Scottish Labour needs to make itself relevant this weekend

When Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont address’s the Labour faithful in Brighton this weekend, she will be faced with two key challenges.

Johann Lamont

When Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont address’s the Labour faithful in Brighton this weekend, she will be faced with two key challenges.

With less than a year to go until Scottish voters go to the polls and decide their fates, for many, the option they would prefer, namely devo max, simply isn’t on the ballot paper. For those seeking to maintain Scotland’s place at the heart of the union, the challenge is to establish a credible, cross-party offer to the voters, one that gives them confidence that voting to reject independence will not be a vote for the status quo.

Lamont needs to set out that vision and a path towards a united, Better Together approach to the powers to be provided to Holyrood, or else face the risk of Scotland sleepwalking its way to separation.

The gauntlet will today be laid by shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander who, in a speech in his Paisley and Renfrewshire South constituency, will call for all parties, including the SNP, to come together and establish a strong and durable offer for the future of devolution in the event of a rejection of Alex Salmond’s pet project.

Alexander, who earlier this year called for a national convention on the future of Scotland, will tell (£) those assembled that despite the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives having given a positive response to his call, Labour needs to go one step further. He will explain:

“All sides of this debate have an interest in the referendum outcome being respected. So if, in a year’s time, Scotland does reject separation, then why shouldn’t Nationalists too come to see a National Convention as a constructive means to discuss, deliberate and decide together on what our better future within the UK looks like?

“For while the answer to the question put in a year’s time will resolve whether or not Scots want to be a nation separate from the rest of the UK, the deeper question as to what kind of Scotland we want to be will not be resolved.”

In what is being seen as an attempt to secure the support of those within the Labour Party who have been reluctant to commit even to the principle of further devolution, he will declare:

“I hope that such a National Convention could become a shared commitment by those parties who believe that Scotland’s better future lies within the United Kingdom.”

Attacking the tone of the debate on both sides meanwhile, Alexander will conclude that the campaigns so far have become “arid, acrimonious”, an argument that is failing to chime with the priorities of Scottish people.

Johann Lamont’s second challenge in Brighton, meanwhile, will be to restore Labour’s credibility as an alternative government-in waiting north of the border. Over two years after the SNP secured a historic, single party majority in the Scottish parliament, the polling on voting intentions remains weak for Scottish Labour.

Ipsos MORI’s Scottish Public Opinion Monitor shows that, among those certain to vote, 41 per cent would vote for the SNP, up two points since May, whilst Labour remains four points behind on 37 per cent, an increase of just one point since May.

Asked about the leaders of the Scottish Parties, Alex Salmond has managed, for now, to halt the decline in his satisfaction rating with a net satisfaction rating of +8 – up 6 points since May. Johann Lamont is on trails on +6, up 1 point, although Ipsos Mori point out that “a third of Scots still do not know enough about the Scottish Labour leader to provide a rating”.

Commenting on the results, Christopher McLean, senior researcher at Ipsos MORI Scotland, said:

“Over two years on from their landslide victory in the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, the SNP remain the most popular party among voters in Scotland. Indeed, the SNP’s popularity is aided by the high levels of satisfaction with the party’s leading figures as both the first minister and deputy first minister continue to achieve high approval ratings.

“Scottish Labour continue to make progress under Johann Lamont and are close behind the SNP. However, a third of voters remain unable to rate the Scottish Labour leader’s performance, suggesting that more could be done to improve her profile among voters.”

8 Responses to “Scottish Labour needs to make itself relevant this weekend”

  1. Juteman

    As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
    Before the 1979 referendum, we were promised extra powers by the British Nationalists if we voted No, We voted Yes, but a late addition to the rules by a Labour MP over-ruled democracy. Nothing changes, eh?
    A simple majority wasn’t enough, 40% of the total electorate now must vote Yes! By this con trick, non-voters and the dead were counted as No voters.
    Anyway, the main event this weekend is the Indy Rally in Edinburgh. No doubt Pravda, sorry the BBC will give it full coverage.

  2. Juteman

    As the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
    Before the 1979 referendum, we were promised extra powers by the British Nationalists if we voted No, We voted Yes, but a late addition to the rules by a Labour MP over-ruled democracy. Nothing changes, eh?
    A simple majority wasn’t enough, 40% of the total electorate now must vote Yes! By this con trick, non-voters and the dead were counted as No voters.
    Anyway, the main event this weekend is the Indy Rally in Edinburgh. No doubt Pravda, sorry the BBC will give it full coverage.

