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Tom Harris MP – Blairite candidate for Scottish Leader?

There’s an interesting development in the race for Scottish Leader. Tom Harris, Westminster MP and well-known blogger, has put himself forward as a potential candidate for the role of Scottish party leader at Holyrood, saying on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme that he was doing so because of the lack of candidates to emerge from Labour’s ranks at the Scottish Parliament. As a Westminster MP leading the Scottish party (assuming the current review allows that to happen), he would thereby confront the widespread criticism that Scottish Labour has shown more interest in Westminster than Holyrood and “put the interests of the UK above that of Scotland“. However, his intervention is also notable because of what he said today on Wales Home about why Labour did better in Wales than Scotland last May:

Any leader who ostentatiously stands up to his own party in support of his own nation will succeed. That’s as it should be. I hope Scottish Labour gets the message.”

In saying that, he pays tribute to Rhodri Morgan who, as he puts it, “launched his own bid for (Welsh) leadership against the wishes of the Labour establishment.” But Tom’s politics are of course rather different from Rhodri’s. Tom has always been a loyal Blairite — he lost his front bench position when Gordon Brown succeeded — whereas Rhodri’s aim in Wales was to put “clear red water” between Welsh Labour and the Tories (in England and Wales). This, and his cooperation with Plaid Cymru, was the basis of Labour’s successes since then.

Tom Harris argues that Labour’s experience is different in Scotland because Scotland is more nationalist to start with (witness the much greater support for devolution) and Scottish Tories have learnt to vote nationalist to stop Labour. Nevertheless, he warns Welsh Labour, saying “I hope they don’t make the same mistakes we did”.

What can he mean? That he would stand up to his party establishment by pursuing New Labour policies at a time when Ed Miliband is abandoning them. That he would deter Tories from voting SNP by attacking them from the right? That he would seek to win back working class voters from the SNP by pursuing a xenophobic anti-English defence of the Scottish nation?

Is this the Blairite strategy for consolidating its dominance of Scottish Labour politics and launching its bid to regain control of British Labour when opportunity strikes?

One Comment

  1. AnActualScot says:

    You display a complete ignorance of the factors at play in last May’s Scottish elections. First off Labour lost seats left right and centre (if you’ll pardon the pun), left seats in Glasgow went SNP, centrist seats in Edinburgh went SNP and right leaning seats in perthshire which labour had to win went SNP. Labour lost voters in Scotland pretty evenly across the classes.

    The idea that Scotland is a left country is entirely erroneous. Scotland votes based on who they think will stand up for them best. They are not interested in ideological arguements. The SNP know this and focused on policies which said we stand for the Scottish people.

    A lurch to left for Labour may bring back the Glasgow seats lost (except probably Sturgeon’s) but not much else. The SNP would continue to win the elections on a superior list vote.

    Scottish Labour needs a Tom Harris. Let’s face it, there isn’t a single MSP that inspires any confidence in anyone.

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