Scottish Labour contender: we need a whole new dialogue


By a Reporter

Scottish Labour leadership contender Ken Macintosh MSP has told Newsnet that his party needs to build a whole new dialogue with other parties and the electorate.

Ken Macintosh MSP visits the Newsnet Radio studio
Ken Macintosh MSP visits the Newsnet Radio studio

Macintosh, portrayed as the underdog against leadership rival Kezia Dugdale MSP, claims his arguments are striking a chord with people outside the Holyrood “bubble”. The leadership election will take place on the basis of “one member, one vote” and Macintosh is pinning his campaign on reaching beyond the mainstream.

Speaking to Derek Bateman, Macintosh – an MSP since the first Holyrood election in 1999 – reflects on what has happened to the Labour vote since last year’s referendum, and where he wants to take the party if he succeeds Jim Murphy as its leader in Scotland.

“Our vote keeps declining and we keep not ‘getting it’. My focus is not next year’s election, it’s about changing the party into a different kind of party,” says Macintosh.

As Scottish Labour grapples with the fall-out of its near wipe-out in last month’s General Election, he opposes the idea of a separate party north of the border, but he wants a formal recognition of autonomy from London.

He challenges the SNP’s claim to be a “progressive” party, and says Labour should question the Scottish Government’s position on several key issues. But he wants Labour to be a more construction opposition.

“Our default position is to oppose anything the SNP do,” says Macintosh. He believes that position has rebounded on Labour time and again. “We are getting more and more like Westminster.”

He says he is willing to work together with the SNP, with a more collegiate approach to politics, one example being in improving the funding and structure of Scottish local government.

You can listen to his interview by pressing the audio button at the top of this item.

The Newsnet TV video version of the interview can be viewed here:





  1. Read their ‘new’ dialogue this morning – all 51 pages of it. The true nature of Scottish Labour exposed, again, by its own dossier. Is it a political party or a suicide pact?

  2. I have no liking for Labour – or Ken Macintosh personally for that matter – but I actually respect him for doing this interview with Derek Bateman. Could this represent a Labour politician being mature and actually trying to reach out to pro-independence supporters etc. and communicate with them, instead of demonizing and belittling us? I hope so.

  3. The dossier has the Murphy/McTernan/McDougall fingerprints all over it. McDougall’s approach to the last election campaign seemed to consist of little more than retweeting inappropriate tweets he had either seen or received. he’s still doing it.

    I don’t think MacIntosh would allow this if he was elected instead of Dugdale. Dugdale, I’m sad to say, probably would. She seems to have been indoctrinated into the ‘London Labour’ faction.

  4. Well i got to about halfway before the usual Labour party pish started , The SNP say one thing then do the other ,oh really the usual waffle , lets see what Labour do ,they table a vote in westminster to repeal the bedroom tax ,then forget to turn up to vote ,the reason given ” it was due to the pairing system in westminster” a quick glance and reference to said arrangement ” only comes into play when no real contentious issues are at stake” in other words nothing really important , they forget we know what they do, and the media as always shield them and hope the majority don’t notice , they are beyond change it’s in their DNA, in their case it stands for Do- Not- Accept we are wrong.

  5. Im pleased Newsnet have done this, and also that Macintosh agreed to it. We need dialogue about where Scotland goes next, and that dialogue needs to be more grown-up than rows about Twitter etc etc

    Of course Macintosh is going to criticise the SNP, he’s in a rival party, that’s what politics does (too often, sadly). Whatever our views on Scottish independence, we have a Tory majority in the UK right now and we need to fight the worst excesses of Toryism as well as forging a path ahead. We win through dialogue in my humble view.

  6. He is an ideal candidate for a second hand car salesperson who knows how to sell but hasn’t a clue in what makes the thing he is he is selling work, autonomous yet still joined at the hip to London Labour he’s having a laugh at Scotland’s expense.

  7. I was brought up with labour, don’t trust them. Talk is cheap, their inactions speak volumes. No lie is to low, No tragedy is unusable and no friends are high enough.

