Friday 22 September 2017

Referendum news in full...

Good morning, here is this week’s referendum news.

Vince Cable wants a second referendum, but not one like the first one.

Willie Rennie is appealing to the SNP to join the campaign for another referendum, but not the second referendum they want.

However, now that second referendum is off the agenda the SNP might back the idea.

But not while members are outraged about Catalonia being refused a referendum by Madrid, which is exactly what Theresa May did earlier this year when faced with demands for a second referendum.

The SNP didn’t make much noise about the Catalan referendum beforehand, because they needed Madrid’s silence during the campaign for a second referendum, which didn’t happen because of Theresa May, which was a relief because they didn’t want one.

Now the second referendum is shelved, for now at least, the SNP can be angry about the Catalan referendum, which might or might not happen.

On the other second referendum, not the one the SNP want, the jury is still out, but it is unlikely to happen.

When Nicola Sturgeon was asked if there will be a second referendum, she is reported to have said: “The honest answer to that is - I don’t know”.

Just time for some late news, Nicola Sturgeon has clarified that when she said “I don’t know”, she was talking about when a second referendum might be. She still wants one.

On the other referendum, the second referendum, the not the one she wants and not one like the first one, the First Minister said it is becoming “more and more difficult to resist”. So, that might be on, after all.

I hope that’s cleared things up. That is all the referendum news this week. 

Friday 1 September 2017

Five lessons from Dugdale's leadership

From my Daily Record column
To borrow a phrase, I come to bury Kez, not to praise her. Kezia Dugdale was a far better leader than the Scottish Labour party deserved in 2015 but she made mistakes, as we all do.
Here are some lessons the next leader whoever he, and it looks like it might be a man, should learn from her.
Five things Kez got wrong:
1. Flirted with independence.
Dugdale undermined herself and beleaguered Labour loyalists when she said she might consider voting for separation. Nicola Sturgeon stooped to conquer (and damaged herself) by throwing fresh doubt on Dugdale with the accusation she had privately backed a second referendum as a post-Brexit option.
2. Attacked the leader but failed to topple him.
When Dugdale joined calls for Corbyn to resign and backed Owen Smith, she was speaking for Scottish members. But hers was neither a full-blooded mutiny nor a resignation. It was a battle a more astute politician would have avoided and it overshadowed her tenure.
3. Struggled to turn Scotland into a three-cornered fight.
In a political duel it is difficult to be hard from the wings. Dugdale did not master the impossible art of being the third party leader. Admittedly few politicians can.
4. She lacked a killer instinct.
It comes from being a genuinely nice person in a ruthless game. In life it sometimes happens but in politics the nice guys don’t win.
5. Didn’t get the timing right 
Was there ever a good time to be Scottish Labour leader? She came to office too young with the party at their lowest ebb. She leaves too early, granting Corbyn the opportunity to seize the balance of power on Labour’s ruling body, the National Executive Council.
And five things the next Scottish Labour leader must get right
1. Surf the Corbyn wave but don’t kid yourself.
Corbyn’s speeches in Scotland were the debating equivalent of reading a Cal Mac ferry timetable out loud but the crowds loved him. That bewildering phenomenon might be a clue to him just being this summer’s flavour. Don’t count on Corbyn being this popular with the youth vote for long and he will be just shy of 73 at the next general election. Build your own brand.
2. Kill off Indyref 2.
The gas could be turned up on independence very quickly if Tory Brexiteers wreck the UK’s economic future. Let the Tories make the case for Unionism, Labour have to make the case for Britain. The socialist principles for being better together have been neglected for too long.
3. Set the agenda.
In the latter part of her leadership, Dugdale developed a bread and butter platform focusing on health, education and social justice. Built on those foundations, the national debate is listing back from the fixation with the constitution. Labour can lead the way.
4. Fight the real Tories.
Ruth Davidson and her crew are bad news for working class communities. The small state, tax-cutting Tories are not where instinctive Labour voters should be going with their votes.
5. Take a long walk, preferably from Eastwood to Easterhouse.
It’s only 13 miles and a pilgrimage from one of the richest communities in Scotland to one of the poorest would symbolise Labour who are for everyone in the country. It might be tempting to veer off the path to the left but the walk is only the beginning of a journey to Bute House. Don’t leave the middle path is still the best advice for anyone who really aspires to be Labour’s next First Minister.