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Starting over

Brian Taylor | 15:54 UK time, Friday, 17 August 2007

Inevitably, it was a little imprecise.

And the media folk in attendance were miffed at the lack of an opportunity to ask questions. But Wendy Alexander’s campaign launch should be counted a success.

She spoke well. A decent audience of supporters had been assembled. And she addressed, pretty bluntly, the failings in Scottish Labour.

Above all, as one senior party figure said later, she used the key sentiment: “We lost”. The SNP won - not by guile or slick PR but because they “seized Labour’s agenda of hope and aspiration.”

Anyone, says Ms Alexander, who thinks otherwise is “kidding themselves.”

As to content, it was full of the language of aspiration and opportunity.

There was a line at the end stressing that the “yawning gulf” between rich and poor must be closed.

But, broadly, the equality on offer was one of the opportunity for self-enhancement: a help up, not a hand out.

That meant, in schools, a modernised curriculum, leadership and personalised learning; in health, help for patients with chronic conditions to manage their own care; in society, support for parents and aspirational home owners.

More immediately still, Ms Alexander and her team plainly plan a complete reshuffle of the party organisation. One aide told me that they would “rub out” the existing set-up and start again.

Not, one trusts, Mafia-style.

I think the intention is to attempt to match the SNP for professionalism and the dispersal of campaigning resources across the country.

It would also mean an explicitly Scottish Labour Party- rather than just the Labour Party in Scotland.

Autonomy over policy, organisation and presentation. Devolution, in short.

If elected, she’ll put a programme for party reform to the spring conference.

Like Jack McConnell, Wendy Alexander has plainly not forgotten the aspirations of Scottish Labour Action, the pressure group to which both belonged.


  • 1.
  • At 04:37 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • John wrote:


This coronation is nothing more than a shoe in ordered by Labour London.

Nothing Wendy Alexander says or does will be taken seriously by the vast majority of Scots voters, when she is at the beck and call of Gordon Brown.

Labour lost the last election (bigtime) due to Blair and Brown attempting to impose their agenda on Scotland. Remember GB, I am here to save the union. Great, only thing was the position of the union was was not on the agenda, but they were too full of their own importance to even ask anyone what was important to the Scottish people.

The only way Labour can make a comeback under WA or an other leader after the next election is with Scottish policies from a Scottish party.

Everything WA said today was a mirror image of London policy.

Hope they continue to push the London line to oblivion.

  • 2.
  • At 05:09 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Peter Thomson wrote:

Same song, same cracked record, same repeated mantra.

Her supporters might be pleased but there are too many unreformed left wing Labour activists who have no interest in what she has to say.

Yet another West Coast Labour shoe in ordered by London Labour: not what I think Scotland is interested in no matter how the Union media tries to spin it. She is Gordon Brown's puppet in the same way that McConnell was Blair's.

  • 3.
  • At 05:19 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Tom Berney wrote:

Wendy says Labour must stop being seen as the party of West Central Scotland. She has mistaken the problem. Her problem is that they are seen as the party of West Central London and other points around the stock-broker belt. If Blair was Bush's poodle then McConnell was Blair's Chihuahua

Sure, the "yawning gulf" between rich and poor must be closed but can Brown's pal Wendy accept that Blair and Brown presided over the biggest ever increase in that gulf? Fiscally there is little that a *devolved* SP can do to remedy it. The reality is that British Labour can only be elected if they appeal to the voters in SE England - whose interests and needs are entirely different from Scotland's.

Only an independent Scotland free of Westminster's imperial delusions can realistically address that kind of problem problem. So she is posturing.

  • 4.
  • At 05:39 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • louise wrote:

If wendy alexander thinks that finally admitting defeat is going to win voters back to labour she is sadly mistaken. In the first 100 days of SNP administration we have seen the SNP deliver. The SNP has shown they are the listening party people said they didnt want hospital A and E depts shut down. We have seen the SNP listen to that and reverse health board decisions to close these services. How many years of labour did we have where they didnt listen. We the voters know that Unlike the SNP labour is all talk and no action. Labour promised that OAPs would get free personal care did all our pensioners that needed this get it i dont think so. All labour do is lie and spin. We all know that wendy takes her orders straight from gordon in london the same as every other labour lackey. The SNP have shown that they are now the best party to look after scotlands best interests nationally and in europe. The only way that labour is likely to get their foot back in the door is with more powers for the scottish parliament. Shame they are against that you could almost feel sorry for them.

