I got not one, but two, invitations today. Most unusual. The first was to speak, with my new comrade Kate Higgins, at the Women in Parliament dinner next week. I immediately said yes, even though it meant rearranging a trip to Leeds to spend time with my husband. I may not be in frontline politics anymore, but I am determined to do all I can to improve the gender balance of politics in Scotland – at every level.
Politics is still a boy’s game – and I use boy quite deliberately – and this macho, elitist culture, personified by people such as Damien McBride, is why people no longer trust politicians or politics.
The second, equally unexpected, invitation was to appear in Newsnight Scotland as a Labour talking head responding to Ed Miliband’s speech earlier today.
“What do you think Scottish Labour’s tactics and strategy should be to win in 2015 and 2016?” asked the very polite researcher.
“I am afraid I don’t know”, was my honest answer, and I could hear his interest waning as I launched into a tirade about how people were contemptuous of the elite that ran the country, be they politicians, bankers, energy companies, even the BBC.
“That is the problem facing Labour,” I said. “How to get past that cynicism and dislike that most people have for politicians and persuade them to trust us again.
I think he was secretly relieved that I had a work commitment tonight, and so couldn’t accept his kind invitation to catch a taxi at 10.30 pm, to appear for a few fleeting moments on his programme. I will probably never get an invitation again, but I don’t suppose anyone, least of all the viewers of Newsnight Scotland, will notice.
If I had appeared tonight, I would have praised Miliband’s “Britain can be better” speech. It had substance, with some good policy initiatives, and the beginnings of a strong narrative.
The challenge now is how to take that story out to the people of Britain and convince them that Labour is on their side.
And that Ed Miliband has what it takes to be Prime Minister…but as I told the bloke from Newsnight Scotland, words, not tactics are my strong point.