Labour in helpless self-harm over Blair money

One of the United Kingdom’s traditional two major political parties, adrift with no known destination, no passenger manifest [will the SNP be embarking in May], a rookie electoral navigator who’d rather be at the Bafta’s, lacking strategic direction and under a skipper with no visible compass – the Labour party has just failed to knock a pirate off its hull.

Tony Blair has shimmmied aboard, under the radar, and chucked £106k of booty on deck- to be distributed in kid’s party goody bags of £1k around the party’s 106 target seats across the UK.
This is fly-paper money. Touch it and you’ve had it. This is the political reality, whether Labour like it or not.
This may seem like a minor matter – what’s £1k going to do for a campaign for a seat after all? Sugar the coffees to revive the doorsteppers.

But this is not a minor matter for a very substantial number of voters, many of whom are doubly implacable in their recoil from Blair because they themselves were late to see him for the charlatan he was – is.

Anyone with any political nous knows that you listen to those whose votes you want – and you do what it takes to kill off nuisance issues at once. Let them run and they’ll tangle your ankles before you can move somewhere else. And when those tangles slow you up, the opposition will have you in the stocks.

But instead of quietly asking Mr Blair to take his sticky pence away, instructions have gone out that candidates do not have the latitude to turn down the money. The party has accepted it and the candidates in the given seats will use it.

One of the three refuseniks is Lesley Brennan, fighting the SNP’s Deputy Party Leader, Stewart Hosie in Dundee East. She instinctively shrank from the sticky money and, with an uphill struggle to get on competing terms with Hosie, can do without any and all hostages to fortune.

She said she wasn’t taking it. But the clueless party stepped in to lame its own candidate by ordering her to shut up, take it and use it.

Where is there any strategic political intelligence in this? It is simple self-destruction. For what conceivable advantage?  There can only be damage.

5 of the 106 target seats getting the sticky money planted on them are in Scotland: Dundee East; East Dunbartonshire; Edinburgh West; Dumfriesshire; Clydesdale & Tweeddale; and – Argyll & Bute.

The Labour candidate for Argyll and Bute, Mary Galbraith, was reported yesterday as defiantly telling the Daily Mail: ‘We welcome the donation and will use it to campaign in Argyll and Buge to prevent another five years of Tory rule.’

At every hustings from now on, in every street encounter with SNP activists, the accusation howled at her will be: ‘You took the Blair shilling?’ And instead of having time to get across the message she wants voters to hear, she will have to spend her time defending this silly sally. Any attempt to brush the challenge aside will only lead to the raising of the decibels in repeating it. And for what?

This is not about the negligible worth of £1k in a General Election campaign. It is about little more than pig headedness and poor political judgment.

The public have distaste for this and Labour can afford no avoidable recoil.

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Related Articles & Comments

  • When you find yourself in a hole it’s advisable to stop digging; clearly this advice never made it to Labour HQ. Not content with headlining their election campaign with the oh-so-compelling ‘vote for us or the other guys get in!’, they now want to remind everyone how odious Tony Blair is.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 6

    db March 10, 2015 5:47 am Reply
    • The LibDems aren’t taking over Independence House in Helensburgh. Just tying the SNP to the toxic Dances they know will cut a few hundred from the SNP vote. Brendan O’Hara is proving to be a divisive candidate and members are drifting away. They don’t want the Dances to make thousands of pounds in cash from the SNP. Brendan O’Hara and his gang have blocked the formation of a new SNP branch in the Lomond North ward. It is falling apart for the SNP but they will still win if the Unionist vote splits evenly.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

      Isla March 11, 2015 10:45 am Reply
      • I won’t speak for the Dance couple but the idea that the branch has been blocked by supporters of Brendan O’Hara is lacking 1 significant element. The truth. As I understand it, there are a number of new branches being set up throughout Scotland by the SNP to take account if the near 100000 membership. The new branch has wholehearted support from the original branch to the extent that Helensburgh members are actively supporting the establishment of the said new branch. The main difficulty would appear to be administrative with the election in the way. But I wouldntbwant facts to affect anyone’s fantasies or paranoia.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

