Blurred Lines

Last November we saw the somewhat annual installation of a new Scottish Labour leader after Kezia Dugdale resigned. It resulted in Richard Leonard beng elected to take the party forward but since then several gaffes and inaccuracies have been made which are making people question the true motive behind them.

Scottish Labour have made rather bizarre statements which confuse the powers that are devolved to the Scottish government and the powers retained to Westminster. We’re unsure as whether this damages Scottish Labour’s credibility as a competent political party or whether these gaffes are calculated. The only reason we are saying this is because they have managed to confuse some rather straightforward facts such as Scottish Water’s state of ownership, and the powers over banking regulation, employment and railways.

Scottish Water

Speaking on the 26th of November alongside Jeremy Corbyn at an event in Glasgow, Richard Leonard called for Scottish Water to be taken into public ownership. This is, of course, an absolutely fantastic idea. Water shouldn’t be privatised at all and we’d be 100% behind him if it wasn’t for one thing which we'll let Scottish Water explain for themselves: 

How the leader of Scottish Labour can get the status of a publicly-owned national asset so categorically wrong is truly beyond us.

Banking Regulation

On the run up to Christmas he motioned for a debate in the Scottish Parliament to campaign against the Royal Bank of Scotland closing 62 of their branches which will result in 158 job losses. Again, this would have been a reasonable thing to do if it wasn’t for the fact he was implying that the Scottish government have the powers to do it. Banking regulation is wholly reserved to the British government.

Employment

Scottish Labour have also launched an attack on the Scottish Government over employment despite Scotland having the lowest rate of unemployment in the UK. Richard Leonard attacked Nicola Sturgeon for having offered only ‘oratory and rhetoric’ for people losing jobs while the Scottish Government have a pretty good record on it.

Ferguson Shipyards went into administration during 2014 but a deal was secured to save it and in 2016 the shipyard took on 150 apprentices. ScotGov were quick to secure a deal for two facilitator after Tata Steel mothballed them, Liberty House ended up purchasing both the Clydebridge Steelworks in Cambuslang as well as the Dalzell works in Motherwell. Most recently in November, engineering firm BiFab were in danger of going into administration but negotiations were quickly completed which secured the future of the firm.

Scottish Labour also made new promises to put an end to zero-hour contracts in Scotland. Zero-hours can be great for students who are looking for flexible work but it means that they can be handed out to anyone else who are then not guaranteed a fixed amount of hours per week. The thing is though that Labour have been promising to end zero-hour contracts for a long time. Tony Blair was promising it as far back as 1995. 

The real question that the Scottish mainstream media have failed to ask Richard Leonard is how he intends to go about getting rid of zero-hour contracts in Scotland considering Labour voted against the devolution of employment law in the Smith Commission.

There seems to be a bit of a trend developing where Scottish Labour can make a case with something they passionately believe in changing while at the same time voting against the devolution of the powers to do it.

Railways

Finally, in the past few days, Labour have attacked the fact that the railway isn’t currently under public control and they believe this to be the fault of the Scottish Government. Someone in Labour put together this graphic while failing to keep in mind the attention it would bring to their own party.

Putting aside that whoever put together this graphic isn’t aware that the SNP stands for Scottish National Party (Party?), there’s a few things that need addressed. Firstly, in 1993, the Railways Act split British Rail into multiple companies and forbid a public-sector bid for the railways. Labour promised to renationalise the railways as soon as they were in power again but did nothing from 1997 to 2010.

It wasn’t until the Scotland Act 2016 in which the Scottish government were devolved the right to launch a public sector bid which is being prepared for when the current contract with Abellio expires.

So this all of the above culminates into a few questions we’ve got to now ask ourselves. Are these simple gaffes? Are we really about to believe that a man who studied Politics and Economics at the University of Stirling, who was previously head of economics for the Scottish Trade Unions Congress, and who is a could-be First Minister of Scotland as leader of Scottish Labour doesn’t know what is devolved and what is reserved? Does he not know what assets are publicly and privately owned?

The two different answers give us two different conclusions. He is either incompetent or he is being outright intellectually dishonest. 

Giving him the benefit of the doubt that he isn’t completely incompetent that leaves us with a deliberate attempt to blur the lines between reserved and devolved issues. Does Richard Leonard actually want to be First Minister or is he happy playing the role of trickster in an attempt to fool the electorate?

Labour took Scotland for granted, and it resulted in them being pushed to 3rd place in the Scottish Parliament. Could it be that they are now banking on people being ignorant? We believe that the electorate are far smarter than that.