Why I’m spitting furious about Johann Lamont’s resignation.

The Scottish Labour Party has been thrown into turmoil by the sudden resignation of its leader, Johann Lamont. Her decision effectively sets Labour’s Holyrood and Westminster camps in open warfare against each other.

Lamont threw in the towel after discovering that Scottish Labour’s General Secretary Ian Price had been removed from office without her even being consulted. I have to say that I am beyond furious about the way Ian has been treated. He is a friend of mine and an opponent who is worthy of respect. The problems faced by the Labour Party are primarily to do with their sense of entitlement to power and their predilection towards factionalism, personality cults and in-fighting, not a pragmatic, sensible general secretary who could actually have been part of the solution if he’d been allowed. I do not like seeing my friends being treated badly.

Labour’s failure to understand devolution in its own ranks is mirrored by its failure to get why the Scottish Parliament needs more powers. Instinctively as centralising as the SNP, they live for the collective and not the individual. Their former First Ministers, Jack McConnell and Henry McLeish have been critical about how the Westminster Labour establishment has treated the Scottish Party. After the defeat in 2011 for which they have yet to forgive the electorate, Labour changed its rules so that the leader in the Scottish Parliament was actually the leader of the Scottish Party, but once Johann was in place, the old ways took over.

I wish I could be optimistic that Lamont’s resignation would bring forward a better politics in Scotland. There is a place for a Labour Party who knows what it stands for and having seen nationalism at its worst during the referendum, I do think we need Labour to be able to take on the SNP in those swathes of Central and west Scotland where the Liberal Democrats have been traditionally weak. Politics of any kind is at its healthiest when there is a plurality of views represented. Labour’s untrammelled power over the areas poisoned it as much as it harmed the people neglected under its single party rule when there was no credible opposition.

We’ll see whether they’ve learned anything from the leader they choose in the next few months. Douglas Alexander doesn’t deserve to run as much as a bath after the way he ran Better Together behind the scenes. That patronising BT lady advert? Had his fingerprints all over it. I need say no more. Jim Murphy is way too aggressive. I can’t stand the way he talks so divisively about patriots and nationalists. He’s the wrong person entirely to pull people together. The only person in Scottish Labour to emerge from the referendum with any credit, if you discount Gordon Brown who’s fine in small doses, is Kezia Dugdale, the Lothians MSP. She really gets what moves people and would be a formidable leader. The Daily Record thinks that, at 33, she’s too young. Oddly, they don’t think Drew Smith, a male MSP who’s a year younger has the same problem. In fact, being a “bright young thing” is an advantage for him.

While I know that Johann Lamont didn’t always hit the right spot, I am very conscious that she was being undermined behind the scenes and in some cases openly from the moment she was elected. Ian Price has been caught in the crossfire. Both of these are decent people. There will be ordinary members sorry to see them go and angry at the manner of their departure because Ian and Johann kept in touch with them. One friend of mine told how both had sent messages when she had major surgery recently.

The Scottish Labour Party has not shown us its good side for some while. Now it has the chance to rediscover it. Will it take it?

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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71 Comments

  • Christine Headley 25th Oct '14 - 7:04pm

    “Patronising BT lady advert”? This doesn’t ring any bells with me, the last BT lady advert I can think of was Maureen Lipman… Could we have a link please?

  • paul barker 25th Oct '14 - 7:11pm

    For me the most astonishing thing about Ian Prices sacking was the reason given which, according to the Guardian was that he was ” too close to the (Scottish) Leadership.”
    I dont have any hopes of recovery for Scottish Labour, they look like a dying Party to me. In the short run I suppose that Labours Voters will be going to The SNP, The Socialists & The Greens. The threat of Independence hasnt gone away.

  • Helen Tedcastle 25th Oct '14 - 7:12pm

    Having watched the Scottish referendum campaign unfold via news channels, it seemed to me that Lamont had been looking pretty miserable for months.

    She held her own most of the time in the Scottish parliament against Salmond but she could never deliver more than a few punches. Using the Boxing metaphor further, I think Labour need a heavy-weight to knock down the nationalists.

