Welcome to my Blog

It mostly covers my work as UNISON Scotland's Head of Policy and Public Affairs although views are my own. For full coverage of UNISON Scotland's policy and campaigns please visit our web site. You can also follow me on Twitter. I hope you find this blog interesting and I would welcome your comments.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Labour Leadership

Ballot papers will start dropping through members letterboxes this week for the election of a Leader and Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party. This is an important election as it will be the first leadership team to be elected as party leader in Scotland, rather than simply leader of the MSP group. In addition, after last May's election defeat, the Scottish Labour Party leads to take a new direction to win back the support of the electorate.

There are three competent candidates for each post, but I will be supporting Johann Lamont for Leader and Ian Davidson for Deputy.

My reasons are primarily the same for both candidates. The Party needs more than simply a competent front person. We have done with New Labour, the 'what works' presentation above substance politics. We need leaders that imbue Labour values, not simply a smart soundbite.

It is not an accident that almost all the trade unions in Scotland back Johann and Ian. Trade unions don't operate in the political bubble. They represent workers who have made it very clear that they want political leaders who stand up for workers in their current struggles. Johann and Ian are the candidates with a proven track record of promoting Labour values. 

And record is important because it is easy to make promises in an election. Endorsements like Maria Fyfe and senior union women for Ian Davidson shows that he has walked the talk for fair representation in the party. He has been on the marches, the picket lines and taken forward the cause of working people in Parliament. Johann has a similar record on a range of causes and has the backing of respected politicians like Hugh Henry

That's not to say that we will agree on everything. I have had many a policy disagreement with both Johann and Ian. Pretty robustly on occasions too! But these have always been tactical differences - I have never doubted their underlying values.

They also understand the need for change. Not just as an easy slogan, but because they understand why we lost support and what we need to do to rebuild trust.

As a senior union official, SEC member and as a former Chair of the Scottish Labour Party I have worked with many politicians, through good times and bad. I can tell you that Johann and Ian are the real thing and that's why I will be voting for them.


  1. "Almost all of the Trade Unions?"....except for NUM, USDAW, BECTU and Community who are supporting Sarwar. Or don't they count? And the MU who also supporting Ken Macintosh alongside others.

    Typical big union arrogance, glad I am a member of a smaller union.

    "through good times and bad"? Was 13 years of Labour Government a good time or a bad time? I often wonder if big waged union officials are more focusses on internal machinations like supporting their own, rather than what is genuinely better for the working classes.

    Labour and USDAW member, Falkirk

  2. It is a simple fact, not arrogance, that trade unions are overwhelmingly backing Johann and Ian. A descision made by lay members, not union officials.

    Labour Government good or bad? A bit of both probably, but in the current political climate we should give credit for the good. It was unions like UNISON, Unite and GMB who spoke up for members during the bad bits, whatever the Party establishment thought.

  3. So, only UNISON, Unite and GMB spoke up during the bad bits?? More arrogance. The NUM, USDAW, BECTU, Community, MU - not one of those was constructively critical of the Labour Government?

    You are right we should give credit for the good, pity Ian Davidson MP's campaign is all about what is bad about the last Labour government from what I can tell.

    Would be nice of Unison to put out a press release talking about the achievements of the last Labour Government.

    Johann is more positive though and I will probably vote for her.

  4. Dave is being too diplomatic. Everyone in the Labour movement knows that USDAW usually toes the Labour Party establishment line. No change in this contest.

    Ian Davidson has been positive about the achievements of the last Labour Government but he also recognises when it went wrong. If we don't do that there is no hope for change.