Love’s Labour’s Lost


As the political fratricide within Labour rumbles on like a sort of Edgar Alan Poe spectacle it’s disconcerting that the person who is on the money about poor Johann is Alex Massie, who wrote earlier:

That Johann Lamont did not lead the Scottish Labour party terribly well was less remarkable than the fact she led it at all.’ 

The party conveyor belt has produced the following:  Donald Dewar (7 May 1999 – 11 October 2000), Henry McLeish (27 October 2000 – 8 November 2001), Jack McConnell (22 November 2001 – 15 August 2007), Wendy Alexander (14 September 2007 – 28 June 2008), Iain Gray (13 September 2008 – 17 December 2011), Johann Lamont (January 2012 – October 2014) with a sort of inevitable diminishing return so that each time they become more obscure, less credible, more ridiculous.

Devolution hasn’t really worked for Labour, reduced from the intellectual rigour of Dewar to the rigor mortis of Lamont.

Johann, who managed to exude all the charm of an eel, will be remembered for one famous statement she made, and then spent a long time denying. Her famous line that “Scotland cannot be the only something for nothing country in the world” was eminently deniable, only scuppered by the fact that she’d said it on television. See here.

At that time, the Guardian’s Richard Seymour asked simply: ‘Why is the Scottish Labour leadership so abysmal?’ answering:

“For example, by any reasonable definition, Johann Lamont’s policy announcement on Tuesday was a train wreck. After Iain Gray’s lacklustre, gaffe-prone and election-losing leadership, pro-Labour pundits had persuaded themselves that Lamont was quite a heavyweight Scottish Labour leader. They should be face-palming. The policy implications of Lamont’s speech – ending universal benefits, raising tuition fees, cutting free prescriptions – were bad enough. The atrocious, reactionary soundbites, demanding an end to “something for nothing” culture, were worse. And it was all delivered in a colliding procession of clichés and non-sequiturs, with faltering speech, and without conviction.”

It was an odd moment of botched political theatre, her trying to come over all tough and Blairite but just shocking people with her brutish political touch. We thought she was supposed to be all about communities and ‘ordinary people’ but instead it sounded callous.

The following video is all the statement that’s needed about Lamont, who never managed to lead her party with any surety or confidence and now leaves with a moan and a stumble.

But where does it Labour? Who’s next up?

Douglas Alexander is dull at a molecular level but might bring peace with angry Labour MPs. He has written and delivered some of the most turgid speeches known to mankind. He is also tainted by Patronising BT Lady, which was his remarkably dreadful campaign baby.

Jim Murphy is popular and articulate, if overly aggressive and carries with him a large container-load of Unreconstructed Blairite Baggage: marked ‘Iraq’.

Gordon Brown is like the Prince of the Undead, he’s Kirkcaldy’s Nosferatu back for more. But, aside from the wreaths and laurels bestowed by the London press, the reality is that almost all of Brown’s indyref speaking engagements were set-piece behind closed doors affairs to the ‘party faithful’. He still can’t really communicate and The Vow is a massive albatross around his neck.

If Brown is over-qualified, Kezia Dugdale is the opposite. Would she survive the mauling of the Labour London Sharks? Probably not.

At an absolutely crucial time the Labour Party in Scotland is in terminal decline. As each counter-ratchet of leadership quality marks, they descend into a downward spiral of bitterness, negativity and reactionary spin. Their focus becomes solely: To Destroy the SNP, rather than to serve their own common goals or core beliefs, whatever they may be (?)

They are led in London by Ed Miliband whose own polling is tanking (reaching a 33 month low) and who is unlikely to have the nerve or guile to make the sort of big-picture changes that Labour require.

YG leader ratings
It’s going to become more and more of a shambles.

On the BBC’s Crossfire Andy Kerr, ex Labour Finance Minister stated bluntly: “Labour gave birth to Scottish parliament and then tried to strangle it”. This is Civil War as a spectator sport.

Comments (75)

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  1. vronsky says:

    “the intellectual rigour of Dewar”

    You obviously you don’t mind being laughed at.