  8. We had this from Johann Lamont all through the Referendum; ‘there would need to be a conversation with the Scottish people’. Never happened.
    They were having dialogues with other parties; the Conservative and LibDems.
    We had it from Jim Murphy. All we got were tactics from the ‘team’ whoever they were.

    The dossier is another example. We have no idea who came up with the idea or compiled it. More tactics.
    Kezia Dugdale says there should be no independent Labour party, so business as usual will prevail. In Scotland they can only go on hoping we don’t notice they must do what London dictates.
    Who does Labour represent? They can’t represent the Tories, they can’t represent the 45% who wanted independence, being fundamentally opposed to the aspirations expressed there.

  9. An interesting interview. I’ve long had a respect for KM that probably stems from his obvious sincerity and his open and honestly held views. He is also a realist, and knows that becoming an efficient and effective opposition is essential for everyone’s benefit, not just his Party.

    What Ken did not mention, but he must be completely aware of, is the ability of elected people representing the Party at every level from local to national and international bodies. People with ability is Labour’s greatest weakness at all levels right now, whereas ability is the greatest strength of the SNP. For now the SNP are exceptional on every stage they set foot on, e.g. the 56 MP’s just returned to Westminster are a great example, but there is no God given right that they will continue to be so.
    It is difficult to maintain your highest standards when you are up against nothing much to test yourself.
    KM has clear political vision, that makes him a politcian worth listening to, and a worthy choice as the next SLP Leader. He would be an asset to any elected body and I hope he gets the chance.
    He will be a tough but fair and supportive voice where necessary, and an honourable opponent for our First Minister. That can only be good all round. since like most people I’m sick and tired of FMQ’s and PM’Q that are an embarrasment to watch.

  10. Yes, as others have noted we’ve been introduced to Labour’s McCarthyist approach this morning. I won’t be listening to anything Labour has to say about democracy for a long time to come. I deplore personal attacks in any forum, but the tack Labour are taking has nothing to do with hurt feelings or verbal assault and everything to do with attacking the SNP, othering and alienating independence support and instilling fear of free expression on any and all things Labour, UK gov or union in any and all forums. They simply couldn’t be more transparent.

    People are angry and have responded angrily to Labour and the union’s narrative and strategy over all things Scottish. The digital world, as I’m sure we are all very aware, is the only forum of free expression left to them. They have almost zero media support, their older established parties do not represent either their aspirations or their needs and none will even make the effort to listen. Its not in their party or state interest dontchaknow? Of course people are angry and use the language of anger and frustration, they’ve been given every reason to be angry at their establishment representation over the years. Its even been cultivated by some in those parties deliberately in order to provoke response, again in order to be used as a political weapon. To use their own electorate as political weapons. What kind of people do this to their own electorate? Who thinks like that?

    Labour and the Conservative narrative went too far and they are reaping the rewards of that catastrophic narrative. Their response? A dossier of people using harsh language to further alienate an already alienated and disenfranchised electorate.

    A new way right enough.

  11. Exactly that, Macart.

    They’ve infected and killed their most productive vineyard. Now they’re poisoning the soil so that nothing else can flourish in it. Totally toxic and utterly despicable.

  12. What Mr. Mackintosh either fails to realise or is keeping schtumm about is the fact that Labour in Scotland promise endlessly to ‘listen to the electorate’ and ‘change their ways’. Well, the Scottish electorate spoke pretty loudly last month yet SLab continue to double-down on failure with their choice of leadership candidates.

    The sooner SLab realise – and act upon – their inexorable drift to the right of the political spectrum in order to garner the votes of an increasingly small proportion of Scottish voters, the sooner they can TRY to recover. I doubt if they will because they’re so hidebound in their contempt for the SNP that it binds them to a Tory narrative. That is, ‘Nationalists/Separatists/BAD!’. I wish them all the best (not really) in their ongoing quest to find relevance in the modern (social media) age.

  13. I found that interview quite interesting,thanks.I would have liked you to ask him what the current Labour Party membership is.I know it’s “flogging a dead horse” but how he chose to answer the question would have been of interest.I would also have liked him to be asked if he thinks he can persuade a lot of voters who believe in independence to vote for such a staunchly unionist party.


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