stephen started it. She was never responsible for seeing a Bill all the way through the process - that's why she doesn't understand how Parliament works.

Alternatively, she's including the consultation in those nine months. The consultation for the Referendum Bill is called the National Conversation.

She has now been quoted as saying
"I certainly hope that other opposition parties will reflect on the fact as to whether it is in Scotland's interests to vote down the right of the people in Scotland to choose on this issue."

That is breathtaking, is it not? Wonderful as well, though, like a trapeze artist hurtling from one shifting swingometer to another, spinning in mid air, putting on the air-brakes and spinning again. We can but marvel. I'm sure the Conservatives and the Libdems are very pleased as well, considering that a couple of days ago they had her agreement that they would all vote down the right of the people in Scotland to choose.

I'm told she has promised that she would
not lead Scottish Labour into the lobbies to vote down the right of the people of Scotland to speak

Her generosity knows no bounds, how can we ever repay her? I bet some Labour MPs are asking the same question.

Leaving aside whether she is actually on a conversion route which will see her putting her shoulder to the wheel for independence, I think we can now safely say that there is no tactical or strategic thinking in Labour's ranks.

Wendy has sold the pass on a referendum, handing Labour's votes over to the SNP Government with nothing in return - a remarkable achievement, refusing to negotiate with a minority government while handing them everything they need to win.

Having now promised to bring Labour in step in support of a referendum, Wendy Alexander cannot now fail to vote for it without Labour paying a penalty at the ballot box which would make last May and last Thursday look like the gold old days.

I look forward to her Member's Bill with great anticipation.

We can win a referendum this year or we can wait until the people of Scotland have a chance to have their say in the National Conversation. It would be better if the arguments have all been properly aired so that Scotland votes for independence with everyone having had their say and knowing what they're voting for, but I'll take it this year knowing that it's right and no-one will regret it.


Jeff said...

Just incredible isn't it. I think this line of yours sums it up best:

" handing Labour's votes over to the SNP Government with nothing in return "

And if she can't raise her own Member's Bill because the SNP already have 'dibs' on it (as suggested by Brian Taylor himself), then she truly has handed everything to the SNP. She has to sit patiently for the Nationalists bill to come before her and if Labour don't sign it then they will get an almighty kicking at the election.


Anonymous said...

it seems to be squeeky bum time over at slab hq lol, now remind me how many signatures do you need to section someone?? I nice wee vacay in a padded room will do wendy the world of good.

Calum Cashley said...

I think Brian (who's OK apart from being a supporter of the team on the wrong side of the street) was referring to rule 9.14 in the Standing Orders which means that a Member's Bill proposal cannot proceed without Ministerial approval if the Government intends to legislate on the topic in this session (sub-rules 11 to 14).

Interestingly, sub-rule 15 means that you can't bring a Member's Bill forward any later than six months before dissolution. This nine months to pass a Bill ...

I'm not in favour of jokes referring to mental health issues, though, and I think that Wendy is under some considerable strain, so perhaps it would be best not to allude to this. While I have no time for Ms Alexander's political views and despise the damage that her party has done to my country, I'm not sure we add anything to the debate by attacking her in that way.

I will quite happily attack her politics, her performance, her vaulting ego, her ridiculous challenges, her shroud-waving and scaremongering, and the ridiculous idea that she is a great thinker, but I won't cast doubt on her health, mental or otherwise. I would say that she appears to be under a great deal of stress - although some of that comes with the territory - and that her friends should be questioning her decision to soldier on in the face of all that has come her way, but that's not my call to make.

Right then, must have a song...