If you click on the tweet and picture opposite, at first glance you’ll see cheery local Scottish campaigners working away for Ian Murray, Labour’s candidate in Edinburgh South.

Actually, though, you’re looking at a picture the recent ex-Daily Mail man who’s presently serving as Scottish Labour’s spin doctor has taken of himself.

By putting himself in the frame like this, really unheard of for a spin person, and then ensuring the candidate tweets the picture, Roden has conveyed the impression that local volunteers in Scottish Labour’s only target seat are so thin on the ground that in order to create an illusion of activity he’s had to manufacture an image with himself in it.

In truth, it’s perfectly possible that there are plenty of local Labour folk volunteering in Edinburgh South. Perhaps the other two nice-looking folk are examples (see postscript). But if this is so, why would Roden sabotage his own colleagues and candidate in this way?

Well, because Roden is a Mail man. As well as maintaining his own Twitter channel for commenting regularly and publicly about the campaign, and therefore building his own brand by making himself better known than most Scottish Labour politicians, he’s also been tweeting during the campaign about his role as a prize-winning Mail reporter.

Like his predecessor Paul Sinclair, who uses his Mail column to attack the Labour Party, there’s every possibility that after the election Roden will return to his old trade with a bunch of stories in his notebook about how he was at the centre of a disastrous campaign. This professionally-composed selfie is his ‘action-shot’ evidence – well up to the standard required for a centre-piece spread.

Roden’s public pronouncements have all been precisely in line with Mail editorial policy. During the election, he’s never criticised Tory policies. Instead, his target has always been the SNP. Any references to the Tories are knock-about, generalised, fun. So while there are good reasons for Labour folk to think Roden represents an enemy within, there are no hostages to fortune which might make his re-hiring by the Mail, or other Tory publication, difficult.

Ian Murray himself was one of the best of a strong 2010 intake of young Labour MPs. He was the surprise survivor when some genuinely talented and decent young folk bit the dust. His greatest strength in his constituency campaign – winning it is Labour’s only objective at this election – is that many relatively un-politicised local people rightly see him as a hard-working and personable MP.

Murray faces tough competition from strong candidates put up by the Tories and the SNP. But rather than ask ‘soft’ independence supporters to keep a demonstrably decent MP in place, his campaign advisers have pitched his campaign the opposite way.  They’ve chosen to attack independence as their central message and hinted that in return for Tories voting ‘unionist’ in Edinburgh South, some Labour voters might tactically unionist in a number of other marginal constituencies.

If such an outcome were to occur – Labour gets a Scottish seat and the Tories get half a dozen – it would of course harm Labour by increasing the Tories’ lead over them in this UK general election.

Two things are clear to even the most casual of observers. First, the Tories are very much in the game in Edinburgh South and Scottish Labour’s claim that they are not is implausible. Second, Alan Roden is pushing Labour along a path which if successful can only help the pro-Tory party Daily Mail campaign at Labour’s expense.

Labour politicians, activists and supporters – there’s still time to ditch the enemy within. And if you can’t do that, for goodness sake at least make sure you keep out of his selfies and notebook.

Postscript: The other guy in the pic works for Roden in the Scottish Labour press team. He’s another journo and self-describes as ‘a part-time author’. It’s pretty depressing, frankly. We’re only left to wonder if the woman in the picture is a pretend volunteer too, which is a shame for her if she’s a real one. (Hat tip @Jessiealba7)

14 Responses to Scottish Labour’s enemy within
  1. Is the Labour Party in Scotland actually about to hand the Conservatives a win in a hung parliament?
    Do they hate Corbyn that much they would wreck their party and work for the other side?

    (thinks back over the last 20 years) Aye that’s exactly what they are doing.

    • Yes, the idea that folk tacitly vote Tory in seats Labour can’t win can only lead to that effect. I’m sure Ian Murray wouldn’t want folk to vote Tory, but I really don’t think folk like Roden would hesitate for a moment.

  2. Ian Murray is a good MP (always followed up on issues raised, sensible answers, has a good team) and deserves better than the SLP shambles. I really dislike Labour (& voted SNP), but if i were still in the constituency I would vote for Ian. What SLP are doing I have no idea, would never vote for them.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Alistair. I understand why some Labour folk want to work tacitly with the Tories, it’s just that they’d be better in another party because all they’re doing is helping the Tory effort, alongside the Daily Mail of course.

  3. Nail on head, I thought similar since he was hired. Kezia Dugdale’s main problem is the people she surrounds herself with and takes advice from. She really doesn’t have good judgement in that respect.

    • Thanks, Annie. Alan Roden’s a disaster for Scottish Labour. Not just now in terms of direction, but in terms of what comes next…

  4. I think you’ve warned of this before.

    Maybe Ian doesn’t read your stuff, of course, but it’s a pity he’s not at least suspicious of this behaviour.

    The quid pro quo thing you mention could give the Tories these extra seats.

    But then, given his attitude to Jeremy Corbyn, why is Ian even standing for Labour? If Corbyn were a fluke, once elected by a bunch of young left leaners, I might understand it. But no. Corbyn won and then won again, but bigger, with Labour voters and activists.

    Ian has very publicly said that Corbyn is a liability.

    Given that it looks like Corbyn isn’t going anywhere, shouldn’t Ian be standing as an independent?

    Or is that word too near to a swear word for him?

    • A few months ago, before the election was called, people in Edinburgh South were reporting having been telephone-polled about whether they would be more likely to vote for Ian Murray if a) he stood as an “anti-Brexit independent” and/or b) the SNP gave him a free run.

      I was not polled (I don’t live there), so I am taking this on trust, but the pollster was, reasonably, unable to say who the client was. It was assumed to be Murray himself.

      At the time, there was specualtion that IM knew there would be an election, and bemusement about how he expected to be able to achieve option b) above.

      • Thanks for this, Tris. I guess there’ll have understandably have been a big resource put into polling well in advance as it’s Labour’s only target seat. Maybe another party, but seems unlikely. Funny old question…

        • It was actually conducted in the 10 days before May called a “surprise” election. It beggars belief that Murray didn’t know it was happening, only question is how?

    • He’ll read it, alright. When you’re a candidate you read everything….

  5. Ruth’s already done that Bert and achieved what no one should ever have wanted in Scotland just for the sake of winning and the hope of a nice stylish shiny Red Coat trimmed with Ermine just like Auntie Annabelles and to hell with Scotland

    Politics in Scotland officially declared over by Ruth and her band of idiots the Labour party

    Will we have to change the name of our country now to

    Norn England

  6. You seem to have distilled what is wrong with Labour (in Scotland). You’ve decanted it into something so clear here in Scotland – that Labour and Tory are simply one party.

    Bring on the SDUP – Scottish Democratic Unionist Party – representing nothing but … a continuation of something broken beyond belief.



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