The Labour candidate for Dundee East who tried and failed to reject a £1,000 donation from Tony Blair at least succeeded in getting her name in the papers.
Outside her own constituency (and maybe even within it), probably not many people have heard of Lesley Brennan, the town councillor who hopes to overturn SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie’s thin majority on May 18.
But now, after her attempt to publicly snub the former Prime Minister, she is headline news though not necessarily in a good way.
First, she looks a little stupid as Courier political editor Kieran Andrews pointed out on Monday for taking the moral high ground before checking party rules.
Labour had no qualms about Blair’s cash, saying: “This money is payable to the Labour Party and we look forward to receiving it and using it to campaign against the return of a Tory government.”
Second, Brennan may not have noticed it but her party is facing meltdown in Scotland at the hands of the Nationalists (if the polls are to be believed).
She is far from home and dry in Dundee East and should be focusing on undecided voters, not indulging in propaganda stunts.
She would do well to remember that Blair, whatever her personal opinion of him, led Labour to three consecutive election triumphs.
The extent to which the party has dropped in popularity since he was toppled as leader suggests that he was more in tune with voters than the current high command.
He won over the middle classes by ditching the moribund Left that had kept Labour out of Downing Street for a generation. And he made massive gains in Scotland, wiping out the Tories’ presence here in the election of 1997.
Now, Scottish Labour politicians think their best chance of defeating the SNP is to move leftwards. Brennan is firmly of this mindset.
She not only opposes the renewal of Trident (in line with Nationalist creed), but also pushed for the MP Katy Clark to be deputy leader in Scotland, rather than the more moderate Kezia Dugdale (who fortunately won that contest).
She speaks of Blair as if he were the enemy her “instinct” told her not to accept his largesse not the most electable leader her party has ever had. From whom is she taking her advice? As the polls show, the Left is not winning the argument for Labour. The Nationalists, who of course can distance themselves more convincingly from New Labour than Labour can, have decided to position themselves on the Left, with their anti-austerity and anti-Trident agenda.
Trying to out-Left the SNP as former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont did, and as Blairite new leader Jim Murphy seems to be doing has backfired. The party in Scotland no longer knows what it is, and neither does the electorate.
Having an identity crisis two months before the general election is a poor strategy and makes Labour an easy target for the Nationalists.
Faced with losing so many of its Westminster seats to the SNP, the party should be going on the attack, but instead it is flirting with the notion of entering a pact with the separatists in the event of a hung parliament. (Four senior Labour figures, grilled over the weekend, repeatedly refused to rule out such a deal.)
Would Blair have let Labour get dragged into this situation, where their only chance of power lay in a partnership with a party that wants to destroy the United Kingdom and hold Britain to ransom? It’s unlikely.
Scotland does look very different today than it did in his ascendancy. The Nationalists now pose the greatest threat to Labour, not the Tories, north of the border and are encroaching into even the most traditional heartlands.
If the solid majority achieved by Gordon Brown is being tested by the SNP, as Lord Ashcroft’s recent poll indicated, what hope is there for rookies like Brennan?
Blair has stepped in and pledged £106,000 for 106 seats, including five in Scotland, that are particularly vulnerable. He said he knew how hard it was to raise money in any campaign but in the “battleground” areas, funds were “even more vital”.
Labour candidates should welcome his help, and any else that is offered.