  3. cynicalhighlander

    The unionists were united that there should be only one question and nothing more because they had no intention of giving anymore powers to Holyrood ever. All we have heard is that Westminster will bypass the SG and deal directly with local government so nullifying the SG roll because they know that the Scottish branch of the Labour party are incapable of linking two sentences together let alone running any form of coherent policies to suit the Scottish people rather than their rich friends.

    Vote Yes to make Scottish history. Vote No to make Scotland history.

  4. cynicalhighlander

    The unionists were united that there should be only one question and nothing more because they had no intention of giving anymore powers to Holyrood ever. All we have heard is that Westminster will bypass the SG and deal directly with local government so nullifying the SG roll because they know that the Scottish branch of the Labour party are incapable of linking two sentences together let alone running any form of coherent policies to suit the Scottish people rather than their rich friends.

    Vote Yes to make Scottish history. Vote No to make Scotland history.

  5. Chrisso

    “Lamont needs to set out that vision and a path towards a united, Better Together approach to the powers to be provided to Holyrood, or else face the risk of Scotland sleepwalking its way to separation.” Haha! Yes, just claim the Scots are ‘asleep,’ why not. They are actually wide awake to the vibrant potential of self-determination after independence.

    Secondly, whilst the negative ‘No’ campaign, supported by Scottish and UK Labour, fails to give assurances that Scottish Parliament will gain additional powers if the referendum result is ‘No’ – indeed siren voices wail that the existing powers under the devolution settlement should be stripped away – the imperative to vote ‘Yes’ will swell further. Labour in Scotland is being tarnished by this recidivist attitude so yes, the polling on voting intentions indeed remains ‘weak for Scottish Labour’. Scottish Labour is indeed weak. The Ipsos Mori point that “a third of Scots still do not know enough about the Scottish Labour leader to provide a rating” says it all – Johann Lamont is seen as ‘Mrs Grumpy’ north of the border and in social media and that can’t help.

    Thirdly, the elephant in the article-room is the failure to mention the mass rally for independence taking place today in Edinburgh. Is that because it’s at the opposite end of the British Isles from Brighton? Or because the No campaign dare not rally their own supporters?

    Time to get real LFF! I’m English but I do seem to have a better grip on the Scottish political dynamics than your unionist writers. Cameron’s BIG mistake was to avoid a Devo Max option in the referendum. Salmond did not rule it out, Cameron did. And sealed the deal without any olive branch or escape route for the Union.

  6. Lachie Macquarie

    Salmond’s pet project has at least 25% of the Scottish electorate in agreement, which will grow over the next year. The Unionist parties, instead of knocking the Scottish people, need to bring forward positive proposals for more powers in the hands of the Scottish Government. Although, I suspect that, it will not be left foot forward, it will be right foot forward and many happy years of Conservative government, south of the border and I don’t mean “down Mexico way”.

  7. uglyfatbloke

    The big problem for Johann is the Better Together campaign. It’s not just that Darling cuts her out of the picture, it’s that they are so totally useless. So far they have used a lot of ammunition and not scored a hit, there again virtually everything they have claimed has turned out to be dubious at best and just plain wrongt at worst. If Labour and Better Together did not enjoy such uncritical support from the BBC the campaign would be in deep, deep trouble.
    Naturally Cameron is n’t being very helpful either. If he won’t debate with Salmond his ‘passionate’ regard for the Union must be pretty shallow. He also cast a blight on Better Together by being party to choosing Darling to lead it. What was he thinking? Salmond does n’t need to debate with Darling; he knows that Sturgeon will wipe the floor with him; not because she’s right and he’s wrong, but because he is rubbish at debating…as a lawyer he’s quite good at making flat statements which are not subject to discussion (which is why he’s good in a PPB) but reasoned argument is not his forte. Also, the very idea is ludicrous and a bit insulting. There is no way ion which the leader of a pressure group and an opposition backbencher is the political equal of the FM….it’s actually an even more ludicrous proposition than when Salmond wanted to be in the debate with Brown, Cameron and Clegg.

  8. uglyfatbloke

    Funny…I was pretty sure I posted here….

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