19 October 2013

Lamont's tale of sound and fury

Seeing as it is the SNP conference weekend, a modest partisan gloat.  Since taking over the good ship Scottish Labour after Iain Gray's iceberg captaincy of 2011, Johann Lamont has made good use of her petted lip. Teacherly, scornful, Lamont has used her two year headship to ravage the SNP's record and motives, striving to puncture the credibility of key figures in the Scottish Government by liberally scattering barbed allegations of incompetence and dishonesty like caltrops. Such is the business of opposition.

Her colleagues have also been worrying away at another partisan meme: "Scotland on pause". Look at these dotty, constitutionally-obsessed Nats, neglecting the governance of the nation to pursue their weird, abstract pipe-dream of independence. We're the bread and butter army. Insert quotidian but touching tale of struggling ordinary folk here. Vote Labour.   

So how's that story going? If Lamont's master strategy was paying off, six years into the Scottish Nationalist administration, we'd expect to find a disgruntled public, still on balance against independence, grousing about how the SNP are getting on with their second term.  After all, it is almost inevitable that the magic fades. That folk become restless and fancy an alternative. But instead? According to the latest Ipsos-MORI poll, canvassed over the middle of September, a thumping majority of folk are still satisfied with how the Maximum Eck and his colleagues are faring in Holyrood.

Entertainingly, it appears that Lamont cannot even persuade her own voters that "Scotland is on pause" and that Eck is seriously bungling his second tour of duty.  Canvassing those who voted Labour in the constituencies in the 2011 Holyrood election - a head on smash with the SNP - the pollster found that a majority of Johann's supporters are satisfied too.

If you can't even persuade your sympathisers and fellow-travellers to share your political diagnosis, you're in a sorry way. As much fun as Holyrood commentators have, chortling over Johann's occasionally droll bruisings of Salmond at First Minister's Questions, strutting and fretting her hour upon the stage, out in the country, it remains a tale full of sound and fury - signifying nothing.


  1. One difficulty that Johann and Labour have failed to overcome is that even after six years they still sound disbelievingly, petulant, sour and bitter about their 2007 loss. Their inner fury at the disloyalty of the voters bubbles just below the surface at all times and the red mist which is always in a state of semi-descent had led to knee-jerk anti-SNP name-calling. The first thing they should abandon is the plain incivility of Johann's FMQ performances if only to spare the continuing embarrassment of the viewers and listeners.

  2. There's another blogger that counts down to "Salmond's day of political death" - citing that Salmond's position will be untenable when Scotland vote's No. As i've pointed out to him, Lamont is just awful, tactically naive & just does not have the political nous to generate enough pressure on Salmond. For example "Scottish" Labour should be attacking the SNP from the left and not adopting extentions of Labour's increasingly right wing rhetoric.

    I blogged in April that if Labour want to win in 2016, they need to remove Lamont from her position. This really is further evidence that Labour cannot and will not win under Lamont.


  3. I'm of the camp that believes that should there - Heaven forbid - be a No vote next September, it'd be followed by a crushing SNP win at Holyrood, as voters seek to at least protect what they have.

  4. "If Lamont's master strategy was paying off, six years into the Scottish Nationalist administration...."

    Actually, Lamont has been leader for less than two years. And, although it has been a long term SNP strategy not to frighten the horses by making as few decisions as possible, it has only become really obvious that the government of Scotland is on hold since she began to highlight it


    A No vote, if it comes, will change everything. Salmond will have to resign as SNP leader and probably from politics. Who knows what will be the effect on SNP membership and acitivists. The morale of the parties will be changed as will the public perception of the parties.

    I keep hearing Nats dismiss the polls that say a No vote is certain as premature, which is true, but even so not really good news for the Yesers. I wouldn't put too much emphasis on polls about what the public might think after a No vote. They haven't thought about it yet nor had the time to absorb the repercussions of the referendum result.

    1. 'long term SNP strategy not to frighten the horses by making as few decisions as possible'

      - like the smoking ban, releasing megrahi, police force reform, minimum alcohol pricing and the sectarian behaviour at football bill etc etc- all of which have or are proving controversial amongst voters.

      'it has only become really obvious that the government of Scotland is on hold since she began to highlight it'

      - see above answer, the SNP government are very busy with the day to day running of Scotland. Why aren't you asking where Darling was on the Syria vote in Westminster ? He certainly wasn't there - maybe he was doing another lunch speech for £12k or moving house rather than representing his constituents in Parliament. Or why don't you ask what Labour's Ian Davidson and the rest of the unionist Scottish Parliamentary Select Committee are doing. They seem to spend their time putting together rather vague reports on how the sky will fall in in an independent Scotland. Or indeed, where was the entire Labour party in March 2011 that failed to show up in Westminster to vote condemning the tax drop for the richest, from 50% to 45% as announced in Osbourne's budget that term ?

