COMING TO THE AID OF THE PARTY?

Just at the moment the Labour Party, north and south of the border, reminds me of the Scotland football team every time it fails to reach an international competition.  Out march the critics and analysts from the woodwork citing everything from the coach through midfield deficiencies to the chronic lack of a reliable strike force for the lack of advancement.

The difficulty is each of these observers and commentators tend to reach quite different and often contradictory  conclusions. So it is with the people's party. UK wide the electoral loss was because they had moved too far to the left. Or the right. They had a leader who was too identified with the Blair administration/ not in tune enough with the Blair phenomenon.  They endorsed too many Tory policies/they failed to learn lessons from the Conservatives. 

While in Scotland - site of their most arresting catastrophe - the problem was bringing in Jim Murphy/not getting him in soon enough. They should have run their own Referendum campaign/ they should have run a more positive one/they weren't Scottish enough. Etc and Etc.  

The proposed solutions to these various ills are equal strangers to clarity.  In Scotland one person's "dream ticket" is apparently another's "nightmare scenario."  Down south they now have four candidates and the interesting phenomenon of a number of luminaries giving Jeremy Corbyn the nod to stand  immediately prior to rushing to a studio to explain why they would never, ever actually vote for him.

They have a raft of Labour MP's and former ministers recanting on the manifesto, whilst the front runner, Andy Burnham intones that it was the best he had ever stood on.  There are voices saying it's time for a woman, as if gender alone would sprinkle some magic dust on the fightback.

Many, including Jim Murphy, say the Brown/Blair divide has to be consigned to history, while others laud Liz Kendall for being the only proper Blairite at the races.

Confused? The poor bloody voting infantry certainly will be. 

My thoughts are that what that party most needed was not a period of public electioneering between new wannabe leaders, but a period of relatively private examination of what they stand for,  and for whom. Lurching around trying to find a USP which makes them not UKIP but patriotic, not Tory but fiscally prudent, not Lib Dem, but occupying the middle ground and not SNP but tartan fringed, defines them only by their electoral opponents - it doesn't qualify as a vision, a mission statement, or an easily identifiable home on the political spectrum.

As we know the Scottish situation is further bedevilled by the great divide between left leaning parties some supporters of whom  give every impression of loathing each other much more than they ever manage with the Conservatives.  They need reminding that playground scrapping is no substitute for proper homework. So whilst all governments need proper scrutiny and be subject to proper accountability,  Labour will never get out the recovery ward and back into harness as a credible opposition while  it wastes so much energy trashing Nats for the hell of it. (It is surely salutory for Labour in Scotland to reflect that the most effective opposition politician in Scottish politics at the moment is a Tory.)

Giving the government a good kicking when it fouls up is entirely legitimate.  Bashing them for nicking "your" voters is not a profitable way forward.  More useful would be an honest analysis  of why these voters chose to plight their troth elsewhere.

Understandably Labour is still in shock.  Frankly everybody in Scotland is in shock.  The result on May the 7th was so extraordinary that the winners were often as gobsmacked as the losers.  And a state of shock is rarely the best back drop to a period of calm contemplation.

But  that would have been the most useful prescription, whilst the fort was held by interim generals.  Instead Labour faces  the prospect of  a summer of discontent and points scoring from candidates whose bid for the top jobs precludes saying anything positive about rival colleagues.  Already we've had terms like Taliban and Muhajhideen bandied about.  Comradely it's not.