Scotland deserves better

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by Hazel Lewry

No, you really couldn’t make this stuff up.  Labour’s gaffe strewn campaign continues meandering on its merry way.

Hard on the heels of Mr Gray’s Bannockburn retreat came notification of a friendly fireside chat between Labour’s apparently failing grade candidate for first minister and Edinburgh Central candidate Sarah Boyack.  The content of the meeting then reportedly being relayed in leaflets for the benefit of Ms Boyack’s now less likely future constituents.

One can only wonder at the Labour Party HQ in London’s reactions when in said conversation they discover themselves to be apparently allied to a document issued by the underlings in which Mr Gray replied to Ms Boyack “I want a zero tolerance approach on literacy”.

A zero tolerance approach on literacy would mean punishing people who can actually read.   Although some may believe that keeping the electorate dumb would be an ideal strategy for Labour to pursue, he must have meant ‘illiteracy’.  Though it’s a bit worrying that someone who claims to prioritise education doesn’t seem to know the difference between literacy and illiteracy.  

Expansion of young offenders’ institutions on the way Mr. Gray – or just six months in the corner with a dunce’s hat, time out for good behavior of course.  Perhaps we simply delay leaving school until everyone has the literacy capacity of Walter Scot or Burns.  This gives a nation reason to question why you may have moved from teaching to politics.

Mind you it’s not Iain Gray’s first gaffe, one need only wander through his history to find more, like the time when MSPs called on Iain Gray to apologise after information was submitted suggesting he misled Parliament twice in two weeks.

It was revealed that a constituent apprentice featured by Gray as an example of unemployment and failed policy during First Minister’s Questions, in fact had a trial place for new employment and received an offer of a college place to complete his training.  This when his case of apparent “redundancy” was raised in Parliament.

Labouring over the obvious there was also “Scotland the Works”.  A row broke out after the national skills agency angrily rejected claims by the Labour leader that it is to spend over £500,000 on a name change.  Skills Development Scotland (SDS) accused Mr. Gray of getting the “wrong end of the stick” after he made the name change and costing claims citing a proposal to change its name to Scotland the Works which had been rejected the previous month.

Then again there’s that Gaffe of Gaffes in international relations when Iain Gray was urged to apologise after his comments linking Montenegro to ethnic cleansing sparked a diplomatic row.
This led to Montenegro writing to the Scottish Labour leader to complain over his statements in the Scottish Parliament just before Christmas.  No apology was forthcoming, not even a polite retraction.

Rather than learning from his mistakes Mr. Gray compounded them when he recently claimed that no party could offer deals that guarantee “no compulsory redundancies” to public employees, this shortly after the first of our local authorities signed up to the SNP’s offer.

As the hapless Mr. Gray was repeatedly attempting to crucify the SNP over the handling of the Megrahi case, his lords and masters were quietly working for the man’s release.  If reports are credible London was treating poor Iain like a mushroom.  It’s either that or we’ve a self declared fraudster standing to lead the country.  Neither is a pleasing thought.

The tale didn’t stop there though as Gray admitted in broad terms that many of the SNP’s 2007 manifesto commitments which the Nationalists had been unable to implement, a relatively small percentage, hadn’t been implemented through Gray’s own actions in continually voting them down.  It’s now general knowledge that many derided policies have quietly been adopted into Labour’s 2011 manifesto.

Gray acknowledged quite plainly that the “string of broken promises” where he’d accused the SNP of failure had in fact been engineered by none other than – Iain Gray.

It’s not so much just Iain Gray who’s affected by Iain Gray, it seems the contagion might be spread to those around him who are susceptible, not even royalty being immune.  This might explain much as we recall the Duke of Edinburgh during the Papal Visit, he just had to be close enough to Labour’s Scots’ MSP leader to be in “tie sight”.  We then had the immortal utterance:
“That’s a nice tie,” from Prince Philip to Mr. Gray, before leaning over to Miss Goldie and asking her: “Do you have any knickers in that material?”

