Scottish Labour’s dead cat bounce

Do you know, Johann Lamont might just make a decent fist of this Scottish Labour leadership malarkey, if recent signs are anything to go by.

In this week’s First Minister’s Questions, she moved the political discourse on to solid territory for her.  She had a few well-sighted barbs too:  “As ever, the First Minister focuses on other people’s responsibilities and not his own. Never mind the budget at UK level—his own budget for jobs and growth could be done under the Trade Descriptions Act.”…. “To coin a phrase, when will the very man who launched a consultation document in a castle put people before prestige?”  And my favourite – and I suspect one we will hear again – “The First Minister talks about his new Minister for Youth Employment. That is one job for one woman, but what about the other 399 women who are losing their job every day under the SNP Government?”

This is bread and butter politics to the likes of Lamont;  it is far more discomfiting for the First Minister.  Despite the best efforts of the Scottish Government to focus on tackling unemployment, and youth unemployment in particular, the bad news keeps on coming.  Unemployment among young people and women is likely to rise for a while yet.  The reasons for this are complex and more properly rest with UK Government austerity measures and its inaction on creating growth.  But it is easy for Labour to join the dots and point the finger at the Scottish Government and its failings, whether real or imagined.  Whether folk will follow the line of thinking and also begin to doubt remains to be seen.

Focusing on women and women’s needs and issues in the labour market currently is a good place for Labour to be.  Johann Lamont with her political influences and traditions is on the political equivalent of a comfy sofa, the First Minister, meanwhile, is on a shoogly three-legged stool.  The SNP has always enjoyed an uneasy relationship with women voters – recent polls on referendum voting intentions show how much work the party has to do to capture this vote.  As many point out, the women’s vote is not homogenous but across all the age groups, backgrounds and other demographic characteristics, the inescapable conclusion is that support for the SNP and independence among women lags far behind men.

The party has always struggled to engage women effectively on its vision and aspirations.  The same applies across a whole host of policy areas, including economic and employment strategy.  Women as a key target group in the labour market are rarely mentioned;  the disproportionate impact of public sector cuts – something which Lamont honed in on – appears to have passed the party by;  few of its big hitters, the First Minister especially, ever seem comfortable when talking about policy and issues that strike a chord with women.  Lamont appears to have found this niche and if she has any sense, will continue to try to exploit it.

Moreover, despite being somewhat sidelined in recent weeks by Alistair Darling’s dazzling displays on the independence referendum, Johann Lamont is starting to forge a bit of a convincing and consistent line on the issue.  It still falls far short of credible, of course, but again the focus has been on trying to paint the First Minister into a corner, by calling for clarity on the question and accusing him of being a feartie by not having the referendum sooner.  It’s playground stuff but again, it keeps the doubters doubting and talks about the process in language people can understand.

Johann Lamont’s recent performance, however, is but one small glimmer of hope for Scottish Labour.   And ahead of the local government elections in May, any bounce such activity might create is probably a dead cat one.  Elsewhere, the signs are grim.

Eric Joyce clearly has some serious troubles in his life and in any other profession, he would be allowed to grieve privately.  His meltdown in the public domain will simply reinforce for many that Scottish Labour consists of a ragbag of unfit to govern types.  It should not be, but that is how it is.  The stunt in Stirling by Labour and the Tories in voting down a competent SNP minority administration’s budget and replacing it with one that not only cut the council tax but in doing so, threatened the living wage and breakfast clubs will get its reward at the ballot box.  Expect to see them hammered

In other Scottish Parliamentary business this week, Labour with a now rare morning leading the debate thanks to parliamentary arithmetic, decided to focus on transport issues.  Again.

In our last Labour Party debate, we discussed the impact of Scottish Government policies on bus passengers. Today, we return to two more transport issues that are of crucial importance. In our second debate today, we will focus on support for ferry services, but in this debate, we will discuss the need to provide the rail services that Scotland requires and, specifically, the need to ensure that railway stations that perform a crucial role in their communities are not closed.”

And that is about as much as you need to know.  Nothing debates on nothing very much that amount to nothing at all.   Add into the mix the excoriatingly piss poor performance over the Scottish Budget, where Ken Macintosh managed to confuse even himself, never mind the listener, when interviewed about it the day after by Radio Scotland.  It all serves to show just how far the party still has to travel to get its head around the scale of its defeat last May.  Worst of all, it demonstrates a total lack of understanding of how to find the path to recovery, never mind get on it.

