you're reading...
Holyrood. Scotland. Scottish Parliament election. celebrity endorsement., politics. Iain Gray

Tommy Sheridan to the Sun – is anyone NOT backing the SNP?

   From imprisoned Trotskyite, Tommy Sheridan, to the Sun newspaper.  From bisexual hollywood star, Alan Cumming, to David Murray of Rangers Football Club.   The  Alex Salmond supporters club continues to throw up ever more bizarre alliances.    None of it means anything of course since celebrity endorsements can be counterproductive.  They antagonise as many people as they energise – unless you are Sir Sean Connery, of course, who is more national monument than celebrity.  

    What does mean something is momentum, impetus, drive – that sense of being in command of events which is Alex Salmond’s stock in trade.  No one wants to be linked right now to the Labour leader Iain Gray – who attempted to relaunch his faltering campaign yesterday – because he just doesn’t have it.    It’s not even clear that many Labour politicians want to be associated with Mr Gray right now, following reports that prominent frontbenchers like Andy Kerr and Jackie Baillie are fighting for their seats in the face of the SNP’s astonishing opinion poll advance.  

  For his part, the UK Labour leader, Ed Miliband, seems to have decided not to poke his nose into the campaign – if you’ll excuse the pun.  The former Chancellor, Alastair Darling,  was sighted a couple of weeks ago, but there have been remarkably few high profile Labour poiticians on the stump. Apart from Gordon Brown – and that is one celebrity endorsement that Iain Gray could have done without right now.  Westminster Labour figures, like Ian Davidson,  Douglas Alexander et al,  appear to have been called on to take a low profiile in the Holyrood campaign so far for reasons that are not obvious. 

    There have been consistent complaints from Labour MPs that they have either not been asked or have been positively discouraged from taking part in the great battle against the Nats.  Now, presumably this is because Iain Gray is wanting to show that he is his own man, leading a distinctly Scottish Labour Party, and that the days when Scottish leaders took instruction from “London Labour” are gone.  Certainly, the Scottish Labour manifesto is not one that you could have imagined any UK leader of recent times endorsing, with its rejection of university tuition fees and its promise to create a quarter of a million jobs.    But it seems odd that, when the main plank of Labour’s Scottish campaign is that “The Tories are back”, and that only Labour can stop the Condem cuts, that the MPs on Labour’s Westminster front line have not been prominent in the campaign. 

    Of course, things have deteriorated so far in the Scottish Labour campaign that Iain Gray is now attacked almost whatever he does.  If he called for a raft of Labour MPs to come and help, he would be accused of making a desperate and undignified bid to get Westminster to save him from Salmond. If he hadn’t tried to raise the stakes on independence this week in his “relaunch” speech – which he was going to make anyway – he’d have been accused of ignoring Alex Salmond’s number one policy weakness.  

   One long-standing but alienated former Labour activist put it to me yesterday that he was beginning to feel really sorry for Iain Gray.  Perhaps that’s the way forward.  A celebrity campaign of sympathy endorsements along the lines of “I’m not voting Labour, but I do feel sorry for Iain”.  Come on people.  It’s time to Save the Gray

About @iainmacwhirter

I'm a columnist for the Herald. Author of "Road to Referendum" and "Disunited Kingdom". Was a BBC TV and radio presenter for 25 years - "Westminster Live" and "Holyrood Live" mainly. Spent time as columnist for The Observer, Guardian, New Statesman. Former Rector of Edinburgh University. Live in Edinburgh and spend a lot of time in the French Pyrenees. Will that do?


14 thoughts on “Tommy Sheridan to the Sun – is anyone NOT backing the SNP?

  1. "Save the Gray". I suspect that was written with tongue firmly in cheek. However – you save Gray, I will continue to save my Grandson's future by, once again, voting SNP – twice!

