Harris claims Scottish Labour now has less than 50% chance of surviving


By a Newsnet reporter
Defeated leadership contender Tom Harris has claimed that Scottish Labour now has a less than 50 per cent chance of survival.
Speaking in the Sunday Times the Glasgow MP said: “I still think there is a less than a 50% chance that the Scottish Labour Party will survive”

Mr Harris’s comments follow criticisms he made of the party in Scotland last week when he suggested Scottish members were unable to make the necessary changes in order to ensure survival.

They also come just one day after the election of Johann Lamont as the leader of the party in Scotland.

Speaking immediately after her win the new leader vowed that nothing would be off limits and implied a radical shake up of how the party approaches opposition in Scotland.

However speaking yesterday Ms Lamont insisted there would be no immediate change to the party’s stance on the constitution saying that new powers to Scotland would not be discussed until after the independence referendum.

Iain Gray’s replacement also continued with the party criticism of the referendum schedule by claiming it was ‘harming businesses’.

Ms Lamont’s win was controversial, and was only possible with the help of votes from Union members and party ‘affiliates’. 

SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson, has now called on the Scottish Labour Party to publish a full breakdown of ballots cast in the contest.

Scottish Labour officials have claimed that up to 300,000 ballots were sent out – but have failed to publish any turnout figures or an un-weighted breakdown of the vote which would indicate how many ballots were returned.

This refusal goes against the norm in recent leadership elections.  The Scottish Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the SNP all published full breakdowns of their most recent leadership elections. 

The UK Labour Party published a full breakdown when Ed Miliband was returned as leader. Labour in Scotland seem to be going against this convention by failing to publish a full breakdown in either this contest on for Iain Gray’s election in 2008.

Commenting, Mr Gibson MSP said:

“By publishing only percentages and failing to publish un-weighted figures, Labour look like they’re hiding something. It is the norm to publish these figures – even Ed Miliband did it when he was elected.

“Officials have boasted that 300,000 ballots were sent out but how many were actually returned? Did all parliamentarians participate in the process? What is the current membership of the Labour Party in Scotland, and are Labour trying to hide a collapse in their base?

“Getting answers to these questions is all the more important after a contest in which Johann Lamont was defeated by Ken Macintosh among ordinary Labour members and won the leadership only because of trade union support.

“Labour’s lack of transparency will not help it at a time when one of its leading figures says the party faces a struggle to even survive in Scotland. Tom Harris’s claim that there is a ‘less than a 50% chance that the Scottish Labour Party will survive’ is a damning assessment on Johann Lamont’s first day in the job.

“Ms Lamont has said that under her leadership, no rule or convention will go unquestioned. Being open about the number of ballots cast in this election would be an excellent place to start.”