Is Kezia Dugdale’s resignation as Scottish Labour leader a win for the Corbynites?
Olivia Utley, news and features editor at Reaction, says YES.
Slowly but surely, the Corbynites are tightening their grip on the Labour party. Kezia Dugdale, who supported Owen Smith in last year’s leadership challenge, insists that she was not concerned about being pushed out by Corbynites – and her reasons for going may well have been predominantly personal. Yet her resignation provides a great opportunity for the Corbyn wing of the party to replace a critic with an ally. And they are seizing it.
One of the strongest contenders for the leadership is the socialist trade unionist Richard Leonard, who would immediately move the party in Scotland to the left, while another, Anas Sarwar, held a Corbyn rally last week. I
t is said that the Labour party beyond the border has not jumped on the Corbyn bandwagon, but in the current circumstances, that may not be a problem for the party’s far left. With Sturgeon’s SNP disintegrating, the evangelical Corbynistas will soon be able to tap into a pool of hardcore socialists who are fed up with the current leadership. Good luck Blairites – winter is coming.
Denis MacShane, former Labour MP and minister of Europe, says NO.
Kezia Dugdale has made an honest, human decision to stand down from the thankless task of leading Labour in the tartan snake-pit of Scottish politics – the most tribal, personalised, venomous politics anywhere in Europe. She pulled her party back from the wipeout by the SNP in 2015, winning seven seats for Labour in June.
She has a brilliant number two: Anas Sarwar, who was spotted as a rising MP when elected for Glasgow Central in 2010. He segued into the Scottish parliament after losing his Commons seat in 2015. His father was also a popular Labour MP. Sarwar is liked on the left and the right, and has been networking in Scottish Labour politics since wearing long trousers.
There is much chatter about a Corbynista takeover but so far it has yet to happen. Labour MPs only survive if they know how to keep local party activists happy. There is no commanding hard left-winger in Scotland, and the timing of Dugdale’s departure may prevent one appearing.