Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Leading the way

Labour will now have had 5 leaders in Scotland since devolving power to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 – Donald Dewar (died in office as First Minister) Henry McLeish (resigned from office as First Minister) Jack McConnell (resigned after losing election to be First Minister in 2007) Wendy Alexander (resigned after standards committee decided to suspend her for a day) and one of either Andy Kerr, Cathy Jamieson or Iain Gray (to be decided).

Both Jack and Wendy were elected unopposed as leader of the party. But, if you remember, after the sad death of Donald Dewar in 2000, Henry McLeish defeated Jack McConnell in a
Labour leadership contest in Scotland by 44 votes to 36 – and became First Minister. But that contest was only voted for by the party’s MSPs and members of their Scottish Executive committee.

The reason for this? As the position of First Minister had been vacated by the untimely death of Donald Dewar, the party only had
28 days to nominate someone to take over as First Minister. Failing that, a new Scottish General Election would have taken place. Thus, the Labour party’s long and complicated (and, dare I say, ridiculous) electoral college voting system had to be curtailed in order to comply with the Scotland Act.

If this system of electing a leader is good enough for the party to fill the position of First Minister of Scotland, then, surely, it is good enough to select a leader for their MSPs?

Just a thought. Of course, we all know how that ended...


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