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Alexander wins one horse race

Brian Taylor | 17:33 UK time, Tuesday, 21 August 2007

And then there was one. One candidate for the Scottish Labour leadership, that is. For the avoidance of doubt, that candidate is Wendy Alexander.
She received nominations from 41 out of 46 Labour MSPs. And she knows the names of the infamous five. Only joking.

Strictly speaking, she doesn’t become leader until September 14 – when the party’s Scottish Executive will sit down with MSPs to sift through the vast list of contenders to succeed Jack McConnell.
But she’s wasting no time. She held talks today with Labour’s council group leaders – and she’ll head off round the country to consult with the voters and the grassroots. Stand by, Inverness. She’s coming your way first.

To listen, of course. But to say what? That’s grouped around four broad themes: a competitive yet compassionate economy; consumer not producer focused public services; empowering people not institutions; and Scottish solutions for Scottish aspirations.

If she means it – and she does – then these decidedly broad themes could spell tension ahead. Institutions and producers have a habit of getting miffed when politicians suggest, even mildly, that they might care to put the customers first.

Plus is she ready to stand up for “Scottish solutions” against powerful politicians in London, if necessary? Against the Prime Minister, if necessary?

When I asked her, she grinned and said she would seek co-operation – but would stand her ground.


  • 1.
  • At 05:48 PM on 21 Aug 2007,
  • R. S. Tornaway wrote:

Yer a brave man Brian getting face to face with the delectable WENDY. How do you feel about having to chummy up to Ms. Alexander for the next four years?

  • 2.
  • At 08:54 PM on 21 Aug 2007,
  • Alan Bath wrote:

Is this the state of democracy in the Labour Party when for the second time this summer major figures have been 'elected' unopposed, is this a return to the Stalinist old ways.

  • 3.
  • At 09:09 PM on 21 Aug 2007,
  • Tearlach wrote:

Strictly speaking she is not the Labour Leader in Scotland - that's Gordon Brown. She is the leader of the Labour Group in the Scottish Parliament.

And that is the key problem that she will face over the next four years.

Interesting times - will she stand up to Gordon, or is she a place woman?

  • 4.
  • At 09:12 PM on 21 Aug 2007,
  • Alan North wrote:

Brian, do you think an independent Scottish Labour party makes Scottish independence more or less difficult to achieve?

Voters could return to Labour if they are seen to be genuinely fighting completely in Scotland's corner. Alternatively Scottish Labour could be lured towards independence if there was a chance they'd be truly running things themselves.

Obviously it's not the party line, but is their much appetite for independence amongst MSPs in the "officially" unionist parties?

  • 5.
  • At 09:33 PM on 21 Aug 2007,
  • Norman M wrote:

I am absolutely certain WA will stand her ground, but in the confines of No 10 Downing St. She will no doubt see it as her duty to stand by her oldest ally in the great campaigns to come. Dunfermline, Auchtermuchty, Tehran.....Oh no! I'm getting mixed up again :-(

  • 6.
  • At 09:33 PM on 21 Aug 2007,
  • deejay wrote:

The coronation of the Wendy means only one thing for Labour -another nail in the coffin!!
The SNP must be turning cartwheels of joy tonight: wee Wendy has no fight for real politics (as she has shown); she is known to be 'not a team player' and just what votes does she think her Armani suits and abandonment of her weans to he hubby (read well-paid babysitter)will win her in the old Labour heartland of Scotland??
We have seen recently (well, last 50 years) the implosion of the Conservative Party in Scotland and now with Bendy in charge, the Labour Party has taken the same road!!
The SNP could not have invented a better script for their ambitions!!

Labour's negativism lost them the election and if they are still a lost party then the moniker "Wendy and the lost boys" will stick fast.

Labour needs to act positive. Act positive at election time rather than negative sniping, act positive about Scotland by not fosillising the devolution settlement and act positive towards all other parties including the SNP when the Scottish Government comes forward with inclusive and wide ranging proposals such as the "national conversation". There's something in their for Labour if they look hard.

However, they need to stop being lost boys first. A Labour party independent from London is a first step although it would be ironic that this was the party that kept saying independence was bad and now has to enact it internally....

  • 8.
  • At 10:40 PM on 21 Aug 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

Brian, I hate to break this to you but Wendy Alexander does NOT mean what she says. Sorry to disillusion you, I know, "how could she", but somebody had to say it.

  • 9.
  • At 07:37 AM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

So Wendy 'will seek co-operation but stand her ground' when dealing with powerful London politicians including Gordon Brown? Im afraid Wendy is and will remain subordinate when dealing with London politicians, she will cower as did Jack.

Scottish solutions to Scottish problems should be solved by Scots in Scotland without seeking London approval.

Until Labour cut the apron strings with London they are doomed to be second at best. The writing on the wall states that scot's want a much bigger say,for goodness sake read it!

  • 10.
  • At 07:43 AM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • Chasa wrote:

Anyone who knows the Alexanders are well aware that they will do G. Brown's bidding at the snap of his figers. Wendy Alexander is nothing more than Brown's poodle in Scotland. Look closely at Tony Blair's relationship with George Bush and you will see the mirror image of Wendy and Gordon Brown.

