Patricia Gibson MP has called on Labour to stop infighting and start taking the role of Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland seriously after the latest incumbent, Dave Anderson MP, announced he will step down as a member of the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee.
Mr Anderson, who represents the constituency of Blaydon in England, was given the role by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after Scotland's only Labour MP Ian Murray resigned. Mr Anderson's appointment was met with controversy as he had previously signed a parliamentary motion calling for Scotland's budget to be cut and is also doubling-up as Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland due to the shortage of MPs willing to serve in the Labour Shadow Cabinet. Despite only being appointed in July Mr Anderson has already openly said he wants to quit, admitting:
"I'd be delighted to pass this job on to someone else if they'd be happy to do it. That would give it the attention it fully deserves. If that doesn't happen I'll carry on trying my best... But I think the job does deserve to have a standalone person doing it."
Mr Anderson has also been embroiled in a war of words with his predecessor Ian Murray and Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale over issues including whether to work more closely with the SNP. In retaliation to his appointment Ms Dugdale created a new 'Scottish Labour Westminster spokesperson' role for Mr Murray, which has today been criticised by former Scottish Labour chairman Bob Thomson as 'an act of sectarian provocation'.
Commenting, Patricia said:
"The Shadow Scottish Secretary is supposed to stand up for Scotland's interests and hold the UK government to account on Scottish affairs, but instead of taking this role seriously Labour can't even find an MP who wants the job.
"The chaos of Labour's Shadow Cabinet reaches new levels of absurdity with each passing week. We now have the ridiculous situation of a Shadow Scottish Secretary who openly says he doesn't want to do the job, doesn't have time for it, supports cutting Scotland's budget and is being deliberately undermined by his own colleagues in Scotland.
"While the Labour Party is busy squabbling and infighting they are utterly failing in their responsibilities to the country as the official opposition to the Tory government.
"The SNP may not be granted the title of the official opposition but in reality we are the only strong, united and effective opposition to the Tories. Unlike Labour the SNP will always stand up for Scotland and make its voice heard."
Dave Anderson MP will be replaced on the Scottish Affairs Committee on 5 September: