29 January 2010

John McFall to stand down

The title is self-explanatory, the Chair of the Commons Treasury Select Committee, and MP for West Dunbartonshire has announced that he does not intend to seek re-election. And with the time remaining before the dissolution of Parliament now best measured in weeks, there is precious little time for his party to find a prospective successor.

Matters are complicated by West Dunbartonshire Labour's penchant for self-destruction, highlighted best by the Council group's implosion roughly this time three years ago, and rumours of various rows and even allegations of bullying and harassment being bandied about in the press on slow news days. In short, this is not an ideal place to start talking about AWS, under the circumstances.

However, the person best placed to step into a breach for Labour is a woman so an AWS may not be necessary in any case: with the Council group vulnerable to splits (though those Councillors most disenchanted with their colleagues split in 2007 and opted to co-operate with their former rivals in the SNP instead), Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, is surely in a strong position: with time running out, it's probably either her or Des McNulty, MSP for Clydebank & Milngavie.

The problem is that both are members of the Shadow Cabinet: Baillie speaks on Health issues and McNulty on Education, and Iain Gray has already lost two Shadow Cabinet members to Westminster campaigns - Margaret Curran and Cathy Jamieson. To lose a third would be disastrous for him and for his credibility, but that may at this stage be a necessary evil for Labour, particularly as Curran and Jamieson have set the trend. It would, however, dig Labour at Westminster out of a hole and might be very tempting for Baillie, who is vulnerable to a mere 3% swing at Holyrood.

It is, of course, too early to tell what may happen, but with so little time left for things to pan out naturally as they might do had McFall announced his decision, say, two years ago, don't be too surprised if Jackie Baillie ends up on the list of prospective dual mandate parliamentarians this Spring.

4 comments:

Debate is Free said...

My actual first thought was that Jackie Baillie would step in. Aside from McNulty who have they got really?

Though you have to ponder why save it until now to announce you are standing down. The retirement excuse doesn't really hold water. If that was the case why not declare it 2 years ago or even a year ago. Who has annoyed McFall so much he wants to leave just weeks before a General election?

Anonymous said...

Another privately educated labour candidate.......

bigrab said...

It has been known in West Dunbartonshire for at least two years that McFall would not be standing.

Boghead Bobby said...

Why is the town spelt with an "m" and the county with an "n"?

More importantly, how will the global economy survive without the intellectual titan McFaul to scrutinise it?