Friday, 2 January 2009

A guid New Year tae ane an a' an mony may ye see

Good wishes to all for New Year - except Iain Gray, you can take this goodwill thing too far you know. As Iain wends his weary way through the detritus of the Labour party and the aftermath of Wendy Alexander he'll be comforted by the knowledge that his writ might yet run to the extent of being able to decide the policies of the Labour Party in Scotland - if Jim Murphy's career takes off or his ambitions take a dunt.

Some daft lump in Labour's communications team went into "nah, nah, we're better" mode recently when it was announced that SNP membership continues to rise - up 60% in five years. Rather than being honest, Labour's spin was that it now had "just under 20,000 members" - up from the 18,500 last reported. There goes Iain's determination to have 'honest politics'. Labour's last declaration was actually 17,000 (the 18,500 was from 2005), and we all know that Labour's real membership figure in Scotland is 7,321.

The question I'm asking is whether the refusal of Labour's press office to follow Iain Gray's line and, instead, follow the Jim Murphy 'blind attack' line has a parallel in the mutterings about Labour's performance in the Scottish Parliament. The moustache twirlers appear to be preparing for yet another leadership battle (is there no end to their appetite for siblicide?) if things go badly for Labour over the 'next wee while' (by which I assume they mean the European elections and any Westminster election held in 2009). This hardly seems fair on Iain Gray, given that he has no power to influence events and he's not allowed to do anything without clearing it with London (or perhaps Melville Crescent), but the dripping poison would have it that leadership is about leading whether you have the front or not and, obviously, the plotters think that there are one or two persons better suited to the task.

Iain Gray's task is hard enough as it is with the mess that he was left by Wendy Alexander, the crumbling of the Labour party as an organisation, and the dearth of talent in Labour's ranks at Holyrood (Westminster is as bad for them but it's hidden rather more in the sheer scale of the place), questions about his leadership will do nothing but add to that burden.

Right, I'm off to annoy a press officer...

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