Then there’s the Holyrood MSPs of his inner circle – it can be argued “gaffenza” is as catching as influenza when we add the evidence from last year after Frank McAveety was caught on camera ogling a reportedly underage girl he spied in a public gallery of the Scottish parliament.  Thus continued a dark period for Labour.

McAveety had to resign as convener of Holyrood’s petitions committee after lurid comments he made about the young girl on a work placement with another MSP were inadvertently picked up on TV inside Holyrood.

We could probably pass discreetly over these little faux-pas if they were isolated incidents, but the case for contagion is assisted by the incident of Harriet Harman’s proximity to Mr. Gray in Oban, when she said: “Many of us in the Labour Party are conservationists, and we all love the red squirrel.

“But there’s one ginger rodent we never want to see in the highlands of Scotland – Danny Alexander.” [a view since carried forward by an apparently substantial number of Scots].

Ms Harman’s speech to support Iain Gray in his bid to replace Alex Salmond as First Minister at Holyrood in next May’s Scottish elections backfired when she was then forced to issue an apology after her remarks about Mr Alexander were condemned as “personal abuse” and “anti-Scottish”.

This appears serious – proximity to Iain Gray and accusations of being anti-Scottish.

Collateral damage also ensues, as many members of the public were shouldered aside in a hurried attempt at Glasgow Central to simply avoid answering a few public questions. Compensation was not forthcoming at the sandwich shop either.

I really shouldn’t omit the promise of 250,000 jobs for about 230,000 (and falling) unemployed in Scotland.  Perhaps one of the surplus is for Mr Gray himself on May 6th?  Or just another gaffe?

In view of the above it really shouldn’t be a great surprise that after telling us in their 2011 manifesto that Labour in Scotland will “Spend, Spend, Spend”.  They didn’t say where the money’s coming from as DC is a Tory and unlikely to want to keep Labour happy.   The party perhaps gave us an inkling of the true estimation of their competence on page 68 of their manifesto where we were assured that a primary goal is that ‘Scottish Labour will abolish the failed Scottish Labour’.  Surely that shouldn’t be too expensive Mr. Gray, just pack the toys in the box and wander after Wendy.

The pinching of the SNP flagship policy of council tax freeze might have been considered a masterstroke, until it was met and raised during the SNP manifesto launch with a reasonably costed (in principle) five year plan.

Even in the land of cyber subversion the infection spreads as it was reported a tweet by Tom Watson wasn’t really attributable to the great golfer, what interest would he have in twittering “Alex Salmond’s cosy relationship with Rupert Murdoch and the Tories”.  Third party investigation led to a website apparently run by and devoted to UK Labour.  The Tom Watson in question noted as an MP and was allegedly mired in the Damien McBride debacle. They want to be in charge of our security?

In view of the above and more perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to find It’s been reported in some circles that Iain Gray has apparently already conceded the Holyrood Election.

No, he hasn’t, this was just journalistic and SNP interpretation as Gray completely failed to put any energy or life back into a campaign that many argue has been the recipient of a kiss of death, on several occasions by the Labour leader himself.  (The BBC & Daily Record appearing the chief administers of resuscitation).

However is has to be noted in Mr Grays’ vociferous debate failure on the BBC that he did acknowledge he’d be talking to an Alex Salmond led government on May 6th..  Gray asked  Salmond if he would consider a situation where Salmond would back his Gray’s policy to ban caffeine-laden alcohol after the election, clearly indicating, at least subliminally, Labour know they will not win a majority.

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon went on record after that incident claiming Ian Gray had “mentally conceded”.

Although Labour attempted to put Salmond under the knife for not supporting their newest crime policy, the SNP leader simply struck back with the pointed remark that when Iain Gray was deputy Justice Minister this particular problem had represented a much bigger slice of criminal activity, growing by some 12% before being trimmed back under his administration.

Greenhouses, Mr Gray.

The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.  Scotland deserves better.{jcomments on}