18 November 2006

Wendy Alexander

The Herald claim an exclusive today, with the appointment of Wendy Alexander at Convener of the Finance Committee, replacing Des McNulty who has re-joined the Junior Ministerial team. On the one hand, Labour have one of their few real heavyweights at Holyrood in a sufficiently prominent position to assist with the attack on the SNP from now until May, something which Alexander will have no qualms about doing. On the other hand, Alexander is not Jack McConnell's most natural friend, and this position also gives her the power to criticise the Executive: although the Coalition has a majority on each of the Committees, they do not always give Ministers an easy ride, so Tom McCabe and George Lyon will now face one of Holyrood's smartest members in the chair. For me, the question is: does Alexander want to return to the frontbenches? If so, the next question is: does she sense, and want to take, the opportunity that she missed in November 2001, and pitch for the Labour Leadership? If the answer is yes, she'll probably show goodwill to McConnell for now and and concentrate her fire on the Opposition. If the answer is no, then she has nothing to lose (except, of course, her seat, which is reasonably safe), allowing her to pick the Executive's financial plans to pieces and make the First Minister's life a living hell from now until the Election. Well, she could do, but she won't. Finance is an important Committee to have the Convenership of. Labour have had it since 1999, and they always have people they trust in charge of it. She'll toe the line.

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