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Inside Track Interview

time, for Labour Party members and activists to look the leadership contenders in the eye and talk to them about where we have gone wrong and what we should do differently and if they can listen and apply those lessons that we have applied in Scotland since I became leader, then I believe that the Labour Party, nationally, can get back into a more powerful position much quicker than we ever did in the 1980s. “I have spoken to all the would-be leaders

and spoken on a number of occasions to both Milibands who are, obviously, now seen as the frontrunners and discussed exactly this question. Tey are well aware of what we did in Scotland to improve our position and move away from that lowest point in 2008 and I have also spoken with them, not just about how I think the whole country can learn from what we have done, but also how, in the future, the Labour Party in Scotland can work with the wider Labour Party. “I think that it is the case that in 1997 when

Labour came to power, we changed the way our country was governed with devolution but I think the Labour Party did not change itself to reflect that. I think we will need to make those changes and one of the early changes I

18 Holyrood 20 September 2010

have suggested is that I should sit as a member on the NEC and that will take Scottish Labour’s views and experiences to the highest levels of decision making within the party.” When the new leader of Labour is announced on Saturday in Manchester, whichever Miliband it turns out to be will take to the conference stage with Gray’s advice ringing in his ears but the man himself will also be watching closely from the audience because while he refuses to endorse one or other of the candidates before that announcement, so as not to ‘cloud the issue’, he will be determined that Scottish Labour’s loyalty does not get forgotten. “I will be working closely with whoever wins

and I have worked with both the Milibands – writing manifestos with Ed and when I was in the Scottish Office, I worked with David – and I have found both of them very easy to work with and I think either of the Milibands will work very well with Scotland and will respect Scotland and work with us.” As the leadership competition sits on a

knife edge between the brothers, I ask Gray if he doesn’t agree that Ed Miliband shares more in common with Scotland’s further left version of Labour politics.

“I think it is true that Ed has more MSPs

coming out and supporting him but in my own constituency in East Lothian, David has a great deal of support because he came during the general election and addressed an audience of well over 200 people in Prestonpans Labour Club and he went down extremely well.” I remind Gray that David Miliband also

said during a visit to the Scottish Parliament at the start of the leadership contest that he would use Scotland as a laboratory for new Labour thinking. Wasn’t that a bit patronising given Scotland had just delivered Labour a less embarrassing defeat than might have been? “I don’t think it is patronising at all and he

was simply recognising some of the things that we have taken forward. Some of the commentators in Scotland who say that it was only the result in Scotland that made Labour’s result look decent are being a bit narrow because when you look at Labour’s results in London, we did very well but in areas of the south-west, very badly. But there is a lesson here for Labour, nationally, because when I became leader, I made very, very clear that Scottish Labour had to be a party for the whole of Scotland and equally, whoever takes over

Photography by Mike Wilkinson

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