    Posted by Brianm | April 26, 2011, 9:17 am
  2. "None of it means anything of course since celebrity endorsements can be counterproductive."Did anyone else hear that whispered 'at least I hope so…'

    Posted by Vronsky | April 26, 2011, 9:20 am
  3. Iain, in one paragraph you call Iain Gray the Labour Leader and in another you call Ed Milliband the Labour Leader. You also mention the non-existent, "Scottish Labour Party", of which Iain Gray isn't the leader. You still cling to the false belief that there is a Scottish Labour Party and that Iain Gray has authority in the Labour party outside Holyrood. Iain Gray has discovered, as Wendy Alexander did before him, that the group leader of the Scottish Labour MSP's has no standing in Labour without the office of First Minister to use as a source of authority.The problem for Labour in Scotland's campaign is that Labour in Scotland has no distinct Scottish leader and since nobody with authority from higher up in the Labour party hierarchy in Scotland has taken charge of the campaign it is effectively rudderless. Iain Gray has no authority over Alasdair Darling or Gordon Brown or Iain Davidson or Douglas Alexander or in fact any Scottish based Labour MP. Senior Labour figures have tried to present Iain Gray as the fictional Scottish Labour Leader to the media by staying out of the running of the campaign with the consequence that Iain Gray now dangles in the wind as he tries to run a campaign with no authority in the party.

    Posted by DougtheDug | April 26, 2011, 9:54 am
  4. C'mon Iain, as the shrewd and experienced commentator you are, the one fly in your porridge is your allegiance to the Union.Why you maintain that allegiance is beyond my comprehension when its compared with your critical analysis of the political scene in general and, in particular, under the auspices of Westminster.Westminster treats your country with a hubris that goes beyond contempt; a fractious minority best ignored or added as a ju to a dysfunctional foul tasting stew. How can you support that?

    Posted by Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers | April 26, 2011, 12:15 pm
  5. "Tommy Sheridan to the Sun – is anyone NOT backing the SNP?"lol, well you're not Iain.I fear you're at it again though, this time trying to build a fresh narrative i.e that the nationalists are complacent and unassailable against the plucky wee Labourite underdogs.The reality couldn't be more different of course but you can't blame a chap for trying.Fact is though it's Labour and it's tame media who have form on complacency and taking Scots for granted.The SNP are very nervous indeed as we know what both are capable of in the good times let alone when they appear cornered.

    Posted by GrassyKnollington | April 26, 2011, 12:38 pm
  6. Does having Northern Ireland Labour party members being flown over on Ryanair and being put up in hotels count as paid-in-kind endorsements?

    Posted by Mark MacLachlan | April 26, 2011, 1:35 pm
  7. Mr McW you wrote:""From bisexual hollywood star, Alan Cumming…""Is his sexuality of any relevance?NOSo why mention it?

    Posted by CWH | April 26, 2011, 3:19 pm
  8. OK Iain perhaps you could investigate what the scottish labour MPs have been doing to protect us from the condem cuts? they have been there for almost a year now, so there must be loads things that they have done to protect us. voting for a fuel regulator atleast.I do feel sorry for Iain gray but, i would feel sorry for the rest of Scotland (and myself) if he were to be First Minister.On a side note why is alan cummings sexuality relevant? is it because bisexual people dont vote snp?

    Posted by Megz | April 26, 2011, 3:57 pm
  9. Well i am certainly not voting for the snp(being a normal sort of a cove) only the leg biting feet gnawing minority of mad dog Nats will vote snp…And as for Endorsements here is one more suited to the snp“Our dog’s wellbeing is really important to us,so when we heard about Wonderdog we were keen to give it a try.As far as Buster is concerned it was love at first sight!He really enjoys his new food it certainly seems to have helped his digestion.All in all, it’s a big ‘paws’ up from Buster!”Clive Ozzard, pet owner