        Richard 2 March 11, 2015 11:21 am Reply
        • Is that the official SNP spin. From an anonymous source. Where is Brendan O’Hiding. O’Hara is a pal of Alex Salmond – job done!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

          Isla March 11, 2015 12:00 pm Reply
      • “It’s falling apart for the SNP”

        Aye,you wish!!!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

        Machmaolain March 11, 2015 7:05 pm Reply
  • Mary Galbraith has to come clean about her history with Blair/Brown government, it is not about the money but about the kind of candidate she is and how close she was to that discredited team who are as much to blame for the current state of Labour as Ed is.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 16

    John Semple March 10, 2015 7:15 am Reply
    • Why don’t you tell us what you know she’s like, John, rather than keep making these boring comments about her?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 5

      Lowry March 10, 2015 8:11 am Reply
    • John, I’m not quite sure what your faux smear campaign on Mary Galbraith’s reputation is trying to achieve.

      She is, quite rightly, proud of her record of public service. Just as Argyll and Bute Labour are proud to have a woman who values social justice; whose roots are deeply embedded in Kintyre; is a highly qualified economist of considerable national and international experience of the public and private sectors, standing as a candidate here.

      You are quite right in one sense, Mary Galbraith does have a record with the UK government – an honourable one. She served as a member of the Senior Salary Review Body (SSRB) for 6 years. Her selection and appointment were done by an independent body, working to the Nolan Principles, to ensure that merit was what qualified applicants for the role.

      She was the sole Scottish person on the SSRB at the time. This ensured that it maintained a pan-UK perspective. Initially the post was an unpaid one but in the first year attracted a fee of £300.00 per day. This rate remained static throughout the time she served on it. As you kindly pointed out this is all a matter of public record.

      John, you and I both practised as consultants/advisors in the early 2000s and worked together quite effectively,on occasion. The going rate for public sector consultancy work locally was about the rate Mary was paid for advising on the pay and conditions of the most senior public employees in the UK. Indeed, I can remember paying a chef consultant £350 per day to train staff and advise on menus.

      Forgive me if you think I am impugning your reputation as a consultant ( I’m not – you really knew your stuff) but I think that Mary was much better value for money to the public purse than either you or I were!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 13

      Bob Chicken March 10, 2015 10:20 am Reply
      • Bob, Mr Semple gets upset about the ‘english pound’ #ad it seems anyone who accepts it.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 11 Thumb down 7

        richard March 10, 2015 1:19 pm Reply
      • Thanks for helping Mr Semple to come clean about his history, Bob. Of course, he won’t think anything applies to him now that he’s not an elected representative.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

        Lowry March 10, 2015 4:45 pm Reply
      • Sorry Bob there is no smear in asking a politician to be open about their associations…….I think you doth protest to much.
        As I said its not about the money – the point you gravitate towards……why? …..avoidance perhaps??
        You know as well as I do: it is not the SNP who have crippled Labour in Scotland rather your own failure to recognise that blind abidance to the Blair/Brown credo and the comfort you all displayed campaigning with the Tories last year

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

        John Semple March 10, 2015 7:22 pm Reply
        • The “comfort”, as you call it, was on one point only – support for the Union.

          As far as I’m aware neither Labour nor Convservative have much “comfort” with any other policies.

          I think the SNP has forgotten who they went to bed with in order to try to seperate the Union. I’m sure the Greens really support the SNP’s love of oil!

          I was delighted when all major pro-Union parties joined together – it allowed us to listen to their joint argument and, as the result showed, gave confidence to the majority of voters to keep the Kingdom united.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

          Lowry March 10, 2015 8:03 pm Reply
      • And another thing……………..Isn’t it odd when you consider me suggesting Mary has a link to former Labour PM’s to be a smear ?? stranger and stranger.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8

        John Semple March 11, 2015 7:19 am Reply
        • Asking someone to ‘come clean’ is grubby innuendo.
          That’s a smear and well you know it. Why else do you say it?
          I said it before, put up or shut up.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

          ann March 11, 2015 11:03 am Reply
  • I am seeing more and more posts about Nary Galbraith which fixate on her association with the labour party under different leadership and also her occupation and work experience. Meanwhile O’Hara is being vocally supported as a great candidate. Now this is politics so you expect people to back their man. However in the interest of balance didn’t O’Hara forge his career working for the main stream media that SNP supporters have been branding the devil incarnate for the past year. I hear he even worked for those dreadful unionists the BBC!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 15 Thumb down 7