  • 5.
  • At 05:43 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

No, the SNP seized the people’s hopes and aspirations; the people had six years of Labour’s hopes and aspirations and thought enough was enough.

The “yawning gulf” between rich and poor is the very area the Labour Partly target, selling themselves in Scotland as champions of the poor and underprivileged; if poverty was eradicated in Scotland, never mind Malawi where would Labour look for their votes?

These statements on the gulf between rich and poor are most commonly bandied around by both Labour and Conservatives alike with neither of the two main parties wishing to upset an apple cart they both benefit from.

A help up, not a hand out; it is about time the system whereby taxpayers money is handed out by councils to the supposed needy was regulated more strictly; if individuals or their activities have to be funded from taxpayer’s money we need to know that a correct assessment of all the relevant circumstances have been carried out, more means test not less.

A modernised curriculum is nonsense, sounds like Wendy has started meddling already rather than managing, we need to eradicate the gobbledygook and Politically Correct teaching ideas from training colleges not tinker with it; what we need is education tailored to the abilities of pupils, not a ‘one size fits all curriculum’ bringing to fruition the dreams of teachers. Leadership and personalised learning, sounds like an employment scheme for teachers; was this devised to bring the EIS on board?

Help for patients with chronic conditions to manage their own care; sounds a bit like the Conservative’s ‘care in the community scheme’ which was devised to free up institutions for sale. Is this another method of reducing clinicians, nurses and carer’s input / support to these ill patients, either to free up or reduce human resources?

Aid for parents?

Aid for aspirational home owners can only amount to a financial package, has this been costed and who is to pay for it? As if I didn’t know.

No one trusts, Mafia-style; do I detect a slight against the previous First Minister and his Cosa Nostra team?

An explicitly Scottish Labour Party, rather than just the Labour Party in Scotland; is Wendy trying to convince us she is not Gordon’s poodle.
“Autonomy over policy, organisation and presentation”, yes that is exactly what Wendy and Gordon are trying to convince us; Scottish Labour Party policy to combat Scottish National Party policy. Almost as transparent as the Emperor’s new clothes.

If elected, she’ll put a programme for party reform to the spring conference; should not Labour Party voters know now what they are voting for?

" ... she used the key sentiment: “We lost”. The SNP won - not by guile or slick PR but because they “seized Labour’s agenda of hope and aspiration.” ... "

Wendy's right. They did lose. But I think she mistakes the reason, the SNP didn't sieze the Labour Agenda, Labour didn't have an agenda. I don't believe that SNP has shifted a great deal in the last few years ... I suspect Wendy knows that, but let's not let the facts get in the way of her inevitable coronation.

And don't kid yourself that because a competitor might emerge it won't be anything other than a coronation.

Another sterling example of Labour Party democracy in action ...

  • 7.
  • At 07:33 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • neil wrote:

The Labour Party has been promising to become a Scottish party since at least 1982, Brian, when you were a cub reporter with Thomson Regional newspapers. Don't hold your breath!

Back in those days, too, there were no coronations, As for your mention of Scottish Labour Action: well it died in 1996 when Wendy Alexander and Sarah Boyack turn up to meet
Tony Blair in their Sunday best.

Both were wearing HATS to a Scottish Labour Party Conference that scraps
Clause 4 part 4 of the constitution.
I still remember the look of horror on poor Iain Smart's face. It only
lightened when the one true Left winger in that group arrived late
without her Sunday bonnet and her
principles intact. But poor Susan
Deacon was not on the Network list and had to challenge the machine to even get her Holyrood nomination ...

This result would not be such a shoo-in for the candidate of the British-American Project for The Successor
Generation if Professor Deacon had not taken a principled decision to pursue other interests and abandon
the husk that is her former party.

  • 8.
  • At 07:41 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Mac wrote:

It would appear that BBC Scotland is infested by Labourites fawning, nay drooling at the prospect of Wendy Alexander taking control.

