Nelson’s famous use of his blind eye at Copenhagen is enjoying a re-run, courtesy of Scottish Labour. After four years in which the entire party seems to have believed that the 2007 election was some cruel quirk of fate that time would reverse to bring them into their own again, the poleaxe that hit them this month has yet to show any effect.
Far from accepting a renewed wake-up call, senior Labour MSPs (such as still exist) have been churning out a dismal business-as-usual. The only difference I see is the message is more muffled because heads are buried deeper in the sand. Jackie Baillie MSP straps on her indignant face and wants an emergency statement on Edinburgh’s Elsie Inglis Nursing Home where a resident died. Considering that, under Labour, the share of care homes run (like this one) by the private sector ballooned until now only 174 of them are run by local authorities while 637 are private (plus 132 are run by the voluntary sector), is it any wonder that ensuring quality of care in such homes is more difficult?
Then Malcolm Chisholm, one of their few constituency MSPs left standing, gets on his high horse about CoSLA’s proposals for review of teachers’ pay & conditions: “It is absolutely critical that any changes to teachers’ terms and conditions of employment are negotiated properly and through the agreed mechanisms”. Aye, right: the famously stroppy, Labour-dominated EIS/SSTA/etc are going to work with an SNP minister? The doubling of spend on education since Henry McLeish sold the pass in the McCrone agreement was in exchange for vague promises of improvements, none of which occurred. Actually, less contact time, 35-hour/4.5-day weeks and a quarter of the year on holiday has promoted clock-watching. How many teachers at your local school volunteer for after-hours clubs or drive a minibus to support ‘their’ kids?
Most gallus of all, Lewis MacDonald MSP has called for “a renewed focus on house building as official Scottish Government figures showed a fall in the number of new housing being built in Scotland”. Oh, really? That wouldn’t have anything to do with fiscal implosion during Labour’s watch in 2008 that scuppered banks’ ability to lend capital, would it? The only thing keeping any house building afloat is the thousands of council homes being built by SNP councils, using government support and in rather stark contrast to the 6 (six, yes, six) completed by Labour in 1999-2007.
This is all Labour rump MSP group of 37 have managed by way of statements since re-grouping. Self-serving and conveniently blind to recent history though all three are, what is especially ominous is they reek of the same old political opportunism of sniping from the sidelines; there are still not two decent ideas to rub together.
Scotland has a powerful new government with plenty of ideas and the bit between its teeth. In the maelstrom that shredded the opposition, only Labour is capable of holding them to account. Labour needs to kick the feeble moaning that cost them the election and shift towards strong, innovative, questioning political thinking.
But I see no shifts.