In the course of their one-day conference, my opponent (who happens to be Labour’s Leader) stood up before those assembled. As his boss Ed Milliband had rather ignored Scotland in his own speech, someone needed to bring the focus back there. The result was something only a diehard Labour supporter could love. Perhaps after weekly drubbings at the hands of the First Minster he was punch drunk but his grasp of facts was even ropier than usual.
“I am proud too of Labour’s MSPs in Holyrood and their fight over the past four years to oppose the SNP there. In and out of that chamber they have stood alongside teachers and parents fighting cuts in their schools, the victims of crime fighting for justice, redundant apprentices fighting for a chance, kinship carers fighting for recognition, and workers fighting for protection at work. Labour, your MSPs have done you proud.”
Whatever planet he and his MSP troops have been on, that galaxy can’t include East Lothian. How can he not know his own patch? ELC has not only raised school budgets but sustained teacher numbers and provided extra teachers for certain P1-P3s. He knows there are extra police (not to mention wardens) in Tranent and Prestonpans and local crime’s down by 26% as a result. He should know kinship carers have had support for the last two years, that a massive capital build programme secured jobs in construction and that no forced redundancy faces ELC workers.
If anyone threatened apprentices, by leading his dismal naysayers to vote against 25,000 new apprenticeships in the Holyrood budget, it was he. Leave aside minimum pricing on alcohol or taxing the supermarkets. After four years practice, he and his 45 MSPs learned saying ‘no’ in unison. But their dearth of ideas is tragic. To paraphrase Star Trek: It’s opposition, Jim, but not as we know it.
As for leadership, read the whole speech. I defy you to find any.