07 January 2007

Labour in trouble

The Sunday Herald reports that a Labour MP - it doesn't name them - is on the verge of switching to the SNP. This would, if the report is accurate, be the first defection of any Labour MP to the SNP since Dick Douglas switched over the Poll Tax, and with less than four months to go until the Holyrood election, would be a PR disaster for Labour.

This is not a good campaign for McConnell: Labour are behind in the polls, his attempts to talk about devolved issues (and to give him credit, he is trying to do that, even if the nub of his speeches are to say what a mess he thinks the SNP would make of them) are being swamped by Westminster MPs talking about how awful independence would be. This then blunts McConnell's attempts to paint Alex Salmond as a negative campaigner, when all we hear from the Labour Party is 'Salmond bad'.

But what was interesting was what he said to Labour candidates in Edinburgh: "The prize will be worth it. On May 4th, to have bucked every international trend for a mid-term election..."

Mid-term?! This is the end of Jack McConnell's first full term, the end of the Executive's second term in office. This is only a mid-term if you consider Westminster as the be all and end all of politics. That little phrase might just provide the SNP, and Jack McConnell's critics within Labour (as well as some of the more small-n nationalist members of the Party) with a stick with which to beat the First Minister.

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