Wednesday, 15 July 2015

A-list, not Z-list

If you are a Scottish Labour supporter, this week’s Survation poll makes for further grim reading. 

Not only is the SNP likely to increase its Holyrood majority next year, but Labour looks set to lose all its first-past-the-post MSPs.

A fair guess would be to assume that the Nationalists will get 70-plus MSPs, while Labour will be reduced to between 25-30 List members, at best.

In these circumstances, Kezia Dugdale – who is almost certain to be the next party leader – will be tarred as an election loser and come under pressure.

However, a number of senior party sources have told me an opportunity lurks in this likely crisis.

According to these well-placed insiders, Kez’s top priority should be to transform a poor Holyrood group by getting rid of the under-performers and replacing them with the party’s brightest and best.

A talented group of 27 is better than a below-average contingent of 38, so the argument goes.

The problem is the looming contest to determine the internal list rankings.

Current MSPs – some of whom are judged not good enough to be councillors – will go head-to-head with defeat MPs and the usual assortment of timeservers and relatives of senior party figures.

In its place, sources say, Kez should create a panel with the specific objective of weeding out the has-beens and never-gonna-be.

David Cameron, in the teeth of opposition, introduced an A-list of candidates when he was opposition leader.

If you weren’t on the A-list, you couldn’t get a candidacy in a winnable seat.

Folk believe the new Scottish Labour leader should introduce an A-list and force a change of personnel on the Holyrood group.

A caveat would be that such a panel was used by Scottish Labour before the first Parliament election in 1999.

Individuals like Susan Deacon struggled to make the cut, while the principle of Buggins’ turn seemed to prevail.

This time,  sources say, there should be only one requirement for making it onto the A-list: talent.