    The only credible leader is Brown as far as I can see. Slight problem in that a. He probably doesn’t want to do it b. he isn’t an MSP but seeing as Labour often parachute candidates into seats, point b. isn’t a hindrance. It’s undemocratic but when has that worried the Labour Party?

    The real question is whether Brown will do the job he seems more than qualified for and put ugly nationalism back in its box?

  • Simon McGrath 25th Oct '14 - 7:36pm

    Our opponents in disarray, competence staff fired, Labour in disarray.

    What’s not to like ?

  • Christine, in this context BT stands for ‘Better Together’ not ‘British Telecom’. 🙂 Here’s a link to the advert from the Better Together channel on YouTube; be prepared to cringe.

  • Why is Alastair Darling’s name never mentioned as possible leader of the Scottish Labour Party. Is he too sane?

  • When the answer to the question is Gordon Brown as one Labour MSP who appeared on the news thought you have to worry how much they had forgotten about the problem of the whole of the last Labour government. The deliberate undermining by Gordon of Tony, the deliberate bullying of MPs to make sure only one person was eligible to succeed Blair and then the disaster of his premiership.
    Mind you as a Lib Dem I won’t mind if Scots Labour destroy themselves.

  • Callum Leslie 25th Oct '14 - 8:18pm

    People without a practical understanding of Scottish politics may see this as good – however the SNP surge taking seats off Labour may mean we are obsolete in coalition negotiations post-2015. The Scottish Labour party are also infinitely easier to work with in Holyrood and local government than the SNP.

  • Helen Tedcastle 25th Oct '14 - 9:04pm

    lloyd
    ‘ The deliberate undermining by Gordon of Tony, the deliberate bullying of MPs to make sure only one person was eligible to succeed Blair and then the disaster of his premiership.’

    Yes but this time it will be Gordon without Tony (or Mandelson and Balls) – Brown in Scotland is a different animal, I would suggest than Brown in Nu Labour.

    It’s a long shot for Labour that he would come back any way – Labour are in desperate straits but as a ‘stop the nationalists candidate’, he would be a ready-made force to be reckoned with – and who else is there, really?

  • Peter Andrews 25th Oct '14 - 9:17pm

    From the coverage in England Lamont was pretty much absent from the Referendum campaign. Now it maybe this was just due to English media coverage but I would have thought it would have been an opportunity for her to get more of a presence on the national stage. I know who the Scottish Conservative Leader is but I probably could not have named the Scottish Labour Leader which is fairly telling given the difference in number of elected politicians in both parties.

  • Frank Bowles 25th Oct '14 - 9:28pm

    So Gordon Brown becomes Scottish Labour leader as an MP and Alex sets his sights on a Westminster seat. All of a sudden it seems Scotland’s politics are drifting towards Westminster rather than towards Holyrood…

  • Exiled Scot 25th Oct '14 - 9:38pm

    Oh dear. The Scottish Lib Dems have been accused of being in Labour’s pockets – well now it’s clear it’s true. The destruction of Scottish Labour should be seen as a good thing for liberalism – not something to regret.

    It’s just a shame that we have been so badly led that it’s not us doing the destroying.

  • My main observation is good if Labour goes down the plug in Scotland come to think of it in England as well.

    I personaly think Johann was a good leader had she been allowed to lead

    My parents would have a fit if they knew many years ago I stopped supporting Labour, Gordon Brown no the Scottish don’t deserve that if I was picking Darling would be very able just lacks fire

    With luck the LibDems pick up some Scottish voters off Labour the alternative is the Greens

    I think Edd just forgot to speak about sacking staff without asking the line manager, maybe it’s because he does not have a clue

  • Tony Greaves 25th Oct '14 - 10:24pm

    All this discussion of the Labour Party could only take place in a Scottish context. Are we really on the same side as these thuggish political brutes? If Labour is returning to type in Scotland (did it ever leave?) why on earth are we supposed to weep? And if the rise of the SNP means that they will push us out of the picture in any coalition talks next May, a lot of us may thank them for it. (Of course if there is a deal between Labour and the SNP, what a laugh that will
    be in a Scottish context!)

    Tony

  • Igor Sagdejev 25th Oct '14 - 11:13pm

    @Frank Bowles – Well, the Union was saved (for now), so to Westminster they go.

