With less than a week to go to the close of voting in the Scottish Labour Party leader and deputy leader elections arch-Blairite MP and candidate for leader Tom Harris has conceded defeat.
Given that he did not have the support of a single MSP, and the support of only one Constituency Labour Party (his own), Harris’s bid for the leader’s position was doomed from the outset.
But in conceding defeat Harris has provided a timely reminder of the elitist, patronising and divorced-from-reality nature of the New Labour project.
According to Harris, Party members in Scotland are simply too backward to appreciate the virtues of Blairism:
“There persists a myth — and it is a myth — that Scottish Labour rejected Blairism because we were too socialist. Wrong: Scottish Labour rejected Blairism and New Labour because we were too conservative.”
Change will therefore have to be forced upon the swinish multitude of the party membership:
“The kind of change the party needs is not the easy or comfortable kind. If our new leader implements change with which members are comfortable, then it’s either not enough of a change, or it’s the wrong kind of change.”
Trade union involvement in Labour Party leadership contests should be scrapped: “We need to prevent members of affiliated trade unions — many of whom vote for our political opponents — having a say in the election of our leader.”
Labour should also ditch old-fashioned ideas about a class society:
“And we need to shake off our attachment to out-dated class divisions, just as the vast majority of the Scottish public have done [!] and look at policy solutions with a fresh perspective ... which transcends outmoded ideas of ‘left’ and ‘right’.”
Instead of being seen as “the party that’s just a bit suspicious of aspiration and of the desire to be better off,” Labour should “once more become the party of aspiration.”
In conceding defeat in such vitriolic terms Harris was effectively giving a nod and a wink, albeit late in the day, to the scattered handfuls of his supporters to support Ken Macintosh for leader.
Macintosh is a Blairite as well, but one less vocal about it than is Harris. In fact, the only weighty argument in support of a vote for Joanne Lamont in the leadership contest is that a victory for her would be a defeat for Macintosh.
Harris should not be surprised by the demise of his election campaign.
He had no support from one third of the electorate (MSPs), dismissed another third as out-of-touch fuddy-duddys (the party’s individual membership), and told the final third that they should not even have the right to vote (affiliated trade unions).
And yet he is the self-proclaimed Blairite strategic genius who claims that he, and only he, would guide Labour to power in Scotland!