    1. bellacaledonia says:


      1. lawrenceab says:

        Dewar colluded with Blair on the very eve of the (re-)opening of Holyrood to divert the English/Scottish maritime boundary way to the NE, chop thousands of square miles and seven oil fields from Scotland’s waters… why should this man be respected??

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          I was merely stating that he had a higher level of intellectual capacity than the leaders since. I think that’s undeniably true.

  2. “Jim Murphy is popular and articulate”… ?!?

    The man’s so dreary and dull, I fall asleep after hearing him speak for more than 10 seconds. Not qualifications needed to lead a parliamentary opposition. Time for the next generation, surely?

    1. muttley79 says:

      I have to agree with Paul. Mike, I think you have jumped the shark here in saying that Murphy is popular and articulate. The guy is a smear merchant, who is the prototype Blairite drone.

      1. bellacaledonia says:

        I mean, clearly, within the Labour Party

      2. muttley79 says:

        Mike, I am not even sure Murphy is all that popular in the Labour Party. Malcolm Chisholm said it would be a disaster if a Westminster Labour MP became leader of SLAB at Holyrood. No doubt Murphy has a clique of supporters and acolytes in SLAB, but I cannot imagine he is universally popular.

    2. Eddie says:

      I agree and Donald Dewar, although an articulate man, was devious and contrived with Blair to alter the Scottish maritime border, as was stated above. You would have to be off your head to vote for Labour in next year’s elections.

  3. Ann win next time says:

    Lamentable Lamont has opened a pandoras box, who will follow her into further decline?
    I don’t think many will want to deaden their careers and in Murphy’s case miss out on all the expenses goodies he collects when in Westminster.
    No-one will forget the egg hitting the back of the head. No -one will forget the cosying up with the tories and then standing up in the Scottish parliament and pretending he wants to speak up for Scotland!
    Millipede will have to offer him lots more goodies than we can imagine but then if millipede is going down he may want to take a few nasties with him.

    1. Ian Vallance says:

      The Scottish Labour party are like the communist party after the collapse of the Soviet Union / GDR etc. It has been revealed to be a made up almost entirely of careerists and apparatchiks, the full revelation took 14 years not months but it was, looking back, inevitable. It was always the case that the smartest of these self righteous renta -cause lefties were really looking to be where power and career opportunities really are. This always left the Scottish branch office staffed by the worst of the breed but that didnt matter as the Scottish voter wold elect turds in red rosettes to local government, and they viewed Holyrood as nothing but a new local government format. They never expected to have do anything other than staff Holyrood. The first shock was having to actually govern and in coalition, and they proved almost entirely useless at it. Then the impossible happened they had to be in opposition, a situation the West of Scotland dominated SLP were incapable of comprehending, never mind being able to accomplish and they still don’t really get it they wander about thinking they are still in power I think. They seem to think they have devine right to run things and are just waiting for normal service (and gravy stream) to be returned. However I am not entirely convinced that they wont make a Lazarus scale come back. The instinct to vote for the turd in the red rossette runs very deep in some parts of this country. So despite any ineptness and lack of talent they will still get the majority of seats for the real power still is in 2015, and the true players in the party will yet again avoid, for another 5 years at least, having to actually serve the Scottish people. They are down but sadly not out I feel.

  4. Fed up with the lies and propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    Johann Lamont said that Labour treats Scotland like a branch office, which is a bit rich coming from her since she said and I quote ” The Scots are not genetically programmed to make decisions for themselves.” Can you imagine if she said that about black people ? Yet being anti Scots is perfectly acceptable. That’s how the Labour party perceives the Scots and Scotland ” Yes Bwana, No Bwana ” just voting fodder.

    1. benmadigan says:

      I included this very video in my own post about Ms Lamont’s resignation because in my view it typifies the labour attitude .

