Saturday, October 25, 2014

Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont resigns as leader, she stands down with immediate effect, citing Ed Miliband and those around him treat Scotland as a “branch office”, Labour’s Scottish troubles just got a whole lot deeper, Labour needs new talent

Dear All

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has resigned with immediate effect.

In leaving the post as leader she has accused the UK party of treating Scotland like a "branch office".

The Labour Party in Scotland is now at a crossroads, when you look up at the sign posts there is really only one name stands out within the MSP ranks Ken Macintosh.

The other alternative is that Labour elect someone who is a big Westminster hitter such as Jim Murphy or Gordon Brown, both had very successful independence campaigns.

In an ideal world, a replacement would have come from the MSP ranks, but the choice is so poor.

And you can add to it that Scottish Labour can’t be just a name anymore because as Lamont found out key decisions, including the removal of Scottish Labour general secretary Ian Price, were made without her input.

During the Yes campaign, her constituency Pollok returned the highest Yes vote in Glasgow so Johann Lamont has other problems to consider like holding onto the seat in 2016. 26.802 people voted Yes and Lamont’s vote in 2011 was 10.875.

As she has resigned as leader, she will find the extra help in constituency at election will also disappear, which means she really does face a long hard slog all the way.

The 56-year-old MSP indicated in her decision to resign that she had "had enough" well her troubles are just starting in her own backyard.

As to the removal of Scottish Labour general secretary Ian Price, it wasn’t a secret that the Labour campaign was poor on the ground, and it wasn’t a secret that equally Better Together suffered in Glasgow because of it.

Something had to be done with or without her input.

MP Anas Sarwar has become interim leader of the party north of the border while a successor is being chosen.

Former Scottish Labour first ministers, Henry McLeish and Jack McConnell, spoke to the BBC about the big problems that now faced their party.

Like loss of direction, lack of policy and drift, matters haven’t been helped by the infighting to rebrand Labour by people unhappy about the way the party was going.

Lord McConnell said he was "very, very angry" and insisted that the UK leadership had serious questions to answer.

Henry McLeish added Scottish Labour was facing a crisis following a decade of decline, this was in part caused by a total disconnection with the people who found out something rather incredible, you go complain to your elected Labour member and then you don’t get help.

This is one of the reasons why so many people are turned off by Scottish Labour.

In a parting shot Lamont described some Labour MPs as "dinosaurs" who failed to recognise that "Scotland has changed forever" after September's referendum.

She told the newspaper:

"Scotland has chosen to remain in partnership with our neighbours in the UK. But Scotland is distinct and colleagues must recognise that. There is a danger of Scottish politics being between two sets of dinosaurs - the Nationalists who can't accept they were rejected by the people, and some colleagues at Westminster who think nothing has changed."

I would have to agree with that, things have changed but there isn’t a will to accept that in Labour.

Lamont added:

"Party members up and down the country, voters on the doors, have spoken to me about the change they want. And that's a Scottish Labour Party which reflects their views. That's what I have been trying to build. However, some wanted me to become the issue. The Scottish Labour Party and its renewal are more important than me. That's why I am standing down - so that debate our country demands can take place."

In her resignation letter to Jamie Glackin, chair of the Scottish Labour Party, she said:

"In order that we can have the real discussion about how we take Scottish Labour forward, I believe it would be best if I took myself out of the equation and stepped down as leader."

As they say never a dull moment in politics.

Henry McLeish says the resignation was evidence of his party in crisis, he is right, in very party there is a rise and fall; the trouble is that renewal can forestall that process if the Labour Party in Scotland can re-invent itself.

And the re-invention is returning to it socialist roots which have been abandoned along with the ethos of public service.

McLeish added:

"This crisis in Labour didn't happen yesterday - this has been a decade now of decline. We've seen that they [Labour] have failed to match the other parties in terms of devolution commission reports and of course we have had this suffocating control of Westminster during this period. And this leads to the need for a very different modern Labour Party as we go ahead."

That sounds fine but the real nub is disconnect with people they are supposed to represent, the Labour Party’s business getting satisfied customers in the areas they represent, can they honestly say are pro active in doing that?

I am sure that many people in the Yes campaign will be very happy today, but they should remember that Lamont took out Alex Salmond prior to stepping down.

As to my own feelings about her resignation, I am neither happy nor unhappy by this event, I once went to Johann Lamont with a complaint, it was a genuine complaint, and it got tossed in the bin.

I got no help.

The Labour Party need to do something major to sort out their problems which is a bit hard in a party struggling and on a downward slope at present!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

No comments: