Could Gordon Brown help salvage Scottish Labour?

Reports say that the former PM could enter Holyrood. Could this help the Scottish Labour party?

Brown has remained far from the front-line of politics since his 2010 defeat at the helm of Westminster Labour. However, he has made increasingly prominent interventions into the Scottish independence debate. Most recently he has attacked the SNP’s claims about the NHS.

According to the New Statesman, in a speech in Kilmarnock, he said: ‘if [Alex Salmond] continues to peddle that lie, let him make way for the Labour Party and we will run the health service properly.’

The article also says: ‘I will want to join Johann Lamont in fighting him and securing the return of a Labour government’, showing a commitment to return to the political arena. Gordon Brown could soon enter the Holyrood ring.

But could the former Labour leader turn around Scottish Labour’s fortunes?

The party has not done well in recent Scottish elections, losing to the SNP in 2007, before losing even more seats in 2011, resulting in the SNP majority - the root of the upcoming referendum.

But Gordon Brown has always been one of Labour’s ‘big political beasts’. Coming to the Scottish parliament could help the party. Indeed, one of the problems with the Labour party in Scotland, and indeed the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, is the lack of major household names being sent to the Scottish parliament.

Labour’s best known and most talented politicians aim for Westminster and are sent there as they are a UK-wide party. An aspiring Labour politician will aim for the top - Westminster.

But the SNP send their best talent to Holyrood. An aspiring SNP politician will aim for Holyrood as they do not see Westminster as the top of the political chain.

This has been one of the problems for the main three parties in Scotland, but the arrival of someone like Gordon Brown could change the game. Despite being remembered as an unpopular leader, the former PM, managed to win a majority of seats for Labour in Scotland. Additionally, he also increased his share of the vote in his constituency in 2010, despite Labour’s losses. Gordon Brown could be part of Scottish Labour’s solution.

To add to this, Brown has a big vision for the UK. In his most recent book, ‘My Scotland, Our Britain’, Brown sets out ten proposals that would change Scotland and the UK.

He wants to ‘make the Scottish Parliament a permanent part of our British constitution’ (p.326), as well as give it more economic and environmental powers. He makes the case for ‘UK-wide devolution’ (p.369), taking power from Westminster and handing it down to the nations, regions and cities. This could pave the way for a federal UK, something which the Liberal Democrats favour and which Nigel Farage has recently voiced support for.

The former PM also proposes creating a ‘UK Senate’ (p.368) in place of the House of Lords, which he describes as an ‘anachronism’.

Gordon Brown has the intellect, experience and confidence to enter Holyrood as a frontline MSP, working with the rest of Scottish Labour. If he steps down as an MP in May then in 2016 he could easily be elected to Holyrood.

Of course, the man could not turn around the fortunes of the party in Holyrood over night, but he could be part of the solution. And he would certainly bring the fight to Alex Salmond, whichever way Scotland votes in less than one week time.