Two days ago I published an article which highlighted the near blackout of the Scottish Labour civil war over the coup to oust Jeremy Corbyn. Kezia Dugdale backs the plotters but her deputy Alex Rowley has attacked them.
The story has received virtually no coverage whatsoever from BBC Scotland. A couple of items on radio have barely touched on the extent of the split at the top of the branch office.
On Tuesday the story finally made it onto Reporting Scotland. The item can be seen below in its entirety.
Presenter Jackie Bird asks BBC Scotland’s reporter Andrew Kerr, “How is this all playing out here?” and the answer is remarkable. According to Kerr there is a “debate” going on in Scottish Labour. He adds that there is no evidence of the “rancour and bitter divide” witnessed south of the border.
Kerr eventually concedes there is “division” in the “upper echelons” of Scottish Labour. The Scottish Labour split is summed up thus, “The Deputy leader Alex Rowley thinks Jeremy Corbyn should continue as leader, while the leader here Kezia Dugdale thinks Jeremy Corbyn is not competent to serve anymore.”
That’s pretty much it. Viewers unfamiliar with the story will be left with the impression that the extent of the Scottish Labour division is that Dugdale doesn’t back Corbyn and Rowley does.
But that of course isn’t the full story. What viewers haven’t been told is that Kezia Dugdale backed the plot to oust Corbyn without a leadership election. They haven’t been told that Alex Rowley has publicly attacked the plotters, in particular Scottish Labour’s sole MP Ian Murray. They haven’t been told that another two Labour MSPs have joined Rowley.
They haven’t been told that Rowley himself has been attacked by former Scottish Labour MP Gemma Doyle. They haven’t been told that Ian Murray has been attacked by his own local Labour group. They haven’t been told that this same group has backed Alex Rowley.
The Reporting Scotland item was so bereft of significant elements of the story that it bordered on being misleading. We were again sold the ridiculous line that nobody from Scottish Labour could be contacted because they were on holiday.
Why, instead of standing outside what looked like a deserted building, did Andrew Kerr not seek out a spokesperson from Ian Murray’s local Labour group? How difficult would it have been to interview a real grass-roots activist?
Where is former Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Ian Murray? Why is he not being pursued after recklessly using his shadow cabinet role as a weapon in a bid to oust Jeremy Corbyn?
Kezia Dugdale is out of the country. In the USA we’re told. Who is in charge in her stead? Her deputy Rowley, we are told, is refusing to answer calls.
What about other members of the Scottish Labour front bench? Scottish Labour’s Parliamentary Business Manager is James Kelly, what does he have to say? Jackie Bailie is the economy spokesperson, is she also unavailable? The Shadow Economy Minister is Richard Leonard. Leonard has publicly backed Rowley. Has Leonard been asked to comment?
The UK has a new Prime Minister, Scotland is facing being dragged out of the European Union and the Labour party is facing a damaging leadership contest. If Scottish Labour has effectively shut itself down then we have a huge story.
BBC Scotland is failing in its obligation to us, the licence payers. The lack of serious coverage of Scottish Labour’s predicament is either due to a lack of resource or of political connivance … or perhaps a bit of both.
A major political party doesn’t just pack its bags and go on holiday in the middle of one of the biggest crises in UK history – unless of course it has been ordered to shut up shop.
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