Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Great Scot’s And Not Great Scot’s

It is the 25th anniversary of the publication of the “Who’s Who in Scotland” book.  To “celebrate”, the publishers are asking who the greatest Scot of the past 25 years is, or who has made the most outstanding contribution to Scotland over the last quarter of a century.
There’s not a clear cut favourite for this accolade.  Blair, Brown & Dewar probably have the best case, but also have serious question marks against them.  Electoral arithmetic has conspired against Salmond, while Robin Cook was wasted as Foreign Secretary.  Any thought’s you might have are welcome (I think you might be able to vote through the website or by e-mailing the publishers if you are interested).  Certainly those who buy the book, and those who appear in the book (like for example my fiancee, who will be, i am proud to say,  apearing for the second year in a row) have a vote.
Perhaps an even more interesting question would be who do you think is the Scot who has had an adverse effect on life in Scotland over the past 25 years, the Scot who has through the course of their work set Scotland back?  A couple of people spring to mind, Brian Souter and Cardinal Winning for their role in the “Keep The Clause” campaign. Fred Goodwin oh and Brian Adams MSP for backing Trumptown.
My nomination though would have to be someone who inadvertently has turned Labour from a party which campaigned for the poor and less well off to a party that sounds as if it would rather get stuck into the SNP.  Step forward Rosemary McKenna, the former MP for Cumbernauld, who as chair of the committee to pick Labour candidates for the inaugural Scottish Parliament elections helped to chose a group that were either uninspiring policy wonks, or came from Labour’s “municipalist” wing.  Former councillors who were well versed in the dark arts of taminy hall politics.  Ok the brief was to pick leadership loyalists, but the fact is that in picking the candidates no Ken Livingstone/Alun Michael style controversy erupted here. 
Yet it’s only really in the past parliament where the folly in picking candidates loyal to the great leader has been shown up.  After Wendy Alexander’s resignation, there was not one really outstanding candidate to lead Labour.  Iain Gray won that race, and has struggled to show that he has more charisma than a clothes pole since.  Whether he can formulate the policies which will see him ensconced in Bute House remains to be seen.  It is more likely that Labour will win by attacking the SNP’s record in office, than by unveiling some sort of popular policy initiative, like the Lib Dem’s £10,000 tax threshold which was simple and showed common sense. 
That there does not appear to be anyone capable of standing up for ordinary Scots, and in an eloquent & articulate fashion within the Labour party is something of a betrayal of their traditions, and can be traced back to the selection of candidates for the 1999 Scottish elections.  Like I said, I think that the question of who has set Scotland back is a more interesting question.

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