Can WormsIt seems that in the absence of anything meaningful to offer the populace, and despite being given a kicking of the first order at the polls, Scottish Labour has decided that it’s groundhog day.

Carping, sniping, empty posturing. That’s what the people rejected, so we’ll give them more of the same.

How else do you explain the shitstorm its elected representatives have been trying to generate in the last few weeks? First, with tongue firmly not in its cheek, it demanded to know just how close the SNP and Alex Salmond had got to Rupert Murdoch and his News International empire in Scotland. In an extremely linear approach which would keep no person out of jail, Paul Martin determined that because the Scottish Sun had supported the SNP in the last election, ergo this was damning evidence of the SNP being in Murdoch’s pockets.

So the Scottish Government duly publishes a full list not only of First Ministerial contacts with the media since 2007 but those of key Cabinet members AND copies of correspondence between Eck and Rupe. The latter ain’t pretty and caused many toes to curl in discomfort. Yes, the First Minister might have been really, really trying to portray himself as the global media mogul’s equal and really, really trying to persuade Murdoch to become a Caledonian champion. But frankly if there had been anything to hide, the goverment would have hidden it.

But like much of its interventions in the last year, Labour might well have scored an own goal. Disclosure of Labour leaders’ contacts with the media has been asked for and… we’re still waiting. Oh why are we waiting? What’s so hard about pulling together a list of all the meetings, lunches, receptions, letters etc exchanged between the Scottish Labour leadership – Iain Gray, Wendy Alexander in opposition and Jack McConnell and Henry McLeish during their time as First Minister – and Scottish media representatives? The longer they take, the worse it looks, even if there is nothing untoward at all. But they started it.

But the real can of worms opened up by Scottish Labour recently involves the insinuation that the SNP Government offered Brian Souter honours for political donations. They haven’t actually come out and said it, but the inference is of cash for honours on our ain doorstep. Siller for hallions no less.

A whole webpage has been set up over at Scottish Labour’s website – the Souter files, powered exclusively with righteous indignation, over-wrought hyperbole, and rank hypocrisy and inaccuracy. Cathy Jamieson MP suggests that “The First Minister and his party must look seriously at the relationship they have developed with wealthy individuals handing them large sums of cash. The public will rightly be asking what’s next on Mr Souter’s shopping list and waiting for the First Minister to deliver.”

Individuals plural. Who exactly? Apart from Souter’s admittedly eye-watering donation in 2011, other donations to the SNP were five figure sums, the vast majority of its donations far, far lower. The SNP does not have that many supporters with deep pockets: Souter’s donation was matched by hundreds more, much smaller ones by members and supporters. The only person who out-donated Brian Souter was the late Edwin Morgan through a bequest in his will. What’s that? Nothing nasty to say about the Makar appointed by a Labour First Minister? Oh.

Apparently, Souter’s donation(s) are why the SNP has not re-regulated bus provision in Scotland. I acknowledge – it’s a policy that makes sense and it should be done. But then again, I don’t recall Labour-LibDem Scottish Executives, in power for double the time the SNP has been, rushing to re-regulate. Indeed, in four years of opposition, I don’t recall Labour making this a big issue and pushing for it to happen. How curious.

So let’s overturn the can and see what comes wriggling out. What’s this? A number of individuals – all of them wealthy, some of them longstanding Labour supporters or who have donated to the Labour party and bestowed honours while Labour was the lead partner in the Scottish Executive and Ministers were involved in nominating people for honours.

Moir Lockhead is one such, Willie Haughey is another, as is Duncan Bannatyne and Tom Hunter. All of them distinguished businessmen in their own right, who have also made huge charitable contributions during their lifetime. These are the reasons their honours were bestowed but following Scottish Labour’s current logic, all were given awards at the time they were active supporters and/or donors to the Labour party. Though historic, the worms in its can are far more juicy than the ones in the SNP’s.

Frankly, the Scottish public doesn’t give a damn. It holds all politicians and political parties in equally low esteem. Labour might think it is landing blows on the SNP but all such activity achieves is to confirm what people think of all parties, its ain included. In May the people spoke loud and clear – the SNP was the party they liked better or at least, disliked least. Given the current electoral mood, Labour will continue to come off second best if it persists in pursuing this kind of puerile politics. Making the road back to electoral credibility a whole lot harder.

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