They say a week is a long time in politics but if yesterday is anything to go by five minutes can change everything. Following Sunday’s disastrous result in the European Parliament election for the Scottish Labour Party, party members and members of the Scottish Executive Committee took to social media condemning the leadership and looking for answers. In response to the dismal performance by the Scottish Labour Party, Neil Findlay the parties campaign chief announced his resignation from the front bench five minutes into the Labour Groups meeting followed by Daniel Johnson MSP resigning as the party’s justice spokesperson.
Findlay, who has been an MSP since 2011 and a fierce critic of the Blairite faction of the Scottish Labour Party played an instrumental role in getting Jeremy Corbyn elected in 2015 as Labour Party leader. In an interview with Reporting Scotland Mr Findlay said “I played a part in that election and clearly I have some responsibility and I’ve never in my life shirked my responsibility. I have a difficulty with arguing for another referendum because you then open up the whole issue of another referendum in Scotland.
If the next one goes a different way, do you think the people who lose out in that referendum will stop calling for it; we’re going to be in absolute neverendum territory.
In a parting shot Mr Findlay concluded by saying “they’ve never accepted their candidates lost and it’s as simple as that. They think their version of politics, If we go back to the era of Tony Blair , if we don a union jack suit and take an ultra-unionist position, that will somehow be the way in which Scottish Labour comes back, we need to win back people who went from Labour and voted SNP, and if they think they’re politics is the way in which that will come back they are seriously deluded”.
So, what does Neil Findlay’s resignation from the front bench mean for the Scottish Labour Party? Firstly, Richard Leonard will be tasked with finding a replacement for Findlay and this won’t be an easy task.
Last year, Richard Leonard sacked Anas Sarwar and Jackie Bailie from the front bench and its unlikely that former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont will serve in his cabinet. So that leaves Mark Griffin MSP, Jenny Marra MSP and Neil Bibby MSP as the only contenders to fill the current void, but irrespective of who is selected for the positions, one thing that is certain is that Richard Leonard will continue to face mounting pressure for his resignation with strong rumours of a leadership challenge in the coming weeks.