Despite promising results in the rest of the UK there’s no denying that Labour’s showing in Scotland was an unmitigated disaster. Now begins a lengthy post mortem as well as the process of electing a new leader.

With Iain Gray’s presumptive successor Andy Kerr, as well as fellow big-hitters Pauline McNeill and David Whitton all losing their seats to the SNP the leadership of the official opposition is wide open. Former Cabinet Minister and senior front-bencher Jackie Baillie has been the immediate focus of press speculation. Following a stint as Wendy Alexander’s lieutenant Baillie made a name for herself taking the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon to task over C-difficile outbreaks. Glasgow MP and shadow minister Willie Bain has mooted Baillie as a “possible contender“.

However it’s Eastwood MSP Ken MacIntosh who is the “talk of the steamie”. Having overturned a notional 3,000 Tory majority in his re-drawn Eastwood seat MacIntosh impressed many with his witty and urbane shift on BBC Scotland’s election coverage on Friday afternoon. A favourite amongst grass-roots activists, his cheery persona and “family-man” image has significant appeal in the modernising wing of the party.

A (now former) MSP described Ken MacIntosh to Scrapbook this weekend “the dark horse of the leadership race” while another well-place Labour source said:

“He’s the antidote to Alex Salmond’s pomp and  best communicator we’ve got. It has to be Ken.”

But with the party reduced to a rump in Holyrood the question isn’t so much who could win the leadership as who would actually want it.

  1. Merseymike says:

    Of course someone should want it. This is not a seismic shift never to be overturned, for goodness sake

  2. McIntosh looks like the best candidate. However his decision to go on the Politics Show Scotland this morning and suggest that Labour did not run a negative campaign seems baffling.

    Having said that Kerr, Whitton, McAveety would have been favourites had Scottish Labour not naively refrained from adding those three (among others) to the regional lists. John Park, Hugh Henry & Malcolm Chisholm might also fancy a go, but would be outside bets.

  3. Labour’s share of the vote only went down by 0.4%. The real failure seems to be that Labour failied to attract many of the ex-Lib Dem and Tory voters.

  4. Nick, Scottish Labour rules prohibit an incumbent constituency MSP from standing on the regional list outside of exceptional circumstances (which are usually boundary changes giving a notional majority for another party – this is what saved Sarah Boyack and Lewis Macdonald). I don’t think that’s “naive,” I think it’s democratic – if an MSP is rejected by their constituents, I don’t think it’s right that they should pop up again on the list. If the regional lists were open rather than closed I suppose that would be a way around this problem, but unless that becomes the case I think Scottish Labour’s stance is the right one.

  5. I’d back Andy on this, especially because if you suffer a 12% swing against you (as McAveety did) then enough blame attaches to you that you should lose your seat. Whitton also saw an above average swing against him and Kerr did averagely even though he must have known he needed to overperform to hold on.

    Surely the first criterion for being leader is that you’re known and liked in your area sufficiently well to outperform a generic Labour candidate?

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