Posts Tagged ‘Scottish Labour leadership election’

Unite has learned nothing from the Falkirk debacle

03/12/2014, 11:08:36 AM

by Rob Marchant

Last week, we started to see just how much some quarters of the Labour Party do not want Jim Murphy to become their leader in Scotland. It was not so much the carefully-crafted hatchet job from Tom Watson, which followed that of old flat-mate Len McCluskey, leader of the Unite union, from a few weeks earlier.

No, it was the landing on Scottish Unite members’ doormats of ballot packs from their union.

Of course, under the One Member, One Vote system which has been in place for two decades, union leaders no longer allocate millions of their members’ votes; the members decide freely for themselves, under a ballot organised by the union.

Or, at least, that’s the theory.

The reality is that they decide a little less freely than that: some union leaders seem to think freedom, like a number of political leaders before them, is a commodity so valuable that it needs to be rationed.

And so, Scotland’s Sunday Herald reported, the GMB continued to do what it did in the 2010 leadership election for the national party: it put in only the leaflet of its favoured candidate, Neil Findlay, into the voting pack.

But that was nothing compared what Unite got up to: it actually placed a “mock” ballot paper inside the pack alongside the real one, with an X against the box of its favoured candidate. All you had to do was to copy this X onto the real ballot paper in the same place and, hey presto. A more transparent attempt to “help” the voter to vote would be hard to imagine.

It is perfectly legitimate for the leadership to express a preference. What is not acceptable, as standard practice in postal ballots clearly shows, is to express it in the ballot pack.


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Tom Harris’s election email to Scottish Labour members

29/11/2011, 01:00:35 PM

As leadership ballot papers arrive through members’ letterboxes, I want to remind you of the task Scottish Labour now faces.

Political recovery starts with acceptance: not just acceptance that we lost, or even acceptance of the reasons why we lost. But acceptance that we deserved to lose, that the electorate is never wrong.

Too often, Labour gives into its instinct to blame the electorate for our failings and we spend the next four years telling the voters that it was they, not us, who got it wrong. And when we do that, we lose again. And deservedly.

And if it wasn’t the voters who got it wrong, then we blame the leadership. They ignored the wider party, says received wisdom, and produced a manifesto that the grassroots had no say in. An easy excuse, but just that: an excuse, with very little truth to support it.

The fact is that May 2011 was a rejection, not of a manifesto or of a leadership: but a rejection of our party. A party so set in its ways, so convinced that it and only it has the answers to the challenges facing Scotland, that it stopped saying anything interesting or relevant to the Scottish people years before that cataclysmic election defeat six months ago. The seeds of our 2011 defeat were sown many years earlier, not in the few weeks of the campaign.

There persists a myth – and it is a myth – that Scottish Labour rejected New Labour and Blairism because we were too socialist. Wrong. Scottish Labour rejected Blairism and New Labour because we were too conservative.

The ability to change has never been one of our strong suits. That’s why we’re in this mess now.


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