Joker Jez and Calamity Kez

Mistake. Mistake. Mistake. The Labour leadership just can’t get anything right. The naivety shown in London and Edinburgh is killing what hope there was for a radical new politics. Incompetence and inexperience will always trump good intentions as both Jeremy Corbyn and Kezia Dugdale reveal themselves as parvenus ill-equipped for the job.

Energised youth in Dugdale’s case and principled scepticism in Corbyn’s are merely the calling card that gets them through the door. It’s what you do with the position thereafter that counts. That demands craft and precision in plotting a way through personal relations as well as public perception and, probably more than anything else, not making mistakes – certainly not an entire litany of them.

Corbyn has public support for a principled and logical position vis a vis bombing campaigns and it says more about the childish, short concentration span of British journalists that a long internal debate – suspended for further discussion – is regarded as a crisis in itself. Surely the insult to the voters is on the other side where one man and his adviser on a sofa determine the views of hundreds of MPs.

No, the error is in letting the shadow cabinet think they were engaged in forming policy and would return to the table in due course and then blind-siding them by issuing a letter (bound to go public) declaring his own position as fixed on the matter. It undercuts both his colleagues and the process. It would be a bad enough move by a leader in a powerful place but for someone with enemies all around, it is suicidal. Instead of winning hearts and minds with his conscience, he causes despair with his incompetence. Is he unaware that he is not popular in the PLP?

We now have the absurd situation of so-called left-wingers threatening to resign over their desire to bomb another country. This way, Dr Strangelove…

For a man who has spent an adult lifetime in the House of Commons, Corbyn appears to have learned little of how leadership works. Perhaps that’s a consequence of spending all of that time as agit-prop, in constant anti mode, using his party ticket to get elected but putting himself in perpetual opposition to what his party was actually doing. He has been amazingly successful in winning ever-larger majorities in Islington and there is no shame in acting as the conscience of your party, but he is demonstrating that he has few if any of the skills required to front that party to the public and to lead it internally.

The public will have patience for a man who wants to do things differently if they think his heart in the right place, but presiding over a shambles is not the way to convince them you can lead the country. That will be the judgment of most voters too on John McDonnell, a man for whom I have a lot of time having interviewed him often for his insightful and genuinely left-wing views. The joke with Mao’s Little Red Book at the Dispatch Box was in itself fair enough and pointed up the irony of right-wing Tories bowing and scraping to communist China. But when you debate such ideas beforehand, you need someone savvy enough to ask what happens next. Even if the joke works – and the delivery didn’t – you ask yourself what the opposition will do with it. Do you imagine an Alastair Campbell nodding that through? Isn’t it more likely he’d say: People will forget the joke. They’ll remember you holding the Red Book because the Tories will use it relentlessly as a pointer to your own politics.

He becomes the Man who Read Mao’s Little Red Book in the Commons.

Kezia is finding it impossible to cast off her student activist image too having failed so far to imbue her performances with any hint of gravitas. There is a difficulty at Holyrood when the big story is clearly at Westminster and yet the Scottish government is to be held to account, not the Tories. To major on oil prices and the referendum – 14 months ago! – sounded gratuitous against the background of an Autumn Statement which affects the livelihood of Scottish families. Yet critics are right to scoff at Sturgeon’s complaint about the oil question since First Minister’s Questions is, well, questions to the First Minister, not the Chancellor. Why didn’t Kezia just do both?

Question one: Does the FM agree with me that the Chancellor’s U-turn on tax credit cuts which we successfully opposed, does not alter the brutal programme of austerity, merely delays it?

Question two: Does she also agree with me that Scottish livelihoods would have been severely affected by the collapse in oil prices if she’d won the referendum etc…?

Her option made her look petty, out of touch and obsessed with independence. Her credibility needs all the building up she can get and sharing a view with the government from time to time shows sense and maturity – as Ken McIntosh said in his leadership campaign.

