Monday, 15 September 2008

That's not the way to do it!

Iain Gray, brand new shiny leader of the Labour group in the Scottish Parliament, has made his first appointment.

He's appointed Margaret Curran to develop Labour policy - because she lost the Glasgow East bye-election. I'm assured the conversation didn't go "You can lose a seat too? Fancy joining my team?" Let's look at his reasoning, he said:
"She was on more doorsteps and speaking to more voters than anybody else in that by-election and I think she has a very good understanding of how we need to respond to those lessons, that's why I am going to ask Margaret Currant in my shadow cabinet to drive the policy development process towards 2011 for Labour in Scotland."
Apart from the obvious conclusion to draw from that which is that none of her MSP mates turned out to help her in her bye-election, does Iain really think that this is the way to develop policy?

What he's suggesting is that policy under his leadership will be developed according to what was said on the doorsteps during a bye-election - to the losing candidate. I look forward to Labour's 2011 manifesto featuring a fast-closing door accompanied by advice on travel ...
For the benefit of Labour's new group leader, here's basic policy development:

Step 1: Decide what you believe in.
Step 2: Work out what that means - work out what your principles are.
Step 3: Think about how to put those principles into practice.
Step 4: Develop policies which would bring reality closer to your ideal.
Step 5: Advocate those policies.
Step 6: Keep updating your policies as circumstances change.
Step 7: Support an independence referendum.
Step 8: Accept that you may have to accommodate other people on your journey.
Step 9: Welcome support for your policies, defend them against criticism, but always ask yourself whether those policies would put your principles into practice.
Step 10: Check to see whether you still believe in what you decided at Step 1.

It isn't complicated and it isn't an opinion poll. Leading a political party shouldn't lead you into becoming a political cushion, bearing the imprint of the last person to have sat on you.

I hope Iain Gray will rethink his policy development, we've had enough of Labour's incompetence and could do with a decent opposition in Scotland.

On a side note, Kezia Dugdale was kind enough to leave a comment on an earlier post of mine asserting that I'd got it wrong and that Iain Gray's name is on the first piece of legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament. I've rechecked, it isn't, Iain Gray lied in his first speech as leader of the Labour group.
Here's the comment and my reply so anyone can check for themselves. Kezia's comment:
Kezia Dugdale said...
Calum,I'm afraid your wrong. Take a look at this list of Session 1 bills in order (scroll down a wee bit) - the first bill passed on the books was the Mental Health (Public Safety and Appeals) (Scotland) Bill
and Jim Wallace and Iain Gray's names are on it. Kez
14 September 2008 12:23
And my reply:
Calum Cashley said...
Kezia, you're Labour's top researcher - here's the link to the Act (it was then a Bill) which I identified as being first and which you've agree was first.
On the final page (6) you'll find
Introduced by: Jim Wallace
On: 31 August 1999
Bill Type: Executive Bill

For contrast, here's the second one - the Public Finance one:
On the final page (30) you will find:
Introduced by: Mr Jack McConnell
On: 7 September 1999
Supported by: Mr Jim Wallace, Ms Wendy Alexander, Mr Tom McCabe
Bill Type: Executive Bill

Not a good start by Iain, he'd better *ahem* "up his game".CC
14 September 2008 13:21
Mind how you go!


Sean McLeod said...

The first Act of the Scottish Parliament was also a deeply illiberal affair - which explains why it was challenged all the way to the Privy Council. Anderson (rtf).rtf

Kezia Dugdale said...

Sorry Calum, I still think you're wrong. Angus Mackay was the Deputy Justice but Iain was the Deputy Minister for Community Care, hence his interest in the bill.

Jim Wallace always introduced the bill to debate in parliament and Iain closed it. As is evident here at the stage 1 debate.

Calum Cashley said...


I admire your loyalty but you should give it up. Continuing to look for ways to fix the broken truth just makes it worse. Iain told a lie and it would be better for him to admit that he did and then move on rather than continuing to deny it.

Lying about wrongdoing was what finished Wendy Alexander and Iain should avoid doing that. He'd be better off learning the lesson that Paddy Ashdown taught.

Cheer up, things can only get better!


Will said...

Calum, on the subject of odd Shadow Cabinet appointments, what's your take on Iain Gray choosing a pro-nuclear MSP with a nuclear power station in her constituency as Shadow Environment Minister? Do you reckon he did that for a bet?

Calum Cashley said...

I'm not sure he thought about it that much - his cabinet is fairly bizarre.

Calman is more of a concern on the nuclear industry with its talk about hadning nuclear planning powers back to Whitehall.