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Forbidden fruit

Posted on April 24, 2013 by

It’s funny what you find when you’re not looking for it. As a result of a piece we wrote yesterday, we found ourselves tracking back through some older posts to check a couple of facts, and stumbled across something quite interesting.

ffruit

Within certain limited parameters of “interesting”, of course.

It was a passage from a Scotland on Sunday column written by our dear personal friend Euan McColm. We’ll quote a big chunk here so you get the full context, but if you’re in a hurry you can skip straight to the last two paragraphs.

“For the first years of the Scottish ­Parliament, it wasn’t a lack of ideas that appeared to trouble Labour politicians, but a fear of implementing them. Always answerable to the party in London, Scottish Labour ministers compromised or ditched plans rather than clash with MPs. They feared that to push the limits at Holyrood would play into SNP hands.

In time, it was clear the reverse was the case and SNP taunts of “London Labour” started to ring uncomfortably true. The review of the party last year was not supposed just to be a cosmetic exercise. In creating, for the first time, the role of Scottish Labour leader, the party was to find a new independence from London, and from that freedom would flow creativity and confidence.

It’s not happening. Instead, Scottish ­Labour is focused on the referendum, with attacks on Alex Salmond’s plans a priority. Another two years of that? Political suicide. The Better Together campaign – in which Labour is the largest player – depends on a viable opposition presenting a vision of a successful Scotland within the UK. Where are those challenging, engaging ideas on education, justice, health?

Optimists and pessimists alike within Labour agree this lack of vision is the greatest problem. Those with a more upbeat outlook say leader Johann Lamont recognises the need for a distinctive, socially democratic message. I understand Lamont and her advisers see education as an area where they can present a vision distinct from the SNP’s.

But of detail there is little. In six months, I’m told, the policy tree will hang heavy with fruit. But for now, not even a bud.”

The interesting aspect, as insightful readers may already have deduced, is that the piece was written over seven months ago – the 16th of September 2012, to be precise. We can’t say that we’ve noticed Scottish Labour’s policy tree groaning at the branches with fresh citrus produce as yet. Indeed, one might reasonably assert that the party is still going to incredible lengths to avoid outlining any firm policies on anything.

(In fairness, they’re probably waiting for One Nation Labour to tell them what they are, and since they’ve been promising a full crop of policies for two YEARS now without delivering, it’s clearly not a priority issue.)

It seems that Johann Lamont’s revolution has been further postponed. She’s now been in “control” of Scottish Labour for around 16 months – just one month fewer than this site has been in existence. In that time we’ve gone from 6,000 pageviews a month to over a million, and from no readers to over 50,000, but we’re still waiting for Ms Lamont to have a similar impact.

Perhaps if we drop Euan McColm a line he’ll do a follow-up investigation.

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    36 to “Forbidden fruit”

    1. Crag Evans says:

      Ah! That will be the nonexistent Scottish Labour Party?

    2. john king says:

      maybe a ouija board would work , well it is for contacting the dead isn’t it? or should that be weegie board?
      oh well

    3. Seasick Dave says:

      Its a fair and accurate article but did Euan McColm really say this?
       
      It’s not happening. Instead, Scottish ­Labour is focused on the referendum, with attacks on Alex Salmond’s plans a priority. Another two years of that? Political suicide.

    4. Patrick Roden says:

      Johann Lamont has accualy had an impact on Labour, it’s just that it’s been a negative impact with falling poll ratings in both Hollyrood and Westminster voting intentions.
      When you consider that the Independence campaign has resulted in the MSM being even more partisan than usual, that is some feat by Johann/Labour.
      We all saw for ourselves how Johann performs under pressure with both the Brian Taylor and Mark Millar interviews and it must have been painful for all those rank and file Labour activists /members who voted for Ken McIntosh to behold.
      I wonder what these members are thinking now? 
      It won’t be positive.
       
       

    5. Dcanmore says:

      This is Labour (as a whole) over the past two years. (made up quote) Ed Miliband: “At the moment we are not for or against this policy, what we have to do is debate the issue, but what I say is this, it is wrong!” and repeat for every single Coalition issue Labour has been questioned on. That is how Ed Miliband and Labour expect to win elections. It’s invisible man politics and that is why SLAB are so utterly directionless. Labour are organised to fight a campaign in SE England, not Scotland, so Lamont is left hanging waiting on her instructions while continuously embarrassing herself in parliament and on television.