    Integrity? March 10, 2015 8:37 am Reply
    • Cards on the table, I think all of the Argyll and Bute candidates are weak, second-raters.
      I don’t have the option of choosing the one I like most, so it will have to be the one I dislike the least.
      Having said that – there is a great deal of difference between having alleged close associations with the Blair regime and having once worked for the BBC.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 10

      Patsy March 10, 2015 9:09 am Reply
      • But what is her close association? Is it just that she was in the party?

        So far we have had a link to an 80 page document which simply lists her as being a member of the Salaries Review body.

        If people have a specific beef about what she has personally done then lets hear it rather than seeing suggested links which amount to nothing.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 14 Thumb down 8

        Integrity? March 10, 2015 10:05 am Reply
      • “there is a great deal of difference between having alleged close associations with the Blair regime and having once worked for the BBC”


        Which is worst?

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 10

        Steve Barlow March 10, 2015 12:47 pm Reply
        • By all accounts staff working within the BBC here in Scotland were in line with the Scottish electorate, pretty much split down the middle when it came to voting intentions in the referendum. Hierarchy strayed from their charter, they cheated licence fee payers but a price worth paying a worthwhile sacrifice with so many in Scotland as a result no longer pay theirs.
          It is a big ask for the many thousands of employees who’s employers so vociferously voiced their disapproval of Scotland becoming independent, to hand in their resignations and seek employment elsewhere, jobs are difficult to replace let alone within an industry where there are really only two employers here, STV & BBC.

          Someone close to me said after this issue was raised during the hustings, “Being vegetarian, I’d rather starve than my wage payers being the owners of an abattoir”.
          Lets give whoever we elect in A&B a chance regardless. We’ve had candidates slated before they have had a chance to prove themselves on the back of their predecessors and others who stand under their party’s banner.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7

          JnrTick March 10, 2015 6:55 pm Reply
          • JnrT, that’s a pretty strong accusation you make, we’re these employees intimidated? Was anything put in writing to them.
            Was Mr O’Hara director and producer of mind games?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

            richard March 10, 2015 9:37 pm
          • Perhaps you misunderstand my post. wouldn’t be the first time.
            I have heard no accusations of employees being intimidated, certainly not within the BBC, however, just because I haven’t heard doesn’t mean this hasn’t happened. Some were YES supporters, some NO supporters, about 50/50 I was advised.
            If you are interested in intimidating and threatening behaviour in business during indyref, you might wish to question the behaviour of those companies who held to ransom their employees by threatening to take their business down south in the event of a YES vote. I heard during the referendum from a manager that companies such as the one she worked for (since left) CO-OP sent their employees letters advising them to vote NO.
            The practices by some of these large employers surely constitute intimidation?
            ‘If you don’t vote NO then we, your employers, will effectively be making you unemployed by relocating’.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 7

            JnrTick March 10, 2015 10:58 pm
          • JnrT, the point you make is not threatening employees, all public companies have to carry out a risk assessment of their business, if they found that independence with no fiscal plan amongst other issues was a danger to the future performance of the busines they are duty bound to advise their shareholders in their annual report, obviously the employees must be made aware as well. This is old ground, these days companies will ‘up stumps’ if they feel the political climate and tax policies are going to damage them, companies want a stable political climate to operate in.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

            richard March 11, 2015 5:05 am
      • Sorry to disagree, Patsy. Alan Reid may be a quiet and mild mannered gentleman but he certainly ain’t weak! If he’s disagreed with his own party he has said so and he has fought tirelessly for Argyll at Westminster.
        If he loses to another candidate we will soon notice the difference. We only need to look at what a difference Russell and Mackenzie have made – zilch. Too scared to go against their Holyrood masters and with O’Hara declaring he will similarly obey Argyll will suffer if the SNP get in.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 8