  • Igor Sagdejev 25th Oct '14 - 11:17pm

    @Tony Greaves

    Yes, we’ve had enough of miscoalition.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 25th Oct '14 - 11:21pm

    I think it’s fair to say that I am not a fan of the Labour Party. One of their first acts in government was to cut benefits for lone parents, not that you’d know it from all the fuss they’ve made about the coalition’s welfare reforms, many of which they would have implemented themselves. Their record on civil liberties is atrocious and their attitude to people and communities is shocking. As far as they are concerned, it’s their way or no way.

    I’ll oppose them wherever I find them. None of what I’ve written here changes that.

    My worry if they go down the tubes in the Scottish context is that at the moment it’s likely to be the SNP that fills the vacuum and after what we saw from some elements of that party during the referendum, that’s something I really don’t want to see.

    I’d rather see Labour get its act together, change their attitude and start thinking about solutions to the challenges the country faces rather than continuing with the in-fighting. Johann wasn’t the most effective leader they’ve ever had but she was never really given a chance by the enemy within – and the way that Ian has been treated is a disgrace.

    There is a place for a party or parties representing their strand of political thought just like there’s a place for a more free-market party and for liberals. The more points of view we have in our politics, and the more representative our parliament, the better and healthier our governance is likely to be.

    I don’t want to see a return to the days when Labour ran everything and had everything their way. I do want to see a better politics in Scotland and that requires them to get their backsides into gear.

  • Callum: mind you, that would mean that a) the SNP would have to drop their policy of abstention on English matters and more importantly, b) that either party would want to work with each other. I think Labour would be happier working with the Tories – after all, they have been doing for the past few years for Better Together.

  • Johann Lamont was not a good leader. She couldn’t fight her corner with the national Labour Party, she couldn’t challenge Salmond effectively and she didn’t have the respect of her deputies.

    A resurgent Gordon Brown is probably the best thing for Labour in Scotland, especially as Cameron can’t mock him any more as he helped win the referendum.

  • Tony Dawson 26th Oct '14 - 8:06am

    A highly-passionate article from Caron about those at the top of the Labour Party who may be destroying Scottish Labour.

    When will the stre run a similar article about those at the top of the Liberal Democrats who’ve been doing the same thing for more than twice as long – with no question about the results.

  • Eddie Sammon 26th Oct '14 - 8:09am

    Johann Lamont and her General Secretary appear to have been treated badly, but I do think she was below par. I have been wanting to know what the disputes were really about, it appears to be down to more than simply being a bit too quiet during the campaign. It doesn’t seem a sackable offence on its own, but maybe it is for Labour MPs.

    One thing that seems strange is I read she was leader of Scottish Labour MPs? The UK leader should be in charge of MPs and the Scottish leader should be in charge of MSPs.

  • Callum Leslie 26th Oct '14 - 9:32am

    @Sarah SNP and Labour currently run Edinburgh together, though I agree it would be difficult for them to work together. No, I could see the SNP forming an alliance with the Tories similar to what they had from 2007-11 in the Scottish Parliament.

  • David Howell 26th Oct '14 - 11:44am

    I’m glad that the “patronising wee wumman” advert has surfaced again on these august pages.

    But remind us all again ? . . . . Weren’t the LibDems supportive of the message she spouts?

    Perhaps that’s why the SNP now have more supporters in Scotland than the LibDems have in the entire United Kingdom .
    Looks like you backed the wrong horse and will suffer for it at the ballot box, especially here in Scotland.

  • g

    “Johann Lamont was not a good leader. She couldn’t fight her corner with the national Labour Party, she couldn’t challenge Salmond effectively and she didn’t have the respect of her deputies.”

    I agree 100%, under her leadership Labour have been second best to the SNP in Scotland – she had to go. A new leader in Scotland will be good news for Labour with the GE coming up.

  • Pete Paterson 26th Oct '14 - 12:32pm

    Odd! Maybe I have misunderstood something but I think it is worth asking the question. Do people really think that all other political parties except the SNP would disappear in the event of Scotland’s independence?
    I have always believed that the people of Scotland would still support the political parties they have always supported, whether Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, SNP or Green. Indeed,one might surmise that, after independence, the SNP would merge with its closest political neighbour, since the main platform policy would have been won by then.