I know that Alex Salmond will never be flavour of the month at Beeb HQ in Glasgow, despite Scottish 6 and all that, but surely someone should be telling Brian and others that Wee Wendy will never be a match for Wee Eck, nor Wee Nicola.

I suppose that reality will just make BBC Scotland more and more angry about the SNP. Such collective ire will end up with the Beeb doing itself a mischief.

  • 9.
  • At 09:23 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Jim Caddis wrote:

So this is the new face of Scottish Labour is it? Not one of the previous leaders since devolution were elected by the membership. Looks like the tradition is to continue. And only this week we hear howls of favouritism concerning Jack McConnell. Democracy is truly dead in the water as far as Labour are concerned. Hope and aspirations is what kept Labour in power for 50 years, as Scots we got fed-up listening to false promises, we got fed-up waiting for change.

New Labour didn't just lose the election, they threw it away big time. Putting an end to the "too many cooks..." scenario might help.

The problem is that the gap between rich and poor, specificaly the problems faced by the poorer sections of society, used to be number one in (old) Labour's priorities. At the moment, any policies to aleviate the suffering of "the poor" come accross as a sop to the left.

As, collectively, Scotland is now as poor as it was in the 1960's, this attitude needs to change if Labour want back into power. The fact that this was mentioned last does not bode well...

  • 11.
  • At 11:21 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Norman M wrote:

Most, if not all posters have either ben pro or anti independence for economic reasons. I want independence because I hate, loathe, & abhor the UK's foreign policy. Apart from all the harm it has brought to these islands (& let's not even get started on the loss of our civil liberties, habeas corpus etc)we are complicit in murdering hundreds of thousands of people. That is a fact, and it IS in our name, unless we vote to change it. As part of the UK it will never happen. Are we really that morally bankrupt as a people?

  • 12.
  • At 11:34 PM on 17 Aug 2007,
  • Ed Martin wrote:

Labour needs a good long spell out of power in order that they might learn some humility and perhaps work on how they regain the respect of the Scottish people they have been letting down for years.
In recent years, Labour's supposed agenda of 'hope and aspiration' was invisible to all but the delusional.
They had the upper hand in Scotland for 60 years. I suspect the scales are falling from the eyes of their supporters and they may have to wait a long time before power comes their way again.

  • 13.
  • At 04:12 AM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • Malc (A Scot) in Aberystwyth wrote:

*SNP member talking*

Not exactly talking about a new dawn for "Scottish" Labour, Wendy Alexander is exactly what Labour need. While an SNP member for many years - and indeed one who will be returning to campaign for the party shortly - WA is always a member of the party whom I have held in high regard. Sure I haven't always agreed with her, but I do believe she has been a grand speaker and always spoke with the interests of her party at heart.

Saying that, I have no doubt the SNP - and the leadership in particular - will relish the opportunity to debate WA every week at FMQs. Again, hungry caterpillar jokes aside, WA is no match for A Salmond's guile, wit or speech-making ability and the First Minister will make political hay out of an opponent who resigned from the former Labour leader in Scotland's cabinet (can't they just have a Scottish leader? It would mean less words...) to "think" some more.

A second "coronation" is exactly what Labour do NOT need. Whether a "lefty" candidate stands or not - and Bill Butler, who by all accounts, was a fun person to watch accept his Parliamentary election on 3 May, should stand - it will still be a coronation, for other candidate will have the support of Labour's alleged "heavyweights" in the Scottish Parliament. And no doubt brother Douglas will aid Wendy's campaign through London to secure her "Scottish" leadership...

A note of caution for our present government however. If Labour ever do decide to devolve their party and allow "Scottish" Labour any measure of control, look for the party to finally gain a measure of policy which relates to the Scottish people. Perhaps then they will look like the party of government they had been since 1999.

  • 14.
  • At 05:25 AM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • Michael McFarlane wrote:

Brian, your turning into a big disappointment, or at least your blog is. When you returned from your 4 or 5 week holiday, you wrote about Jack McConnell. First you tell us, he stabilised devolution after the Henry McLeish "guddle"?. After that, he set out a list of "ambitions" that ensured something about "whether or whither" the Scottish Parliament?. "Fresh talent" "Sectarianism", and every other thing you can think about: `education`, `crime` etc etc... .