No, the party has further to fall and ironically, it will be the proportional voting system of STV in the local government elections which will save Scottish Labour from annihilation.  Just.




11 thoughts on “Scottish Labour’s dead cat bounce

  1. Pingback: The people of Falkirk deserve better « A Burdz Eye View

  2. I like the Blog incidentally. : )

  3. It might help if she comes right out and states, correctly, that Joyce is not fit to serve and should either be made to resign or be deselected. By refusing to do this Labour sends out the message that it is afraid it might lose a by-election. Actually by finally dealing with Joyce perhaps they would take a positive step forward. The people of Falkirk will interpret Labour inaction accordingly if Joyce is allowed to remain. Such a message says Labour doesn’t care about the quality of candidate. That isn’t a good message.

    Even without a court case Joyce’s conduct was inexcusable. He has to go.

    The point made about Joyce being allowed to “grieve privately” were he in any other workplace is a bizarre one in my view. In any other job employees are not provided with subsidised booze throughout the working day. It is quite disgraceful that the UK Parliament provides such benefits courtesy of the taxpayer.

    • With respect, these are two entirely separate issues. If someone has demons in their life, including alleged issues with alcohol misuse and anger management problems, no he isn’t fit to be an MP but as we would afford anyone else in our workplace with such issues, they would be supported to try and resolve these and the matter would be dealt with sensitively and privately. Why should it be okay then to hound an MP?

      I agree it is a disgrace that the drink culture at Westminster is subsidised by the taxpayer but that is a quite separate issue.

      I think too some of the coverage today has suggested Labour locally keen to remove Mr Joyce but the frustration is that parties cannot actually remove MPs, just the whip. The powers around recuse of MPs and what kind of behaviour would trigger an automatic by-election need looked at.

      • Eric Joyce’s “demons” are not the taxpayer’s, or the voter’s, concern. NO ONE who attacked a number of people in their own workplace would get away with staying in a job. There is such a thing as gross misconduct. They would absolutely NOT be supported if they were physically attacking colleagues. Many in very ordinary, low paid jobs don’t have the pay or benefits enjoyed by Mr Joyce yet they have to put in a shift every day simply to survive financially and they don’t get to behave badly in the job and simply put it down to personal demons.

        If one is an MP one should know that nothing about the job is private and especially Mr Joyce. They are public figures. Labour has a great deal to lose here if it does not act. He can be deselected. Jim Devine had his demons too did he not? I didn’t see Labour seeking to protect him. I wonder why Joyce has so many protectors. But no matter what any of us thinks about this Lamont’s silence on the issue is damaging moreso when the clear implication here is that Labour will not deal with Joyce simply because they are afraid of a by-election being lost to the SNP.

      • I agree with your last point. I don’t think Joyce does have his protectors, he’s been hung out a lot quicker than Devine was. He got away with bad behaviour for a long while.

        And you’re right re the physical assaults constituting gross misconduct, and one rule for them and another for the rest of us.

        I just don’t think someone’s breakdown should be poked and prodded by the public – i wouldn’t like it if it happened to me. L

  4. Pingback: Scottish Labour’s dead cat bounce | Politics Scotland |

  5. Locally focussing on women’s needs and youth employment is the exact opposite of what Johann Lamont is doing. Don’t want to go into too many details, the whole saga has been well covered by STV Local. but it’s damagimg for her. Unusually perhaps. I raher like Johann Lamont because I feel she is sincere, if somewhat lacking in political skills. But there’s no obvious explanation for why no action has been taken in Glasgow other than that they would lose their majority if it was. That’s damaging. It would hardly matter in reality if the Council aministration sees out its term as a minority, their budget is passed, no major decisions will be taken before the elections. And in any case there is really no excuse for putting those considerations first and hoping that the unpleasantness will just go away. I realise that this is primarily a local matter. few people outside Glasgow will know anything about it but it’s a big failure of leadership on her part I am afraid and something of a let-down.

  6. I’m surprised by your take on the performance of Johann Lamont. I don’ t believe the points she made have any resonance and she still sounds and looks as if she is reading a script she has learned. Fot better or worse the general public do not blame the SNP government for rises in unemployment as yet.. Not should they.

  7. Amidst all that bad news, Johann is doing her best Macavity impression — very likely doing complicated long division sums.

Comments are closed.