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Leonard must confront the right-wingers in Scottish Labour's ranks

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IF, as Albert Einstein observed, madness is defined by doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then some senior Scottish Labour figures ought to be going for an extended lie-down under close supervision.

It’s been nearly two decades since Mike Watson, one of Labour’s original intake of MSPs proposed to outlaw fox-hunting.It might have helped his cause if this was a major issue in his constituency. I’m not sure, though, if the plight of foxes is anywhere near the top of any list of social priorities in Castlemilk, that sturdy and edgy neighbourhood on Glasgow’s southern uplands.

Watson’s vulpine intervention was an early marker for political stupidity at Holyrood and one that generations of his colleagues in Scottish Labour have seemed eager to emulate. In recent years they have re-written the playbook on political ineptitude. This is a party that was ill-equipped to meet the demands of devolution and the enhanced expectations of the Scottish electorate. That much was clear from the outset when the Scottish Labour establishment opted to rule out so-called trouble-makers such as the charismatic Dennis Canavan from its preferred list of potential MSPs.

In came an assortment of placemen and party worthies who had done little more than keep their heads down and their noses clean. When genuine talent did emerge such as Wendy Alexander and Susan Deacon they were forced to cut short their political careers by a combination of........

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