        Lowry March 10, 2015 5:42 pm Reply
    • Mr O’Hara is a great candidate if you are an extreme left wing catholic against abortion. If you want to close Faslane and put thousands out of work vote O’Hara. I have only seen one leaflet from him saying how great he thinks he is. No sun shining today he must be taking another sh*t on Argyll.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 6

      Alasdair March 11, 2015 8:54 am Reply
      • Alan Reud claimed O’Hara and the SNP wanted to close the base despite the facts saying the opposite. It’s only here that lies become truth without any supporting facts. It was the UK government that promised to put up border posts and make our families foreigners, to cut us off from the EU. It was better together that told us the base would close.nthey also told us 11000 jobs would go although the day after the referendum only 1100 jobs were secured with the new Babcock contract. Fancy that. The truth is, that UK defence spending is in a mess because of incompetent lib dem/ tory was that government that closed the base in Moray, destroyed useable Nimrods and is, generally speaking, cutting below the NATO required 2% budget. The Americans are offering to fly planes of the decks of the new aircraft carriers. It’s the UK that will close the base without compunction as it has done at Machrahanish and other places. Dunoon has taken years to lift itself out the mire caused by the closure of the holy loch base. The base at Faslane is already causing damage to the local community with shops closing as competing shops and pubs open up inside the mall. If you have evidence that the SNP will close the base, now would be a great time to produce it.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

        Richard 2 March 11, 2015 11:33 am Reply
        • Vote SNP to close the Base. 11,000 jobs sail down to Wales. Close the biggest employer in Argyll & Bute with no compensation. If it has taken Dunoon years to recover from closing the Holy Loch it will be worse if the SNP close Faslane.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

          Isla March 11, 2015 12:09 pm Reply
          • I think you have been listening to the Grimm tales from the unionists too long!
            Here is a fact for you that should concern you as a taxpayer,as I presume you are.
            The MOD employ 27,400 people to procure all defence equipment.The MOD spends the same per annum as Israel.The Israelis employ 610 people to do the same job.
            Have you ever considered ,just for a moment,that the whole of Westminster and whiitehall are completely incompetent!
            If you don’t,you subscribe to UK stupidity.Good luck with that.

            Oh and trident could not be relocated to Wales.The waters around the inlets are too shallow!

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

            Machmaolain March 11, 2015 5:27 pm
        • “It was the UK government that promised to put up border posts and make our families foreigners…”

          I’m not sure the UK government made such a promise but I do recall it was made clear that if the two independent countries had different immigration rules then border controls would have to be put in place. This would happen anywhere in the world in the same situation.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

          Lowry March 11, 2015 12:25 pm Reply
      • Or maybe he’s playing mind games! Then he’s got the launch of Alex’s book,

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

        richard March 11, 2015 4:12 pm Reply
      • How very nice and 16th century of you to bring bigotry to Argyll and Bute election campaign.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

        Machmaolain March 11, 2015 8:53 pm Reply
        • Machmaolain, try looking up O’Hara and mind games!
          you might get the message.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

          richard March 11, 2015 9:30 pm Reply
  • Integrity

    You are usually very good at doing a bit of research your self. Why not this time?
    There should be a hustings with the candidates ie Helensburgh, Dunoon Oban Campbelltown and we ask the candidates direct.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 12 Thumb down 6

    No Cheese Here March 10, 2015 12:06 pm Reply
    • I think there’s one planned for Dunoon next month, by the local paper.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

      Patsy March 10, 2015 3:31 pm Reply
    • If I make thinly veiled attempts to blacken someone’s character then I would expect someone to ask me to provide something more concrete than a throw away insinuation. If I couldnt provide anything other thann ‘becasue I say so’ then my credibility is rock bottom.

      if people trying to blacken Mary Galbraith’s name can’t provide anything other than unevidenced statements then I apply the same judgement to them. Why should I research an unsubstantiated claim made by someone else?

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

      Integrity? March 10, 2015 6:37 pm Reply
      • Oh no – when did they ban asking politicians questions ???? How many times have you, Integrity?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8

        John Semple March 10, 2015 7:56 pm Reply
        • First off John let me apologise for the tone of my post. In retrospect I appreciate it was a tad over the top! I do get a little frustrated when political differences and the consequential challenges (either between candidates or supporters of parties) appear to drift away from what a candidate can deliver and focus more on personal aspects. My post wasn’t just aimed at you but also at others on here (and I also accept entirely that the SNP supporters are no more guilty of this than the supporters of other parties).