  • My big worry for Scotland is that Pro-Independence Parties could win a majority of Votes or Seats in May, giving them the perfect excuse to call another Referendum. Broadly I think the death of The Labour Party is a “Good Thing” but it will have downsides, opening up political space for extremist Parties.

  • Igor Sagdejev 26th Oct '14 - 12:58pm

    Paul, they certainly may win big time in May, but it would be a joke to call the new referendum at once. Certainly, not before the next Holyrood election (which they will also need to win). By then it will be clearer what kind of England the Union is with.

  • paul barker 26th Oct ’14 – 12:35pm
    My big worry for Scotland is that Pro-Independence Parties could win a majority of Votes or Seats in May…….

    A touching belief in democracy and the self determination.
    I bet that you are also worried that Nick Clegg will not win a majority of votes and seats in the rest of the UK, although you will to say so in case someone accuses you of being a “doom monger”.

    I assume that the paul barker rule is that it is OK to predict doom North of the border but not down here in England??

  • Caron
    You wrote in the original piece — “…The Scottish Labour Party has not shown us its good side for some while”

    I am sure I am not the ony person who on reading that tried to remember the last time The Scottish Labour Party showed us its good side.

    I have spent a long time disliking the Labour Party in England but they are model of democratic enlightenment and sweet reason compared to most in The Scottish Labour Party.

  • Nigel Cheeseman 26th Oct '14 - 1:25pm

    We probably do need to worry about the state of Labour in Scotland. Liberal Democrats are not best placed to take advantage of disarray, having fallen to sixth place in the European elections. I do think that Labour have damaged themselves by being so closely allied with the campaign to save the union. (As have we, but the damage was largely done already). I expect the SNP to outdo Labour in seats at the GE., taking seats from us and Labour. The referendum result, and its aftermath, suit the SNP very well. They must have a sense, not of defeat, but that if they keep pushing, then independence will come.

  • David Howell 26th Oct '14 - 1:34pm

    @Simon Shaw.
    Simon says . . . ” I don’t know, could you tell us”?

    Certainly, Simon, since it appears to have escaped your attention that the official stance of the LibDems was “NO” to Scottish Independence, therefore, most voters would consider the LibDems to be supporters of the propaganda put out by the NO Campaign, since you clearly allied yourselves, to that campaign.

    As I said; this will not be forgotten in Scotland when the Holyrood election takes place in 2016.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 26th Oct '14 - 1:41pm

    John, why do you say that? We had a reasonably successful coalition with Labour in Scotland. Had to watch them like hawks of course, but we did some pretty transformative things. That’s not to say that they have ever been a bunch of cuddly teddies but they were certainly a lot more civilised than the Chesterfield Labour Party which I’d been used to.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 26th Oct '14 - 1:44pm

    Tony Dawson, you are being very unfair. Our leadership hasn’t got everything right by any stretch of the imagination but if you look at LDV surveys which are a pretty representative slice of party opinion, and look at votes at Conference, you’ll find that most support the coalition and most support much of what’s been done. And Nick still has the support of the majority.

  • David Howell 26th Oct '14 - 1:51pm

    As a genuine question to the LibDems . . .

    Given that the Labour Party in Scotland (& possibly elsewhere) are likely to haemorrhage seats at the forthcoming elections in 2015 & 2016; who do you consider to be the most likely party to take electoral advantage of this . . . The SNP . . . Or . . . The Liberal Democrats?

    And if I may ask a supplementary question; do you consider that allying yourselves to the Tory Party has improved or harmed your electoral prospects, as a party?

  • Tony Greaves 26th Oct '14 - 1:52pm

    Apart of course from the large proportion of members and possibly larger proportion of activists who have left.

    Tony

  • Helen Tedcastle 26th Oct '14 - 2:30pm

    @ Caron Lindsay
    On Labour: ‘ My worry if they go down the tubes in the Scottish context is that at the moment it’s likely to be the SNP that fills the vacuum and after what we saw from some elements of that party during the referendum, that’s something I really don’t want to see.’

    My sentiments entirely. It is amazing that some Lib Dems on here are quite prepared to countenance and in some cases openly prefer a resurgence of ugly nationalism north of the border to the chance of a Lib Dem -Labour coalition in 2015. This is what most Lib Dem members want.