    6. Graham Ennis says:

      It will get worse. Much worse.
      latest opinion polls show that Lamont is considered unsuitable to be leader of SLAB and/or First Minister by about 75% of the electorate. This is suicide polling. 
      Lamont is actually a huge electoral asset…..For the SNP!
       

    7. Iain says:

      @ Seasick Dave
      ‘Its a fair and accurate article but did Euan McColm really say this?

      “It’s not happening. Instead, Scottish ­Labour is focused on the referendum, with attacks on Alex Salmond’s plans a priority. Another two years of that? Political suicide. “‘
       
      La Lamont evidently not fulfilling her duty of care to puir wee Labour in Scotland or whatever they’re calling themselves nowadays. A party with no policies, confused identity, a troubled relationship with truth, ‘size’ issues and hanging out with bad people, the prognosis isn’t good.

    8. Heather McLean says:

      I’m astounded how Johann Lamont continually attacks Alex Salmond and the SNP for focussing on the ‘referendum in 2014’ instead of running the country, when in reality, it’s the woman herself and Scottish Labour who constantly focus on the referendum, have absolutely NO policies and would have no strategies in place if they were in the position to be running the country. The woman and the Scottish Labour party’s hypocrisy knows no bounds!

    9. Tom Hogg says:

      Who is this Euan McColm character of whom you speak?

    10. Desimond says:

      Having read the latest Johann interview in Holyrood Magazine. It seems as if she lives in a world of “Lets Dialogue!”. Its all talk about more talk. Nothing concrete, nothing set. Not even a line in the sand cry ala wee Ruth ( i know i know). The People have had enough of empty patter, If Labour cant actually DO anything, they really could find they slide off into Political oblivion very quickly.

    11. Seasick Dave says:

      Tom
       
      Mr McColm is an ex Scotsman journalist and raving Unionist who fancies himself as a big cheese member of the Twitterati.
       
      Here he writes a decent article about John Swinney but his motivation is not far from the surface:
       
      If you were to design a modern Finance Secretary, it would probably look a lot like John Swinney.
      This is why it so important for opponents – at Holyrood and in the referendum campaign – to do all that they can to make his life miserable.
       
      http://www.thinkscotland.org/todays-thinking/articles.html?read_full=11942&article=www.thinkscotland.org

    12. themadmurph says:

      To be fair Rev, we’ve had some really inclement weather which is affecting crops all over Scotland.  Maybe they took a pragmatic look at the weather forecasts and decided to plant a little later.  By autumn we should have some fruit, I’m sure! 😉

    13. Doug Daniel says:

      I think you’re being a bit unfair, Stu. Scottish Labour has just as many policies as the SNP. Coincidentally, they all just happen to be the opposite of what the SNP position is.

    14. Boorach says:

      @ Seasick Dave
       
      nothing personal but I think you went far too far with your description of Mr McColm…. The first six words would have sufficed.
       
      ‘Mr McColm is an ex Scotsman’ 🙂

    15. dmw42 says:

      Graham Ennis says: “It will get worse. Much worse, latest opinion polls show that Lamont is considered unsuitable to be leader of SLAB and/or First Minister by about 75% of the electorate. This is suicide polling.
       Lamont is actually a huge electoral asset…..For the SNP!
       
      I got inside the head of a unionist last night (I’m okay now thanks, I’ve had some Berocca), and, not for the first time, I’ve encountered what can only be described as ‘tactical voting’.
       
      My mate is generally inclined towards independence but doesn’t much fancy AS or SNP. No worries says I, post-independence doesn’t necessarily mean SNP, post-independence it will be whatever government we choose.
       
      That, frankly, scared the shit out of him. He is absolutely terrified that Johannie and her current fellow ‘light weights’ (yes, he did use those words, obviously hasn’t seen the photos) form the next SG. He genuinely believes that Labour, in an independent Scotland, would still be subject to London influence, and that they neither have the clout nor imagination to run an independent Scotland.
       
      He’s therefore inclined to vote No to stop Labour corrupting Scotland any further. Twisted logic, but I do see his point.
       
      On the plus side, although not a fan of AS, he did say that AS was one of the very few ‘big hitters’ in UK politics, and that AS can (and does) run rings around most, if not all other UK politicians. This links back to his primary argument that there is no challenge to AS/SNP from Labour in Scotland and therefore, his vote in the referendum will have one eye on the next SG elections.
       
