23 November 2008

Hell hath no fury like Anne Moffat scorned

Anne Moffat has lobbed a hand grenade into proceedings: in an interview with the Sunday Herald, she complains about East Lothian MSP (and Leader of the Labour Group in the Scottish Parliament) Iain Gray, alleging that he's chosen to make friends with 'bullies'. She's particularly scathing about his presence at a meeting which called for her to face an open vote of party members for re-selection:

I left on the basis that it was the right thing to do. I heard afterwards that he had stayed it would be nice, you know, for everybody to rally round, and things like that, but it's not always possible in politics. And he's made friends with some of the people that are not particularly friendly towards me.

Not good. Indeed, the whole situation is a shambles: the Labour NEC has suspended the local party for acting unconstitionally (on the open vote, it would seem). On her initial trigger ballot, which she won with Union help, then Scottish Labour General Secretary Lesley Quinn uncovered 'irregularites', but the NEC were content for the re-selection to stand - suggesting that rule enforcement on the NEC is both selective and subjective, and further confirming my hunch that despite Moffat's obvious lack of friends in East Lothian, she has a few that count at Labour HQ. Further, last year, the local party sent a complaint to the Standards Commissioner, alleging that she had misused her Parliamentary expenses, while she's now attacking her local colleagues as 'bullies'.

This can't end well. Firstly, it puts the local MP and MSP on a collision course: how can they work together under these circumstances (The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the part of Moffat's seat that isn't represented by Gray at Holyrood is represented by the SNP's Kenny MacAskill)? But more importantly, Moffat has fallen out with the key ranking figures of her local party - the people whose help she needs at election time! The split that is now very, very visible will fundamentally damage the local party's credibility, perhaps to the point where someone else is elected. Which will really hit Iain Gray where it hurts.

Secondly, it puts Iain Gray on a collision course with the Moffat-friendly NEC. Now, I'm all for differences emerging between Scottish Labour and the UK hierarchy on policy matters (indeed, that doesn't happen nearly enough) but this row has the potential to consume Gray - and he absolutely does not want to be on the losing side. He has, to an extent, been sidelined as the voice of Labour in Scotland by Jim Murphy, and siding with people who the Labour NEC has sided against will damage his credibility with London. So if he goes through a lean patch at Holyrood, that means he has no support to fall back on, as Wendy Alexander did until her infamous "Bring it on" moment.

Not that Anne Moffat gives a shit about this. Firstly, he's sided with her enemies, so he'll be fair game for her now. And in any case, she's not the most devolution-friendly of MPs, oh no. Yo wouldn't expect a woman who responded to the formation of the SNP Government with the line, "proportional representation gave Germany Adolf Hitler and in Scotland to a lesser degree we've had the member for Banff and Buchan". And she was one of the first people to propose the transfer of powers back to Westminster over planning.

You'd have thought she'd have toned things down, or even glossed over matters where Iain Gray was concerned: whatever she thinks of Holyrood, he is her Party's Leader in that Chamber. Instead she's gone for him.

He'll recover: he's clearly got the right friends at the local level and Moffat is proving herself to be a loose cannon, so he can move on. But she may re-visit this, and she appears to have the NEC on her side.

But what she doesn't realise is that the people who actually got her to Parliament (as opposed to the people who got her the selection) clearly have no confidence in her and the relationship that she has with them has been irrevocably soured. If she's not got the trust of those people, how can she represent East Lothian effectively?

For the sake of her Party and constituency, she should go. But she won't. Not without a fight.

A fight which everyone in East Lothian Labour will lose.

1 comment:

Chris said...

The East Lothian Question

East Lothian MP Anne Moffat claims she is a hard working local MP, who has been beaten up and robbed by 'scum', received death threats, had her flat covered in grafitti, and had a case of whisky stolen from her constituency office. She also claims she is a victim of the 'nasty hard men' in her local Labour Party who can't stand a 'strong woman'.

Why do East Lothian Constituency Labour Party - the largest in Scotland - not want as their MP the person who had the poorest attendence record of any Scots MP at Westminster, who claimed the highest travel expenses of any MP in the UK, and who compared Alex Salmond to Adolf Hitler?

Scottish Labour general secretary Lesley Quinn found anomolies with Moffat's reselection against the wishes of local members relying on the casting votes of trades unions. She also ruled that Moffat had failed to respond to her own constituency officials. So, why was East Lothian Constituency Labour Party suspended by the NEC in London for attempting to hold an open and democratic selection process? And why has London appointed the partner of one of Moffat's close friends to pass judgement on the affair?

Why do female members of local Labour Party members deny that Moffat has been bullied by men and claim she is 'a bully, rude to constituents, and bad at her job. She thinks that if she flings enough dirt at the Party, people won't look too closely at her.' and 'Feminism is let down by poor women who cry 'bullying' when their shortcomings are exposed.'

Is it true that Moffat's refusal to oppose post office closures in East Lothian in August 2008 was rewarded with a government appointment as PPS to Health Minister Alan Johnston in October?

Why did Moffat move out of the Tranent offices which she shared with Iain Gray MSP, leader of the Labour group in the Scottish Parlaiment, later stating that Gray 'made friends with some of the people that are not particularly friendly towards me.'? When Moffat claimed she was beaten up and robbed, why did she state 'I suppose those that have been nasty towards me politically could have said 'duff her up' or something like that.'

And why has a senior member of ELCLP stated: 'At the next Scottish parliament election Iain could lose the seat because his base would be gone. He wouldn't have the backing of the main people within the constituency, because we would be out of the party. His credibility would also fall, because people would look at what was happening in his own party and start asking questions.

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