      1. Wul says:

        Even though I find her unpleasant, inarticulate, small minded and generally hopeless, I do think Lamont has been misrepresented on this point.
        I think what she was trying to say here was something like: “there is nothing unique, by birth, about Scottish people that makes them automatically superior in their political decision making skills, compared to the rest of the UK”.
        It came out the way it did because she is a hopeless communicator and seems unable to formulate coherent speech under pressure.
        Remember, this was at a point in the indyref debate when much was being made of Scots’ inherently more egalitarian and socially democratic nature (or not).
        Fair’s fair, even for the Lamentable.

      2. Gordon bradley says:

        You’re obviously a nice guy. A right old softie in fact.
        But that’s what she said. We heard her !

      3. Dean Richardson says:

        Inarticulate, incoherent and a hopeless communicator. And this woman used to be a teacher, I believe. The children she ‘taught’ have my deepest sympathies.

  5. david says:

    Do they yet have a caretaker leader inside the Scottish Parliament to deal with the ongoing business of being in opposition. Who is it? Surely that is urgent?

    1. Barontorc says:

      The fact there is no caretaker speaks volumes about the day-to-day, taking-care-of-business effort actually expended by SLAB. The only active mind was the despicable Paul Sinclair as he put his poison-dipped pen to work writing JoLo’s drivelling questions for the FM at FMQ. What was abundantly clear was the SLAB obsession for negativity and attack on anything Scottish.

      There’s not a hope in hell of SLAB re-inventing itself on it’s history and traditional values – it’s too tied up with UK Labour’s mindless race to he bottom chasing the Tories and now UKIP. They’re gone forever.

    2. MBC says:

      Jackie Baillie will take FM’s questions.

  6. Jane Paterson says:

    The real sad part of this story is that the unionist politicians are so busy fighting for power and privilege they have forgotten about the people they are supposed to serve.The union is broken.

    1. Dean Richardson says:

      If only they’d put a bullet into the ‘union’s’ skull, as they would a lame horse, and end it as humanely and quickly as possible.

    2. JBS says:

      They don’t serve the people. They serve Big Money.

  7. Fed up with the lies and propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    ”Jim Murphy is popular and articulate, ”

    Just another typical snake oil salesman and bar room brawler from the Labour party, who would do or say anything to climb the greasy pole and stab Scotland in the back, plus he has an uncanny resemblance to Skeletor.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      I meant – obviously – within the Labour Party …

  8. Will Mcewan says:

    Million Pound Murphy, Friend of Israel, is neither popular nor articulate. After a Labour For Independence meeting in Dunoon I asked the four Labour members who had made up the platform party who they disliked most on the Labour Party and they unanimously chose Murphy. When he came to Dunoon with his bus tour he tried four different spots and could get an audience at none of them. I hope he gets to be Labour’s Scottish leader. Dave McEwan Hill

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      I meant within Labour (thought this was obvious)

      1. joseph O Luain says:

        No, it wasn’t at all obvious.

    2. bellacaledonia says:

      It really was

      1. G. P. Walrus says:

        It was relatively obvious, when compared to the unobviousness of Murphy’s articulacy and popularity.

      2. JBS says:

        What, is it pantomime season already?

    3. Dean Richardson says:

      When you consider some of the people in the current Labour party (Brown, Reid, Straw, Harman, Martin, Short, Prescott, Hain, for example), Murphy must be seriously unpleasant to be the one those people in Dunoon disliked the most.

  9. Valerie says:

    Comedy gold, and more to come I’m sure. Can’t feel an ounce of compassion for Lamont, the woman who celebrated when Asda said prices would rise if the country wanted to be independent. Celebrated with a trolley rally outside one of their supermarkets. Only downside is Cameron must be lapping it up big time, because he thought he had stabbed Labour good with EVEL, but never foresaw this hilarity.

    1. Fed up with the lies and propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

      ”the woman who celebrated when Asda said prices would rise if the country wanted to be independent.”

      The same bitter little Labour party who rejoiced when Ireland and Iceland’s economy went over a cliff to put one over on Scotland’s Independence movement, strange they didn’t mention Norway.

  10. Strange how she wanted autonomy for Scottish Labour or rather Labour in Scotland,but not for Scotland her self!

    1. Dean Richardson says:

      Party first, the people a distant second. It’s always been the Labour way, and probably always will be. The party of unity and solidarity? They’re having a giggle.