  • 11.
  • At 09:43 AM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • Stewart wrote:

How can she possibly stand he ground when Des Brown side swiped her more powers out the water.

Its lucky Wendy has hair or I think we could see GB thumb print wedged on top of her head

  • 12.
  • At 10:35 AM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • Donald McCaskey wrote:

With Des Brown already ruling out a revisit of the Scotland Act, Wendy's grand standing is merely talk.

Without the carrot of more powers, more democracy, Scottish Labour can offer nothing to the people of Scotland other than London Labour's version of the Status Quo, despite the fact this has already been rejected at the ballot box.

With the SNP still riding high and still to make any serious mistakes, Scottish Labour now only have two routes open to them: They can follow the Tories' road to redemption, with the many long years in the wilderness that entails, or they can follow the Liberals' road to irrelevancy.

It is ironic that, having ditched a national leader (in)famous for advocating the third way, it is now beyond Scottish Labour to find a path that will not damage them, perhaps fatally.

  • 13.
  • At 11:17 AM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • Dave "Boy" wrote:

To no 11.....

Does Nicola Sturgeon have Alex Salmond's thumbprint on HER forehead? Are SNP party loyalties somehow more credible than any other party loyalties? Or is your post just plain sexist?

Everyone answers to someone in life. Even Alex Salmond. He claims to answer to the Scottish people - well, he has a job to do engaging the female population of the country which is the SNP's big weakness. With a working mother at the helm, Labour at the very least have the opportunity to mobilise this body of support. I think Wendy Alexander will be a very able leader and I wish her all the best.

  • 14.
  • At 11:28 AM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • david clyde wrote:

I only have one question of the good people of this forum and its a serious one. Does anyone here think uncle alex will be able to stand in front of the National media and comment on Wendy`s new job without laughing out loud ? I`ve got a tenner that says he can`t !

  • 15.
  • At 12:51 PM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

Wendy has romped home by many lengths in a one horse race, congratulations must go to trainer Alistair Darling,jockey Des Brown and owner Gordon Brown.

Nuff Said?

  • 16.
  • At 01:16 PM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

Wendy: Hi Gordon can i have some party independance up here & more powers so we can shut up teh SNP!

Gordon: Sorry Wendy no! just tell scotland they'll be poor if they become independant

(on the other line)
Wendy: Douglas, Gordon won't help me out can you have a word ?

Douglas: Do as your told Wendy, He got you the job what more do you want ?

  • 17.
  • At 01:40 PM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • Gio wrote:

There is no way The Labour party down south will ever give the Scottish Labour party an inch when it comes to forming thier own opinion. Time and time again we have seen how the Labour party behaves as if it was the Communist party of the Soviet Union-all ideas are crushed if it diverges from the party line (with threat of an end to that politicians career within the party), all those in a position of power are old chums of Gordon Brown or have a track record of doing as they are told.
Also, Labour can't afford to do this even if wanted too, after all they are a unionist party and would not want to risk thier Scottish MSPs getting used to'independant' thoughts
as Westminister might loose control of them altogether.

  • 18.
  • At 05:24 PM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • Brian McHugh wrote:

Since when have Labour ever listened to the Scottish people?

Wendy 'hoose' will change nothing. The majority of Labour supporters are all for furnishing the Scottish Parliament with greater powers in order to do a more effective job. The problem is London Labours' fear that they will loosen the grip of control of Scottish Labour by granting greater powers to the Scottish Parliament and a divide will open up between the Westminster and Holyrood wings of the Labour Party.

Personally, I have no doubt that their fears would be proved right, but as a Scot, all that means is that issues which affect me will be dealt with by people who care first and foremost about Scotland. A no lose situation.

Until that happens with Labour, I cannot see them competing with the SNP's single minded concern for Scotland and it's people. Wendy Alexander changes nothing. On the contrary, her coronation proves the point.

  • 19.
  • At 08:17 PM on 22 Aug 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

How can it be healthy when Gordon Brown has his poodles around him, Douglas Alexander in Westminster and Wendy in Holyrood.Democracy? I think not.Then again this is the way Labour operates at all levels.

  • 20.
  • At 12:03 PM on 23 Aug 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Her stated support for further devolution - in contradiction to Des Brown's statement a few days ago - is Labour stage-management, designed to make her look like one prepared to take on London Labour.

Don't be fooled. Her coronation speech looked like it had been written by Blair.

  • 21.
  • At 04:11 PM on 23 Aug 2007,
  • Stewart wrote:

I cant see mothers out there voting for Alexander because she is a woman.

Nieu labour have had the mantra Education ... for 10 years now so promising more education reform is really beating the horse well after its dead.

I really do hope she is still in pwer in 4 years so the SNP can get an outright majority and push throguh their white paper

  • 22.
  • At 05:43 PM on 26 Aug 2007,
  • louise wrote:

I read today in the times that wendys husband supported independence rather than fiscal autonomy. Even her hubby is turning against her. What chance has she got with the people of scotland if her own hubby does not listen to her.

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