Scottish Labour Leadership

Unite the UnionI have a tiny fraction of a vote in the Scottish Labour leadership contest (as a Unite member) and here’s how I plan to vote.

There are three choices for leader:

  • Sarah Boyack MSP
  • Neil Findlay MSP
  • Jim Murphy MP

I won’t be voting for Jim Murphy. In no particular order: because he’s an MP who can’t be an MSP until May 2016, short of some very suspicious coincidences. Because Jim Murphy has never worked outside politics in his life: he was elected President of the Scottish National Union of Students from 1992 until 1994: he was President of the National Union of Students from 1994 to 1996: he was appointed the Special Projects Manager of the Scottish Labour Party in 1996: and he was elected as MP for Eastwood in 1997. He’s been an MP ever since without ever having held down a job. Without direct experience of what it’s like to work for a living, I don’t think he should be an MP, let alone leader of a party. And because when Labour whipped its MPs to abstain and let the Tories/LibDems roll their workfare bill through the Commons, and when another three-line whip got Labour MPs to vote for the Tory welfare cap, Jim Murphy abstained on workfare and voted for the welfare cap.

Neil Findlay became an apprentice bricklayer in his father’s business in 1986, worked there til 1996, while reading for a BA at Strathclyde. He became a housing officer after he graduated in 1996 til 2003, also taking a PGCE at Glasgow: and became a teacher in Falkirk til 2011, when he was elected a list MSP for Lothian. So, while a relatively recent MSP, he has a solid working history outside politics. I like Findlay’s politics and Unite have supported him for leader: I’d be happy if he wins.

Sarah Boyack I originally thought was another MSP who’d never worked outside politics, because she doesn’t reference any previous jobs either on her personal information page at the Scottish Parliament, or on the About Sarah page at her personal website. Consequently, Wikipedia (which likes dates and sources) doesn’t mention her ever having worked outside politics either. However, at the About Sarah page of her leadership website, she does admit to (undated) work in London and Stirling and in Edinburgh as a lecturer:

She worked as a Town Planner in the London Borough of Brent then in Central Regional Council in Stirling. She then became a lecturer at the School of Planning and Housing at Heriot Watt University and was Convener of the Scottish Branch of the Royal Town Planning Institute in 1997.

So, Sarah Boyack or Neil Findlay for leader.

Two candidates for deputy leader:

It is clear that if Jim Murphy wins, if the Scottish Labour party is not to be in the odd position of having neither leader nor deputy leader able to speak at First Minister’s Questions, then Scottish Labour should hope for Kezia Dugdale to win as deputy: and indeed, most people I have seen supporting Jim Murphy for leader are also supporting Kezia Dugdale for deputy.

Unfortunately, Kezia Dugdale, like Jim Murphy, is another politician who’s never worked outside politics. She was involved in EUSA and NUS Scotland and then became Office Manager and Political Adviser to George Foulkes when he was an MSP. She was elected as an MSP in 2011. If Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale win as leader / deputy leader, Scottish Labour will be led by two politicians who’ve neither of them ever had to hold down a job outside politics in their lives. This seems disturbing.

Katy Clark graduated from Aberdeen in 1990, got her Diploma in Legal Practice from Edinburgh in 1991, was a solicitor in Edinburgh and Musselburgh from 1991 to 1998, and then a legal officer with UNISON in London from 1998 til she was elected MP for North Ayrshire and Arran in 2005. Unlike Jim Murphy, Katy Clark voted against the Tory/LibDem retrospective legislation to make the DWP’s workfare policies retroactively legal, and managed to be the teller (so didn’t vote) on the Tory/LibDem bill for the welfare cap, which so many Labour MPs voted for.

So, yes: Katy Clark for deputy leader, as I hope very much Jim Murphy won’t win the leadership.

1 Comment

Filed under Scottish Politics

One response to “Scottish Labour Leadership

  1. keaton

    Unfortunately, I think you’re likely to be disappointed on both counts.

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