Saturday, June 28, 2008

Labour leader quits

Not Gordon Brown sadly - it's Wendy Alexander.

Like Gordon Brown, prior to her taking the leadership of the party in Scotland, people used to bang on about how intelligent she was, how she didn't suffer fools gladly and all that jazz.

Then, like Gordon Brown she was elected without contest and like Gordon Brown she proved to be utterly useless at the job.

The latter is inextricably linked to the former. Commentators who argue that leadership is irrelevant to Labour's woes and suggest either implicitly or explicitly that calling for a change represents the politics of personality miss the point about leadership elections. They are a process whereby the prospective candidate has to get closer to his or her party and, crucially, have some kind of programme that the election would oblige them to spell out.

So the advice to Labour in Scotland would be to actually have a proper election - y'know one with more than one candidate? There's always the hope than someone somewhere is Scottish Labour might then address the real problems in the party. Not to have one would represent a retreat into the traditional complacency that lost them the election to the SNP.

Leadership is not just a question of personality. Candidates represent different factions in the party, have different policies and differing ideas about what the party has to do to win elections again. If the Westminster party fails to get rid of Gordon Brown, this would simply be a way of saying that they're not interested in this third question.

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