      So, although Johannie’s recent performances seem like manna, there are unfortunately unforeseen consequences.

    16. Training Day says:

      @dmw42
      So your mate’s ‘logic’ is that voting No, which will guarantee London influence over Holyrood, whether Labour or Tory, is better than voting Yes, which may or may not entail London influence over a Labour Holyrood? 
       
      Sheesh.  To be honest, I’m more terrified of folk who can produce tortured logic like that than I am of Johannie and her lightweights.

    17. MajorBloodnok says:

      The only way that other parties will be able to form a government in Scotland will be if they are as competent as the SNP are.  The current crop of Labour and Lib-Dems have no chance whatsoever of forming such a government – so they’ll have to up their game as the bar has been set so high.  New blood will inevitably come (if they want to get anywhere) and they’ll get there eventually, so your ‘unionist’ friend shouldn’t worry.

    18. Amanayeman says:

      @dmw42
      Who, exactly, does your mate vote for at present? If, as it appears, he is so afraid of SLAB  then he should vote SNP, as good a reason for tactical voting if ever I’ve heard one, vote SNP destroy SLAB and get the best of all possible worlds. Simples!

    19. ianbrotherhood says:

       
      BellaC have just posted a 2007 SNP Conference address by Stephen Maxwell – might help cheer up those who were getting jittery yesterday after Big Baws Osborne’s fighting-talk:
       
      http://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2013/04/24/british-inequality-and-the-nordic-alternative/

    20. Lamont simply cannot square the circle. Hating the SNP isn’t a policy. She tries to promote Millibands agenda as being sensible and being responsible. (ending universal benefits?) She seems to have forgotten politicians are supposed to reflect the wishes of the people, not force folk to swallow policies they don’t feel are good for them or their communities. The labour party try to look and sound Scottish, but they have to take policy from London. The two just don’t mix.

    21. dmw42 says:

      Training Day / Amanayeman
      I’m working on him 😉

    22. fitheach says:

      The UK election dynamic has changed with the move to fixed term elections.

      Previously, opposition parties had to drip feed policies just in case the governing party decided on a snap election. Explaining policies to the electorate takes time and much repitition until everyone has heard about them.

      Fixed term elections mean the opposition can plan the introduction of new policies to have the best impact. However, it is detrimental to introduce new policies too early as it gives time for the government and other parties to shoot them down.
      Ed will be keeping his new policies fresh and shiny for 2015 which will be too late for Johann but he doesn’t really care about that. Ed only cares that he wins the UK general election. In the meantime expect to hear lots of “this is wrong” or “we need a debate” sort of thing.

    23. Dcanmore says:

      Lamont increasingly comes across as merely a messenger, but when there is no message or a confused one from London Labour she ends up drowning in her own ineptitude.

    24. MajorBloodnok says:

      @dmw42
       
      Seems like your Unionist friend supports Labour as some sort of crap but quirky football team, that deserves dogged loyalty.  However, NO political party should be regarded in that way – it’s the policies and actions that matter and that’s how I make my choices.
       
      Slavish support for a failing team does no-one any favours, least of all Labour, which relies heavily on the unthinking and unquestioning support it has enjoyed for decades.
       
      My hope is that in our new Scotland there will be a new kind of politics, underpinned by a written constitution, that puts ideals, social justice, honoured manifesto commitments and competent governance on our behalf before any blind party loyalty.

    25. Les Wilson says:

      REV,
      I would send a letter to  Euan McColm, probably he will not reply, then you can report that to readership! If he does you may dissect it in your usual way.Either way, a good result for all of us. Hell, why stop there, send his comments to all SLAB top twats and ask them to respond, while there will probably be no replies, they may castigate McColm. However it goes, it is  sure to be a winner for your readership .

    26. Jimbo says:

      If Labour’s policy tree is groaning at the branches it’s because it’s overburdened with lemons.

    27. John Lyons says:

      Rev, Go straight to the Truth team! This must be the sort of thing they were created for!
       
      DMW42, your mate has an interesting problem. Our options appear to be
       
      Cameron (Possibly with or without Clegg) Ruling britain with little thought of Scotland.
      Milliband pretty much as above and pretty much following the same policies.
      Or and independant Scotland led by Salmond.
       
      Labour will fall apart after a Yes vote and not recover sufficiently for 2016, and whilst other parties like the SDA and SSP will put forward candidates they will not immediately step into government and could view a handful of MSPs as a really good result. The issue is not immediate, it’s one for the future.
       
