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Where’s Johann?

Posted on February 27, 2012 by

There’s been a lot going on in Scottish politics since the start of the year. David Cameron’s intervention in the referendum debate in early January kickstarted a tumultuous outbreak of activity, and in the fevered frenzy of non-stop media analysis and speculation that’s erupted since then, everyone and their granny’s dog has had something to say about it. Well, nearly everyone.

Because one person has been conspicuous by their absence from the nation’s airwaves. Johann Lamont was elected leader of Scottish Labour just before Christmas (by an electorate whose precise size remains a secret) – timing ideally suited for her to hit the ground running and help to frame and shape the debate as it raged on the nation’s screens. But for some unknown reason, Labour have been incredibly reluctant to let her speak to the Scottish people.

Lamont appeared very briefly on Channel 4 News on January 9th to comment on Cameron’s interview on the Andrew Marr show the previous day. Since then, this blog has been unable to locate a single TV interview given by the Labour leader (other than at First Minister’s Questions) in almost two months. Dozens of episodes of Scotland Tonight, Newsnight Scotland, Sunday Politics Scotland and more have come and gone without Lamont’s input, while her ostensible deputy (Westminster MP Anas Sarwar) has been ubiquitous, making (at least) half-a-dozen visits to the BBC and STV studios.

Almost any significant figure you can think of in Scottish politics (and plenty of pretty insignificant ones too) has been on TV more than Lamont during this critical period. Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon, John Swinney, Michael Moore, Ruth Davidson, Ken McIntosh, Margaret Curran, Patrick Harvie, Humza Yousaf, Stewart Hosie, Derek Mackay, even Lord Wallace of Tankerness have all logged more airtime.

(The Secretary of State for Scotland, indeed, managed to do so despite a debilitating bout of chicken pox, which this blog can confirm from its own direct and miserable experience is a horrendous illness when suffered as an adult, and likely to knock the unfortunate sufferer flat on their back for at least two weeks.)

But it’s not just set-piece interviews where Lamont has remained silent. CND, for example, still await a response from when they asked all of Scottish Labour’s leadership and deputy leadership candidates whether they supported Trident or not. (Lamont was the only one not to reply.) Lamont hasn’t offered a view on the alleged threats made by a Glasgow city councillor to another council member during the fiasco over Labour’s budget. (Labour’s promised inquiry has yet to produce any result, which you might find odd given that it’s such a straightforward matter.)

We’ve heard nothing from the Labour leader about whether Eric Joyce should remain MP for Falkirk, and no condemnation over Denis MacShane’s “Slobodan Salmond” remarks, Lord Foulkes’ likening of some nationalist commenters to Holocaust deniers, or the frankly mental Labour councillor who referred to Scottish Government minister Alex Neil as a “monkey” and a “prick” on Twitter – which is a little strange, given Labour’s strenuous and constant complaints about the “vile poison” of internet discourse when it’s perpetrated by so-called “cybernats“.

She’s offered no statements about Labour’s current policy on council tax in the light of the Labour-Conservative deal on Stirling Council to cut the tax by 1%, despite insistent and repeated assertions by Labour that even the SNP’s freeze – let alone a cut – is unsustainable. And this blog has already highlighted her refusal to identify which further powers Labour believe should be devolved to Scotland.

In short, we don’t know what Johann Lamont thinks about pretty much anything, and we can’t find out because Scottish Labour is keeping its first-ever leader (to whom Joyce, Foulkes, Sarwar, Curran and Docherty are all theoretically answerable) locked away in a cupboard. We wouldn’t like to speculate as to why – all we can say is that if aliens from space were to land in Scotland tomorrow, we’re pretty sure they’d conclude that either Anas Sarwar or Margaret Curran (both Westminster MPs) were the actual leaders of the Scottish Labour Party. Where’s Johann?

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    10 to “Where’s Johann?”

    1. Seasick Dave says:

      Who gives a Muscovy?

    2. Peter A Bell says:

      In short, we don’t know what Johann Lamont thinks about pretty much anything…

      To be fair, it may not be her fault. Perhaps her bosses in London haven't yet told her what she thinks.

    3. MajorBloodnok says:

      Perhaps she's preparing to fall/be pushed onto her own/someone else's sword after the May local elections (I rashly predict).

    4. RevStu says:

      I can't see Labour sacking her, no matter what the council elections result. Quite apart from anything else, who on Earth would step in?

    5. NayLabour says:

      Frank might be back……..??????

    6. Shodan says:

      She has no real talent, natural or trained, for her chosen role. I'd imagine that they'd rather keep her out of the limelight to avoid damaging the party and unionist cause any more but no one wants to replace her to lead a sinking ship, especially with the low quality of candidates available.
       
      Once again they only manage to get away with this farce because the BBC and other media outlets are best of friends with Scottish Labour, carefully avoiding reporting anything negative about them when possible or burying it or playing it down when they have to and avoiding positive news that would in turn diminish the Scottish Labour party. The media and BBC in particular should be raising these same questions and pressing hard. A party leader and elected official vanishing like this or refusing to speak their opinions on important matters is absurd. The Scottish media is often the greatest enemy of the Scottish people.

    7. TYRAN says:

      Good work as usual, WOS

    8. Doug Daniel says:

      Actually, to be fair, there has been one other outing for her on the TV – the Burns Night debate on BBC1.
      I suspect that appearance perhaps explains why she has not been on again. She was way out of her depth.
      Incidentally, is that guy Docherty really a councillor? His Twitter feed reads like a piss-take. It's quite frightening that people of such obviously low intelligence and poor literacy are able to become elected representitives. Do local party branches not take these kind of things into consideration when putting people forward for election?

    9. MajorBloodnok says:

      She may have finally surfaced:
      http://news.stv.tv/politics/299447-scottish-labour-leader-says-assault-charge-mp-unfit-to-stand-for-party/
      Head-butting Tory MPs is par for the course but entertaining 17 year old girls (allegedly) is another thing altogether.

    10. Doug Daniel says:

      Of course, there is nothing in the law preventing a 51 year old from having a relationship with a 17 year old. We may not particularly like it, but it's no more illegal than if the woman was actually 51.
      Physical violence, on the other hand, is against the law. But hey, who am I to suggest that breaking the law is more serious than a questionable choice in relationships?



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