  11. andygm1 says:

    Couple of missing words in that article Mike.

  12. jimnarlene says:

    “the intellectual rigour of Dewar” and”Jim Murphy is popular and articulate, ” ; now that is comedy gold.

    1. Fed up with the lies and propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

      Is that the same Donald Dour who was against British Gas privatisation in the 1980s yet when he died it was found in his will that he left a million shares of British Gas to his family ? well, you gotta look after number one I suppose.

      And who didn’t want the Scots Parliament on top of Calton Hill, a prominent position because it would turn out to be a Nationalist Shibboleth so picked instead the bottom of the Royal Mile, down an alleyway. Talk about spiteful.

      1. Dean Richardson says:

        Don’t forget his part in moving the Anglo-Scottish maritime border, so that a few North Sea oil-fields suddenly became English rather than Scottish. Or am I thinking of someone else?

  13. bellacaledonia says:

    Donald Dewar was head and shoulders above the current crop. If you think that’s not true you have no sense of perspective.

    1. Nigel says:

      Ah yes Bella!

      A classic example of ” in the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king”……

  14. epicyclo says:

    The problem the Labour Party has is they are defending the party rather than the principles of the party, and in doing so have abandoned all the principles.

    This is blatantly obvious to anyone in a union. Imagine a Labour party which is actually anti-union, yet that’s what we seem to have.

    And imagine a Scottish Labour party which is anti Home Rule, yet that is what we have.

    And it very obviously is anti the common worker and unemployed, the poor, needy and destitute.

    Unfortunately for them there are not enough millionaire pseudo socialists to vote for them. They just become Labours MPs.

    What the referendum has done is make this blatantly obvious to the true believers who now are flocking to the SMP, SSP etc.

  15. epicyclo says:

    Sorry SNP, not SMP 🙂

  16. nigel says:

    If Brown is over-qualified, Kezia Dugdale is the opposite.

    Dugdale?? Sorry-who??


    1. Barontorc says:

      Come, come Nigel – you must have been mightily impressed by her alter ego, nom de guerre -‘FiFi la bon-bon’- not!

      Dignity ain’t a SLAB strong-suit.

  17. david agnew says:

    the main point here, is that the front runners are MPs, not MSPs. Now labour say they can lead Scottish Labour effectively from Westminster, but the obvious pitfalls are there for anyone to see. If the leader is an MP, then he cannot sit in Holyrood. This means a new tier of management, where labour have to select an MSP to be the leaders spokesperson in Holyrood. He can’t be deputy leader, that post is taken. So this individual would be under the responsibility of the deputy leader, who answers to the leader, who in turn is answerable to the party whip in westminster. Given Scottish labours chronic inability to even get its arguments straight with themselves, let alone the UK party, one can imagine the daily car crash that FMQs will descend into. Also is the dilemma of the next holyrood election. The leader would not be able to stand as the First Minister, that role would fall to the assistant spokesperson representing him in holyrood. This would result in a grade A crisis as the First Minister would have no real powers, and would take direction from a back bench MP who takes direction from a party whip in Westminster. At a stroke, Labour would be seen as not taking Scotland or the Scottish parliament all that seriously. The position of Scottish leader and his/her spokesperson would be fatally undermined – by labour.

    This leaves the option of them picking from their MSPs – who would be the ones who “lost” to Lamont.

    let that last sentence sink in for a min and you realise just how badly damaged labour actually are.

    1. tartanfever says:

      Good point David.

      I notice that none of the mainstream media outlets are putting this little poser to Labour either.

      The utter stupidity in appointing a Westminster MP in charge of the Scottish branch office must rank amongst one of the most stupid possible actions they could take.

      Surely they couldn’t be so daft ?

      1. MBC says:

        I think the plan is to get the MP a seat as an MSP by asking one of them to ‘retire’, hold a by-election, and get the MP in that way.

