Lamont challenged to end silence and back powers

Leader of the Labour Party in Scotland Johann Lamont has been challenged to break her self-imposed silence and back the SNP’s calls for greater powers over Scotland’s railways.

The Tory-led coalition government has refused requests to devolve legislative powers over Scotland’s railways to Holyrood. Such a move would give the Scottish Government far greater freedom to revolutionise rail services, including the possibility of the public sector delivering rail services if the can provide a better deal.

Currently, state-owned companies from outside the UK can run rail services here but home-grown ones are barred under current UK Government rules.

Johann Lamont has been conspicuous by her silence during the summer months, refusing to comment on issues as diverse as errant MP Ian Davidson; her views on Trident; votes at 16; whether she backs calls to fund shovel-ready projects; whether she will allow a grassroots Labour debate on independence; and Tory moves to seize control of the anti-independence campaign.

She has now been challenged to end her self-imposed silence by speaking out on this issue, with SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald having written to Johann Lamont calling on her to publicly support the SNP Government’s calls for greater control over the operation and regulation of Scotland’s railways.

Commenting, SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald said:

“The continued silence of Johann Lamont is getting increasingly bizarre, although I’ve no idea whether she’s being muzzled or genuinely has no opinions on any of the issues of the day.

“Whatever the reason she is being kept out of the public eye, surely this is an issue she can end her silence on and back our calls.

“When the Tory-led coalition is blocking our chance to revolutionise Scotland railways, people will find it extraordinary that Johann Lamont has been nowhere to be seen.

“Any future criticism she may have of Scotland’s railways would ring pretty hollow if she does not end her disappearing act and speak out in favour of the SNP’s calls.

“If Johann Lamont does speak up, I would hope she would agree that if the public sector has the potential to deliver a better service on Scotland’s railways then it should be an available option.

“Scotland would be far better served with more powers to shape our railways and I would hope that Johann Lamont will end her silence and back our calls.”