In Praise of Pia and Young

As the action begins to hot up for the Scottish Parliament elections on May 5, The Scotsman newspaper publishes a factfile on the team behind Iain Gray, leader of the Scottish Labour Party – including its former diarist, Simon Pia.

Says The Scotsman: “Simon Pia became Iain Gray's spokesman after a varied journalistic career that involved sport, humorous writing and a spell as The Scotsman's diarist – a job that made him a familiar face on the party circuit.

“He helps Mr Gray prepare for First Minister's Questions and debates. He also helps write his speeches. A popular figure at Holyrood, he has also worked as a host on [now defunct Edinburgh radio station] talk107, a job that ended when he made way for Dominik Diamond. He was originally recruited by Labour to advise Wendy Alexander on media matters, and got that job despite referring to her occasionally as 'Gruppenführer' in his column – a term that referred to her supposedly brusque manner.

“He survived her departure to work for his new boss, Mr Gray, with whom he shares a love of Hibernian Football Club.

“Such is his love of Hibs that he wrote Sunshine on Leith – Hibernian's Finest Sons and Pat Stanton – The Quiet Man, a biography of the Easter Road hero.”

The paper also writes about Kenny Young, “who works in the Scottish Labour press office, is employed by the Labour Party and normally works as a press adviser for leader Ed Miliband”. 

It continues: “Originally from Dalkeith, he stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate in the 2007 Scottish election. He is a friend of Rami Okasha, Scottish Labour's head of communications and strategy. He also worked for Gordon Brown and was with the former PM when he was caught calling a pensioner 'bigoted', with his microphone on.

“He was also famously pictured as one of two Labour aides appearing to kneel before Mr Brown while he held a door open for the then prime minister. The photograph was seen by Labour's opponents as the perfect illustration of Mr Brown's aloofness.

“That incident earned him the nickname 'Calamity Kenny' in the blogsphere. However, within Labour he is well-liked and regarded as a shrewd operator.”