Next, your blog suggests Jack, could become "Lord Jack"?.

For the next four years, he will remain as an MSP and then become Britain's Ambassador to Malawi.

While enduring his tenure in one of the world's poorest countries at his forty room mansion on the vast Ambassadorial estate, with it's numerous servants and gardeners etc.., he may also work on behalf of the Clinton/Hunter Foundation to help give the children of Malawi better education. He did not raise education standards in Scotland during his many years; so what is he going to do over there?.

Your next two or three blogs, written over the space of thirteen or fourteen days, are either about Scottish Broadcasting or Salmonds "White Paper", re, "Independence". Then you warble on about the "qualities" of McConnell's presumed successor, Wendy Alexander. She is "personable", "highly intelligent" and with "substantial integrity". She is an intellectual, a good thinker etc.., and she is the sister of Douglas Alexander - he who managed to turn a simple election process into an unprecedented chaos, worse than anything previously seen in a democratic society - .

I'm very disappointed with your blog Brian. I don't think many of us care what happens to Jack McConnell?, and personally I don't think he did anything for Scotland!. I think, the only thing he did was secure his own future. I also do not care how intelligent Ms Alexander might be, or how "deep" she thinks!. After ten years of devolution, I would just like to see someone - Anyone - doing something!, and I don't mean easy stuff like the "smoking ban".

Joe Fitzpatrick has put forward a proposal regarding the matter of "Arms Dealing" and how it is policed?. Why don't you keep us updated on this, or the many other issues that are far more important than the careers of party individuals?.

  • 15.
  • At 09:39 AM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

Wendy Alexanders demeanor reminds me of her previous boss George Galloway.
One can only hope for the sake of scottish politics she doesn't intend to regurgitate the same old social rhetoric as George. It comes as a surprise to me,a nationalist, that the Labour party elite in Westminster believe that genuine party followers will find her leadership appealing. I find it all amusing that they still find the time to be negative, when clearly they have lost their way.

In conclusion, Jack McConnells new appointment in conjunction with illegal wars,the B.A.E. scandal, money for honours and so on, surely Mr Salmond can only strengthen the cause for independence.

  • 16.
  • At 11:46 AM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • Peter, Aberdeen wrote:


why don't you go back and read Scottish Labour Action material from the 1990's. Jack MaConnell , Wendy Alexander no longer follow that agenda.

"Waffling Wendy" is a Blairite/Brownite from tip to toe...her change agenda will be to ape New Labour down south(as dictated to her by P.M. Brown). If you want to know someone who may have followed through on the SLA aims...look at Susan Deacon ex-MSP and Minister.

Although disagreed with Susan she had my respect...but their current MSP's (God Helps us George Foulkes!! et al) are not up to job. As I said before under Wendy's New Scottish Labour will spin away, have taloids rant against Nats but the punters and indeed Scotland will not be fooled..."The Emperor has no clothes"

In May we saw most of Scotland happy to see them turfed out....I think 2011 will be a larger defeat. A party in decline seldom see's the fall.....

UK Liberals 1922,
Scot Tories 1955,
UK Labour 1979
UK Tories 1997
Scots Labour 2007..?

  • 17.
  • At 12:06 PM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

I dont think the SNP stole ,anyones agenda. Labour lost because its government was unambitious, negative lazy and unproductive. Too many labour MSPs thought that as long as they wore a red rose on polling that the deed was done and another 4 years in parliament was guaranteed. Not so now, Ms Alexander is a sharp, smart politician who I hope can get her MSPs to start working harder for Scotland (some of the Tories and lib-dems need a good kick in the pants too). I so far like what I see in the SNP government but having harder working more ambitious politicians on all sides should guarantee a better Scotland for all.

  • 18.
  • At 05:06 PM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • james petticrew wrote:

Its pretty obvious that Wendy is a genius ... in her own estimation.
Having her as first minister would be like living with the constant whine of dentist's drill or having to listen to the headmistress at assembly with no chance of sleep. I hope that prospect is visited on the labour party, they deserve it, but not the country.

  • 19.
  • At 05:18 PM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • james petticrew wrote:

Its pretty obvious that Wendy is a genius ... in her own estimation.
Having her as first minister would be like living with the constant whine of dentist's drill or having to listen to the headmistress at assembly with no chance of sleep. I hope that prospect is visited on the labour party, they deserve it, but not the country.

