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Wings Over Scotland

The hits keep coming

Posted on September 30, 2012 by

Sadly these pieces all arrived too late to be included in yesterday’s round-up and poll. But all of them are still pretty unmissable reading. (And didn’t we tell you weeks ago that Kevin McKenna was starting to see the light? Oh ye of little faith.)

(Herald View in the Herald)

“Denied power at Holyrood for a second term, Labour appear so warped by their tribal hatred of the Nationalists that they would rather align with the Coalition than the SNP. Instead of recognising a fellow progressive force, they would rather collude in dismantling the welfare state. It is a pitiful sight.”

(Kevin McKenna for the Observer)

“Ms Lamont’s use of the phrase “something for nothing”, as well as coming straight from the grimoire of Margaret Thatcher is, at best, misleading, at worst, downright false… It’s difficult to assess which body of Labour supporters will be most insulted and alienated.”

(Iain Macwhirter for the Herald)

“As a presentational disaster this ranks alongside John Major’s back to basics speech which helped seal the fate of the UK Conservatives in the 1990s. There has been a whiff of decay around Scottish Labour for some years, but I’m beginning to think it has finally popped its clogs.”

(Socialist Party Scotland for

“Labour’s leader has signalled her support for a vicious extension of the cuts agenda and the tearing up of those modest but important advances that still survive in Scotland. In doing so she could also sound the death of Labour in Scotland.”

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27 to “The hits keep coming”

  1. Johann Lamont

    Ah’m number one, so ah am.

  2. Juteman

    I feel this past 8 days will prove to be a tipping point in the Independence struggle.
    It seems like everyday now, there could be another major bombshell.
    Exciting times.

  3. McHaggis

    The Scotsman, Tory paper that it is, is still holding a candle for Lamont and praising her stance.

    One has to assume that JP shareholders are willing to see their investment completely disappear in trying to keep the faith. 

  4. scottish_skier

    Early days, but I might just be seeing the labour vote share in Scotland heading suddenly downwards (touches wood). An event like this is exactly what triggers such things.

  5. MajorBloodnok

    I thought Iain Macwhirter’s article was good – and he makes the direct connection between this ‘policy shift’ and the cries of pain from the Labour gravy trains, I mean Councils, in Glasgow and the Lanarkshires.

    I can’t see how Labour can avoid losing a good few points in the polls (at least 5% I’d hazard, rashly) from their support in Scotland, leaving just the stuborn core.  And even Macwhirter notes that this will likely mean even more support for the YES vote.  I keep saying it, what a week – the rally on Saturday seems an age away already…

  6. Wallace Bruce

    Johann has done more this week for the Yes vote than anyone else.  Lang may her lum reek.

  7. douglas clark

    I hope so too.

    I really don’t think Lamont can last much longer. It is possible to argue a case you don’t believe in, but it takes the skill of a Malcolm Rifkind to do it – and even he always sounded, to this elector, like the advocate he was. If you make a speech like that, you ought to have war gamed the interviews you may face before you go on the telly. Lamont hasn’t even got these basic skills. Winging it just doesn’t work.
    The Labour Party in Scotland will have to re-package itself for the umpteenth time. If they don’t, then they are truly on suicide watch. It is, however, unclear where a new leader could arise from. There is a genuine lack of ability within the Labour Party in Scotland, and IMHO and contrary to the general consensus, even the crop of Westminster Labour MPs wouldn’t make a credible opposition in Hollyrood. They aren’t up to much either.
    Happy days!

  8. scottish_skier

    at least 5% I’d hazard, rashly

    Could well be much worse (better) than that. They’ve been sitting on a slowly eroding core of ~30% since 2003. What has happened this week however changes everything. How can even the most loyal left leaning labour voter trust them in any way; even if they backpedal and say they still support what they used to, people just won’t have faith in that. The hole they have dug is effectively impossible to climb out of.

  9. Aplinal

    The hole they have dug is effectively impossible to climb out of.
    Couldn’t happen to a better party!  Ha!!!  Power for the sake of power – anything to gain that power, and then SOD THE VOTERS.  That has been the “Labour” party in the UK and especially Scotland for a generation and more.  Maybe AT LAST those that support a genuine social agenda can see the greedy @#*#@@#s for what they are.  (Self moderated to spare the Rev!)  Time to take OUR future into OUR hands.

    Soar Alba

  10. Holebender

    Harold Wilson was right after all.

  11. Iain

    Holebender says:

    ‘Harold Wilson was right after all.’
    Doubly so!
    ‘This Party is a moral crusade or it is nothing.’

  12. Chris Cairns

    First ever contribution – but Scottish Labour’s imminent implosion has finally persuaded me to dare, to dream, to hope.
    Years of progressive nationalists trying to get through the thick, tribal skulls of Labour voters and explain to them how their party had betrayed the legacy of Hardie, Maclean and Maxton made little progress. Now their leader has just slapped them in the face and spelled it out to them.
    Please God we now seize this moment. There is a gaping hole in the calcified edifice of Scottish Labour – let’s get in there and finish the job. 

