After Labour’s defeat in the last Scottish Parliamentary Election, Iain Grey did the decent thing. He took the blame and fell on his political sword. But in his final speech to the Scottish Labour Party it was a return to the empty anti-nationalist rhetoric which has done so much damage to his Party. It came as no surprise that this would be the basis of his farewell address to the conference. It really has been all that the Party has had to offer during his stewardship.
He accuses the SNP of bringing “vile poison” into politics.
He warned the candidates for the post he has now vacated, that the “cybernats” and “bed-sit bloggers” will “call you traitor, quisling, lapdog and worse”. They can also expect to have their appearance, integrity and sexuality questioned. He told them that they can also expect their families and their faith to be dragged into what he calls “the vitriol”. And, he says, it will be worse if you are a woman. (Presumably women will be threatened with a “doing”.)
Why this has anything to do with the SNP is unclear. Argument by association might work at a Party conference but it fails every test of critical thinking. That however, has never been a strong point of Mr Grey’s Labour Party. Would it be considered legitimate to tar Labour with the same brush as the BNP, the Scottish Defence League or the sundry pro-unionist knuckle-dragging groups and individuals found on the internet simply because they oppose independence. Of course not. That would be stupid.
Of course Iain Grey has never been a traitor. The use of that word is emotive, not reasonable. However, it is difficult for any UK Party to convincingly deny being influenced from London. That is something that they have to live with. Labour however, have the added problem that many perceive the Party to be under the undue influence of those outwith Holyrood. On more than one occasion during Iain Grey’s leadership it appeared to dance to the tune of its members on Glasgow City Council.
In the past Iain Grey has been criticised here. But never for his “appearance”. I couldn’t care less if he went around in a string vest and pink tutu. As for his sexuality? Well, that’s just simply, none of my business. Attacks on his family should be roundly condemned as insidious and cowardly, with those involved being tracked down and prosecuted where possible.
What he has been criticised for was leading a Party of negativity. A Party of considerable arrogance. A Party that took its support for granted. A Party that thought that all it had to do was continually rubbish the nationalists, at the expense of all else, and the votes would come tumbling out of the ballot box.
The negative campaign that Labour waged against the SNP is recognised as one of the main reasons for their humbling at the hands of the Nationalists.
Labour has to move on from “Nat-bashing”. The people of Scotland have shown that they will not be swayed by a constant mantra that is really nothing more than accusing them of gross stupidity for voting SNP. The Party has to stop reacting to what the SNP do. It has put forward alternatives. They have to stop depending on their friends in the media. People have long since seen through the constant rubbishing of Scotland and the Scottish Government by such as the Daily Record, the Scotsman and BBC Scotland.
Many thought that they had seen and heard the last of this. We can only hope that Iain Grey’s speech will be the end of it. Let’s hear about what is right with Labour and not what is wrong with the SNP. But let’s hear it in the form of an alternative vision for Scotland.
Whether the Party has such a vision remains to be seen. It certainly did not while Iain Grey was at the helm.