IN proof that slavish obedience does wonders for your career, Labour 's new boy Michael Shanks has been promoted to Keir Starmer's front bench after a political career which has so far lasted less time than it takes BBC Scotland to publicise the latest SNPbad story.

Less than two weeks after making his maiden speech and a mere 54 days after being elected, Shanks is now a shadow Scotland Office minister.

Shanks admitted that he didn't vote Labour in 2019, but now here he is on the Labour front benches in the Commons. It's a fair guess that he won't be voting against the two-child cap on benefits after all, then.

It's also safe to assume that Michael Shanks will adopt whatever political position which happens to be most advantageous to his career at any given time. Few have climbed the greasy pole of Labour politics with such single-minded determination.

In six weeks Shanks went from claiming to oppose half of Keir Starmer's policies to serving on his front bench. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a future Labour member of the House of Lords.

The untoward speed of Shanks's promotion is highly unlikely to mean that he is possessed of godlike talents, which he kept carefully hidden during the by-election campaign. Far more plausibly, it means that Starmer recognises Shanks is obedient lobby fodder who will do as he is told and who will loyally back the Starmer line in Labour’s Scottish branch office.

The National: Michael Shanks admitted to not even voting for Labour in 2019Michael Shanks admitted to not even voting for Labour in 2019 (Image: PA)

The people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West have an MP who despite his promises does not represent them and he will not stand up for their interests.

He represents the leadership of the Labour party and himself and the interests he stands up for are those that Keir Starmer tells him to.

He might be a new MP but it's an age-old Labour story. Those years in the Scottish political wilderness have taught the Labour party nothing at all.

Starmer's Labour keeps telling us that they are the change Scotland needs but Labour itself has not changed. Its brief dalliance with social democracy under Corbyn is being airbrushed from history, and it's back to centre-right neoliberalism under the centralising and dictatorial Starmer.

Labour may well enjoy an electoral boost in Scotland at the next Westminster general election but its success will be short lived.

As a party which has Douglas Alexander, a former minister under Blair and Brown, and Blair McDougall, the head of the Better Together campaign in 2014, as candidates will very rapidly reveal itself to be unchanged from the Labour Party that Scotland so resoundingly rejected in 2015.

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This is a Labour Party which is desperate to lock Scotland back in its box. They seek a Scotland which is politically neutralised and which will not resist as the big boys and girls at Westminster make all the important decisions.

Then they will turn their sights on further undermining the Scottish Parliament in the supposed aim of 'empowering ' local authorities where Labour has a better chance of being in control.

Don't say you have not been warned. But hey, at least BBC Scotland will be happy.

Homelessness deaths show the price of Tory austerity

New figures have revealed that 244 people died while homeless in Scotland in 2022.

There is an epidemic of homelessness across the UK, a product of the failure of successive governments to invest in growing the stock of social housing and of Conservative austerity policies and repeated assaults on benefits claimants which have reduced thousands to destitution and left them unable to afford basic necessities such as keeping a roof over their heads.

Although Scotland has invested more than other parts of the UK in the delivery of affordable housing, it is not immune to the Conservatives' erosion of the benefits system or their squeeze on the funding which is made available to the Scottish Government via the Barnett Formula (which ultimately makes Scotland's finances dependent on spending decisions which the Conservatives at Westminster make for England).

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Homelessness is on the rise across the UK. According to official UK Government figures, in England an estimated 3,069 people spent the night sleeping rough in 2022, an annual increase of 26%, the biggest year-on-year rise since 2015 and 74% higher than 2010, the year these statistics were first collected.

Estimates of the number of people sleeping rough are based on a single-night count of people bedding down or about to bed down on the streets, or in tents, doorways or encampments.

These estimates do not include people in shelters or hostels, or who are able to find a friend's sofa on which to spend the night and as such greatly underestimate the true scale of the problem. But according to former Home Secretary Suella Braverman this is not a problem at all, it's a "lifestyle choice."

Michael Gove admits to disastrous handling of Covid-19

The UK Covid Inquiry has been taking evidence from Conservative Minister Michael Gove, who was a Cabinet Office minister and chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when the pandemic began in 2020.

In a WhatsApp message Gove sent to Boris Johnson's chief adviser Dominic Cummings in March of that year, Gove complained in a rare instance of honesty: "We are f**king up as a government."

Well, indeed, the Conservatives were effing up before 2020 and they've continued to do so ever since.

Gove added that the UK was "certainly not well enough prepared" for the unfolding Covid-19 pandemic and apologised to victims and bereaved families for Government failures during that time.

He did not demur when it was put to him that the cabinet office was in "chaos" during the early stages of the pandemic.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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