Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Lamontable leadership: is Cowardice the best the Union can offer?

Johann Lamont was elected in December 2011, not even three months ago, and she’s now averaging in excess of at least one example of cowardice per month. Cowardice is the primary verb one would use to indicate failure to take a stand, accept responsibility or act on a situation through apparent fear of consequences.

We have been informed that Ms. Lamont is the Labour leader, that she has responsibility for all Labour in Scotland. Ms. Lamont therefore has the duty to lead her party; it is a duty that so far she has shirked.

The lack of backbone exhibited by Labour leadership in Scotland makes it clear; the Union in Scotland is in utter disarray.

It is credible that the largest of the Union parties should lead the way in the upcoming fight over independence, but based on current performance who will lead that party, because at the present time, London influence excluded, it is most definitely leaderless.

Leadership is about traits and attributes, a state of being, Johann Lamont to date has been prominent by her lack of leadership traits, by her silence, rather than exemplifying characteristics we should admire, support and wish to emulate or follow.

With Labour being the recognized opposition to the governing party, this is representative of an extremely worrying situation. An opposition party is supposed to provide a check and balance, it should offer alternatives, it should be constructive in debate and it should contribute to policy development.

Under the reported leadership of Johann Lamont, rapidly fading beyond gray, it has demonstrably exhibited none of those characteristics.

In the case of Stirling Council the Labour party joined forces with the Tory’s to defeat the minority SNP budget. In so doing they voted against their own Labour amendments and scuppered a national Labour party policy of standing against council tax cuts. There was no response from Ms. Lamont. Silence is not a mark of leadership. Silence when faced with promotion of a policy that is inconsistent with your stated goals is simply incomprehensible. Stirling Labour just ridiculed Scottish Labour.

In the case of Falkirk MP Eric Joyce, now awaiting disposition of charges for assault, in addition to being the first MP to claim over 1,000,000 in expenses the lack of leadership action is stupefying. Ms. Lamont was officially given responsibility for all Labour in Scotland. Mr. Joyce is a representative of Labour in Scotland. Mr. Joyce is Ms. Lamont’s responsibility. That Ed Miliband had to take matters into his own hands regarding a Scottish MP is deplorable. That the Labour leader in Scotland took no action and made no statement relegates her position to sham puppetry, fear or cowardice, not leadership.

There was a recently reported comment in national media, attributed to the Labour party, from a senior party official that Labour would rather have a “nutter than a Nat” in the Falkirk seat, and therefore strongly inferred that there would be no by-election. A leader, a real leader, would get help for the individual concerned before events reached the stage they are at, allowing that the local party attempted de-selection because of “concerns”. Leadership in the political arena would acknowledge the constituents desires come before any party.

In failing to act prior to the situation exploding leadership can still be effective, it can offer support, treatment and counseling for one who has lost their way. In a public case it should do so publically, and acknowledge the errors made in leadership. It cannot force the individual to accept help, but it must be offered as the organization demonstrates what procedures are being put in place to stop a repeat performance. That these measures are not being announced are additional examples of less than poor leadership.

Glasgow council is in meltdown; any stand Johanna Lamont was considering there has melted away. There has been no response from Labour’s non entity, for such is the only realistic way to describe one appointed to lead and who then does so by absence. Glasgow needs leadership until the Council elections, not just after them.

Referencing Glasgow once more, there has been an allegation of bullying and improper pressure against specific council members, yet the member making alleged threats is remains a candidate when others do not, all without any inkling of an enquiry. This only lends credence to the allegations that the Scots Labour leader is but a puppet, with strings being jerked in London. This is not leadership in Scotland; it appears simple cowardice, a fear of the potential issues that might be uncovered in a well executed investigation. Cowardice is not a generally accepted leadership quality.

There was an instance regarding rape allegations made in the chamber at Holyrood, allegations that appear to be contrived, aged, prior to the administration presently in office and fundamentally misdirected. As Alex Salmond showed when quoting erroneously supplied data in the same chamber, mistakes can happen but true leadership is about acknowledging these issues at the earliest possible opportunity and offering apology with acceptance. That is a cost of leadership. Scotland is still waiting for the apology in the above case; Scotland is still waiting for that acknowledgement of leadership. We are not waiting for more silence.

Scotland has asked the Labour leader for her position on Trident, again silence.

Our government has asked the Labour leader for her support in its budget, a budget amended at her organisation’s request, we still failed to see that support.

The Edinburgh legislature has requested input on legislation, bills like the upcoming or soon to be discarded Scotland bill, Scotland gets refusal, abstention, obstruction or obfuscation.

Silence, refusal, obfuscation, obstruction, cowardice, these are not leadership qualities we either need or want in Scotland. We saw a prime time example of cowardice last year, involving another Labour leader hiding in a sandwich shop, Ms. Lamont has had so many allegorical examples it’s barely worth keeping score.

Our nation needs a voice that supports her, that defends her, that will fight for her. It needs that voice; it needs that clarity of purpose in far more than one political party.

Examining the above with respect to the upcoming referendum it is hardly surprising the Union parties, fronted by Labour in Scotland have so far failed to promote a positive case for the Union. Before they can present any positive case on an ideal they reportedly hold dear to their hearts, they must first be able to present a positive case for themselves and their leadership.

Labour needs to decide, does the leader change, does the leadership change, does the party change or do they simply continue an apparently inexorable march to electoral oblivion.

The other Union parties should consider well Labour’s plight, it is also theirs.


  1. Very good paper and accurately describes current plight of the Labour Party. Lamont is lightweight and not leadership material, its like a stairheed rammy when she tries to challenge. The Tories in Scotland are in a same position being mis-led by a political pygmy who has no potitical experience to draw on. Like Lamont her stay as leader will be short lived - would have been better if Murdo Fraser had won. Paul Leslie - Scone

  2. Absolutely right and it demonstrates the total arrogance of the BritNats that they have no interest in any respect agenda. As far as they are concerned the 'sweaty socks' as my London friends call us are not worth taking seriously, so the respective party leaders matter not a jot!

  3. Hi there,

    I thought things were bad for Labour under Iain Gray but they have been much worse under Ms Lamont. Its the sheer lack of respect for the electorate that I find hard to stomach, the assumed, unquestioned (by Labour), right of Labour to rule and consequently conduct themselves as they see fit at the time, irrespective of the needs of the people. Its like a bad comedy. And still Scots in their droves seem prepared to vote for them.

    Do we deserve Independence? There's still a lot of work to be done before I think we can say that we do.