Scottish Blairites attempting to bring down leader Richard Leonard receive helping hand
Scottish Blairites attempting to bring down Scottish Labour’s more left-wing leader have received a ‘helping hand’ from their English counterparts that will infuriate many Scottish Labour members.
Four MSPs have called on Richard Leonard to stand down in a manoeuvre reminiscent of the staged resignations of the 2016 ‘chicken coup’ that attempted to bring down Jeremy Corbyn.
And when Labour front-bencher Rachel Reeves – who recently escaped any sanction from Keir Starmer after calling for a statue to be erected to an notorious antisemite and infamously promised Labour would be tougher on benefits claimants than the Tories – was asked whether Leonard should resign, she agreed he should ‘consider his position’:
The Blairite narrative depends, of course, of a rewriting of history to erase two clear facts:
First, that it was Blairite former leaders who threw away a half-century of political dominance in Scotland and took Labour into the catastrophic loss of 40 out of 41 seats.
And second, that it was five years of right-wing sabotage that undid Labour’s limited resurgence in Scotland in the 2017 general election.
But the golden rule of devolved politics is that English Labour figures do not meddle in the affairs of the devolved parties.
Reeves tries to cover this base by saying it’s not her place to comment – but did not ‘no-comment’ the question as she could have and clearly comments anyway, agreeing that Leonard should consider his position, which as interviewer Kay Burley points out is shorthand for resign.
Whether this English intervention helps or harms the Blairites’ attempt to consolidate their power by effectively annexing Scotland remains to be seen. But it’s unlikely the intervention, with support for independence rising, will wash well with many Labour members or the wider public in Scotland.
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