Tuesday, 16 February 2010

One in Four Labour MPs to Quit

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the fact that 10 Scottish Labour MPs will not be standing at the next election (approximately 1 in 4).  At a UK level that figure is 88 of the 346 current Labour MPs (which is also, 1 in 4).

Which, in fairness, makes sense.  Labour have held power for 13 years.  Before that, they were in opposition for 18 years.  Some of the Labour MPs have experience of politics stretching back to the early 80s, some even longer.  Labour lost successive elections in 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1992, with many MPs spending several long years on the opposition benches.  So it makes sense then, particularly among those who remember that experience well, to step down at an election that Labour are not expected to win rather than sit on the opposition benches again.  It makes sense in the respect that - for most of them - their careers are behind them, their time in Parliament has seen them hold ministerial office and the chance of doing so again is slim.

Which is why Jeff's post yesterday makes quite a lot of sense.  Jim Murphy is a young(ish) guy.  He's had ministerial experience in Europe before re-invigorating the post that Labour didn't really want (Scottish Secretary) before the SNP went and spoiled their plans by winning power at Holyrood.  He's facing a big challenge in East Renfrewshire from the Tories (which I think he'll hold on to, though I do see Jeff's point).  I guess my point really is, what does the guy stand to gain from winning? 4-5 (9-10?) years of being an opposition MP, no ministerial pay off, no high profile, no minions in Holyrood to boss around...  It'd make far more sense for him to get into the Scottish Parliament - where Labour need better leadership, more heavyweight politicians and experience, and where they have an opportunity of returning to power much sooner.

But something I cannot fathom at all is the attitude of Margaret Curran, Cathy Jamieson and (potentially) Jackie Baillie.  Why shift from a seat that you've held since the parliament was instituted - where in one year you could potentially be promoted to a Cabinet-level post - to one in which you are likely to be the opposition party for a number of years?  Talk about lacking in political judgement!  Sure, its an opportunity for Labour to maintain gender balance, to get women in to replace retiring male MPs.  But in terms of their careers, I fail to see the logic in it.  Okay, they get a pay bump (from the 56 grand MSPs make to what, 64 grand as a MP?) but its not like the job is any better - and the commute is certainly worse.

88 Labour MPs have already seen the writing on the wall.  Why haven't this trio of Labour MSPs?  Mind you, I guess when you resort to using blog posts from an SNP supporter as "evidence" that the SNP want to defend even the worst offenders from prison time then your political judgement has already gone.


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