Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

You can’t opt out of equality

March 19, 2009

Michael Crick suggests that there’s a right brouhaha on the horizon in Airdrie and Shotts, the Scottish constituency of John Reid.

John is standing down at the next election, and a new candidate needs to be found. However, CLP Chair Brian Brady is warning of a “Scottish Blaenau Gwent” in the seat – a pretty safe one for Labour, with a majority of over 14,000 – if an all-women shortlist is imposed.

The reference to the identical case of Blaenau Gwent really turns the knife – the South Wales seat once represented by Nye Bevan and Michael Foot is still very much an open wound, for people on both sides of the row.

Yet for all of the bluster about “local party choice”, I cannot sympathize with Brother Brady. Our Party has decided that there should be more women MPs and candidates; that postive action needs to be taken to encourage this to happen; and that all-women shortlists are the way to achieve this.

This decision was reached democractically. In the case of Blaenau Gwent, I know because I was there – the Welsh Labour Party conference in 2002 voted more than 2 to 1 to have all-women shortlists, when I was a young and impressionable first-time delegate.

I was impressed by the arguments then – having been agnostic on the issue before – and I haven’t changed my mind since. However, once the party’s collective will has been expressed, what this is about is the ability to show solidarity with fellow members and adhere to collective decisions.

I’m sure Comrade Brady wouldn’t mind if there were any number of all-women shortlists in unwinnable seats in the South East – but what would be the point in that? The point in having them is to increase women’s representation in the House of Commons; to this end, it matters whether there is a woman candidate in Airdrie and Shotts or Blaenau Gwent in a way that it doesn’t in Surrey Heath or Witney.

This requirement to balance representation in the House, and not merely across all seats, requires central direction – particularly because, dare I say it, many CLPs in Labour’s heartland areas are far more traditional in their attitudes to candidate selection than are other seats.

As for Mr Brady’s bizzare conspiracy theory that there is some connection to Harriet Harman – I mean, come on! I’ll admit to not being the biggest fan of our deputy leader, but this stereotype of Harriet Harman as the great devil of aggressive gender equality is both wrong and uncomradely.

For all this, I hope that Airdrie and Shotts find a candidate they are genuinely happy with. However, they shouldn’t rule out candidates before the selections have even begun, and they should embrace our drive for greater equality in Parliament.


Rab C Nesbitt and the “big la dee da Tory bastard”

March 15, 2009

I am pretty sure that the long-running TV sitcom Rab C Nesbitt is a brilliantly witty comic creation full of bittersweet social satire and dark, disturbing humour. I cannot be 100% certain of its brilliance because I cannot understand everything that is said on it. The inclusion of subtitles would perhaps be useful, but part of the fun of watching Rab C Nesbitt is trying to work out what the “sensitive big bastard” from Govan is saying.

Here’s an episode from 1999. The Labour government has introduced a national minimum wage and in Parliament Tony Welthorpe MP – a “big la dee da Tory bastard” – is complaining that the proles have it easy enough already. He is challenged to see what it is like to depend on state benefits and so agrees to temporarily swap lives with someone who “embodies the noble virtues of the glorious working class”. The cheeky MP for Govan decides that our favourite street philosopher from south Glasgow is the appropriate candidate and hilarity ensues.

My new favourite similie

March 13, 2009

From the comments on John Park’s LabourList article about Scotland:

My grandfather will be spinning in his grave faster than that the molecules in that ring thing in Europe.

God bless you, Jamie Poulson.

Gordon Broon

February 19, 2009

Jings! Crivvens! Help ma boab! The opinion polls are no’ lookin’ awfy happy for him ye ken, but at least Gordon Broon is still assured of decent press coverage somewhere.

Gordon Broon 1

I ate a delicious vegetarian haggis last night which reminded me that my agents north of the border recently sent down these cuttings from The Sunday Post and that I intended to share them far and wide.

Even with the economic crisis, the war in Afghanistan, and a resurgent Conservative Party, our Prime Minister still found time in his busy schedule to feature in the Broons’ Burns Night special.

I find it incredible that the mad genius who is responsible for writing the Broons’ storylines has taken so long to include Gordo as a character. But it is hard to keep up with Broons and Oor Wullie happenings when these comic strips are inexplicably unpopular down south, so maybe it has happened before and escaped my attention?

Those cowards at The Sunday Post obviously did not want to be seen as overly partisan (oh for the good ol’days when Labour could at least always reply upon having the majority support of Scottish voters) and so they’ve included Alex Salmond in the strip.


Apologies for fuzzy image. And for those not in the know, 10 Gleebe Street is where the Broons live.

Apologies for fuzzy image. And for those not in the know, 10 Gleebe Street is where the Broons live.

I feel that the plot’s plausibility has been sacrificed in exchange for political prudence. The theme of this Broons strip is a family gettogether to mark Burn’s Night – hence why nephew Gordo has been invited. So what is that Salmond eejit doing there?

Ach, michty me! It’s makin’ a nonsense of the whole thing!

Captain Jako