SIMMERING DIVISIONS IN SCOTTISH LABOUR EXPOSED

The SNP said the simmering divisions at the heart of Scottish Labour were laid bare as newspaper reports reveal frustration with Johann Lamont, a "moribund" party machine not fit for the 21st century, and Westminster MPs refusing to accept the authority of leaders at Holyrood.

The Sunday Herald (23/9/12) reveals "internal party frustration with Johann Lamont" as the special commission to review Holyrood's powers she announced in March has not yet been set up. At the time Ms Lamont promised "I will lead Labour's commission on devolution. And on that commission I want not just Holyrood and Westminster colleagues but trades-union colleagues, and colleagues from local government." Yet six months later there has been no proposals, no remit and no membership agreed.

The lack of leadership and behind-the-scenes tensions within labour were also brutally exposed in a Sunday Times interview with Scottish Labour's former spin doctor Simon Pia. Mr Pia describes the party machine as "quite moribund" and says that “Westminster MPs have got to wake up to the fact that Johann Lamont is the leader of the party"

Contrasting the SNP with Labour, Mr Pia said: “Their organisation is adjusted, it’s a sleek 21st century operation whereas Labour’s is quite moribund. Not only does it not fit the 21st century, some people would even go as far as to say it’s almost 19th century.”

Mr Pia said that Labour had not adapted to the change of focus in Scottish politics from Westminster to Holyrood: "Holyrood for too long has been viewed as the third class citizen. Labour is still stuck back in 1999 (when the Scottish parliament was established) and that’s been been a big problem for it."

Commenting, the SNP's Kenny Gibson MP said

"It is clear from their internal feuding that things are bad in the Labour Party, but for their former spokesperson to describe the party as 'moribund' shows just how miserable things have become. The Labour shambles is in stark contrast to the positive, optimistic spirit of the 'Yes' campaign which is working for a better Scotland - as shown by the fantastic Yes rally in Edinburgh.

"Simon Pia is spot on - the centre of gravity in Scottish politics is now very much at Holyrood, and it's time the Scottish Labour MPs woke up to this reality.

"As these reports confirm, even after 13 years of devolution, Scottish Labour MPs haven't accepted the fact that the country has moved on since 1999. They desperately cling to an archaic power structure at Westminster, and refuse even to accept the authority of their leader in Scotland, Johann Lamont.

"The difficulty for Labour MPs in accepting the power-shift won't be helped by the astonishing lack of leadership from Johann Lamont.

"The failure to take action confirms that Labour are content to be led by the Tories in the referendum campaign, because the reality is that right-wing Tories like Iain Duncan Smith are effectively representing Labour in the No campaign - no wonder some Labour members have formed the 'Labour for Independence' group. The more the anti-independence parties fail to present an alternative to independence, the more people will be inclined to vote Yes to an independent Scotland in autumn 2014."

"Instead of campaigning shoulder to shoulder with the Tories for the self-interest of Labour MPs, growing numbers of Labour members and supporters are getting behind the Yes campaign for an independent Scottish Parliament, which will be far better placed to make decisions in the best interests of the people of Scotland."

NOTES

Further information:-

Sunday Herald 23/9/12
http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/political-news/six-months-on-stil...

Sunday Times interview with Simon Pia, 23/9/2012
http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/