  • 20.
  • At 05:53 PM on 18 Aug 2007,
  • James wrote:

Why is every blog in Scotland dominated by the same SNP trolls every single time?

I'm sick of reading all the vicious, nasty 'wee Wendy' comments that only underscore the nastiness and smugness of the SNP now they've actually got their hands on some power.

I generally like Wendy Alexander and I was surprised at a lot of what she said - I'm glad she recognises the need for change in Scottish Labour and more autonomy from UK Labour. She'll do a much better job than McConnell.

  • 21.
  • At 09:49 AM on 19 Aug 2007,
  • Ken Mac wrote:

If Wendy is a genius I'm Albert Einstien. Integrity Brian? This is the woman who gave us Labours 'the SNP are going to cost every household £5,000' mantra in the last election. She got her figures by 'misunderstanding' an economists report. Sorry can't remember the name but the guy had a letter published in the Herald during the election explaining how Wendy had 'misinterpreted',as he kindly put it, his figures. Did it make a difference? No. Labour including Tony Blair on a visit to Scotland kept repeating this garbage. Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.

'Labours agenda of hope and aspiration' Total spin. The last thing Labour has on its agenda is hope and aspiration. As other posters have pointed out under their government the gap between poor and wealthy has grown larger.

  • 22.
  • At 12:00 PM on 19 Aug 2007,
  • kenny wrote:

The Labour Party has failed Scotland for decades, one only has to look around the various communities that have suffered constant labour local authority control and not moved forward. As a governemnt both UK and Scottish the intentions have been good but the delivery woeful. The first 100days of the SNP with fewer Ministers APPEARS to have been dramatically more dynamic. The bar is being raised but like other I feel the SNP deserve a real chance to make change. Wendy's coronation displays more labour arrogance because I think if she wasn't just assuming electoral success in 2011 she would have "timed her run" for 2015!

  • 23.
  • At 04:40 PM on 19 Aug 2007,
  • PMK wrote:

"Labour's agenda of hope and aspiration" was stolen by the nationalists aparently! Thanks for that one Wendy - how does "your too wee", "your too poor" and "your too stupid" count as an agenda of aspiration?

  • 24.
  • At 04:41 PM on 19 Aug 2007,
  • Norman M wrote:

Just a wee post in support of Brian! As an SNP party member, I've always found Brian to be scrupulously fair in both his day job & blog. I certainly couldn't say what his politics are & wouldn't want to know; unless he buys me a pint sometime!
Keep it up Brian; some comment on the points made by fellow bloggers would be welcome however.

  • 25.
  • At 05:10 PM on 19 Aug 2007,
  • Duncan wrote:

Brian in your comments you mention that Wendy Alexander will create an explicitly 'Scottish Labour Party', what does that mean?.

Does this mean that from now on any policy directives coming from Westminster will be ignored if they are not impacting Scotland?.

I would also like to add my comment on the clamour for Scottish independence coming from 39% of the Scottish voters, do you really think that you are ready for independence?, do you understand the full implications of becoming a independent country?, I hope you do, because as far as I can see you will turn us into a nothing entity rather then using the English to help us bat above our weight.

  • 26.
  • At 08:13 PM on 19 Aug 2007,
  • Jack Krim wrote:

I expect Wendy's 'tantrums' to magic into 'expressions of passion', and her 'high-handed explanations of policy' to magic into an 'intellectually vigourous explanation of policy', and her 'abrasiveness' to magic into 'forcefulness'. Yes, I expect the impartial Scottish media to magic into Wendy supporters and I have no doubt I'll know soon when Scotland has been 'Wendied'

  • 27.
  • At 08:16 PM on 19 Aug 2007,
  • Dougthedug wrote:

"More immediately still, Ms Alexander and her team plainly plan a complete reshuffle of the party organisation. One aide told me that they would "rub out" the existing set-up and start again."

If (when) Wendy becomes leader of the Labour MSP's in Holyrood what authority does she have to implement a new set up for Labour in Scotland such as autonomy over policy, organisation and presentation? She'll be the leader of the MSP's and probably on the SEC but that's it. There is no Scottish Labour "leader" as such.