          Yes I of course accept that people should be able to ask question of politicians however in this particular case I question the motivation behind your questions. Of course Mary has a history with the Blair/Brown government , any labour politician who was a party member during that era must have one. Are you looking for a full CV of her time with the party or is there something in particular you are trying to get her to ‘reveal’. Why not just ask a direct question about whatever it is that seems to be potentially concerning you? Does it potentially affect how she would represent A&B? If so I would as keen to hear about it as anyone. Similarly posting a link to an 80 page document which simply confirms she was on the Salary Review Board and asking her if she is the same Mary Galbraith (when you already know she is), then a link to another document which just confirms exactly the same thing. Do you have an issue with her being on the Salaries Review Body? If so, what is it?

          As you know I work with politicians fairly regularly and I don’t actually share the scepticism that a lot of people have. Of course there are bad eggs but there are bad eggs in all walks of life. Unfortunately too many supporters of political parties are far too keen to jump on even a hint of ‘dodginess’ even if there is actually no ‘dodginess’ to be landed on. I personally prefer more straight talking political debate (sadly very far between in this day and age) with straight questions rather than fishing in a pond questions.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

          Integrity? March 11, 2015 9:22 am Reply
  • Is “silly Sally” unionist code for money stained with the blood of the innocent ??

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 8

    Hunchy March 10, 2015 8:51 pm Reply
  • No matter how much the commenters spin and weave the sad fact is that the Labour candidate has already spoken out and welcomed Blair’s Blood Money.
    An economist? Says it all.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 8

    Murdoch MacKenzie March 11, 2015 2:51 am Reply
    • I would put the same point to you that I previously made more generally (and fair play to JnrTick for responding to it)

      Are you happy with the SNP taking Connery’s ‘domestic abuse’ money and Souter’s ‘denial of equal rights’ money?

      And to maybe see off one challenge I am not comparing these two things to the deaths in theIraq War but they are still blights on society.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

      Integrity? March 11, 2015 10:46 am Reply
      • I’m not a member of the SNP. I don’t agree with your opinion of Brian Souter who I see as a great Scot. I am not a person who wastes any time on what film stars do or say.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

        Murdoch MacKenzie March 11, 2015 12:20 pm Reply
        • So you’re not a member of SNP so won’t comment on their funding sources. Are you a member of Labour then as you seem ok abo commenting on their sources?

          So if a politician beat his wife up you would oppose thm funding a party but no problem with a film star doing it?

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

          Integrity? March 11, 2015 12:22 pm Reply
          • I’m commenting on the article above. I am very interested that Blair has put up Blood Money, and have stated that it’s a sad fact that the Labour candidate has welcomed this money. Like I said in my comment you can spin and weave all you like but these are the facts.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

            Murdoch MacKenzie March 11, 2015 4:46 pm
          • Poor reply from the normally ‘plenty to say’ Murdoch, below.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

            phill March 11, 2015 5:07 pm
          • And Brian Souter denying equal rights is not an opinion, that is also a fact. Whether he is a great Scot is an opinion, in mine he is far from it.

            Accepting money from him whilst shouting about a fairer more just society is also a fact. My opinion is this makes the SNP hypocritical IF they want to point fingers at other parties for accepting what they consider to be inappropriate money.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

            Integrity? March 11, 2015 6:48 pm
          • You keep commenting about Brian Souter and the SNP. The subject of this article is Blair’s Blood Money and it’s welcomed acceptance by the Argyll Labour candidate. I have commented on that, I comment against the SNP as well when I think they are wrong. You are spinning and weaving an off topic argument to deflect my comment.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

            Murdoch MacKenzie March 11, 2015 7:08 pm
      • Youve got hin on the ropes ‘Integrity’!

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

        phill March 11, 2015 5:09 pm Reply
        • If there was any justice in this world there would be a few people on the ropes, dangling.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

          Murdoch MacKenzie March 11, 2015 6:40 pm Reply

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