    I’m only interested in Labour in Scotland for two reasons – 1. to stop the SNP and their brand of nationalism 2. to at least keep alive the chance of a left of centre coalition – and the chance of a genuinely reforming government in 2015.

  • “Nick still has the support of the majority.”

    …who remain members and answer LDV surveys. 7 months and there won’t be any sand left to bury heads under!

  • Fair enough, Caron, you are in a better position to see their good side than I am.

    As for watching them like hawks — it is a shame that lesson was not followed with the Conservatives in the Westminster Coalition after May 2010. I would not hold your breath for too much of that devolution you were all promised by Cameron before the referendum vote; a promise that seemed to last until two hours after the referendum result when Cameron stepped out in Downing St to announce that William Hague was now In charge of constitutional reform not the DPM.

  • Simon Shaw
    I agree with you about not wanting a coalition after 8th May (less than 200 days to go!!).
    But I have a second preference, which involves getting Cameron out of Downing Street.
    My first choice for coalition partner might be the Green Party, but in the real world I recognise that working with a Miiband Labour Party is a realistic possibility.
    Miliband is a lot more popular with the voters than Clegg and if his party does at least as well as it has done in most elections since 2010 it will have the most number of seats in 2015.
    The Tory Press, helped out by people like Blair, have tried their damnedest to undermine Miliband but I hope that Liberal Democrats will not fall or the Murdoch Agenda.

  • Igor Sagdejev 26th Oct '14 - 3:07pm

    @Helen Tedcastle “ugly nationalism north of the border”

    So far this has been the most peaceful and the least ugly nationalism of all I have ever seen. And I have seen some. and it is the only one I have seen that is inclusive.

  • Helen Tedcastle 26th Oct '14 - 3:11pm

    Simon Shaw
    ‘ No, most Lib Dem members don’t want that.’

    Except those polls on LDV, polled 6th October, 2014: https://www.libdemvoice.org/hung-parliament-what-lib-dem-members-think-will-happen-and-what-you-want-to-happen-42775.html

    51% of members want some sort of arrangement with Labour…
    18% want an arrangement again with the Tories

    And most, 69%, want to see us remain in government…

    Just 15% want to return to opposition.

    Are you suggesting the Lib Dem members polled haven’t thought through the consequences?

  • Tony Dawson 26th Oct '14 - 3:32pm

    @Caron Lindsay:”

    Caron, I supported the Coalition at its time of formation. On balance, despite extreme provocation, I still do.

    It is not the role of Lib Dems in their own government departments which is largely responsible for the destruction of the Party for which they are responsible. It is their political incompetence which makes even the misanthropic Miliband seem fantastic in comparison. This includes both the way in which they have managed the Coalition and their utterly hopeless presentation of it to the public which has pretty much destroyed the Party as any kind of electoral force.

  • David Howell 26th Oct '14 - 3:42pm

    Hi Simon,
    Forgive me, but yes . . . I do “reckon”. It’s clear that you don’t like to be reminded that the SNP are miles ahead of your party because presumably they are more popular because they keep their promises when they get into power.
    People admire that sort of conviction politics, rather than the expediency of ditching “cast iron promises” just to have the chance of snuggling back into the comfy leather of a ministerial, chauffeur driven limo, in government with a party that even your own supporters call “nasty”.

    As regards my supplementary question – do you really think that shouting at me will win the argument for you?
    Shall I presume that the answer to my question is perhaps, . . . More harmful.

    I’m not sure why you’re so upset, when it seems like your wish will come true, by not being in coalition with any party after the next GE.
    I suppose it might inflame matters if I were to point out that it’s more likely that the SNP will hold any balance of power after the demise of Scottish Labour. So I’ll just ‘think it’ instead. ;0)

  • Adam Robertson 26th Oct '14 - 5:37pm

    I think Johann Lamont, on what I have seen her of done a good job, although I think Ruth Davidson, has been more stronger in making, the SNP, more accountable in the Scottish Parliament. Johann Lamont, had to make a truce with the Conservatives, during the independence referendum campaign. Yes, it alienated a lot of working-class support for NO, but I believe she acted with good intention and integrity during the campaign. What I saw of Ed Miliband, the less said, the better. He looked uncomfortable throughout the referendum, mind you did all three Westminster Leaders.

