PERHAPS when Labour’s new Scottish leader is announced next Saturday he may consider adding a small chore to the list of matters requiring urgent attention. Thus someone may be dispatched to persuade Gordon Brown to tone down some of his grand testimonies. This week’s big arbitrament by the former Prime Minister coincided with the publication of his new book and featured another in his series: “If only they had listened”.

Mr Brown claimed he wanted a third option on the referendum ballot which he insisted would have destroyed the independence campaign. He further claimed a majority of Scots would have favoured this “devo-max” arrangement yet no shred of evidence exists to bear this out. He also neglects to mention this was close to Alex Salmond’s initial negotiating position on what was to be offered in 2014. Presumably, Mr Salmond didn’t think this would have destroyed the cause of independence.

Mr Brown was on much firmer ground when he spoke of seeking a separate Scottish Labour pro-UK campaign during the independence referendum. He feared that if they fought the campaign on a cross-party basis they would be regarded as “an appendage to a Tory Government”. It’s easy to say Mr Brown is now being wise years after the event but there is credence to his claims. His protégé, Douglas Alexander, consistently argued against independence from a universalist perspective; one that appealed to the Left’s traditional suspicion of all forms of Nationalism and which hallowed our shared values with the working class people of England’s big northern cities.

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There was a solid left-wing case to be made for remaining in the Union which was fundamentally different from the reasons why the Conservative hard Right wanted to preserve it. Foolishly though, Labour in Scotland chose to reject this way and instead wrapped itself tightly in the Union flag. It has since been strangled by it.

The current leadership contest between Richard Leonard and Anas Sarwar is the most important of the several in recent years which have preceded it. Depending on which candidate the party elects, Scottish Labour may yet survive to figure prominently in Scottish public life once more or continue its decade-long downward trajectory into oblivion. The contest has been portrayed as a bitter one between the Corbynite Trade Unionist Mr Leonard and the anti-Corbyn centrist Mr Sarwar. This, though, is an exaggeration mainly propounded by the large team Mr Sarwar has been able to attract to his payroll. It is a response to a series of revelations early in the campaign that painted Mr Sarwar as an affluent dilettante and careerist whose personal arrangements didn’t match the traditional values of the Labour Party.

The most damaging of these was his children’s attendance at one of Scotland’s most expensive fee-paying schools. This is by no means a hanging offence but if you are running for the leadership of a party whose primary purpose is to fight unearned privilege on the side of those who suffer because of it then there is a reasonable expectation you might want first to divest yourself of any traces of it. Mr Sarwar also holds a multi-million pound stake in his family’s firm and nor is that a reason to bring out les tricoteuses. When you learn, though, that said multi-million pound cash and carry enterprise does not pay its lowest-paid workers the national Living Wage, a picture begins to form. A person seeking to lead Labour in Scotland ought to be willing to make sacrifices for the party. Mr Sarwar, it seems, wants the party to make sacrifices for him.

There is also the question of Mr Sarwar’s opposition to Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election as leader of the UK Labour Party. His team have tried to diminish this but there are still traces of bitterness within the Holyrood Labour party over a letter instigated by him and the party’s Business Manager, James Kelly which attempted to strong-arm MSPs into opposing Mr Corbyn. This was something more than merely backing the wrong horse. Kezia Dugdale’s untimely resignation precipitated this contest and some of what happened in the immediate aftermath was distasteful. Ms Dugdale’s Communications Chief was immediately signed up by Mr Sarwar and soon after Mr Kelly signalled his support for his leadership bid. Both held key positions in the Holyrood party and would reasonably have been expected to have maintained neutrality for a period while trying to guide the party through a chaotic few weeks. The party should have come first, gents.

Mr Sarwar has been an effective shadow health minister for Labour at Holyrood and few can seriously question his commitment to the party. A feeling persists though that he is part of a delusional cadre of senior and influential figures within the party who seem to reserve their deepest political loathing for the SNP rather than the Tories. In this they are utterly detached from the instincts of its rank and file.

Mr Leonard started his leadership campaign slowly and uncertainly but has grown into it. He is a solid trade unionist who has been consistent in his support for the utilitarian socialism of Mr Corbyn which has propelled UK Labour to the edge of power. It has achieved this by eloquently articulating the sense of quiet outrage sweeping across the country not merely because of inequality but because of a Hard Right Westminster administration which seems to glory in it.

Mr Leonard’s proposals draw deeply from the “for the many not the few” philosophy which has underpinned Labour’s UK revival. He wants a new Rent Restrictions Act to limit the powers of landlords and the introduction of new minimum quality housing standards. He also supports a wealth tax which Mr Sarwar’s team have tried to discredit by insisting it can’t be done under devolved powers. His support for a £5-a-week top-up to child benefit which would lift 30,000 children out of poverty is the most eye-catching of his proposals.

Under Mr Leonard’s leadership, Labour in Scotland can be convincing once more.