  13. GH Graham

    Lamont’s strategy is quite clear, even though she attempted to muddle it by questioning universal benefits & accusing wealthy people of benefiting from services (that they have already paid for) which she incorrectly labeled as “freebies”. That many of these universal benefits were actually products of Labour was beyond even her frustrating stupidity.

    Knowing that much of Labour’s socialist proposition has been displaced by the SNP, she is resigned to protecting the diminishing heartland of Labour support which remains in the cronied corridoors of Labour controlled councils. It is there where she intends to finance more bloated, inefficient local government (public sector) bureaucracy because that’s where she believes her support for promotion to First Minister will come from.

    She has reasoned that the poor will pay for this through a variety of means tests while simultaneously proposing to exclude the better off from the very services they have already paid for. Hence the personal attacks on Ms. Sturgeons household income which is a blatant attempt to drive a wedge between those that have and those that have not & provide the logic for the argument in the first place. This might work in the south east of England where the multi millionaires are counted in their tens of thousands but it just doesn’t apply in Scotland.

    Most depressing of all though is what she failed to mention: any strategy or imaginative idea about how to create wealth through the careful, measured expansion of the economy. Her singular focus it seems is about the ill thought out redistribution of diminishing wealth.

    And whilst belt tightening in any shrinking economy must be addressed, it surely demands some creativity regarding the future development of commerce & industry which is after all, the bread & butter of any successful economy.

    Her strategy seems to have been doomed before the tape recorders finished looping back to beginning of her speech & the complete silence about growing the economic industrial base is a shocking revelation because it clearly demonstrates that she & Labour have absolutely no idea how to stimulate the economy. The only thing she seems able to stimulate at the moment is her previously loyal base to reject everything she has just proposed.

    At this point in her leadership then she scores an “F” for Fail.

    Or is that F for Fat?

    She really does need to stop eating Pizza & Chips for breakfast.    


  14. MajorBloodnok

    @Chris – Hello, welcome aboard.

    @GH Graham

    That’s exactly it – she doesn’t seem to have clue about where the money comes from to pay for our so-called ‘freebies’ – it’s just, well, there!  And if she can’t grasp that then it is not surprising that it doesn’t occur to her to come up with ways to make the cake bigger, rather than just cutting it up in different ways (and giving the biggest slices to her pals in local government so they’ll keep her in position).  It’s the difference between being given pocket money and earning your own – now, where in the independence debate have we encountered that analogy before?

  15. Arbroath 1320

    Can I be a wee bit obscure here? Yes I know I’m obscure at the best of times but bear with me, PLEASE! 😀
    We had the march and rally for Independence last Saturday. Then it was announced on the Monday, I think, that Lamont was going to hold a “rushed” news conference on Tuesday. I think THIS is the whole crux of Lamont’s, and Labour’s, dilemma. Her speech was rushed! No body has taken the time to properly read her speech and consider the consequences. This is the trouble when Lamont rushes ANYTHING! She needs at least six MONTHS warning before making any kind of speech, 48 hours is just not long enough.
    I reckon last Saturday’s events panicked her and she phoned her boss for some help. Naturally he wanted to help so he sent up a speech for her to use. Unfortunately the only speech he had to hand was one he was preparing to used at the Labour conference aimed specifically at the S.E. of England. As the speech didn’t arrive, via pigeon post, until just before Lamont stepped out onto the podium to give “her” speech no one had a chance to read the speech before hand. The end reuslt is that we have seen a constant flurry of people coming out of Labour H.Q., Glasgow and London, backtracking from the speech then supporting the speech then backtracking……..
    I think we should rename Labour H.Q. as CHAOS CENTRAL!

  16. Doug Daniel

    There’s a good one from Ian Bell too today. One wonders if Marcus Gardham has been on holiday this week, because the Herald hasn’t been so damning of Labour since he took over as political editor.

    Having said that, this is all coming from columnists, rather than from his lackies Tom Gordon and Paul Hutcheon. I notice on Twitter that Gordon is trying to push some boring pish about Sterling. Tom mate, naebdae gies a fuck.

  17. Morag

    Great post, GH, some points in there I hadn’t considered.  Don’t leave it so long before posting again.

  18. Jeannie

    I think Lamont’s speech might be seen as two separate issues.  The part which was to do with universal benefits was related to the Labour Party Conference but the part to do with the council tax freeze had more to do with COSLA trying to run Scotland without the inconvenience of standing for election.
    Somewhere at the back of my mind, I remember reading a newspaper report that suggested that COSLA, following the departure of Pat Watters, would deliberately be used as a springboard to launch Labour’s bid for power in Scotland so I suspect we’ll see a lot more stories in the future along the lines of local authority services suffering due to SNP cutbacks.

