Friday, March 23, 2012
Labour leader Johann Lamont ambushes Alex Salmond at the pass, over NHS Scotland failures over the care of patients at FMQs, totally shredded!
In the political battles in Holyrood Alex Salmond and the SNP generally have an easy ride, yesterday; the First Minister was ‘ambushed at the pass’ as Labour leader Johann Lamont press home an attack.
The ambush happened in what is seen as Alex Salmond’s domain and the graveyard of Labour politicians, FMQs.
Johann Lamont stood up at question time and let rip about SNP failure in the NHS seen as the Crown jewel of the SNP Government.
In his usual, ‘can’t touch this’ moment of batting away and dismissed claims of Labour politicians, he went on the attack.
But he was lured into a trap about exchanges about nurse numbers and other health statistics, Ms Lamont threw a punch by confronted the First Minister about people suffering in the NHS by lying in beds without blankets.
"Does the First Minister realise it's not enough just to say you are protecting the NHS, you actually have to do it?"
Typically Alex Salmond he cited high satisfaction of the NHS in Scotland and saying Labour's health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie had been forced to withdraw and apologise for previous "scare stories" on shortage of blankets across Greater Glasgow Health Board.
He had to look in horror as the Labour leader pointed two such patients in the public gallery at Holyrood who were victims.
Game, set and match Johann Lamont.
After FMQs, Alex Salmond abruptly changed his schedule to meet the pensioners in a damage limitation exercise.
Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon then both apologised "for their individual experience and the lack of blankets during their stays" in hospital.
Is this the new tactic of Labour leader Johann Lamont?
Bring victims of SNP failure to Holyrood, put them in the gallery and pin them to Alex Salmond?
One of the victims was 92-year-old Helen Macbeth who lay "frozen" in her bed at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.
How can staff be unable to find her a blanket in a public funded hospital?
In the end her family brought in her own blankets for the next three days.
Another exocet missile was the case of great-grand-father Jack Barr, 64, who spent three nights in the same hospital "with only his towel to keep him warm.
As trap was set, Johann Lamont said:
"If the First Minister won't believe me, why doesn't he come and meet Mr Barr and Mrs Macbeth in my office after this session and explain that we don't have a problem with the NHS?"
It was classic politics.
It also highlights what I have been saying about the Scottish Government that Ministers needs two deputies in all departments specifically tasked to oversight. If such a thing was in place, then such problems could be dealt with at operational levels.
Because review would always be constant, and perhaps the Scottish Government should consider a helpline for patients and family members that fast track such problems.
Alex Salmond was ambushed at the pass, and it was a bad one.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University