    On the alleged in-fighting and factionalism within the Labour Party, Caron refers to, she is right to mention this. Although, she only refers to the Scottish Labour Party and the sacking of Ian Price, the Scottish Labour General Secretary, this happening in England, as well. For example, the Waveney Labour Party, has seen one Councillor allegedly deselected because he did not support the ex-MP, who is standing again in the constituency. This is despite this Councillor, being one of the best talents, Labour have got. However, the ex-MP and his acolytes, want to dominate the local party structure, even if it means the ex-MP leaving his wife in the process. Factionalism is rive within the Labour Party.

    John Tilley, talks about us working with Ed Miliband after the general election next year. We are not even sure, what the Labour Party’s policies are. I am still unclear on what Ed Miliband, is offering to the electorate, apart from raising the minimum wage to £8 by 2020 and increasing house building by a million between 2015 and 2020. However, in Waveney, where I live, the local Labour Party and the candidate for the General Election, are AGAINST building new homes. I agree with Ed Miliband, on the house building pledge, but he needs to get his candidates to follow him on this policy. Instead of going onto their own devices.

    The New Statesman run an article asking whether there will be a second general election in 2015, because of an inconclusive result, where no two parties apart from a Grand Coalition (Conservative/Labour), can form a working majority. I think as a party, we may have to accept that UKIP or the SNP, may be needed to relied on to get certain parts of legislation through in the interim, if this happens. I also think, the hierachy of the Lib Dems, need to stop pushing the mantra of coalition at all costs for 2015. I can see us supporting a Labour Minority Government, on a ‘confidence and supply’ basis, rather than a Coalition. I think the Party, need to rule all options open not just this one option.

  • Denis Mollison 26th Oct '14 - 5:51pm

    @Simon Shaw – that dreadful patronising lady advert – “How does this work, then? If I agree with what Campaign Group X is campaigning for, then are you saying that means that I agree with everying they say, and how they say it? What a totally silly comment.”

    I don’t think you’ve quite understood that this was an official broadcast by the “Better Together” campaign, which was set up jointly by the three unionist parties – Tories, Labour and Lib Dem – so we are alas responsible for it , jointly with those other two parties.

  • Denis Mollison 26th Oct '14 - 5:53pm

    And on the main theme. We should be putting our energy into persuading former Labour voters to support us, rather than worrying about who else they may be tempted to support.

  • Adam Robertson
    You wrote –“…John Tilley, talks about us working with Ed Miliband after the general election next year. We are not even sure, what the Labour Party’s policies are”

    Are you sure you know what Nick Clegg’s policies are? Other than being a doormat for Clegg?

  • Jim Murphy is being heavily tipped as the next Labour leader for Scotland and it’s hard to argue that this wouldn’t be a massive boost for them. I very much doubt Labour in Scotland has been “thrown into turmoil” by Lamont’s resignation I think most will think she’s done the right thing. I’m sure she tried her best, but she was no match for the SNP leadership.

    Also for those who talk of the death of the Labour party in Scotland because of the rise of the SNP, I can only say have a look at the size of Labours majorities in seats where the SNP are second to Labour. In their least safe seat they had more than 10% of the vote than the SNP, in their fourth least safe sea they had nearly 22% more of the vote. Most of their seats have massive majorites so I think talk of their “death” is a little premature.

  • Adam Robertson 26th Oct '14 - 10:10pm

    @John Tilley

    1) Are you sure you know what Nick Clegg’s policies are? Firstly, they are not Nick Clegg’s policies are. However, I do know the bulk of Liberal Democrat policies are going to be for the next election. One of the key policies, I support is the Mental Health policy, which Nick Clegg is championing. I think putting an extra £40 million or more, into mental health care is a good policy.

    Secondly, I agree with the policy of achieving reform within the European Union, not by threatening to leave it. I think people like Catherine Bearder, will be able to help achieve this. Instead of the Conservative policy, of threatening to leave the European Union, if they do not get reform such as limitations on freedom of movement within the European Union.

    2) Other than being a doormat for Clegg? I am not going to respond to this, as this just seems to be a petty cheap shot.

