Eddie Barnes: Never mind the Kinnocks – it's time to establish the face of a New Scottish Labour Party
IT looks like it's going to be a long, hot summer for Scottish Labour. While the rest of the country enjoys some time off, the battered party is preparing for a "root and branch review".
MPs Jim Murphy, Anne McKechin and Anne McGuire – three particularly large Scottish Labour branches – are to lead this review, it emerged yesterday, thereby suggesting there are some parts of the tree which have already been cordoned off. Nonetheless, what can we expect?
A semblance of a forward plan is now beginning to emerge from among the party's key figures – one made easier, ironically, because of the scale of last week's defeat.
On top of the obvious reforms which are required in party organisation and financing, there is finally an acceptance that the party can never again fight an election in Scotland with the prime aim of getting out the core vote.
These self-identifying Scottish Labour voters are getting older and their ranks are not being replaced. Labour hunted them successfully enough in the election last week but still got hammered.
The battle cry led by former First Minister Henry McLeish is that the answer is to be more Scottish. This too is accepted by many within the party.
But to suggest that Labour can win again by adding a few font sizes to the word "Scottish" would – once again – be to treat the electorate as fools.
The real answer, say reformers, is to build up a new wider coalition of voters from across society and across the country.
This rethink is to accept that Scottish Labour has allowed itself to become Scotland's conservative party.
Iain Gray's policy on knife crime is seen as a good example. The traditional get-tough approach worked in those deprived areas where knife crime blights communities (like Greenock).
But how many families in Scottish suburbs or towns like East Kilbride (which Labour lost) have actual experience of being attacked by someone with a knife? Iain Gray's other big election pledge – to create 250,000 jobs – was more old-fashioned white noise, redolent of a 1960s "commanding heights" view of government.
This contrasted with the SNP's forward-thinking plan to harness the wealth of green power and to grow the economy.
Scottish Labour needs to get out of its outdated comfort zone, say reformers. This may sound familiar.
It is, after all, much the same process which UK Labour began after it lost the 1987 general election. By that measure, Scottish Labour is only 24 years late.
Of course, Labour's modernisation plan failed its first election test in 1992 because voters didn't like the look of Neil Kinnock.
Let's put this kindly: there are no Neil Kinnocks in the current block of Labour MSPs.
A strategy may be emerging from the ashes of Scottish Labour's loss last week; it's face isn't.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South