      There will be another election in 2021 and that’s the one that is hard to predict. Labour might recover by then, but who in the current list of MSPs will lead them any better than Lamont? And of course all our Scottish MPs will no longer be at Westminster so possibly they could become leader of SLAB, but even amongst them who could lead Labour to a Scottish Election victory?
      All I can say for definate about that one is Lamont, Davidson and Rennie will be long gone, but, we could see people like Charlie Kennedy back in Scotland for the Lib Dems. I think that would force any government of Scotland to raise thier game.
      One the down side Tommy Sherridan might get in on a list seat….

    28. Arabs for Independence says:

       
      Jimbo says:
      If Labour’s policy tree is groaning at the branches it’s because it’s overburdened with lemons.
      Or sour grapes

    29. Embradon says:

       themadmurph says:
      I think you’re right Murph – just a seasonal thing. Only Euan would predict citrus in April.
      Harvest will be next month. Nuts in May is the likely crop.
       

    30. The Man from Del Monte says:

      “We can’t say that we’ve noticed Scottish Labour’s policy tree groaning at the branches with fresh citrus produce as yet.”
       
      You’re not being completely fair here, Rev: the Labour policy tree has produced several exemplary lemons of late.

    31. tartanpigsy says:

      I see I’m late to this one, comment was to be
      “We can’t say that we’ve noticed Scottish Labour’s policy tree groaning at the branches with fresh citrus produce as yet.”- that particular tree is overflowing but only with bitter lemons.
      Aw well, makes a change from bitter oranges and bitter “togethers”, whatever they are.

      Anyway don’t generally get time to get involved with the posting side of things as much as I’d like to. So as usual I’m going to revert to a couple of really important things going on just now. Both have been covered here before but need restating.

      National Collectives fundraiser has come on leaps and bounds in the last few days but they do only have around 10 days left to get up to their £18K target, which I understand is predominantly for a poster campaign, which I believe they will do really well. It’s just a hunch but having delivered official Yes material already I know we need something MUCH better to get our message across, and I have a feeling these guys(and gals) could be a big part of the answer.

      My other (predictable) plug is for http://www.bard2014.com and their next rally on 18th May in Glasgow. As a site that, like others, can get consumed with the utter shite that is passed off as news on BBC Scotland, and a great deal of our once respected printed press, it would be greatly appreciated if people got behind this rally in any way they can, whether it’s by donating to make the rally bigger and better, volunteering to distribute leaflets, plugging it online to encourage others to be there or getting to Glasgow yourself on May 18th, it is all greatly appreciated.

      Can I also add that this rally is for all of you out there, all viewpoints on the media are acceptable whether you want greater investment in BBC Scotland or none and would support a non license fee payment campaign, this is the rally to get to, people are trying their best to provide a vehicle to expose the media to people in the street, the ones who don’t realize how much events are being skewed by an establishment hell bent on keeping our country down.

      Please support every cause that is taking the message out to the public, we can rally and support each other online but we’ll win this referendum on the streets.
      Rant over 😉
       

    32. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

      “National Collectives fundraiser has come on leaps and bounds in the last few days but they do only have around 10 days left to get up to their £18K target, which I understand is predominantly for a poster campaign, which I believe they will do really well. It’s just a hunch but having delivered official Yes material already I know we need something MUCH better to get our message across, and I have a feeling these guys(and gals) could be a big part of the answer.”

      I do hope so. Most of the Yes Scotland graphics have been nothing short of appalling, and I suspect NC will do a lot better. They must be offering thanks to their preferred deity every hour that Ian Taylor decided to threaten them – their fundraiser was dormant around £3000 until he came along, now it’s almost £13,000.

    33. tartanpigsy says:

      And they deserve every penny

      As did your good self for providing a fulltime service here on Wings.

    34. muttley79 says:

      @Jimbo
       
      If Labour’s policy tree is groaning at the branches it’s because it’s overburdened with lemons.
       
      And bitter ones at that…

    35. The Flamster says:

      Tartanpigsy
       
      Hi there is also a 2nd Bedroom Tax Demonstration in Glasgow on the 18th May 2013, asemble 11.30 at George Square. 

      http://no2bedroomtax.co.uk/2013/04/glasgow-demo-and-fun-day-18th-may-2013/

       



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