      Indeed it seems abundantly clear that Labour MSP's have no policy argument to make in Holyrood as the SNP continue their popular, universal welfare agenda, once Labour ground. Labour bosses at Westminster have so embarrassed the Scottish branch with their lurch to the right that the talk of independence is actually a helpful distraction for Lamont as talk of policy would only cause her mask to slip revealing the Tory she is.

      And just exactly where was Lamont during August and September ?

      'Salmond will have to resign as SNP leader and probably from politics.'

      - Why ? Independence is only one policy of the SNP. Yes it is No.1 on their agenda, but they have plenty of other policies and goals which thy are currently trying to achieve in Government. Their undeniable popularity is far greater than anything the Tories/Lib Dems or Labour enjoy and Salmond's personal ratings are far higher than Cameron's. By your logic, if Cameron should have resigned because he lost the vote on Syrian intervention. Absolutely no reason for Salmond to resign as First Minister in the event of a No vote. The referendum vote is not a vote on which party should be in power in Holyrood, it is a vote to choose how much power Holyrood should have.

    2. "'Salmond will have to resign as SNP leader and probably from politics."

      Possibly, but do you really think that Lamont has the tactical nous or know how to put enough pressure on Salmond to force him to resign? Much as i often disagree with Rev Stu, he is completely on the money on this.

    3. Nick
      The SNP did not introduce the smoking ban. You are right about the other decisions, they are mostly misguided. And they mostly pre-date Lamont's leadership.

      "Independence is only one policy of the SNP."

      If you believe that you're not thinking straight. "Independence" is the only thing which holds the SNP together. One example: John Swinney is believer in neoliberal economics - even the Laffer Curve FFS! But many SNP memebers want "independence" to bring forward some socialist utopia. They only stay together because of the SNP's raison d'etre, i.e. "independence". All other policy is cobbled together to buy votes and they change as public opinion moves.

      After a No vote, if it happens, Salmond would be so damaged that in the interests of the SNP he would have to resign. I don't really mind if he stays on and does some damage to the SNP, but I would presume he would want to restrict such damage and so would resign.

      These truths may be difficult for you to accept but, if the polls stay the same, you will have to face them eventually.

    4. You don't half talk some pish, Councillor.

      Nice goalpost shift in the first paragraph there. You switch seamlessly from "they haven't introduced any controversial policies", to "they HAVE introduced controversial policies, but they're wrong".

      (Nick, you forgot equal marriage.)

      If "independence is the only thing which holds the SNP together", then surely a No vote is exactly the thing that would ensure the SNP didn't break up? If there's a No vote, it'll still be there to be campaigned for. Only a Yes vote could logically result in the splintering of the party.

      (Sorry, what am I thinking of? Logic? You? My apologies.)

    5. Rev, if you want a civilised debate you shouldn't insult your opponent.

    6. Councillor, if you want people not to accuse you of talking pish, you shouldn't talk a load of pish.

  5. Allan ",,, do you really think that Lamont has the tactical nous or know how to put enough pressure on Salmond to force him to resign?..."

    Allan, it has nothing to do with Lamont.

    Salmond IS the Yes campaign.He's not young and he has put his entire life and credibility into the "independence" movement. If there is a No vote he's a busted flush with no credibility and no political creedit in the bank. His failure to deliver "independence" (should it happen) will destroy him.

    It won't matter who is the leader of any other party. He'll have no option but to go.

    1. Braveheart - The post is about Lamont though. Salmond might be a busted flush post "No" vote, i don't know. However what I do know is that Lamont just doesn't have it to put enough pressure on Salmond to resign. The phrase about being unable to fight their way out of a paper bag springs to mind.

      I suspect he won't be a busted flush because lets face it Lamont, Davidson & co are just political pygmies compared to Salmond. Unfortunately he knows it a bit too well.

    2. Sorry Allan. The post was about the polls showing that, even if the Nats lose the referendum, the SNP still being in government in 2016.

      My point is that a No vote would change everything. And it would.

      The leaders of the other parties are irrelevant. They will not need to put pressure on Salmond. The result will do that. And Sturgeon et al will want their shot at the leadership, and the party will split, and there will be resignations and recriminations and party morale will collapse and who knows what unpredctable events.

      Eck will no longer be in control of the party or his destiny.

      Of course a Yes vote would produce different pressures on different people. But that's not looking likey at the moment.

    3. Why would a No vote change everything?

      Would it suddenly make Scottish voters think Lamont's tenth-rate team of benchwarmers were government material? Hardly.

      SNP voters who backed them as a competent government but didn't favour independence would have no reason to change their allegiance, with independence off the agenda for at least a few years.

      Even if Salmond quit, you think there'd be a serious challenge to Sturgeon? She's the leader-elect, the heir apparent, and even more popular with the Scottish electorate than the FM is.

