Sunday 19 August 2007

What a Day! Climate Camp Day Of Action and the Scottish Left Decides on Leadership Challenge

This looks like being quite a day.

I am off to join my constituents and supporters of the Climate Camp on a walk to mark out the length of the new runway at Heathrow which BAA and the Government are proposing. Our aim is to demonstrate just what local devastation will be caused to our local community. There will be a wide range of activities and protests over the next 24 hours. I have explained why I support the Climate Camp in an article on the Guardian's Comment is Free website. The Climate Camp has been committed throughout to peaceful and non violent action. BAA and elements within the media are desperate to sideline the issue of the impact of airport expansion with lurid headlines of protest violence, etc. Whatever happens today by way of activities and protests it is absolutely critical that the central message of the impact of airport expansion on local communities and on climate change is not lost.

In Scotland the Campaign for Socialism is meeting to discuss the leadership election in Scotland and whether the Left should seek to field a candidate. Some have referred to this as the "McDonnell moment" for the Scottish Left. As I explained in my last blog I believe the political circumstances in Scotland are significantly different from in England and the Labour Party overall.

This may be a "McDonnell moment" but it also smacks of being a "Rhodri Morgan moment." In Wales, people will recall, Alan Michael was imposed as the favoured candidate of Number 10 to lead the new Welsh Assembly; a puppet leader who was seen as being readily controllable by Westminster and someone who would not only would give the Prime Minister no problems but would enthusiatically follow the political line dictated in London. Labour Party members and trade unions reacted against this dictat by Number 10 and the rest is history.

The imposition of Wendy Alexander by Gordon Brown without a democratic election would be seen in exactly the same light as the Alan Michael fiasco and would be a political and electoral disaster for Labour in Scotland, offering Alec Salmond an open goal and alianating many of our supporters who want a say in the party's future. The Left fielding a candidate opens up a significant opportunity for socialists in Scotland not only to lead the policy debate but also potentially to lead the party.