  • Adam Robertson 26th Oct ’14 – 10:10pm

    The mental health policy is I grant you a typical Clegg policy.
    A rabbit pulled out of a hat in time for the conference season. Very “worthy” on the surface but examined more closely it is a very skinny rabbit, no meat on the bones at all, no substance, no carefully thought through policy, no suggestions about how it will work in practice. A headline stunt which will sound “nice” in middle class drawing rooms but what will it do in practice?

    For all I know you have been a strong and consistent advocate of greater funding for mental health. You may know exactly how an extra £40 million will transform services in mental health rather than disappear into a bottomless pit of increasing demand. That may be a particular interest of yours, but I cannot remember the Deputy Prime Minister mentioning it very often before the summer of 2014.

    I also cannot believe that you are unaware of any policy of Miliband and the Labour Party? Nor indeed that Miliband would object to tossing an ill-defined £40 million in the direction of mental health services.

    You are however quite right that my reference to a doormat is a cheap shot. Not necessarily inaccurate though, however cheap.

  • “One of the key policies, I support is the Mental Health policy, which Nick Clegg is championing. I think putting an extra £40 million or more, into mental health care is a good policy. “

    If the most significant Lib Dem policy you can think of is increasing spending on mental health by an amount equal to 0.04% of the NHS budget, then I wonder why you bother.

  • There have been 2 recent Scots Polls, both giving similar results – SNP in the low 40s, Labour in the mid 20s & around 10% for the others, mostly The SSP & Greens. If the result was anything like that then Pro-Independence Parties could get a majority of Seats, Votes or both. that would make another Referendum inevitable, with the Yes forces strenthened.
    Of course if Scottish Labour is dying I would hope that we take most of their Votes & some of their activists but Libdems in Scotland are weaker than in England or Wales & they face the massive Juggernaut of The SNP with its 80,000 members. That equivalent to a Million members across the UK. It seems likely the SNP will dominate Scots Politics for the next 5 or 10 Years.

  • paul barker

    The most recent Scottish poll for the GE I’ve seen was carried out by Survation and published at the end of September. They had Labour on 39% and the SNP on 35%, not great for Labour but hardly a dying party.

  • David Evans 27th Oct '14 - 2:29pm

    Caron. I see you are still clinging to the “Nick’s OK” narrative you have returned to each time after another example of where you realise the mess he has made. Let’s look at a few facts.

    Since Nick became leader we have lost nearly half of our councillors and activists – Nick still has the support of the majority, He’s OK.
    Since Nick became leader we have lost over 90% of our MEPs – Nick still has the support of the majority, He’s OK.
    Since Nick became leader we have lost two thirds of our MSPs – Nick still has the support of the majority, He’s OK.
    Since Nick became leader we have broken a pledge which has lost us more than half our support across the country – Nick still has the support of the majority, He’s OK.
    Since Nick became leader we have undertaken a top down reorganisation of the NHS despite it being massively opposed in conference, and now even the Conservatives are admitting it was a disaster – Nick still has the support of the majority, He’s OK.
    Since Nick became leader he whipped the MPs into supporting secret courts – Nick still has the support of the majority, He’s OK.
    Since Nick became leader we have lost a third of our membership – Nick still has the support of the majority. Why? Because a third of them have left. Are you really sure He’s OK?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 27th Oct '14 - 3:23pm

    Nick is going to be the leader of this party into the General Election. That is settled beyond doubt despite the best efforts of some people. His opponents really need to accept that and I wonder how much they actually think they are helping by continuing to snipe at him. Some stuff he does irritates the hell out of me, and I say so when that happens, but he’s done a great job in some areas too – mental health, Call Clegg which is now almost 2 years old. I think history will be a lot kinder to him than you are.

    Going into Government with the Conservatives was always going to be a very risky business. The Party has to take some of the responsibility for the decision because we backed it so emphatically at the special conference.

    Yes, Nick and other ministers have made mistakes but they have also done a huge amount of good. Sure, we face a huge political challenge, but we did what we had to do and the majority of the members of the party who respond to our surveys support Nick and the decision to go into government and the continuing coalition.

  • @Malc “The most recent Scottish poll for the GE I’ve seen was carried out by Survation and published at the end of September. They had Labour on 39% and the SNP on 35%, not great for Labour but hardly a dying party.”

