Saturday, 25 October 2014

Ding dong...

I woke up this morning to the news that Johann Lamont, "leader" of "Scottish" Labour, had resigned with immediate effect, giving an exclusive interview in the party's house journal, the Daily Record. In doing so, she has become the fourth SLab leader in a row to be seen off by Alex Salmond since he became First Minister in 2007. This just shy of a month after giving an interview to the same newspaper in which, following mounting speculation that the knives were being sharpened for her, she insisted that she was going nowhere and proclaimed her ambition to be the next First Minister. (OK, stop laughing...)

Artist's impression of Lamont's political fortunes
in the Yes-supporting Sunday Herald last week.

With her excruciating performances on Thursday mornings at First Minister's Questions and a knack for soundbite gaffes that would make George W. Bush blush, Lamont never appeared comfortable in the role of party leader, and has looked like a (political) dead woman walking for at least the last year. She also came across, either as a result of her actual personality or the scripts prepared for her by her spin doctors, as a bitter, spiteful individual -- a perception given credence by the hand grenade she lobbed at the party's Westminster leadership on her way out the door. She claims to be sick of being overruled by London, whom she accuses of running the Scottish division as little more than a regional branch office, and of failing to understand that Scotland's political centre is now Holyrood, not Westminster. (We could have told you that, Johann.)

That's right, the woman who campaigned so strenuously for Scotland to remain governed by Westminster has resigned because she doesn't like being governed by Westminster. I presume she doesn't "do" irony.

In my view, Lamont's departure is both a blessing and a curse to the Yes side. A blessing, because she leaves SLab in such a state of utter turmoil that it's difficult to see how it can recover. There is no heir apparent to her "crown" -- calling the talent on the Labour benches at Holyrood third rate would be overly charitable, and her accusations of London interference means that any "big hitter" parachuted in from the Westminster benches is going to have about as much credibility as... well, Johann Lamont. On the other hand, Lamont's ineptitude has long been viewed as a gift to the SNP. Truly, she was so poor that whoever replaces her can't help but look better by comparison. Then again, much the same was said of her predecessor Iain Gray...

One thing's for sure, I doubt the BBC's James Cook had any idea he was writing the epitaph for Lamont's career when he made this observation to her on a panel show back in August:

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