07 December 2008

The East Lothian Timebomb

As the Labour NEC begins its deliberations in East Lothian, Iain Gray has set a deadline of Christmas for the inquiry to be completed.

But the question not yet posed is, "And then what?"

What will Iain Gray do if it's not sorted by then?

What can he do?

What sort of chump will he look like if the NEC is still woking on this in the New Year?

By speaking up in this specific way, he's made himself a hostage to events. The words he was looking for were not "before Christmas". The words he needed to use were "as soon as possible". ASAP is a brilliant phrase: it conveys urgency, but doesn't commit you to it. ASAP could mean this very instant, or it could mean Easter. It would have been the right phrase to use, and instead, Gray nailed himself to a timetable for events over which he has very little control. It's a big gamble that could prove costly, especially as the two sides are so entrenched: with Moffat's supporters branding their rivals sexists and calling for expulsions, while her detractors have claimed that she's "unelectable" and are threatening to field an independent candidate if explusions take place.

East Lothian Labour is standoff country, and it might not be as easy as Iain Gray clearly thinks it is to get it resolved before Christmas.

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