I felt that low political stuff, especially when it involved a certain amount of teasing, was not appropriate for such a sombre weekend of remembrance.
It’s Monday morning now, though, so I am quite happy to poke a wee bit of fun at Tom Harris, the Labour MP for Glasgow South. I reckon he’ll be relatively untroubled by my comments, and I kind of owe him after he upset my baby last year.
Tom announced his candidacy for the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party on Saturday after the decision by the Party’s Scottish Executive Committee to allow MPs to stand as well as MSPs. Labour’s leader in Scotland will now be a proper leader, not just the head of the Group in Holyrood. This is a very radical step for Labour, but to those of us who understand devolution, it’s kind of natural.
I always get quite worried when I agree with Mr Harris. It has happened occasionally, but it’s safe to say that he and I are pretty far apart on the liberal/authoritarian scale. And Tom hates Liberal Democrats with a passion unrivalled in its intensity. He is, however, a showman. He and Salmond thrashing out the issues would be hilarious – but ultimately destructive and depressing for politics.
For all I criticise the SNP, to accuse them of not being patriotic, or not caring about Scotland, isn’t fair – and I really can’t stand bringing that sort of language into the political arena. However, Tom’s going the same way as Jim Murphy did as Secretary of State:
“Above all, we need a leader who will always put Scotland ahead of their own party. On that count, Alex Salmond is lacking, because he puts his ambitions for independence above the interests of Scots”
I can’t see an SNP led by Salmond and a Labour Party led by Harris ever co-operating on anything, or discussing anything in other than soundbite fashion. You just get double the amount of bluff and bluster if you try and out-Salmond Salmond.
I can’t see Scottish Labour and the Unions for one second backing ultra Blairite Harris. How many photos of Tony Blair appeared on Labour leaflets in Scotland? The fact that there were more on our literature tells its own story. I will be very surprised if he wins.
However, he may get a bit of a consolation prize in more sales for his upcoming book, “Why I was right and everyone else was wrong”. This book is published on 22 September by Tory blogfather Iain Dale’s publishing outfit, Biteback. Since I pre-ordered it on 4 September, the price has gone up by £1.50, from £7.49 to £8.99 today. I suspect it’ll be a very good, funny, read.
Of course, book deals don’t appear overnight and when I teased him about his leadership being a way to promote his book on Twitter the other night, he replied that:
In my defence, the book deal was agreed when it looked like Labour might win at Holyrood!
Of course and any extra sales resulting from his leadership bid will, of course, be a happy coincidence.
Another interesting thing is that there’s a possibility that if Tom does win, he may not be in Holyrood until 2020. Saturday’s statement said that:
Tom reconfirmed his intention to stand for Holyrood at the 2016 elections and to step down from Westminster as soon as practicable thereafter.
What on earth would be the point of voting for Tom in the 2015 Westsminster elections, knowing that he’d stand down in a year if he were elected to Holyrood? And what if he didn’t win in 2016? If Tom gets his wish, Labour’s leader in Scotland could spend 9 years outside Holyrood until the 2020 election. Actually, if he didn’t win, it would probably mean that Labour had done so badly that he’d have been the victim of a post election internal bloodbath, but it’s still worth pointing out.
Now that Tom’s book is all printed, I wonder if there’s anything in it that he might regret, now he’s about to woo his party faithful. I’m looking forward to reading it to find out.
I was quite amused to see, by the way, that also recommended on the Amazon page for Tom’s book was a Frijid Pink album. This isn’t a euphemism for Scottish Labour, but an American psychedelic rock band whose bassist is called Tom Harris.
Update: Iain Dale told me on Twitter that it’s “Nothing to do with me, Gov, Amazon set their own price”. I reserve the right to be amused by the happy coincidence, though.