Scotland

Kezia Dugdale resignation – what it means…

BY Iain Martin | iainmartin1   /  30 August 2017

1. Kezia Dugdale has resigned as leader of the Scottish Labour party. This is a shame because she is a decent person and the party north of the border may now come under the control of the Corbynites, which will alter the balance on the ruling NEC in favour of the Marxist maniacs.

2. Scottish Labour will now have to elect its sixth leader in ten years. Since the 1999 inception of devolution, designed to kill off the SNP, Labour has had Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish, Jack McConnell, Wendy Alexander, Iain Gray, Johan Lamont, Jim Murphy and Dugdale.

3. It is being briefed that Dugdale was hounded out by Corbynites, a rather convenient narrative that fits the mood of the moment. But it sounds unlikely to me. The party in Scotland has not yet fallen head over heels for Corbynism, it is said, although the true views of the membership are about to be tested. Dugdale’s explanation that her reasons for departing are entirely personal rings true, but we’ll see.

4. The main runners and riders seem to be Alex Rowley MSP, a former general secretary of Scottish Labour and protege of Gordon Brown, and Richard Leonard MSP, a former trade union official for the GMB. This is not Blair v Brown, to put it mildly. The direction looks to be left, left, left. Oh, and it seems destined to be another man in a position of responsibility. What does Corbyn Labour have against the notion of choosing women leaders?

Update: As of Wednesday afternoon, Rowley says he won’t stand. And neither will Neil Findlay, an ally of Corbyn.

5. Potentially, Dugdale’s departure is good news for the Scottish Tories who have been wondering how to push on with new policies after their remarkable successes under Ruth Davidson. Had they peaked at the UK general election, where the party won 13 seats against Labour’s 7? The SNP lost 21 seats and saw plenty of its majorities slashed at that election. This latest  development might alter the dynamic again at Holyrood and Westminster. Corbynite Labour going left to try to win back the party’s  traditional central belt heartlands with a socialist message could threaten the SNP’s hold at Holyrood, and create more space for the Tories to present themselves as the centrist alternative if they can work up a reformist agenda to appeal to anyone who doesn’t want to turn Scotland into a colder version of Venezuela.