  18. Brian Powell says:

    “Johann Lamont said that Labour treats Scotland like a branch office”. We were saying that throughout the Referendum; she was saying, “Strong Scottish Parliament within the UK”.
    This hypocrisy was a total betrayal of Scotland when it was trying to decide it’s constitutional future. She has no excuses.
    Brown and Murphy? they should be in the war criminals dock in the Hague, along with Blair.

  19. “Jim Murphy is popular and articulate”

    Is this the same Jim Murphy who tried to provoke people into giving him stick so that he could use it to smear the entire Yes campaign?

    He’s about as popular as a rotten egg in my living room.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      See my response again and again and again …

      1. oldbattle says:

        Mike, The dark horse is Neil Findlay with tons of union backing and believe it or not: Principles (not a word allowed in Labour circles.)

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          Yes I see Ladbrokes have slashed the odds for him.

  20. Fed up with the lies and propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    Dean Richardson

    I think it was ”Doctor” John Reid, Stalins Grandad who with a stroke of a pen Scotland lost 6,000 square miles of maritime water, not covered much by the lame stream media, but hey who cares about that when something more important like X Factor and Strictly etc etc is on television.

    1. Dean Richardson says:

      Thanks for putting me right.

      1. JGedd says:

        Well, I was of the opinion that it was Donald Dewar, together with Tony Blair, who engineered that allocation of 6000 sq. miles of North Sea to English jurisdiction by means of re-drawing the maritime border. John Reid may well have been involved in the scheming but the annexation was mainly down to Donald Dewar and Blair. I actually remember when it was done. Though it was kept very quiet in national press, I read about it then in a local paper, believe it or not, complete with maps as illustration.

    2. Nigel says:

      I believe ” oor ‘enery’ Mcleish was in charge when this act of treachery against the Scottish peoples took place…

      1. JGedd says:

        Sorry, again re the link above, the annexation was enacted by an order in council in 1999. An order in council means that legislation can be enacted secretly without discussion in parliament, just like exercising the power of a medieval monarch. Donald Dewar was the very first, First Minister, until his unexpected death on 11 October, 2000. Henry McLeish did not become First Minister until 26 October, 2000. Let’s place the blame squarely where it belongs. This is fairly recent history after all.

      2. davidmccann24 says:

        On April 13th 1999, two weeks before the first Scottish Parliament was elected, Henry McLeish (Scottish Enterprise Minister at that time) ”quietly moved” England’s North Sea fisheries boundary 60 miles north. annexing some 6,000 square miles of Scottish waters containing six oil wells in the process.
        The former boundary between English and Scottish waters ran due east from Berwick to a median line between the UK and Norway.
        The boundary shift was established by an order carried out at Westminster under the Scottish Adjacent Boundaries Order (1999). The order was passed by the House of Lords and the Committee on Delegated Legislation on March 23, but was not openly debated in the Commons.
        The Scottish Secretary at the time was John Reid.
        The late Ian Goldie wrote a report of this in his booklet ‘The Case for Independence’ still available from the Scots Independent Newspapers.

      3. Wul says:

        Right, who was it? McLeish, Dewar or Reid? I’d like a definitive answer on this yin if possible.

  21. Reblogged this on My Little Underground and commented:
    I’m off work due to a cold which wiped my weekend out, so I’ve been following the implosion of Scottish Labour, and the jiggerpokery it’s supporters are trying to do in order to spin Johann Lamont’s resignation as Labour ‘leader’ in Scotland as some sort of positive. In fact it’s exposed the horrible mess not just Labour in Scotland are in but the UK as a whole, not to mention in five weeks we’ve seen Better Together being totally exposed as a sad sham.

    This splendid blog from Bella Caledonia does go into detail but the question is now is how Labour can survive? I don’t think they can and at this point the supporters of the party in England need to catch up with the people of Scotland realise that because Labour supported wonderful things in 1945, and dragging out Harry Leslie Smith to remind people of this isn’t telling the story of the party today or what it really stands for.

    So right now the leader of Scottish Labour seems to be a choice between Jim Murphy, Kezia Dugdale and hilariously, Gordon Brown who would lead I assume via Skype.

    Who would have thought that the winners in the referendum campaign would lose so badly?