    Your a little behind the times. Theres been a few polls out in the last month which have put the SNP at around 40% and Labour on 25%.

  • “Nick is going to be the leader of this party into the General Election. That is settled beyond doubt despite the best efforts of some people. His opponents really need to accept that…”

    OK. Fair comment.

    This Party is deceased. When we purchased it, the shop told us that its total lack of movement was due to it being tired out following a prolonged squawk around Clacton-on-Sea. The only reason it was sitting on its perch in the first place was that it had been NAILED there.

    It is not pining! It has passed on! This Party is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! It’s a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If it hadn’t been nailed it to the perch, it’d be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now history! It’s off the twig! It’s kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile! This is an ex-Party!

  • Adam Robertson 28th Oct '14 - 12:21am

    @JohnTilley

    I agree with you, we need more substance on the mental health pledge by Nick Clegg. However, like Caron has mentioned, this should be welcomed that the party is working towards this. From NHS staff, I know – some of them have welcomed the pledge made by Nick Clegg, to invest in this. Where I do agree with you is, that we need more substance on the bones.

    On Ed Miliband, I think he is just out of his depth. I don’t mean this harshly but I was not even sure what his response was to, on how whether we should pay the £1.7 billion to the European Union. It is alright for Ed Miliband to bluster and make the odd comment here and there but that is not leadership. Where does he stand on the major issues? The X but Y answer……… does not work. I am afraid, he will have to come out where he stands on major issues, very soon.

    Can I say, I totally endorse Caron’s last comment because we have to realize the fact, that Nick Clegg, will be the leader of the party at the general election. We have to roll our sleeves up and fight the battle of our political lives. We have to accept that the political landscape has changed and we need to play our part in it. I don’t support the status quo, which the Conservatives and Labour do, but I accept that change will come gradually if we can change the system of government through two-party government. Hopefully, this will lead to a spillover change into how politics in the UK, is perceived as.

  • @JohnTilley

    “The mental health policy is I grant you a typical Clegg policy.
    A rabbit pulled out of a hat in time for the conference season. Very “worthy” on the surface but examined more closely it is a very skinny rabbit”

    I have to agree with you. I asked some questions on other forums in regards to the announcements at conference regarding mental health, I never got any answers.

    Nick Clegg announced that from April for the first time, mental health treatment will be on equal parity to physical health, introducing maximum waiting times. He made a big commitment about mental health and said he wanted it on the front page of the manifesto.
    This confused me somewhat as, the policy is already coming into effect in April and was agreed by this government.

    So what exactly was it that Nick Clegg was offering and wants on the front page of the 2015 Liberal Democrat manifesto? What is being promised on page 47 of the manifesto makes no sense as it will already be in legislation before then.
    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/08/mental-health-care-120m-funding-waiting-time-targets-nick-clegg
    “The coalition announcement, agreed with the Conservatives, is backed by £120m of extra funding over the next two years, with £40m this year and a further £80m in 2015-16.”

    I am really confused what is it that Nick Clegg is proposing to be in the manifesto over and beyond what agreements are already in place on mental health?

  • The Labour party encourages its better candidates to join the Westminster elite, leaving the rest to the mercy of a skilled operator like Salmond. This is why the SNP can run rings around the other parties in Scotland, the other parties are guilty of this too.

    However Miliband was particularly gormless and useless during the referendum and his flying visit the day after to thank them for a couple of minutes then sweep away like royalty appeared to me to be very insulting. I wonder if he knew the names of his leading MSps.

  • Simon Hebditch 1st Nov '14 - 12:20pm

    The Labour Party in Scotland may well be in difficulty but we should be looking to the problems within the Lib Dems there. The last poll I saw predicted a 4% vote for the Lib Dems next year. Lets be generous and assume the real figure is 7% – a drop from 19% in 2010. How many seat will we keep on that basis?

  • Peter Chegwyn 1st Nov '14 - 12:48pm

    In answer to Simon’s question, three at best, one at worst.

    And Simon is absolutely right to say that instead of gloating about Labour’s problems we should be more concerned about putting our own house in order and worrying about the electoral debacle heading our way.

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