The same lack of nous arose in our later Twitter exchange when she upbraided the FM for her aside in the chamber about Richard Simpson being an oaf when he interrupted her. Kezia said it was disrespectful to a doctor and member of the royal colleges, etc. She’s not wrong, either. But anyone with a memory long enough would immediately recall the same distinguished Dr Simpson saying Scottish fire fighters, who were in dispute in 2002, were ‘fascist bastards’ – a somewhat worse example of rudeness and he had to resign as a minister. Her tweet opened the door to that challenge and reminded people of an awkward moment in Labour’s past, one they’d rather forget. Of course, she has the excuse that she was in university at the time but isn’t that exactly the problem? Labour has picked a leader without the years of experience behind her. It isn’t her fault but it’s a hard fact that she simply isn’t immersed in the detail and appears to have no one at her side saying at the very least: Ca’ canny. Here’s the history. Do you want to risk it?

This is hardly Corbyn level damage but it adds ammunition to the idea that she isn’t equipped yet for the job she’s doing. As Sillars said: She might be ready in another 10 years. Labour don’t have that time. So far there is no discernable impact on voting intentions from her leadership and even if the public get worried about SNP internal problems, do they look worse than the mess Labour is in? The minimum requirement for credibility is competence. Labour currently lacks it north and south.

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22 thoughts on “Joker Jez and Calamity Kez

  1. Part of me feel sorry for Kezia. I know that sounds patronising but it’s not intended to. But it’s hard to watch someone who seems so out of their depth at times trying to struggle on.

    But she got annihilated yesterday at FMQs and as the First Minister cranks it up week on week it’s like watching a one sided boxing contest, the inevitable punch-drunk loser pinned to the ropes. You just want the referee to call a halt or for the losing side to throw in the towel.

    And it’s not good for democracy because there are serious issues the SG needs challenged on and it’s not happening. Instead we get the leader of the opposition trying to make the FM responsible for the collapse in oil prices.

    And as for the defence of Richard Simpson – well whether the FM called him an idiot or ignorant oaf it matters not – she is quite entitled to say that. And as for Kezia’s defence that he is a doctor and member of a Royal College – well I have plenty experience of both and for many the FM’s description would be quite accurate.

    • While I agree any Government, including the S.N.P Scottish Government, should be held to account on serious issues, I don’t feel sorry in the least for any Labour politician.They, by their lies and deceit, which continue to this day, have got themselves into this mess, so hell mend them. The Scottish nation has been sold down the river by them in pursuit of their greater glories, and financial rewards, at Westminster.
      To this day, they would rather see the Scottish people suffer the indignities of a tory led U.K Government, rather than give credit to a political party, the S.N.P, which is at least trying to protect our people from the ideologies of a deluded political agenda.
      The latest fiasco involving Corbyn, merely demonstrates how far removed they have become from their initial beliefs. It just doesn’t work anymore, certainly in Scotland, to quote Keir Hardie, in the belief that people will still think you are a socialist movement, and actually care about real people, because they don’t.
      Feathering their own nest comes first, and you only have to analyse their actions to realise that is true.
      So no, I don’t feel in the least sorry for Kezia, or for any of the rest of this sorry crew. They brought their fall from being all powerful, to just being an irrelevance, on themselves, and with the latest opinion poll showing them even below the tories, coupled with the by-election results from Fife, I’m hoping that they disappear down the plughole of history. And they can take with them their propagandists in the unionist media, because without their help they would have been toast a long while ago.

  2. And Jeremy still shows his ignorance of Scotland by taking as gospel Keza’s silly studenty soundbyte misinformation.

  3. Day by day I am more convinced that Labstain are creating a narrative of “there is no capable opposition in Holyrood, therefor as the SG is not held to account, the SP is not fit for purpose and for that reason it should be closed down”

    To quote a certain Abstain Lord and SNP bad screamer, “they’re doing it deliberately”

  4. A deeper concern I have about Labour in Scotland is their continuing demand that the SNP Government should say how they are going to use the new powers coming from Westminster – before the powers are signed off on. This is a deliberate attempt to weaken the SNP negotiating position with Westminster on the fiscal framework. If the SNP Government were even to give the slightest hint of a specific new policy they would introduce based on the new “powers”, they would immediately undermine their fall-back position of refusing to sign off on the fiscal framework if they considered it to be a bad deal for Scotland.

    That Labour MSPs and their 1 MP can not work with the SNP in the interests of Scotland vis-à-vis Westminster tells us everything we need to know about them. A bad deal for Scotland as far as they are concerned is a good deal if it can weaken the SNP.

    On a personal note – although the final details of the fiscal framework are not yet known – I consider the whole package such a botched dog’s breakfast that I hope the Scottish Parliament rejects the Bill when it comes before them

    What would happen if they did refuse to sign?

