As Labour prepares for its second leadership election within a year, it strikes me that the party is having a leadership election on the wrong side of the border. Owen Smith and the Blairite wing of the party accuse Jeremy Corbyn of being ‘unelectable’. Whether Corbyn is unelectable or not is pure speculation as his electability has yet to be put to the test.
Kezia Dugdale, on the other hand, has already proved herself to be spectacularly unelectable, yet remains unchallenged in her job. Dugdale, let us not forget, not only lost the 2016 Scottish parliamentary election, but led it to its worst-ever result at Holyrood. Scottish Labour’s vote plummeted way below its previous all-time-low of 2011. So, not content with being merely unelectable, Kezia Dugdale managed this May to be more unelectable than Iain Gray, which a truly remarkable achievement in the history of political mediocrity.
Furthermore, no-one knows whether Theresa May is electable or not, as she has never had to face an election, not even for the Conservative leadership. At least, Jeremy Corbyn has won a leadership contest in his own party, rather than sat back and watched everybody else to drop out of the running.
Owen Smith and his supporters accuse Jezza of being ‘lukewarm’ in his support for the ‘remain’ campaign. I don’t recall Theresa May herself being a particularly enthusiastic supporter of ‘remain’. To blame the result of the referendum on Corbyn’s campaigning is a smokescreen to hide the myriad tactical errors made by those in charge of the campaign.
For example, if they had a run a television advertisement or campaign broadcast that featured film footage of Portobello beach, Saltcoats, Whitley Bay, Burnitisland and Blackpool with the slogan: ‘This is where we went on summer holiday before we joined Europe’ the ‘leave’ campaign would have been dead in the water and Brexit would never have happened.
Incidentally, in case you are one of the many people who are still confused as to what Brexit actually means, the Prime Minister was able to offer clarification. According to her, ‘Brexit means Brexit’. Well, I’m glad we’ve got that one sorted out.
Very little is known about Owen Smith, other than that he has been described as ‘Tony Blair Light’, which presumably means that if he were to become Prime Minister he would start a partially-legal war.
It is on the issue of national security that I think Corbyn would be the safest person to be Prime Minister. Theresa May showed absolutely no hesitation in Parliament when the SNP’s George Kerevan asked if she would be prepared to push a button and kill 100,000 innocent men, women and children. ‘Yes!’ she answered, barely pausing for breath, let alone thought. That said the entire country breathed a sigh of relief when she returned from holiday at the end of August, having left Boris Johnson in temporary charge of the country for a week. For a full seven days, sixty million people lived with the genuine fear that he might sit on the nuclear button by accident.
Corbyn, on the other hand, has long campaigned against Trident, unlike Kezia Dugdale who was a staunch supporter of the nuclear deterrent until her own party conference voted to scrap Trident. This is only one of many issues on which she has changed her mind. She has also changed her mind twice about Jeremy Crobyn, and has also changed her mind about whether Brexit would be a just reason to hold indyref2. Indeed, she recently even managed to change her mind in the course of a sentence, saying that the Labour Party had to bring an end to its in-fighting which was why she was supporting Owen Smith.
While Corbyn may have made a ham-fisted mess of the PR stunt that led to Traingate, let us not lose sight of the fact that he was making a valid point. Under re-nationalisation, we would not be looking at the possibility of trains without guards. Early this summer, the RMT’s strike action only just failed to bring the ScotRail network to a standstill, mainly because ScotRail themselves had already brought the ScotRail network to a standstill.
This autumn the SNP is, of course, also holding its election for depute leader. I am not going to make any comment on this matter, as many readers will be aware that I am a close personal friend of Tommy Sheppard. Were I to make jokes at the expense of any of the other candidates, that would obviously be construed as personal bias. Conversely, were I to poke fun at Tommy in this column, he might never speak to me again. Suffice it to say, all four candidates are of an exceedingly high calibre, and all would bring gravitas and charisma to the job. That the SNP are so spoiled for choice for depute Leader must make supporters of Scottish Labour must look on in awe at such an embarrassment of riches, when comparing all four candidates to their own leader who is merely an embarrassment.
Vladimir McTavish will be appearing at YesBar, Glasgow on Friday 30 September and Saturday 1 October and at The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 October.