    1. nigel says:

      This splendid blog from Bella Caledonia does go into detail but the question is now is how Labour can survive?

      Common sense would dictate that they will not, indeed, survive long.

      However, knowing the types who have voted for the party o turds for aons, I would hesitate to forecast their early demise yet!

      Scots have long been known for plucking defeat from the jaws of victory, witness the recent debacle on Sept 18!!

      1. MBC says:

        He supprts Trident renewal in 2016.

  22. oldbattle says:

    Jim Murphy carries more baggage than his vociferous support for the Iraq war. He is a committed hawk on his support for pre-emptive military intervention and this ideological position has gained him many friends in the Pentagon.
    This is reinforced by his association with the right-of- centre US funded thinktank the Henry Jackson Society.
    This London& Cambridge grouping of Anglo-American pro-military hawks includes Sir Richard Dearlove former head of MI6, Richard Perle, William Kristol, Natan Sharansky (Chair of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel), James Woolsey (former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency), Marc S. Ellenbogen (President, Prague Society for International Cooperation plus several members of the Conservative Party. (See Wikipedia)
    Murphy’s firmly Blairist position creeps to the right whenever military policy is raised. This surely would come into conflict with Labour policy in Scotland?

  23. arthur thomson says:

    Whoever takes over SLAB and however much of a debacle it is, the MSM/BBC will present it in a positive light. Also, the working class tories who are the core of what remains of SLAB will be inclined to ignore it all and cast their votes for them anyway. We have to press the point that to vote for SLAB is to support institutionalised poverty. We need to be singular in our approach and repeatedly express the view that all those ‘Scottish Labour Party supporters’ who had principles have left it to join other parties. When we hear the refrain ‘vote Labour to keep out the tories’ we need to chorus ‘Scottish Labour are the tories, the working class tories’. Who SLAB elects is no more than a mildly interesting irrelevance in my view.

  24. JWil says:

    Murphy is the doyen of snake oil salesmen. Far too smooth and syrupy. If he takes over in Scotland it will be severe depression all round.

    The main entertainment at the moment is the sight of the Blair witches at each others throat.

  25. Fed up with the lies and propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    I’m amazed Labour, the 3 stooges Dour, Reid, McLeish didn’t just go the whole hog and put the Anglo Scots maritime border up to Wick, after all they do like taking the piss out of us, unfortunately the media is about as bent as a spiral staircase to cover it and a lot of Scots are asleep at the wheel to notice or care ( not Bella readers and Yes voters) which suits Lib Lab Con just fine.

    1. Dean Richardson says:

      Sadly, there are also plenty of us in England asleep at the wheel. In fact, I’d say it’s something you’ll see across the developed world. While many of us are materially and economically better off than our ancestors, the major global corporations, governments and their lackeys have dumbed us down to the extent that we’re deaf and blind to what’s going on around us, and that we’re a lot worse off as communities, societies and nations. If you’re still awake and switched on, your means of protesting or trying to do anything are increasingly closed off. George Orwell only got the year wrong as the title of his famous book.

      1. Fed up with the lies and propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

        David Rockerfeller quote

        “We are grateful to The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the work is now much more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto determination practiced in past centuries.”

        Benjamin Disraeli quote

        “The world is governed by very different personages from what is imagined by those who are not behind the scenes.”

        John F Kennedy his Secret Societies speech, he wanted to abolish the Federal Reserve, a private bank, and print his own money without charging people huge interest, look what happened to him.

  26. DougtheDug says:

    This is just an internal Labour turf war over the extent of the Scottish Manager’s powers and who will now get the job which appears to stop any political career in its tracks.

    Most of the Labour party don’t care or even know who the contenders are beyond MP Murphy and unless the spat about who gets left with the Scottish Manager’s post has a significant effect on the outcome of the 2015 election then their indifference will be proved correct.

  27. Puddin Heid Fae Poolmatunnock Near Whafmacludgie says:

    By God Mike I now fear you and dont want to get into your bad books! Read this piece and howled with laughter. It is so bang on. Just class.

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