Johann Lamont has resigned as leader. Inevitable, and maybe overdue, given the flak she has taken from her own party. I wish her well, despite the inevitable bitterness she roused during the long referendum campaign by her ill-judged and often factually inaccurate performances at FMQs. She never understood her role, and worse, never understood the sea change that had occurred in Scottish politics.
Undoubtedly she was badly advised, and the victim of that unique brand of back-stabbing Labour politics with its roots in the smoke filled backrooms of Glasgow and Monklands.
I was well-disposed towards her before and immediately after her election as leader, and more than willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. I was wrong, and my assessment of her (and of Henry McLeish!) proved to be way off beam.
Here are some of my views from back then…
Saturday, 17 December 2011
An open letter to Johann Lamont
Dear Johann Lamont,
Congratulations on winning the leadership of your party in Scotland. I hope that your win gives you a clear mandate among all Scottish Labour supporters, and that it is perceived as a valid mandate to lead the main opposition to my party, the SNP, who received a very clear mandate to govern Scotland last May. It is vital that your mandate is seen in this way not only by Labour supporters but by the Scottish Government, by the SNP, by the other opposition parties and by the Scottish electorate.
The only way to ensure this is to publish as soon as possible the full, detailed breakdown of the votes cast in the leadership election, in the interests of transparency in Scottish politics. (I am confident that you will wish to do so, indeed, by the time this blog comes up, you may already have done so.)
I listened to your acceptance speech closely, because as a committed SNP supporter, voter and party member, I believe that the existence of an effective opposition in any Parliament is vital to democracy. I was a Labour supporter for most of my life, and I will never return to Labour because of the depth of the betrayal of all my hopes and expectations over decades by the Labour Party as constituted up until this election.
But I do believe that you, and at least some in the Scottish Labour Party want to make a new beginning and to place the interests of Scotland first. You outlined in your acceptance speech a vision statement for Scotland. Few Scots of any party would disagree with the bulk of its content, and for that reason, it could have been made by any party leader, at any time, in almost any country.
I don’t want to appear to suggest that it was an empty ‘motherhood and apple pie’ statement – I do believe that you are committed to these ideals and broad objectives, and so am I. And I am delighted that you and Scottish Labour appear to have rediscovered your Scottishness.
But given this consensus on what we all want for Scotland, it is evident that what gives our respective parties their identity is the means by which these objectives are to be achieved. If my memory serves me accurately, you and other members of the Labour Party have accused the SNP of stealing your vision. That was unfair and inaccurate – we have closely similar visions because we are both social democratic parties, committed to a strong, effective public sector and a vibrant, entrepreneurial private sector.
In a certain kind of Scotland, the SNP and the Labour Party could recognise a shared vision while differing vigorously on key aspects of achieving that vision. We both recognise that the Tory vision as presently exhibited in all its uncaring, incompetent awfulness, is inimical to the interests of Scotland, and indeed the peoples of the UK. The LibDem vision has been badly – perhaps fatally – compromised by their poisoned and supine alliance with the Tories in Coalition.
But there is a great yawning gulf between your vision as outlined today and the Scottish National Party’s vision, and that gulf is created by your commitment to keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom. At this moment, this profoundly mistaken policy – the only real one you have at the moment – is main barrier to your achievement of Labour’s new Scottish vision.
The reasons for this are plain to see, and the Scottish electorate understood them plainly last May, and voted accordingly. I accept that not all of that vote was a vote for Scotland's independence, but it was decisively a vote for Scotland holding all the economic levers necessary to transform Scotland, indeed the the pressing need at the moment is to have them to enable Scotland to survive the cold, cold global wind that is blowing.
But there are other great barriers between us while you and Scottish Labour are committed to the UK – they are nuclear weapons, i.e. weapons of mass destruction, foreign policy and the unelected, undemocratic House of Lords, now perceived by many Scots as the lucrative bolthole for failed politicians, including Scottish Labour politicians.
While Scottish Labour is committed to the UK, it will be seen by many Scots as the party that supports illegal or dubious wars that kill the flower of our young servicemen and women, the party that is committed to ruinously expensive WMDs that endanger Scotland by their presence - and pose an ever-present threat to world peace - and the party that is committed to the undemocratic House of Lords, whatever hollow statements about reform, never acted upon, may say.
A great watershed in Scotland’s history is approaching – the referendum on Scotland’s independence – a pivotal moment in our history that will shape Scotland and the other three countries of the UK for a generation and perhaps for ever.
As we approach that fateful day, it is vital that all parties with a core shared vision for the people of Scotland approach the great debate that will be continuously conducted from now on with objectivity, with facts, with some degree of mutual respect, with the common objective of allowing the Scottish electorate all the information they need to make their great choice.
That need not – and will not – inhibit vigour in debate, but if we can draw on the great intellectual political and social traditions that have always characterised Scots and Scotland, we can offer Scottish voters a real, rational choice.
I wish you and your party well in this new and critical era. I cannot of course wish you electoral success in local elections next year, nor in the referendum when it comes.
from one Weegie tae another – awra’ best,
Scottish Labour Leadership Results
December 17, 2011 2:59 pm
Deputy Leadership result:
MORIDURA BLOG November 23rd- 2011
Johann Lamont at the moment looks like the favourite to win the Scottish Labour leadership contest. It’s either her or Ken Macintosh – Tom Harris is naewhere.
If I had to choose from what is available, I would choose Johann Lamont, because I think I see a kind of integrity there, the kind that has always existed in the Scottish Labour Party, but which usually gets buried alive in that self-serving sea of mediocrity and careerism. (I’m talking about the Labour politicians and the union leaders, not the long-suffering Labour voters and lay party and union members utterly betrayed by them for over half a century.)
Let me say that she is not First Minister material, but that would not deter the Scottish Labour Party if Scotland were ever unfortunate enough to have them in power again in Holyrood. After all, London – i.e. UK – Labour elected Ed Miliband, who is not Prime Ministerial material.
The long-running gravy train that is the Scottish Labour Party doesn’t want a people’s choice – they want to foist a candidate on the people who will stoke the boiler, oil the wheels and grease the rails for the high road to Westminster for its politicians, and to safe party sinecures for its union officials.
But if they do elect Johann, they may find that she is not as committed to that auld conspiracy against the electorate as they hope – she shows distinct signs of being a realist, and being her own wumman. However, her priority is to get elected, so she must be circumspect for the moment, as she reads the wildly conflicting signals from senior Labour figures such as Alexander, Murphy and Harris, who show signs of beginning to hedge their career bets as the prospect of an independent Scotland becomes ever more real. The strange noises being made around the Scotland Bill and devo max illustrate this clearly. (I do not include Henry McLeish in this. I respect him, and I think Scotland matters more to him than career, more perhaps than anything else. )
But on Monday night, she was pretty evasive and obscure, sent signals on devo max, but was caught flatfooted by Glenn Campbell on two questions –devo max, and the $64,000 question – could Labour deliver their objectives more easily in an independent Scotland?
She revealed more by what she didn’t say than by what she said, but my judgement is that she is keeping her options very much open on this possibility, having taken her cue from Alexander, Murphy, Auld Uncle Tam Harris and all … She is “not going to let Alex Salmond define devo max”. He agrees with you, Johann – he has been trying to get Labour and their Tory and LibDem pals to define what they mean by it for some time now, and ideally participate in a cross-party discussion about it.
As for the smooth lizard on the rock, Macintosh – who Kens?