      Honestly, try to set your blind tribal hatred aside just for 10 seconds and look at the reality. Grown-ups are talking.

    4. Thanks Rev, forgot about equal marriage.

      Tend to agree that on a 'No' vote would probably see more support for the SNP in Holyrood as the last few years have seen very high satisfaction ratings amongst Scots voters for their governance. The public do appear to appreciate that the SNP act as a buffer against the worst of the Tory/Lib Dem cuts in Westminster.

      Braveheart claims that the only thing holding the SNP together is the independence issue. How come Labour manages to stick together with such opposing characters as Dennis Skinner and Ed Balls ? It seems that every party has different factions, and on the subject of Labour - look at Iraq scandal in which they lost Robin Cook shortly afterwards Clare Short. It seems obvious that the glue holding political parties together is their opposition to other political parties as much as their own policies. Iraq divided the Labour party but it didn't destroy them.

      The SNP had their NATO debate last year, a proper old style debate at conference in which party members spoke passionately about the new resolution. In the end a decision was made by vote. Now that cost the SNP a couple of long standing members who resigned from the Party - it hasn't led to the demise of the SNP.

      As for the 'socialist Utopia' you claim is desired by some SNP members, if that's your way of saying a 'fairer society' then it's funny that's what John Swinney has also called for, yet somehow you try to claim that he's a neo-liberal advocate. Having belief in one thing does not exclude you from another. I have neo-liberal aspects in my support for business de-regulation but I also believe in a 'fair society' - the welfare state and universal benefits. I think that can be paid for by multi nationals paying correct local taxes and not hiding away in offshore havens. What would be helpful is if you would, with some precision please, clearly define the parameters of 'neo-liberalism'. Then i will be able to examine Mr Swinney and see if his ideas do indeed prove to be incompatible with the ideas of a welfare state, or 'socialist utopia' as you call it.

      What does strike me as being particularly ridiculous is the claim from Labour supporters to be 'left wing' - that kind of self delusion is worrying, and we see it's vitriolic effect through Project Fear. Rather than face up to their own party, Labour, completely trashing the foundations on which they were built they would rather attack and demonise the SNP for delivering exactly the kind of policies that their supposed 'left wing' credentials should be in favour of. It's a baffling condition.

      If any political party is in danger of being seriously damaged, surely it has to be the Labour Party in Scotland.

      Braveheart, what you fail to address is this fundamental gap in the political landscape that sees no party (except the SNP) sitting on the centre left. Everyone, including Labour, are right of centre. In such a narrow spectrum, the question I hear more often is 'what's the point of all three parties as they all have the same agenda ?'

      Yet the SNP have positioned themselves on the centre-left, and are the only party of any power in the UK in this landscape. They have acres of room in which to roam, discussing policy, changing policy,making adjustments and fundamentally, they will still be the only credible centre left party in the UK.

      It's abundantly clear that even if the SNP were to drop the whole independence issue that their political stance on the centre left would still be a vital political alternative to the narrow right wing politics of the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems.

      Finally, your last point about the polls. They're not worth it in my opinion. They seem fundamentally flawed as the weighting systems all seem to be based on Westminster voting intentions and they aren't geared towards a referendum. The methodology is so skewed that a recent one actually had Labour winning the 2011 Holyrood election !

  6. There are many problems for every country and how each country solves the modern problems,or rather the responsibilities of government.My opinion on the Labour party in Scotland is quite simply,"If you act like a Tory,have the same policies as the Tories then you are a Tory" the Labour party in Scotland has moved away from the "traditional" Labour concept of government to become the "New Conservative Party of Scotland" to me that is obvious.We in Scotland have been sucked almost dry from successive Westminster administrations some of them claim to be Labour party ,some Conservative party and to aid and abet them we have the compliant Liberal-Democrats,together they appear,to me,as one big party which I would say is the Westminster party.Desperation for power,and the old adage that power corrupts (absolute & ect:) is what drives them now,they have no concern for the well-being of the people of Scotland nor,in the majority,the UK either,just power. The Labour party in Scotland has used the backs of the working-class to raise themselves up to be the new aristocracy with the self belief (my thinking) that they should rule and us voters are just an inconvenience to be petted like a little puppy.Lamont hides when difficult decisions have to be taken as,so it seems,she has to wait for word from one of the Westminster party as to which way to jump or indeed how high,lets just have control of Scotland's government back in Scotland including all our responsibilities of any normal country,we have been divided and controlled for much to long.

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  8. Surely though the whole point of these figures is that they indicate quite clearly how likely a Yes vote is. Of course it's interesting to speculate on Lamont's future. BUT, the figures suggest that voters when faced with the real choice next year are going to tend towards the side they trust than the one they don't. Anyone who believes otherwise must imagine Scottish voters are idiots who place loyalty to the UK above their own interests but there is no evidence whatsoever to back this up.