I'm not well acquainted with the organisational set up of the Labour party in the UK but I would think that anything of this magnitude which affects the the structure of the UK Labour party would have to be passed by the Annual UK conference. (I thought they'd ditched the Spring Conference?)

If Wendy is thinking about an autonomous Scottish Labour party rather than some presentational strategy there are other considerations to take into account. A Scottish Labour party cannot be created in isolation, Wendy's unionist roots are showing if she cannot think beyond Scotland. If Scotland gets its own organisation Wales and England will also need their own organisations. Or is it to mimic the botched devolution "settlement" with devolved Scottish and Welsh branches with the UK party covering England? In either case this would be a major UK wide reorganisation for the Labour party, not just in Scotland, and all the Labour party would have to agree to it.

I don't think Brown or the Labour party in general will be happy to create an autonomous party in Scotland with probable calls for a Welsh party and English party following on. Brown is trying to legitimise his succession to Blair with an election and doesn't want a major organisational row to focus on when he's trying to get re-elected. Even to propose it would be a big gamble for Wendy. If it succeeds it shows how little local control there's been in the past and if it fails it shows that there is no local control of policy in Scotland. The SNP win both ways.

Then again, maybe Brown's got it pencilled in and she's just following orders but somehow I don't think so. If it's a Wendy only proposal and she really wants to have a Scottish Labour party she's in for a slapdown.

  • 28.
  • At 11:49 PM on 19 Aug 2007,
  • Michael McFarlane wrote:

Labour have been the ruling party in Scotland from the start of Devolution.

For ten years, the majority of the Scottish electorate put their trust in Labour. For ten years they treated us like children who did not understand anything, and they were the teachers who understood everything. Well, in May this year we understood the choices we had; - more of the same, or something different - we naturally chose the latter.

What, Wendy Alexander is reported as saying now, is exactly what was being said when we first fought for Devolution.

She might well be an "intellectual" and a "good thinker" like you say she is; but we are not stupid, and she will have to do a lot better than regurgitate the same old garbage before we give our trust back to labour.

  • 29.
  • At 12:00 AM on 20 Aug 2007,
  • Peter Tulips wrote:

I hope Wendy Alexander will be obliged by interviewers to say exactly what she means by,for example,a modernized curriculum in schools.

Oh yes please! Bring on Wendy 'condescending' Alexander ... how that will ensure a Labour defeat in 2012!!

She may be tolerated in her neck of the woods but outside of her constituency she has to be one of the least appealing politicians currently on offer in Scotland.

Wow. Twenty-eight posts and not one in support of Wendy. And I'm sorry, the twenty-ninth isn's either.

Labour's problem is that it is focussed on the United Kingdom, and that doesn't work in Scotland for exactly the same reason as the United Kingdom doesn't work for Scotland. The English are eight times more numerous than us, and, on the whole, much more right wing than us. Their central concerns are about property, security, xenophobia, and Europe (see xenophobia). This isn't to say there aren't left wing English people, of course; but the reason British Labour has moved to the right is because they aren't sufficiently numerous to support a left-wing party.

But what Wendy is trying to do is to push the message that works in England, in Scotland; and that won't work. You tell us that she talks of '... in schools, a modernised curriculum, leadership and personalised learning; in health, help for patients with chronic conditions to manage their own care; in society, support for parents and aspirational home owners.'

'Modernised curriculum'? We've had at least twenty years of central politicians meddling with the curriculum; it's not obvious that our schools have benefited. 'Leadership' and 'manage their own care' sound suspiciously like code-words for privatisation, for the very good reason that Labour have used them as codewords for privatisation. And 'support for... aspirational home owners'. Aye, as they say, right. Ye cannae - ye cannae get away with that in Scotland.

Not because we don't have aspirational home owners in Scotland, but because we know what the code words mean. They mean, turn social housing into ghettos for the lumpen-proletariat, for the outcasts, the rejects of 'aspirational' society. In rural areas such as this one, it means turning social housing into bantustans for the few remaining natives after all the quality housing has been sold off as holiday or retirement homes to the 80% of people in this island who are not Scots.

