What is happening in Scottish Labour?
Scottish Labour is facing a crisis of leadership and direction as several of its prominent members have become mysteriously unavailable in the past few days. The party, which is already struggling to regain its relevance and popularity in Scotland, has been left without a clear voice or vision ahead of the crucial local elections in May 2023.
The first sign of trouble came on Monday, when the party’s leader Anas Sarwar announced that he was taking a leave of absence for personal reasons. He did not specify how long he would be away or who would be in charge of the party in his absence. He also did not address the rumours that he was considering resigning from his post after less than a year in the job.
The next day, the party’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie also went missing, citing a family emergency. She did not respond to any calls or messages from her colleagues or the media, leaving many to wonder if she was also planning to quit the party. Baillie, who is also the party’s spokesperson on health and social care, had been one of the most vocal critics of the Scottish government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the NHS crisis.
On Wednesday, the party’s shadow cabinet secretary for finance and the economy, Daniel Johnson, also disappeared without a trace. He was last seen leaving his home in Edinburgh early in the morning, carrying a suitcase and a backpack. He did not inform anyone of his whereabouts or his plans, and his phone was switched off. Johnson, who is also the MSP for Edinburgh Southern, had been working on the party’s alternative budget proposals and had been expected to present them in the Scottish Parliament later that day.
What are the implications of this situation?
The sudden and unexplained absence of these key figures has left Scottish Labour in a state of confusion and chaos. The party has no leader, no deputy leader, no finance spokesperson, and no clear strategy or message for the upcoming elections. The party’s remaining MSPs and councillors have been left in the dark about what is going on and what they should do next.
The situation has also given a boost to the party’s opponents, who have seized the opportunity to attack Scottish Labour’s credibility and competence. The Scottish National Party (SNP), which is leading in the polls and hoping to secure a majority in the next Scottish Parliament, has accused Scottish Labour of being a “rudderless ship” that has “abandoned its duty to the people of Scotland”. The SNP has also claimed that Scottish Labour is “in meltdown” and “in denial” about its declining support and relevance in Scotland.
The Scottish Conservatives, who are the main opposition party in Scotland and the second largest party in the Scottish Parliament, have also mocked Scottish Labour’s woes. The Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross has said that Scottish Labour is “in disarray” and “in hiding” and that it has “no vision, no policies, and no leadership”. Ross has also challenged Scottish Labour to “come out of hiding” and “face the music” for its failures and mistakes.
What are the possible explanations for this phenomenon?
There are various theories and speculations about why these Scottish Labour figures have gone missing and what they are up to. Some of the possible explanations are:
- They are unhappy with the direction and performance of the party and are considering defecting to another party or forming a new party. Some have suggested that they might join the newly formed Alba Party, which is led by the former SNP leader and former First Minister Alex Salmond. The Alba Party is campaigning for Scottish independence and aims to create a “supermajority” of pro-independence MSPs in the next Scottish Parliament.
- They are disillusioned with the state of Scottish politics and are planning to quit politics altogether. Some have suggested that they might pursue other careers or interests, such as writing, teaching, or travelling. Some have also speculated that they might be suffering from mental health issues or personal problems and need some time away from the public eye.
- They are involved in some kind of secret mission or operation and are unable to reveal their location or activities. Some have suggested that they might be working on a covert project or investigation that could expose some scandal or corruption in the Scottish government or the SNP. Some have also speculated that they might be in danger or under threat from some unknown enemies or adversaries.
None of these explanations have been confirmed or denied by the missing Scottish Labour figures or their representatives. The mystery remains unsolved and the questions remain unanswered.