Oh dear. Kevin the Teenager (aged 53 and a half) is over excited again. Iain Gray, according to an interview in Scotland on Sunday,thinks he can win a personality contest with The First Minister Alex Salmond. Mmm, I guess it depends on what takes your fancy. If leaden delivery of scripted speeches is your bag, then I guess the Labour leader wins hands down. If a total lack of any ambition for your country gets you going, then look no further than the man who has nothing: no policies, no solutions, no positives. The worst Gray seems able to throw at Salmond in the interview is an ill-advised photo-opp in a sun hat at the Commonwealth Games in India this year. Someone should tell him gently that, even in silly hats, Salmond is a more serious politician than he can ever hope to be. Indeed this is proved by the newspaper itself. While Gray splutters desperately about sunhats, elsewhere in Scotland on Sunday the SNP First Minister has written a column outlining his vision for Scotland's renewables industry and how it might take our economy to another level (100% of our energy from renewables by 2025)
My first and lasting impression of Iain Gray was when he spoke at a Fabian Society conference I attended several years ago. He opened his comments on the financial sector by saying he knew nothing about economics. Salmond is an economist by profession. This contrast wouldn't matter if Gray's lack of experience on such matters was compensated by charm, vision and ideas. Gray has none of these. He has risen without trace, assuming the leadership of the Scottish Party not because he was an inspiring figure, but because he was close to Gordon Brown and nobody else seemed up to much. So what if Salmond has a guid conceit of himself? Isn't that what you want in a leader? Who would you rather have represent your country? Someone clever and forceful who answered only to the people of Scotland, or someone lacking in knowledge, confidence and fluency who needed to check everything with his bosses in London?
Gray's interview in Scotland on Sunday today berates the SNP government on the spurious grounds that they should have created more construction jobs during the worst recession for generations. Bad timing, given that Scotland's unemployment figures are better than the UK as a whole and the SNP just announced the funding for a new Forth Crossing. Wasn't it the SNP who postponed Tory cuts and brought forward capital spending in order to stimulate construction in the Scottish economy? And wasn't it the case that Labour in Holyrood was less than enthusiastic about this approach and at one point appeared to suggest that we should front load the cuts to "get them out of the way",so to speak? Might it not be the case that the SNP's determination to stimulate the economy is the reason for those encouraging employment figures? The last Labour government in Westminster also opposed giving the Scottish parliament workable borrowing powers to finance major construction projects.
If the Labour Party really care about creating jobs in Scotland, why are they so keen on a Tory Scotland Bill which gives us no powers to grow the economy and actually reduces the income of future Scottish governments, including any Gray aspires to lead? Then again, Gray knows little of economics. Like many frustrated teenagers, he is more comfortable with self-delusion. And like any adolescent who is defeated by cool reasoning, he is liable to erupt into petulant displays of rage for no good reason.