Look beyond Westminster for likely contenders
So far the bookmakers appear to have worked on the assumption that it was there for the taking for the so-called Westminster ‘big beasts’ of Gordon Brown and Jim Murphy with Anas Sarwar the Scottish Labour Deputy the main MSP contender. However with both Brown and Sarwar now ruling themselves out, the field opens considerably.
There’s no certainty that Jim Murphy will stand although he will be sorely tempted given that he is unlikely to prosper under an Ed Miliband-led Labour government (should there be one). However the nature of Johann Lamont’s resignation means that there will be appetite for the next leader to be seen as more independent of the Westminster Labour operation. Given Murphy does not have a seat in the Scottish Parliament this makes things messy though not impossible. All this creates an opening for the likely trade union candidate Neil Findlay.
One of the main developments in the Scottish Labour leadership race is the confirmation that the electoral college will be retained for this election. We’re in the period before the new all member voting as recommended by Ray Collins can be implemented:
‘Mr Sarwar also confirmed that the new leader would be selected under the existing electoral college system which gives equal weighting to three distinct groups – elected politicians, unions and party members.’
This is all very good news for Neil Findlay the likely trade union candidate and Shadow Cabinet Member for Health. He wouldn’t be favourite to beat Jim Murphy, but he’d certainly have a chance. He’s 5/2 with Ladbrokes but a whopping 16/1 with William Hills and 14/1 with Skybet. They simply haven’t caught up with events and these represent great value.
Left-wing author Owen Jones who has close connections with the unions wrote:
Step forward, then, Neil Findlay, the party’s health spokesman. He is little-known now, but that may be about to change. “Anyone who thinks that we can take on the SNP from any other position than firmly to their left needs to re-enter this world from cloud cuckoo land,” he wrote last week. He calls for a national house-building programme, including council housing, desperately needed in Scotland, which has about 180,000 families trapped on waiting lists; a policy of full employment; the living wage and rights for struggling workers treated as commodities to be hired and fired; an industrial policy to support the industries of the future; and a new generation of apprenticeships and college places. Under Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP will present a more radical prospectus than that offered by Alex Salmond: Findlay offers the possibility of a charismatic, inspiring alternative. The SNP should fear him.’
Should he stand (which looks very likely) then Neil Findlay should be around the 7/2 or 4/1 mark.
Henry G Manson