Anas Sarwar was elected Scottish Labour leader at the end of February. Within a fortnight he had ousted Hollie Cameron as the Labour candidate for Glasgow Kelvin constituency and appointed Kate Watson as a campaign manager for the Holyrood election in May.
In an interview with the pro-SNP (and indie-fundamentalist) National newspaper Cameron had said that if the people of Scotland wanted a second referendum, then they should have one.
That referendum might take place during the next five years, she continued, as the need to ‘rebuild Scotland’ after the Covid-19 pandemic did not preclude the holding of a referendum. But this, she said, was a personal opinion and would not figure in her election campaign.
This was no different from what she had said when seeking selection as the Kelvin constituency candidate.
It was also no different from what she had said when seeking a place as a regional list candidate – including in online hustings in which Sarwar himself had also participated.
But Cameron was promptly summoned to a meeting of a sub-committee of the party’s Scottish Executive Committee and deselected on the basis of “doubts” about her willingness to follow the party whip (even though there was absolutely no chance of her being elected anyway).
A new candidate was then imposed, with the Kelvin Constituency Labour Party being given no say in who it should be. With unconscious irony Sarwar said that “we do not have the luxury of our party pulling apart at this time.” But his action has done just that.
Cameron is not particularly left-wing. But she belongs to a generation of young activists politicised by the 2014 independence referendum – in which she voted ‘Yes’ – and has the potential to reach out to that generation.
But Sarwar has no political strategy – other than #SNPbad – to reach out to ex-Labour voters who switched to the SNP after 2014, nor to younger SNP voters who have never voted Labour. Cameron’s deselection epitomises that political failure.
So too does the appointment of Kate Watson as a campaign manager for the Holyrood election.
Watson was Director of Operations for ‘Better Together’ in the 2014 referendum.‘Better Together’ was such an abject failure that support for ‘Yes’ increased during the campaign from less than 25% to 45%. As an act of Labour-Tory class collaboration, ‘Better Together’ also virtually destroyed Scottish Labour.
Despite not having been seen in the constituency or at a Constituency Labour Party meeting since 2015, Watson’s friends on the Scottish Labour Executive Committee appointed her as the Glasgow East Labour candidate in the 2017 general election.
She lost by less than a hundred votes. She stood again in 2019 – and lost by over 5,500 votes. Despite that record, she is now in charge of Scottish Labour’s Holyrood campaign!
Watson is also a Specialist Reserve Officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, responsible for cyberspace warfare against anyone the British state declares to be an enemy, and holder of a Masters Degree in Terrorism Studies from St Andrews University, where one of her lecturers would have been the infamous former undercover cop Bob Lambert.
No surprise, therefore, that at a recent meeting of her Constituency Labour Party Watson voted against a motion arguing that members of the British Army should not enjoy immunity from prosecution for war crimes, and that undercover cops should not enjoy immunity from prosecution for rape.
In 2019 Ian Murray – Labour’s sole MP in Scotland, although he nearly joined The Independent Group – denounced Scottish Labour as being “full of thugs and incompetents”. But now it looks like they’re running the party.