Scottish Labour manifesto 'self-immolation for dummies', claims former MP

Written by Alan Robertson on 6 May 2016 in News

Thomas Docherty's criticism of party platform attracts stinging rebuke from Shadow Scottish Secretary

A former MP and Holyrood candidate last night labelled Scottish Labour’s manifesto “self-immolation for dummies” as the Conservatives threatened to leapfrog his party into second.

Thomas Docherty, third on Labour’s Mid Scotland and Fife regional list, said the party had gone “further backwards” from its disastrous performance in last year’s general election as he hit out at their proposal to raise income tax rates by 1p across all bands.

Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray claimed Docherty “always likes to find a microphone and find a journalist that he can speak to” as he accused the former MP of briefing against his own party.


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Kezia Dugdale's party suffered a bruising result as the SNP won all eight constituency seats in Glasgow while Labour also lost two seats to the Conservatives. 

Docherty, who lost his Dunfermline and West Fife seat in last year’s general election collapse, said: “The hard reality that the Labour Party has to face is that when you stand on a platform that promises to raises taxes for everyone earning over £20,000, an unambiguously socialist platform that calls for the scrapping of Trident amongst other things and with the UK leader we have, there is a correlation clearly with the fact that our vote is going down, perhaps even falling below one in five, and the Conservative vote at the same time is going up.

“Someone once described, very famously, the 1983 manifesto as the longest suicide note in history. Well, if you bring it up to date, frankly the manifesto we stood on is self-immolation for dummies.”

Docherty, who failed to make it to Holyrood via the regional list vote, said Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale “deserves a huge amount of credit for taking on for once the argument around austerity and around the choices that we make on public services”.

“But all the polling shows and frankly experience shows us that voters believe that somebody else should pay more in tax,” he said.

“So the 50 per cent tax rate, bashing tax havens, of course that’s popular electorally, but regardless of the worthiness of the policy the opinion polls time and time again show that something like two-thirds of Scots did not believe that they should pay more in tax and you have to respect that. So yes the tax policy, amongst other things, has not succeeded electorally.”

The former MP said that Dugdale, who has only been leader for nine months, should remain in post, claiming those who believe she should resign “should go and lie down in a dark room for some time”.

His assessment prompted a withering response from shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray, the only MP to hold on to his Westminster seat last May following the SNP’s surge. 

He said: “Thomas Docherty always likes to find a microphone and find a journalist that he can speak to and perhaps if Thomas briefed a little bit less against his own leadership we might be in a much better position. We need a bit more discipline I think in the Labour party.

“I think Thomas Docherty briefs against everyone, he is well known for it in the Labour Party, he is well known for it journalistic terms, and every time you pick up a newspaper you know by the language that is being used [it is him].”

Meanwhile, Paul Sinclair, a former adviser to ex-Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, claimed the party’s strategy for the Scottish Parliament campaign was “quite perplexing” and replicated that which led to the “massacre” at Westminster 12 months earlier.

“The idea of raising taxes might be a laudable one but people tend not to vote for it,” he added. “They said there would be a rebate, nobody understood it then the rebate was dropped.

“And then for some inexplicable reason we brought in Trident. Now, if Trident is the kind of issue that decides your vote, you already vote SNP or for one of the far left parties and you’re not going to come back to the Labour Party over that. So I didn’t understand it.

“Why not appeal to the 55 [per cent who voted No in the independence referendum], to the middle class, who kept Scotland in the Union, and actually then have a message of if you’re frightened of the Tories, of saying if you’re serious about the Union middle class Scotland don’t vote Conservative, vote Labour. I think something a bit more centre ground would have worked better.”

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