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With your support, Neil Findlay and Katy Clark can win in Scotland

SL2014As the nominations stage of Scotland’s leadership election ends today, hustings start tomorrow and ballot papers start arriving on people’s doormats from Monday. Although  the odds at William Hill put Jim Murphy (at 2/9) well ahead of Findlay (at 10/3) with Boyack trailing at 12/1, it is clear that Neil Findlay and Katy Clark could win this election with your support.

Neil and Katy have won virtually all trade union nominations — with Unite, Unison, GMB (Murphy’s own union he had predicted he’d win), CWU, UCATT, ASLEF, TSSA and the Musicians — more than expected. Murphy and MSP Kezia Dugdale (chair of Movement for Change and associated with Progress) are well ahead amongst MPs and MSPs — the section of the electoral college in which Progress is strongest thanks to many years of Lord Sainsbury-funded organisation in support of favoured parliamentary candidates with the collusion of the party machine under New Labour. Murphy and Dugdale won union nominations only from USDAW (and then probably only because the decision was taken by the UK executive in Manchester rather than by lay members in Scotland, many of whom favour Neil and Katy) plus tiny Community (Dugdale’s union).

Nominations are one thing, however, and votes another. Katy and Neil certainly do not take union members’ votes for granted – a very significant proportion of them, perhaps a majority in some unions, are currently minded to vote SNP next year according to the polls. Some nationalists and radical Indy supporters may even decide to participate in Labour’s selection and vote Murphy in the belief that he will guarantee the demise of Scottish Labour.

In the other two sections, fear is a factor for voters. Members are afraid that their party will be wiped out by the SNP, though Murphy’s election would surely make the loss of even more Scottish working class voters likely and defeat more certain. Just as in the UK leadership election in 1993 when many party members voted for Blair in spite of their political differences, so it could be for some in Scotland now.

Some MSPs, as well as being fearful for their seats, are known to be fearful about the repercussions of a vote against the man who promises to hire and fire whoever he wants. Still, there remain uncommitted votes and possible transfers and, with sufficient campaign volunteers, Murphy & Dugdales’s lead in this section will be smaller than Findlay and Clark’s in the trade union section. Sarah Boyack has simply been squeezed in these two sections and is certain to be eliminated in any second ballot.

The key to this election, therefore, is individual party members. The party in Scotland is small by UK standards, and canvassing is vital. Murphy probably has fewer activists on whom he can call, but he has access to the money to use commercial canvassers as Progress-backed parliamentary candidates often do.

The limit on spending is remarkably high — £50,000 excluding staff and premises costs and third party expenditure —  which also favours Murphy and Dugdale. The rules of the contest which were really chosen in London and recommended to the Scottish party executive by the London-imposed acting general secretary undoubtedly favour Murphy & Dugdale.

The very short timetable certainly favours Murphy who has been planning this campaign for months, whereas Neil and Katy’s operations started just two weeks ago and were inevitably slower to get going. Murphy’s campaign team includes eight Better Together figures including supremo Blair McDougall, tipped for Alistair Darling’s seat, deepening suspicions that the pro-UK body “shamelessly” promoted the MP during the referendum, including Murphy’s tour of Scottish cities with a group of supporters to enhance his audience.

Ironically in the light of right-wing criticisms of the lack of an OMOV process, the electoral college being used will also work strongly in favour of Murphy and Dugdale compared with a Collins-style OMOV election since the votes of parliamentarians are worth as much as many hundreds if not thousands of ordinary party members and levy payers, a factor which enormously outweighs the importance of the fact that party members who are also trade union & socialist society members will have multiple votes.

To help Neil and Katy in this election, you should do two things: firstly you should volunteer to help Neil (here) and Katy (here), and secondly you should donate to both Neil (here) and Katy (here). Please don’t delay – do it now!

13 Comments

  1. David Pavett says:

    I would like to see Murphy defeated since I believe that he represents the sort of undemocratic right-wing approach to politics that has dragged Scottish (and UK) Labour down. So I went to the campaign websites of Neil Findlay and Katy Clark with the thought of sending a contribution. Before doing so I thought I would read up on their policies. What I found was that their policy cupboard is virtually empty. All they have is a couple of brief “Why I am standing” statements and half a dozen bullet points (remarkably similar to UK Labour in their content and vagueness). Is this really thick enough gruel for the job in hand?

    I was further taken aback by Katy Clark’s claim that “Johann and Anas have given us strong leadership over the last 3 years”. Really? How in that case has Scottish Labour in the same period ceded so much ground to the SNP?

    Are NF and KC really going into this on such a feeble policy basis? Please someone tell me I am wrong and that I am just looking in the wrong place for their materials. If not then I am sorry to say that left-sounding vague policy statements litter Labour’s history on both sides of the border. They are never the basis for radical change.

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      David I think you should look at Neil’s piece in the latest Scottish Left Review or the piece he wrote in the Morning Star shortly before Johann Lamont resigned.

      1. David Pavett says:

        Jon, thanks for the links. I have read both pieces and still feel more or less in the same position. The Scottish Left Review piece is vague in the extreme. The Morning Star piece is a bit more specific but hardly gets beyond a wish list. I am sure Neil F is right when he says “… anyone who thinks that we can take on the SNP from any other position than firmly to their left needs to re-enter this world from cloud cuckoo land”.

