Johann Lamont has resigned as ‘Scottish Leader of the Labour Party’
In truth, she was merely leader of the Labour Holyrood MSP’s. There isn’t a separate Scottish Labour Party, there may be a regional unit but she certainly wasn’t anything more than Labour’s mouthpiece at Holyrood.
In labour’s wee world, MSP’s do not outranked MP’s.
Margaret Curran is shadow Secretary of State for Scotland and their Westminster leader.
Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy are ex-ministers. Then you have Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling.
Lamont at no time has had the influence or wherewithal to control these ‘big beasts’.
The power isn’t held by their Holyrood leader, it’s a necessary fiction to stand up at FMQ’s and oppose the ‘ESSEMPEEE’ at every move and every turn, but a parliament elected using a hybrid of first past the post and proportional representation isn’t really the venue for continual ‘SNP BAD’ gesture politics.
The better together campaign created strange bedfellows across the parties and Lamont was probably mindful that she had two years of business as usual at Holyrood to contend with and realised how working with the Tories looked.
Her party leadership and the big guns from London saw the referendum as Labour versus SNP. Post referendum they’ve talked of beating the SNP not beating Yes.
They’ve not realised that there’s a post referendum world and after a two year campaign the yes faction are not going back into their boxes and mildly accepting the result.
The narrative of being part of a unionist block has been dropped. (By them, not ordinary Scots)
The ‘Beaten’ SNP and Greens have grown their parties with disaffected Yes supporters and sheepish no voters, I’d venture more might follow as a result of the revelations of how Milliband and her London HQ treated her.
Murphy toured Scotland with an irn bru crate to pontificate on. Seemingly on his own initative and to no great interest until he was egged one day.
Was there another purpose to his summer tour? Was it launching a bud to lead in Scotland?
As an MP Curran is already his ‘Leader in Scotland’, it would necessitate a Holyrood by-election to get him in.
Is anywhere safe enough for them to risk doing that?
The perception in Scotland is that the Scottish Labour unit has to be led by an MSP. There’s a dearth of talent as the 2011 win by SNP knocked off many of the constituency MSP’s that labour had. Their list MSP’s were the B Team.
Add to that a perception that Labour will not accept Devo Max due to the EVEL implications and you have a perfect mess for whoever takes over from Lamont.
She resigned at a good time for them, next May is still far enough away to reorganise, but Holyrood elections follow in 2016.
Two massive campaigns and Labour can’t afford to choose wrongly as the new leader needs to rebuild, reassert the authority as being Holyrood leader and steer ‘Labour in Scotland’ closer to credibility.
A shift in policy on Devo Max might help and an acknowledgement or apology for the party’s behavior in the referendum campaign might help too.
In overall terms through it’s a massive job and the prospects aren’t good.
Lamont may have been better able to resolve a new Scottish labour in a post independence world better than as a ‘winning’ no campaign leader.