Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Roy of the Rothes

Ok I'd admit it's a convoluted title but last night Lindsay Roy secured the Labour nomination to be their candidate at the Glenrothes by election.

While Jeff may have speculated yesterday that fellow blogger Kezia Dugdale was in with a shout. However, personally like Scottish Politics pointed out to Jeff yesterday her place on the short list had nowt to do with gender balance and reeked of tokenism to me. No offence to Kez but I think that local councillor Kay Morrison from the long list would have been a far tougher test for Lindsay Roy. However, Kez did pick up 9 first preference votes. Jeff can just chalk that down to his first experience of the inner machinations of party politics not that he is a member of a party.

The thing about Mr Roy's selection is just where does this leave the old New Labour mantra of Education, education, education. He was tasked with restoring the standards of Gordon Brown's own Alma Mater Kirkcaldy High School not that long ago. So where does that leave Labour's education policy now. Sure taking a top educationalist into Westminster, should he win, does no harm to shaping policy once he gets there. But he has hardly been allowed to get to grips with a real task on the front line in turning around an ailing academical institution very close to the PM's heart. We read in today's Times (Scottish Edition) how proud he is that his old school's rugby team have re-entered the Scottish Schools' Cup competition even if he did lose the sight in one eye playing against the staff.

I'm not disputing Mr Roy's experience merely the timing of picking him as a Parliamentary candidate when he has so recently taken on an important task in his chosen field. Leaving a school possibly bereft of a key asset in such a key policy area over the last eleven years for the party he is standing for seems to counter any argument he may have for improving education during the campaign.

Jeff as ever was quick off the mark last night with some comments on Labour's selection procedure this time. I have to disagree with his conclusions to his first two points although as explained above agree with the latter three.

There is no partisan hypocrisy over the timing of the election being called late, it merely has to be called within 3 months of the seat being vacant, Labour have tried the fast approach recently in Crewe and Nantwich and Glasgow East and bobbled the ball completely, this is probably in response to take their time in Livingston, where they were scared entering the count hall and Dunfermline and West Fife where they were bamboozled leaving it. The fact that this time they are giving everyone amble opportunity to get their views across may well work in their favour, but equally can work for other parties as momentum building can happen unlike in Glasgow East recently.

Secondly I don't feel they're botched the selection process by taking longer than the other three main parties to select this time around. Yes in Glasgow East they botched it but in light of the possibly length of the election the party look they may have taken time to ensure no losing face or losing of candidates so publicly happened this time, as for people ruling themselves out that happens all the time especially when the media are trying to get a quick fix on who will stand.

However, we know have the main runners and riders and no doubt a few more may yet get saddled up:

Harry Wills (Lib Dem)
Dr Kris Seunarine (UKIP)
Lindsay Roy (Labour)
Maurice Golden (Conservatives)
Morag Balfour (Scottish Socialists)
Peter Grant (SNP)


Jeff said...

"Jeff can just chalk that down to his first experience of the inner machinations of party politics not that he is a member of a party"

Well, for a start I'm a member of the SNP but my main beef with your post lies elsewhere.

I won't be chalking anything down anywhere Stephen. Are you suggesting that I was predicting a Kez victory last night? I know you like to 'win' (so much so it actually concerns me) but when you twist another person's stance to do so it is just a little bit sad.

I have no regrets about talking up Kezia's place on the shortlist and whether it was tokenism or not, I personally believe it serves very little purpose to belittle someone as a 'token candidate'. If we're to go down that path then there's Lib Dem token candidates up and down the country but I'm sure you'd defend their right to stand and put forward their thoughts in elections, even if 3rd or 4th is the best they can hope for in certain seats.

I think you do have a point with Kay Morrison (the same point I made). If she was excluded to allow Roy a greater chance of winning then Labour have a case to answer on their democratic credentials.

As for the timing of the election, it beggars belief that you don't think there is a "partisan hypocrisy" over the timing of the election. The Crewe and Nantwich election was called before (or at least on the day of) the prior MPs funeral! Glasgow East was rushed as it was deemed a constituency needed an MP as quickly as possible. Why does Glenrothes not need an MSP so soon?

You seem to have accepted that political tactics should happily get in the way of what is fair and equitable. If I am supposedly wet behind the ears with regard to the inner workings of party politics then I suggest you pull your head out from the party machine and look around once in a while to consider life outside a political bubble.

PS I think you're underselling the title. I was impressed.

Stephen Glenn said...

Ok Jeff point taken you didn't actually said you'd think she would win, merely wished her the best.

I did however deliberately use the word gender balance in contradiction to the word tokenism for a reason. Labour ahve too often been seen to shortlist someone for token reasons whether that be gender, race or some other minority grouping rather than seemingly picking the best x amount of people put up. The fact that a good quality local female councillor, in Kay, seemingly hotly touted did not make it off the long list as one of the three or even a fourth and therefore a gender balanced short list does look like sadly Kez was used for tokenism no matter how good she herself is and may be. As this shortlisted selection by some appears to have removed a serious challenge before taking it to the full membership to potentially give an easy ride to a candidate, who some see as being less open for attack from Nats as he's currently an appointee of theirs. Labour have used such tactics in the past sadly so yes I am cynical, if not a little battle worn. 4 Scottish Westmister by elections this Government is just the tip of the iceberg of course.

None of the elections are called either early or late. The hypocisy, if there is any, was that Labour have be calling them shorter and shorter up to Glasgow thinking they could fool the voters into not listening to the others and giving the other parties less time to put their point across. Yes of course their use of words then are misjudged now but by elections used to take longer to gear up and it appears this one is going to have some real debate rather than be fought out on soundbites. Which IMHO is good for the people of Glenrothes.

And to be perfectly honest with most of the summer being occupied with Glasgow, the leadership contests and now the next by election I think activists from all parties are glad of a little bit of a less hectic pace.

Jess The Dog said...

Kezia's blog had a post by a Seonaidh Sossenoch(?) regarding the shortlist-rigging claim, now mysteriously removed without comment. To me, this reinforces the claim - nothing to fear, nothing to hide and all that.

I believe that Lindsay Roy's candidacy is motivated by a number of factors:

Firstly, he is a new type of candidate for Labour - a "clean skin" as terrorists would put it, with no previous public political career. This may play well, to a degree.

Secondly, his character and reputation are both very high, as a headteacher with an impressive career behind him, and as an elder of the Kirk. This makes him difficult to attack. However, it makes it difficult for him to attack Peter Grant, who is himself quite urbane and personable. This may focus the contest on the issues rather than personalities.

Finally, this has Brown's fingerprints all over it. Lindsay Roy is the rector of Brown's alma mater, he is an elder of the Kirk - what an appealing protege to son of the manse Brown. Leaders in difficult times cling to their favourites, and Fife Labour is Brown's only remaining fiefdom. I would be surprised if he didn't push Roy as a a candidate to the exclusion of others.

I like the headline "Rob Roy vs Braveheart". By the way, Lindsay Roy was also my old rector, we called him Batman because of his academic gown....

Malc said...

wow guys. put away the handbags...

Stephen Glenn said...

Well it's the last time I'll read the other blogs while writing my first post of the day ;)


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