        The problem is that the left position he speaks of seems to have very little substance.

        He wants

        (1) to committ to a policy of full employment. Good, don’t we all? Don’t we need some details on how this is to be achieved?

        (2) a “national house-building programme to build council houses and social housing on a grand scale”. Same comment.

        (3) to set up “a living wage unit in the Scottish government that would use grants, procurement and every lever of government to raise the minimum wage to the living wage”. Okay that is possible and worthwhile but perhaps not a game changer.

        (4) to “Re-democratise local government, financing services and freeing councils to set their own taxes again … and begin reversing the 40,000 job losses across our councils”. Again, I like the sound of this but the 40,000 jobs alone would cost something approaching £1bn. Does this need some explanation?

        (5) to “End the social care scandal by making social care a rewarding, fairly paid career and ending the indignity of short-timed care visits”, all good stuff but same comment as for (4).

        (6) to “Create quality apprenticeships and new college places that set young people up for life”. Good, but how?

        (7) “An industrial policy that promotes manufacturing and new sustainable jobs”. This is too vague to be taken seriously.

        (8) “A wholesale review of our NHS — recruiting enough staff and rewarding them to ensure we have an NHS for the 21st century”. Good but, again, some detail is required and Neil F should be in a position to provide it on this issue.

        (9) to “Build a charter of workers’ rights with new legislation on the fatal accident inquiries and strict liability, devolved health and safety, new legislation on equalities, the living wage and blacklisting”. That all sounds possible and worthwhile but is difficult to evaluate with no detail. I am not sure why he has attached “a commitment to an inquiry into the miners’ strike” into this.

        All in all I still think this is thin gruel and from looking at the Scottish Labour website from time to time over the last year or so living on an extremely thin policy/analysis base seems to be one of the problems that has brought them to their current weakened state.

  2. David Ellis says:

    Unless they emberace independence and put forward a radical programme for the transition to socialism Scottish Labour will continue its descent into irrelevance.

    Findlay’s statement is an excellent example of New Labour/EuroStalinist liquidationist waffle and spin.

    1. James Martin says:

      That’s it David, we need much more Stalinism and socialism in (one very tiny) country. Feck the rest of the British working class of course…

  3. swatantra says:

    They are worthy challengers, but if Scots Labour is to make a impact then it has to be Jim.

    1. David Ellis says:

      Hilarious.

      1. Robert says:

        He gets like this now and again.

  4. Barry Ewart says:

    Yes but Findlay and Clark are for he Left the only game in town. Sadly Scottish Labour were mesmerised by New Labour as the SNP stole Labour’s radical clothes. Labour in Scotland needs to get back to its radical roots.

    1. Robert says:

      New labour was radical it was the most radical labour party I’ve ever seen, the rich become a dam sight richer and the poorest became a lot poorer.

      I’d rather see a labour party which is true to the ideology of the 1900’s which spoke about the working class and welfare state and social justice and the poor. today all you get from Miliband and his Progress party is hard working when most of those in power have never had a job other then politics and it shows my god it shows.

      I cannot vote for the geek which is Miliband the lad is still wet behind the ears sadly he may have made a good leader in ten or twenty years time now he’s just controlled.

      1. Barry Ewart says:

        Yes getting back to its original radical early routes is what I was suggesting. I think we should focus on policies and not become like the media on personalities. I am a left wing democratic socialist in Labour – I thought about joining Left Unity for a while but Labour despite its middle class Oxbridge leadership is where the majority of working people/working class people are and most significantly it is where the majority of the trade unions are. I along with others on the Left in Labour are trying to make us Progressive Labour instead of Timid Labour. For example I would like a Windfall Tax on the top 200 companies (£1b each), more democratic public ownership with staff electing qualified boards and communities having a say ie Mail & Rail which could be allowed to break even, and the public utilities utilities which could also pay a community dividend which people could use to offset against bills (addressing fuel poverty), some publicly owned banks and airlines and the drugs companies, a wealth tax, free public transport, plus compensate all those who have suffered under he bedroom tax, a 5% EC Financial Transaction Tax (which would bring in £1.75 trillion to adddress EC austerity) and more. I also want 2 working classs candidates on every Labour Party Parliamentary Shortlist (ideally radical democratic socialists) so you will see Labour isn’t radical enough for me but they are coming up with some half decent policies and I think it’s our only hope of getting rid of the Toxic Tories. By the way The Guardian reported yesterday that Hedge Funds have given the Tories £50m since the last election and in the most recent budget the Tories (and the Lib Diems) gave Hedge Funds a £145m tax cut! Now if that doesn’t stink what does? With best wishes.

        1. Robert says:

          We will see me I’m not voting at the next general election my main view now is getting Wales to independence, even if that means staying within the Union, so as this happens and it will the Westminster clique will matter less and less.

          Roll of real devolution.

  5. Mick Hall says:

    “They are worthy challengers, but if Scots Labour is to make a impact then it has to be Jim.”

    The above sums up just how deep the poison of NL has sunk, nothing about radical policies, nothing about independence and why so many LP members voted for it. All that a new leader needs is to make an impact. Just like Blair did I’m supposing. For this comrade, if a leader can make an impact things can only get better.

    Now where have I heard that before, better for whom is the question I would ask?

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