    Westminster might present the Act as a done deal and force the Scottish Government to work with it by reducing Barnett funding. The SG would be no worse off than if they signed up to the Act but as the failings of the Act take effect, they could point out how for good reason they were against its final form.

    If the Scotland Act were to be abandoned, large numbers of Conservative MPs would be even more determined to push EVEL through and would be in uproar against the continuation of the “over generous” Barnett formula; the Westminster Government would have to commence discussions with the Scottish Government about a new devolution settlement. This would at least give the opportunity for a sensible agreement much superior to the current Scotland Act.

    • I agree, Clachangowk, with your first paragraph in particular. Just as it did during the refendum the Labour party in Scotland is determined to do the Tories’ dirty work by accepting the Scotland Bill as it stands and demanding the SNP government reacts to it – both against the best interests of Scotland.

      • They are also trying to trap the Scottish Government into collecting extra taxes, which will mean we pay to Westminster and extra to the Scottish Parliament, which they know will not go down well.

    • “all-back position of refusing to sign off on the fiscal framework if they considered it to be a bad deal for Scotland.”

      Unfortunately refusing to sign off on the new powers would almost certainly cause a media storm and a downturn in support for the SNP. Your average voter isn’t interested in the details of the new powers and would probably see it as being churlish. Even people like me, SNP and Indy supporter, Wings reader and interested in politics, haven’t much of a clue about the new powers because of all the conflicting views surrounding them. I have read all about the traps being set for the SNP etc, etc, but as they are very competent politicians it is very unlikely they will fall into any. And because of the SNP’s political competecy I am willing to accept whatever it does vav the new powers.

      But one thing I do know is that it is ESSENTIAL for the SNP to gain an overall majority in Holyrood next May. Everything else is secondary. No overall majority no second Indy referendum in foreseeable future.

      • So even if Westminster insists on a fiscal framework which will be bad for Scotland the SNP should nevertheless sign off on it. The trouble with that is that when it is proven not to work, Scotland will suffer and the SNP will be blamed.

        I appreciate the detail is complicated but better for the SNP and their supporters to stand their ground and not give in to Unionist pressure. We are used to the slings and arrows of the Unionist media

    • I agree with most of what you say here…I’m sure that is why SLAB have only 1 MP, an MP they thoroughly deserve – but EVEL? Help me here…it’s just Tory smoke and mirrors? Cameron conning his party? We already have EVEL don’t we? English MPs vastly outnumber Scottish MPs, so can never be outvoted.

  5. I’ve often wondered about Calamity Kez’s hairstyle. Does she wear it that way to make it easier to conceal an ear-piece linked to a shabby wee laptop in Jim Murphy’s bedroom? Sometime soon, she is going to start walking around with a placard which says: “Don’t shoot me, I’m only the messenger.” Mind you, that would require honesty, which is something the woman is sadly lacking.

    Do you remember when labour’s theme tune was “Things can only get better?”

    Dewar, McLeish, McConnell, Woeful Wendy, Iain Gray, Johann Lamont, Jim Murphy, Calamity Kez.

    This downward spiral provokes a very important question: “Are we there yet?”

  6. Completely agree on your assessment of Mr Corbyn. He has the belief background for a Labour leader in many respects, but the man himself is not a leader and simply does not have the craft, the skill set to manage. I’d already counted Mr Corbyn as a lost cause where our own situation arises, though I wished him well with his own electorate, but now? Now I’d be surprised if he saw a 2020 GE campaign.

    As for Kezia? Ms Dugdale is no leader and carries too much SNP bad dogma around for anyone’s good. Her lies, gaffs and blatant disregard for any collateral damage is beyond the pale. Labour in Scotland isn’t just a lost cause, they are an impediment the electorate simply cannot afford. Their visceral hatred of the SNP stands between them and becoming a party that generates genuine policy or ideas. They appear to live for opposition for opposition’s sake. Their world centres around destroying that opposition rather than representing an electorate. The impression, and I believe the reality, is that they frankly couldn’t give a crap about the electorate except as political currency.

    The Scottish public don’t need that. They need help and they need protection from the worst central government can throw at them. They need political representation and statespersons who will defend their rights and improve their lot. Happily, they don’t have far to look.

