Sketch – The strange case of the Gray hard man

By Andy Mackie


Celebrity dancer Anne Widdecombe once said that there was ‘something of the night’ about Michael Howard. That being the case then many would say there is something of wet afternoon in Saltcoats about Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray.  With a Scottish election coming up that could be a serious problem for the Labour party’s hopes of forming the next administration.

As recently as last month a poll in the Scotsman found that fewer than 20% of the public could identify Gray’s picture. Set against the high profile of the SNP’s slick Eck – first minister Alex Salmond – Grays facelessness must be a major worry to party strategists. History tells us that, other than John Major, boring leaders do not win elections.

Gray is obviously trying to improve his image in the run up to May 5th. Unfortunately his performance in last weeks’ first minister’s questions suggests that his new image is of a faux hard man. Quizzing Eck over the NHS, always a fruitful subject for an opposition party, he started well enough pinning Eck down over waiting lists and operation cancellations. Things went awry when he offered to ‘take the first minister on any time’ over SNP and Labour’s respective records. Nothing wrong with a bit of confrontational politics it was just that Gray didn’t sound particularly convincing or threatening when he said it. Eck laughed, Nicola Sturgeon laughed and when Eck delivered his put down comparing Gray to Mr Angry even Conservative headteacher Annabel Goldie seemed to allow herself a small chuckle.

The Labour party of course still hold a sizeable lead in most polls, however, as we head into the nitty gritty of the election campaign Gray may yet find the road from Saltcoats to Bute House a rocky one.

Greens claim to be only alternative.

By Andy Mackie

The Green party are the only party in the UK offering a radical and progressive alternative.

That was the message given to the Scottish Green Party conference by Caroline Lucas MP on the day that the party had passed a motion to consider using the Scottish Parliaments tax raising powers.

Lucas, the Greens  first ever Westminster representative, used the platform to slam all four major Sottish parties. Criticising the coalition government for its cuts she said: “Cuts that are knowingly aimed at the most vulnerable? Cuts that, as even the Institute for Fiscal Studies recently confirmed, clearly hit the poorest hardest, and women most of all?” She went on to comment on the Lib Dems position: ” I don’t criticise Nick Clegg and those around him for agreeing to work with other parties. But I do criticise him for the terms of that deal.”

Turning her attention to the Conservatives she attacked David Cameron for misleading the public over green affairs stating: “Many people were taken in by Cameron’s silky words on the environment. Vote Blue, get Green. It sounds so much better than Vote Blue, Screw You. Now we see the reality.”

Of the Labour party she said that the party was stuck in the past and unable to offer a progressive opposition. Lucas said: “even with the passing of Blair
and Brown, they are still stuck in the New Labour nightmare. ”

Lucas also attacked the SNPs record in government stating: “The tired SNP government has run out of steam.”

Earlier in the day the conference had voted on an emergency motion regarding the proposed cuts to public services. The motion stating the Greens opposition to these cuts and opening the possibility of using the parliaments tax varying powers to achieve this was passed overwhelmingly.