Wednesday 2 January 2008

Runners and Riders

Labour's leadership election is now expected to start in early May, so let's have a look at the runners and riders - which are runners and which are riders you can decide for yourself:

Well, OK, non-runners first - Wendy Alexander and Jack McConnell are out, one injured and one retired.
Charlie Gordon - well, he's wounded and he's in trouble with the authorities, he'll be getting his collar felt at some point and it looks like his political career is over (which is a pity because he's one of the best in the Labour group and would have made a decent leader except for his casual disregard for the law, in common with many other Labour party representatives) - but he's a streetfighter and fairly smart, so don't write him off, Pat Lally may not be the only Lazarus in Glasgow Labour.

Steven Purcell - there has been some speculation that Purcell will be slotted in to take over as soon as the opportunity presents itself. Why would he? The salary he gets as leader of Glasgow Council isn't far behind the salary of an MSP; as leader of a large council he has the power and the opportunity to make a difference to people's lives fairly easily and very quickly; there's going to be years of pain in the Labour group in Parliament that you wouldn't choose to be part of unless you were a masochist; and the group of Labour MSPs is a snake pit of competing interests.

Jackie Baillie - has a *ahem* direct approach to politics and is used to defending the indefensible (she supports keeping nuclear weapons in Scotland, for example), so she'd fit in fine trying to defend Labour's incompetence in Parliament. Her difficulty is that she has been too closely associated with Alexander's failures; she was part of the "hokey-cokey" when Henry McLeish stepped down, and she's been the one fronting up the "unintentional criminality" defence. I'm not sure that can be shrugged off.

Iain Gray - was playing a good game of nudging Alexander aside and positioning himself to take over until the donor scandals swept him aside. He's invisible now and will have to make up some ground, but he will have the support of the London bunch, including Brown and Darling - whether that's an advantage or not we'll have to wait and see.
Tom McCabe - rumour has it that he still harbours ambitions of heading to London. He certainly doesn't seem interested in what is going on in Edinburgh, he's been invisible in Parliament since May, and he's associated with Alexander. I think he's out.

Margaret Curran - well, there seems to be a few people who think she's highly talented and then there's Robert McNeil (who has been known to frequent the scribes' benches of Parliament) who once warned that she could have your eye out with that teatowel. Strident voice, blinkered in debate, she's exactly what's wrong with Labour (which probably means she's got a fair chance of making it to the top) - then again, she's also highly combative and forceful and knows how to hold a line and that might stabilise the Labour ship a little, and she wasn't too involved in the Alexander saga.

Geordie Foulkes - a blustering leftover from the days of hegemony, I never thought I'd see someone disappointed to be elected, never mind distraught like Geordie was at Ingliston. He's mumphed around Parliament, can't get the hang of the modern procedures we use here, and looks like he'd rather be suffering corporal punishment than actually be there. Kezia Dugdale is his assistant and you'll notice that he was completely silent while she was seconded to Wendy Alexander - draw your own conclusions. I suspect we'll see him resign from Parliament around the first anniversary of his election.

Malcolm Chisholm - serial martyr, no spine, no political courage, nothing of substance to him. He blusters, whiffles and discombobulates himself frequently and regularly, he mistakes himself for someone competent every third Tuesday and puffs himself up with self-importance twice a month. Even Labour wouldn't be that daft.

Hangdog Hugh Henry - the most miserable man in Scottish politics, you'll never mistake him for a ray of sunshine. He is as inspirational as a fusty loaf at a romantic meal.
Cathy Jamieson - no leadership skills, little political ability, analytical skills of your average housebrick, it is to be hoped that she is good at serving her constituents.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of choice for Labour's fifth Scottish leader since 1999, but I can offer them some inspiration - Helen Eadie! No, no, hear me out.
Helen Eadie is a visionary - it was way back in February 2003 that Helen Eadie proposed demolishing the Forth Bridge. It was the rail bridge she wanted rid of, right enough, but she proved she wasn't afraid to tackle diffcult subjects and slay sacred cows, and she's got the arguments to back up her position:

"Clearly this bridge is virtually a national monument and a testament to the engineers and workers who built this splendid structure and it is without doubt one of the Great Wonders of the World.
"Perhaps it should be preserved in the same way that the other Great Wonders of the World have been preserved regardless of the cost.
"However, maybe too, people need to at the very least consider the unthinkable.
On top of that, her son-in-law is spinner for Labour in Parliament, so she has a support structure in place already.

You heard it here first - Helen Eadie to lead the Labour party!


Craig said...

She's a bit of a cult hero on my blog:

She's got skills!

Calum Cashley said...

I seem to remember her finding the weaapons of mass destruction that Hans Blix failed to find. She had the foresight to use Google, right enough ...

Craig said...

You can find anything using google map these days