If Labour are to win the next general election, they have to win seats in Scotland. As I drove back from Wales last night, Labour had one Scottish MP, when I arrived home, they had two. Labour won in Rutherglen and Hamilton West and won big. We should not take by-elections as promise of the future but there can be little consolation for the SNP in Scotland or the Conservatives in the UK – from this result.
The constituency is only a few miles south of Cumbernauld, where former Labour Pensions Minister Gregg McClymont was MP. Gregg, who is still a leading light in pensions, lost his seat in 2016 to the SNP and we lost a potential cabinet minister who knew about pensions.
My thoughts turn to Labour politicians as we ponder the future of the Mansion House Pension Reforms. Last night’s news shortens the odds of a future Labour Government and increases the uncertainty that many of the reforms will survive into the next Government.
In Rachel Reeves, Labour have a pension aware shadow chancellor. In the Lords , Labour has several peers who are both articulate and energetic in pursuit of better pensions.
The parliamentary Labour party needs to know about pensions and fortunately it still has, in Stephen Timms, someone who does. It has Lords a plenty, but too little pension expertise in the House of Commons.
How much we miss a political voice from the Labour party that speaks on pension matters with the authority of Gregg and his team.
Gone but not forgotten, it is incumbent on Labour to provide us with someone of Gregg’s or Stephen Timms’ stature to take forward the Mansion House reforms.