    No, what we have are three parties who clearly don’t give a crap about anything except themselves and their blind opposition and a handful of progressive parties led by the SNP who are trying vainly to hold back the flood of austerity.

    I was brought up Labour, in a Labour heart land, but I’ll shed no tears when they are finally laid to rest. They broke our hearts a long time since and I reckon we shed enough of those tears in the time between.

    • “I was brought up Labour, in a Labour heart land, but I’ll shed no tears when they are finally laid to rest. They broke our hearts a long time since and I reckon we shed enough of those tears in the time between”

      Ditto

  7. Just after 8 this morning my wife called me to hear some guy on GMS who sounded like a total nut case talking about some “death cult” and slagging off Corbyn big time. It was the author of that amazing and hilarious book: “Scottish Labour – My Part in its Downfall” – McTernan. I was incredulous. How could the BBC give air-time to him and his lunatic views on Daesh? But at least it removed any doubt whatsoever that McTernan is an intellectual pigmy. If this is the kind of person giving Kezia advice then no wonder she’s in such a mess.

  8. I think Corbyn is already in serious danger. The PLP are never going to co-operate with him. As others have said he is not a leader. I would say at this rate Corbyn will be lucky to last a year as Labour leader.

    As for Kezia Dugdale, I still have absolutely no idea what she actually believes in. Dugdale appears to lack vital leadership skills, she appears to have no real depth as a political person, and no strong clear or guiding political principles. I just see a void unfortunately. I don’t even know if she is really a unionist or not. If Dugdale thought independence was going to happen at the start of her political career, would she be a unionist? I am not convinced that she would, which is kind of a reflection on her vague political persona imo. Kezia Dugdale has clearly been coached by Red Baron Foulkes. It shows, as all she does is go on and on about the SNP being very bad indeed.

  9. A large part of the problem is that in a country there generally isn’t room for two major parties from the same part of the political spectrum and in any case what would be the point.
    In Scotland,the SNP now represent left of centre politics and are also seen as putting Scottish interests first.
    Labour cannot inhabit that space so are left with nothing else but opposition to everything the SNP do.
    Not a vote catcher in a country which is politically left of centre.
    England appears to be a country which favours right of centre governments and the only way for Labour to get elected is by adopting Tory policies.
    This is the battle within the current English Labour party,to decide whether to ditch it’s socialist roots or not in pursuit of power.
    Neither of the current leaders can survive what is happening to their respective parties and for the same reasons….their policies are fundamentally unpopular in their respective countries.

  10. Its what you said recently that labour are knuckle draggingly stupid to get wrongfooted like this again and again. They even had the brass neck to take the credit for Osborne’s “u-turn” – only it wasn’t, the chancellor simply unleashed far more savage and brutal cuts that render the “tax-credit u-turn” meaningless. It’s not something you want to be seen taking the credit for, but here comes scottish labour: talking pish as how it was they that won it.

    In the meantime, they are trying to get by on whatever “SNP=BAD” news stories can conjure up to cover the fact that they wouldn’t know what to do if they found themselves back in power.

    as for “Ca’ canny. Here’s the history. Do you want to risk it?” – there wasn’t anybody there to do that for Murphy, Lamont…oh hell the entire rotten edifice to be honest is blundering about, clueless as to their own past and even if its brought up – the excuse “I wasn’t there at the time, therefore your argument is irrelevant”.

    What are Scottish labour for? is the question you have asked. Increasingly the answer seems to be – picking up their paycheck at the end of the month.

  11. In total agreement with Derek’s statement “Kezia is finding it impossible to cast off her student activist image”.

    My hope is that Mhairi Black can tolerate the dishonesty of WM until we gain our independence. SHE is most certainly a wise, caring politician in the making.

  12. “Question two: Does she also agree with me that Scottish livelihoods would have been severely affected by the collapse in oil prices if she’d won the referendum etc…?”

    Fail to see the point of YOUR proposed 2nd question. In political terms it is irrelevant ancient history, and is wrong re Scottish livelihoods being severely affected. SOME workers would have been affected badly but no more than they are while we remain part of the disunited kingdom. And as Scotland’s GDP is more or less the same as UK’s without oil we would on the whole be no worse off.

  13. As an SNP member the opinions are pure nectar… But is there no one from Scot. labour willing to defend their party and its policies.

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