Now that Wendy Alexander has resigned the Scottish Labour party has a real opportunity of staging a democratic leadership election, which would be able to focus on an honest debate about the current state of Labour in Scotland. It is deperately needed given the way the SNP has been able to dominate the political agenda so effectively since it was elected to government.
My fear is that there will be an attempt to prevent a real political debate either by following the Brown example of blocking any contest or more subtely by only allowing candidates from the right to run. Preventing a candidate from the Left from getting on the ballot paper would be as disastrous in the long term as the Brown no contest strategy. It would be seen as an obvious avoidance of facing to the much needed political debate about the future of the party in Scotland.
A candidate of the Left is needed and I believe that the best and most principled advocate for socialism in the Scottish Parliament is Elaine Smith. Elaine has a superb record of commitment and campaigning. She is articlate, popular and rooted in her community.
I hope that Elaine decides to stand and if she does it is critical that we mobilise to ensure she is on the ballot paper. The right and the bureaucracy must not be alowed to get away with a right wing slate on the ballot paper. We must not let them block Elaine. If they did it would another step on the path to the destruction of the Labour Party in Scotland.
We cannot allow any more coronations or election stitch ups in the Labour party. We must stand up for the right of Labour Party members and affiliated trade unionists to be able to elect a candidate of their choice and from a range of candidates who reflect the spectrum of political opinion within our party. Anything less would be viewed as yet another unsavoury New Labour manoueuvre.