    Posted by Mr. Mxyzptlk | April 26, 2011, 6:09 pm
  10. "Is his sexuality of any relevance?NOSo why mention it?"I'd imagine to illustrate the breadth of the SNP's endorsements across all sections of the electorate, since that's the entire focus of the article. The gay community is by no means homogenous when it comes to voting, but Cumming is a reasonably prominent figure and in a week when Alex Salmond had voiced his support for gay marriage it's not insignificant to show backing from that area.In other news, can my fellow Nats PLEASE lay off with the obsessive paranoia? Iain is entitled to vote for who he likes and I believe in the past he's described himself as a "natural Labour voter" or something very similar, but I see no evidence of a conspiracy in his writings. So far as I can see his pieces draw entirely welcome attention onto Labour's dismal inadequacies.I've regularly seen similar comments directed at Gordon Brewer, who is the finest political interviewer in Britain today and deserves far much more respect. If someone doesn't appear onscreen in an SNP t-shirt singing "Alex Is My Darling" it doesn't *necessarily* mean they're trying to fill your head with Unionist lies.I mean, it does if they're Glenn Campbell, but sometimes people are just doing their job.

    Posted by RevStu | April 26, 2011, 6:19 pm
  11. CWH, yes its a minefield isn't it? You can't win.

    Posted by Jo G | April 26, 2011, 8:47 pm
  12. Doug, I have cringed throughout a long period as Gray laboured (pardon the pun) on but moreso in recent weeks. The big mistake, I think, and I feel sorry for him over this, is that since the election last year Labour seem to have been lifted by the return of the Tories to government. I think they took that as a sign that Scotland would follow on from there and they would win our own election out of the park. I don't know who dreamt up that idea but it was a bad one. I have not agreed with everything the SNP government have done. I would say however that the big difference in these two Parties starts with the level of unity they have and the quality of the frontline team. I don't believe there aren't disagreements within the SNP camp but there is also a loyalty there to Salmond which I think many Labour Leaders (whether at Westminster or Holyrood) would probably kill for. Consider however the fueding of Blair's entire premiership between him and Brown and their respective supporters within one Party. Look at the damage done to that one Party. Look at what Labour did to McConnell last time around, remember? He was left at times campaigning alone while the ferrets fought in their sack over who would succeed him. Look what they did to Alexander. Paul Hutcheon at the Sunday Herald had a steady flow of dirt on Wendy from one of her inner circle. How terrifying is that? Salmond has encountered no such problems. He commands respect: he has a loyal team and he shows respect for them too. Salmond can stand relaxed with his team behind him. Gray would be anything but relaxed with his lot behind him unless he was wearing a suit of armour to stop the daggers piercing him. As for quality……well. Do I have to even make comparisons? If Labour do dump Gray, where then?

    Posted by Jo G | April 26, 2011, 9:01 pm
  13. The Tories will continue to be an irrelevance until the Poll Tax generation are dead and gone.The LibDems have committed political suicide by jumping into bed with the Tories.'Scottish' Labour….. well… where do you start?Custodians of the mess the country is in, ineffective pipsqueak of a 'leader', devoid of ideas and (as usual) the most negative sounding bunch of all.Scots should not stand by an allow them to belittle this country and its people.I hope that the rumblings are true and the The Grey Man is cast asunder from East Lothian.Vote Labour in memory of your grandparents.Vote SNP in favour of your grandchildren.The SNP is a Scottish party that is dedicated to Scotland and Scotland alone. They do not look over their shoulder to their London-based masters, they look only to the people of Scotland.At every opportunity, Alex Salmond is positive and passionate about this country.

    Posted by Mr McFulminate | April 26, 2011, 9:16 pm
  14. Mark MacLachlan said… "Does having Northern Ireland Labour party members being flown over on Ryanair and being put up in hotels count as paid-in-kind endorsements?"TBH Emulating Gadaffi's mercenary hiring tactics is probably the first bit of real-time reponsive initiative Gray has shown. It is not a good bit of initiative, but none-the-less surprising for all that.

    Posted by chicmac | April 26, 2011, 9:20 pm

Twitter Updates

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 56,996 other followers

Follow Iain Macwhirter on WordPress.com



%d bloggers like this: