Tag Archives: kezia dugdale

Why I wish Kez Dugdale well for her jungle stint

Kezia Dugdale was the best leader the Scottish Labour Party has had since Donald Dewar. She has warmth, humour, the ability to engage and is a really good ambassador for Labour values. It was her destiny to lead Scottish Labour through a Holyrood then a Westminster general election in the space of a year. She had to do it while being constantly undermined by various factions in the party.

She has had criticisms piled on her like buckets of maggots or spiders for heading off to Australia for three weeks to appear on the primetime ITV show I’m a celebrity, get me out of here. Her own party talked of suspending her but then realised it couldn’t when they discovered she had asked for permission after all. Commentators screamed outrage about her abandoning her constituents. It’s not like the good people of Lothians are missing out on representation. Kezia’s constituents have six other MSPs, one of them even another Labour one (albeit not one of Kezia’s biggest fans) that they can go and see. There are no massive earth shattering votes in Holyrood scheduled over the next few weeks.

It’s not as if she’s an MP at the moment at a time when the Commons is making knife edge decisions about many issues at the moment. Tory MP Douglas Ross was rightly criticised when he went off to referee a football match rather than protect his constituents against the awful Universal Credit. However, he was never going to vote on the right side of that argument even if he had been there.

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Willie Rennie goes all Alice in Wonderland AND uses the F-word

Have you ever thought that what Parliament really needs is a few more Alice in Wonderland references?

This afternoon the Scottish Parliament started a two day debate on whether to call for a Section 30 order, the device that would enable them to hold a second independence referendum. Theresa May has said that “now is not the time” in much the same tone of voice as she said “brexit means brexit.”

It’s funny, because, as Lib Dem MSP Mike Rumbles pointed out today, they’ve managed to clear 2 days of parliamentary time for this (although the length of the debate was something we agreed with) at a week’s notice and put so much effort into setting it all up, yet we’ve gone 445 days without a mental health strategy. Priorities, and all that.

I started watching the debate as Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale started speaking. Of all poisoned chalices, hers is the biggest. She’s one of the most caring, articulate, engaging politicians I’ve come across, yet she’s lumbered and with and constantly undermined by Corbyn. During the last referendum, I watched her speak particularly to women’s groups and she was fantastic at putting across a positive case for the UK. She and Willie Rennie are both very good at that but they were both sorely under-used on the national stage.

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Willie Rennie, dare and Prince Charles in the same sentence. What could possibly go wrong?

You can’t really imagine it, Dave, Jez, Angus Robertson, Tim and all the Westminster leaders all lined up waiting to meet some VIP and suddenly one says to the others  “I bet you £100 you won’t say (something slightly unexpected) to said VIP. For a start, if Jez or Angus actually did it, the Daily Mail and the Sun would be screaming outrage and horror for at least a decade. There would probably be a constitutional crisis.

It’s not quite like that in Scotland. There’s a lot more genuine banter between the party leaders. Last year, they all made out on Twitter that they were going to watch Andy Murray play in some major match rather than bother with First Minsters’ Questions.  They also organised a shoe shopping trip for charity.  But last night it took a slightly different turn.

MSPs had just attended the “Kirking of the Parliament” with Prince Charles and were waiting to meet him in the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The party leaders were lined up first. Labour’s Kezia Dugdale dared Willie to ask the Heir to the Throne what he’d bought “yer maw” for her birthday.

Now, Willie has form for saying slightly unusual things to famous people. He has this habit of just treating them like everyone else. He suggested to the Dalai Lama that he watch Rikki Fulton’s comedy programme Scotch and Wry, which is one of the funniest things Scotland has ever produced. Anyway, Willie even sent him a DVD.

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On Kezia Dugdale becoming Scottish Labour leader

Comments from our esteemed editor:

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Miriam Gonzalez Durantez: “Nobody calls Nick a working dad”

Miriam Gonzalez Durantez spoke about the double standards around parenting and work at a Marie Claire event this week. People refer to mothers who work as working mums, but the other parent is never referred to as a “working dad”:

We also do a project called Inspiring Primaries where we put in front of the younger children a panel of men and women, and we ask them ‘what job do you think these people do?’ And if it’s a blonde woman the answer is always, ‘a secretary, a party organiser or a hairdresser.’

The sexism has been so drip drip that we don’t even always notice it.’

I find people say of me, ‘she wears the trousers’ and as you can see, it is true, I have very nice trousers. Or if my husband and I share the school run, it’s me who has forced him, dragged him away from his work. But when people, or in my case the media, are using that label on you, they are not saying you are strong, they are saying you should get back in your box. You should make the dinner and have his slippers ready with a gin and tonic.

You can read the whole report on Marie Claire’s blog here. 

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Can Murphy and Dugdale resurrect Labour’s fortunes in Scotland?

Labour Party logoSo, we know that Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale will be the new leadership team for Scottish Labour. Murphy won the leadership with 55% of the vote and Dugdale won the deputy post with 63%.

The result was announced at the Emirates – the one in Glasgow, not, as I initially thought when I was told yesterday, the one in London. But Labour wouldn’t be so stupid as to announce in London when their last leader quit after complaining that Scotland was treated as a branch office.

Murphy is a Big Beast, having been part of the last Labour government for 9 years. He was a staunch Blairite and, of course, voted for the Iraq war and all of Labour’s authoritarian policies from ID cards to 90 days detention.  A pro-war blairite seems hardly in keeping with the zeitgeist, it has to be said.

He’s a deeply polarising figure. It’s hard to see how he can unite the Labour Party, let alone the country. His rhetoric way back when he was Secretary of State for Scotland was divisive and he’s continued in that vein. In 2010, he described the divide between Labour and the SNP as Patriots vs Nationalists, language which I find at best unhelpful, at worst irresponsible. I wrote back then about how wrong I felt it was to use patriotism as a political weapon. Particularly when our country is recovering from an emotionally bruising referendum, it’s even more nasty, brutal and irrelevant than ever. Even combining it with the word “optimistic”, as he did this morning, makes me feel queasy.

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