  19. Doug Daniel

    Jeannie – it stands to reason really. A political party is always going to use whatever platform of power it has to attack its opponents. Labour aren’t in Westminster, they aren’t in Holyrood, but they are still in several key councils. They may use Glasgow and North Lanarkshire to go to war with the SNP, and this is perhaps part of their thinking behind ditching ALL the proposed building projects in Aberdeen – even the ones that weren’t as stupid as the Union Terrace Gardens development.

    If so, it’ll be interesting to see how that goes down in Edinburgh, since they’ve joined the SNP in a coalition (that might be more about trying to take the SNP down with them when it comes to the trams). It might explain why they’ve refused to go into coalition with them in other councils, though. 

    This could be Westminster vs Greater London Council: the Scottish version.

  20. Chris Cairns

    Comments re Labour’s last redoubts of power in local authorities are on the money. But don’t forget one of their greatest fears – a local income tax.
    Time perhaps to highlight the contrast between Lamont’s championing of ‘ability to pay’ when it comes to universal benefits with her party’s opposition to a fair, means-tested funding system for councils?


  21. Jeannie

    @doug daniel
    @chris cairns
    I find Labour’s hypocrisy with respect to local government funding nothing short of breathtaking.  When the SNP came to power, it came to an agreement with local authorities, that they would largely be free to spend the money provided them by the national government as they saw fit, so long as they met their statutory obligations.  This was named the Concordat and the local authorities at the time seemed to be happy enough with this arrangement.  The down side of this was that funds were not ring-fenced so Labour councils then saw no reason to use the money to support SNP policies such as lowering class sizes, etc., then subsequently accused the SNP of breaking promises and failing to meet their targets. 
    So what, instead, did the councils spend the money on? Take Glasgow, for example – over the last few years, Glasgow has offered very generous early retirement packages to many of its employees in the form of “added years”.  Although the local government pension scheme is fully-funded, it’s not so well-known that the enhancement part of the financial settlement has to be funded by the council on a long-term basis – up until the former employee actually dies.  The same is true of any actuarial reduction in pension incurred by the employee as a result of retiring early. The council has to cover this cost for many years into the future and, bear in mind, that the pensions are index-linked.  The councillors in Glasgow who voted through these packages, many of which were far greater than those offered by other local authorities, will have done so in the full knowledge of the burden this would place in the future on both national government and the council tax payer.  It didn’t stop them, though.  So, when Lamont et al and her friends in COSLA start crying foul and insisting they are underfunded, perhaps someone should ask them to account for what they have been doing with the funds they were given, especially given that these funds were not ring-fenced and Labour councillors had all the lee-way they needed to make sensible choices. 
    I also find it very strange that Lamont is so concerned now with the plight of council carers.  They didn’t seem terribly concerned when the same council carers had to fight them tooth and nail for a fair settlement in the equal pay issue.

  22. molly

    Jeannie, I’ve maybe picked this up wrongly but was funding for councils not restructured by John Swinney ? I thought (and as I say probably wrongly ) that for example Falkirk Council (curerntly sitting with reserves ) as a growing area of population had their funding increased,while Glasgow with a decreasing population,had their funding decreased per head so to speak.The funding was applied a year behind,if that makes sense ?
      So GCC, will be on the same playing field as the rest of the Councils across Scotland ? 

  23. Stuart M

    That Labour “core” vote is definitely below 30% these days. One of the significant factors of the 2011 election was that when the Lib Dem vote haemorrhaged, it broke roughly 2:1 between the SNP and Labour. Many of the SNP’s gains votes were ex-Labour voters: how else could the SNP’s wins in so many West of Scotland 2-way fights be explained?
    Ultimately, a significant part – 3-4% – of Labour’s 31.7% in 2011 was actually Lib Dem switchers.

  24. Jeannie

    Sorry, Molly, I don’t know the answer to that.  Does anyone else know?

  25. scottish_skier

    @ Stuart M.

    Aye, I was generalising in that they’ve managed to hold onto 30% odd, however the initial collapse occurred by 2003. They didn’t seem to care though. They got around the same in 2007 and still didn’t think much about it; Westminster was all that mattered. 2011 was waiting to happen for 10 years. Tories returning to Westminster would do the trick.

  26. Davy

    I noticed in the comments section of Kevin McKenna’s article our friend Duncan Hothersall under the alias of “Niclas” was not happy at his apparent deflection from the labour point of view.

    As this works computer system has restrictions on it I cant say hello to dunky and ask him why he’s is hiding under an alias, is it something the labour party has done this past week that makes him want to hide his identiy.

    Please if you spot him just ask these questions, why are you so ashamed to not use your own name anymore, and why is your party now promoting tory policys.


  27. BillyBigBaws

    What people must come to understand about Johann Lamont’s contradictory position on public services is that she wants to shove yer granny aff the bus.
    She wants tae shove yur granny aff the bus!
    But she cannae shove yer granny,
    ‘cos she’s yer mammy’s mammy,
    No, she cannae shove yer granny aff the bus.

    Nevertheless, she is determined to try.

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