Scotland is the natural home of a mainstream social democratic party. We have the traditions - both Wendy Alexander and Gordon Brown grew up, as they say, in the manse - of solidarity, of concern and responsibility for our society's less 'aspirational' members; of high quality public education; of well trained, able, committed and dedicated health professionals.

Labour needs an indepedent party in Scotland which can set its own agenda to the tune of Scotland's electors. If it cannot or will not do that - if it sees maintaining a common front across the whole United Kingdom, with its agenda tuned to Middle England - then in Scotland it will find itself reduced to a rump, squabbling over the same handful of expatriot and elderly voters who have already led the Scottish Conservatives into the wilderness.

If Labour chooses to abandon the centre ground of Scottish politics, and slavishly follow London Labour's slide to the right, it cannot complain if the SNP moves to occupy that space.

  • 32.
  • At 11:50 AM on 20 Aug 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

After 10 years of Education Education Education

I am please t ose nothing has changed

First thing I read her say was we will improve schools.

After 10 years of failing I dont think so

Anyone else feel that the SNP will give Labour a good shooing come the General Election

  • 33.
  • At 02:10 PM on 20 Aug 2007,
  • Deasún wrote:

Given Des Browne's comments regarding extra powers for devolution (there will be none), Wendy has a fight on her hands if she is serious about changing Labour in Scotland. For a start, will she be the Scottish Labour Leader, of simply the leader of the Scottish Parliamentary group? There is a significant difference. Somehow I can't see many Scottish Labour MPs being too enamoured by Wendy and MSPs dictating policy. Labour has a serious structural problem here.

  • 34.
  • At 02:25 PM on 20 Aug 2007,
  • Dave West wrote:

Talk of a real 'Scottish' labour party is just jargon.
No matter how much they wrap themselves in tartan, everyone knows they are still a unionist party taking their orders from London.

They need to offer more real powers for Scotland to get respect again - not just present things in a different way.

  • 35.
  • At 02:48 PM on 20 Aug 2007,
  • Leuchars wrote:

We all know that even with Wendy at the helm it will be more of the same.
I am more disappointed by the wildly positive spin being put on her appointment by the Scottish Media .For weary readers and viewers in Scotland who have tholed this nonsense for years it is an indication that we too are in for more of the same.
As for Brian's scrupulous impartiality, I must employ the excellent and uniquely Scottish double positive- Aye right!

  • 36.
  • At 03:11 PM on 20 Aug 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

The fact that her brother has been in the PM's back pocket for countless years does bring about real worries that if the scottish parliment ever had to fight it's corner against westminster, Wendy as first minister would be on the phone to Douglas begging him to ask Gordon to be nice, rather than going to to toe like Alex Salmond would!

The lack of contest and apparent coronation also rings too many bells like Gordon's. Can we be assured their was no Westminster pressure to give what would be a safe first minsiter for Gordon to deal with a clear run ??

  • 37.
  • At 04:44 PM on 20 Aug 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

It's interesting to see so many posters complaining about Labour being led by London. Living here in London, most of the English are complaining that they are being led by a Labour government which is heavily populated by Scots! Of course Scotland should have self-determination of its future, but who will give the same right to the English? Devolution has been a remarkable bonus for Scotland, but the English are slowly but surely coming to resent the inequity of the arrangement. Seperating "Scottish" Labour from "UK" labour may seem attractive to the independence lobby, but is certain to worsen what is already a fraught relationship with England, and like it or not, Scotland will not enjoy a future without her. Films like "Braveheart" may stir Scottish blood, but are no substitute for cold-headed reality.

  • 38.
  • At 05:12 PM on 20 Aug 2007,
  • Poppaea wrote:

# 34 - tartan is worn by more people than just Scots, you know! Nor is there anything wrong with being unionist, though to read some of the comments posted here, you'd think it was worthy of treatment a la the Nuremberg Trials!

No-one has yet persuaded me that the break up of the Union will benefit either Scotland or me. No amount of ranting about being slaves to England or Mel Gibson-style cries of 'freeeedom' will do that. I want cold, hard figures. I am yet to see them.

As for Ms Alexander - she has her faults. But who doesn't?

#37. I'm still waiting on cold hard figures to convince me we should stay in the union ... I don't believe anyone has any that can be trusted.

Least of all dear old Wendy.

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