Dear Johann,

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By Derek Bateman
 
Some happy news at last! I’ve been asked by Johann Lamont to produce a paper on where she’s going wrong.  There’s no money in it – she’s says she believes in something for nothing.  So let me share with you what I’ve said.

Hi Johann,

Thanks for agreeing that I could send this to you directly so it isn’t censored by Paul, your balding Alastair Campbell wannabe.  Let me start with Grangemouth which I know has caused you much distress.

I do think the key element here is not to be posted missing.  Every time something happens in Scotland you need visibility.  Sometimes it doesn’t even matter if you are cast in an unflattering light by comparison with the Great Satan.  The truth is that in opposition you simply can’t match him because you have no actual powers. 

But you do have powers of presence.  The Scots need to equate you with the events in their life and if you turn up when there’s trouble, even if Satan is grandstanding, the media will be obliged to ask your opinion.  So long as you say something sensible, it will be on Rep Scot.  He will hate that.

So when the Unite nonsense began in Falkirk you were wrong to take Baldy’s advice and stay out of it.  We both know the truth – that you have no powers in the CLP nor in Unite but the trick is to pretend to the Scots that you do.  So, when there’s vote-fixing and vote-buying, before HQ in London steps in – as they must – you negotiate a 24 hour delay in which you turn up in Falkirk, meet constituency reps and union officials, then issue a statement condemning the lot as not good enough for the people of Falkirk and – looking grimly at the camera – you demand the national executive acts immediately. 

So long as Miliband shuts up and gives a nod of acknowledgement in your direction, you’re home and dry.  You’ve set the tone.  Taken command.  Ordered action.  Looked tough.  Some in the know will laugh, of course but the vast majority who couldn’t care less about infantile internal politics will see you doing something.  Disappearing, as you did, is the worst possible move.  If Baldy – or should we now call him The Arse? – tells you that was Gordon’s strategy, ask yourself what happened to Gordon.  He is running behind Ramsay McDonald as Britain’s most reviled PM.

So sometime in the last two weeks you had a card to play and missed your cue.  You should have called Satan.  Personally.  Asked for a private meeting.  Tell him you don’t want publicity but as there is a matter of national economic importance at hand, you have an insight into the union side of the dispute.  The continuation of the plant and the retention of the jobs is your primary concern.  Ask if he wants you to broker a meeting with the union.  He doesn’t need you for that. 

But that again isn’t the point.  He would eat out of your hand and genuinely appreciate your altruism.  Tell him, nothwithstanding the by election, you stand ready to help. 

And when the plant is saved, guess what? The truth leaks out…Johann put country before party – in a by election – she was brave and unselfish.  She showed her real side as a politician and demonstrated that unique gift the public long for…burying differences when its needed and working for the common good.  She played her part in saving Grangemouth.  So what she’s a member of Unite? It didn’t matter when it came to her country’s hour of need.  Cue Hallelujah Choruses, church bells and a deluge of Brownie points.  That woman has a heart.  And she has guts.  Pretty simple, really.

You need to stop demonising opponents and their belief.  I mean, if nationalism is a virus, most Scots voting have got it bad.  Why insult them? For an easy cheer at conference among the converted you alienate a lot of voters many of whom look to you as an alternative.  Think local.  Would you say to a woman on the doorstep: “I see you’ve got the virus.  Poor soul.  You’re beyond redemption.  I’ll put a cross on your door and Paul will come round with the wagon to collect the bodies later.”

All it does is reveal what most people would call your loathing for the other side and as they don’t share your feeling, they see you as irrational and hateful.  That’s very unattractive.  You can get away with expressing something approaching hatred for Tories although that too has to be specific to be effective.  They are a small group with little support and their government really is politically loathsome. 

The policies should induce real anger in a left wing politician but of course you are caught there, aren’t you, since they are now your allies in fighting Satan? Now that’s what I call a dilemma.  It’s why I suggested in June 2011 that you immediately strike out alone without the Tories by cornering the Devo Max ground and insisting to Salmond that it be the second referendum question.  It would win hands down and you would be the sole victor…not the Tories, not the Lib Dems and you would be the Joan of Arc who beat Salmond.  Too late now.

And it is too late to re-write history.  The inexplicable idea of denial of Something for Nothing is inviting ridicule.  Just fire the one who put it in the speech.  If you can’t trust your own instinct, you sure can’t trust the insensitive nerd who conjured that up.  Show your vulnerable side by confessing it was an error.  You were only trying to point out how difficult it is to keep paying for universal benefits when you got your words mixed up.  A bit.  Say sorry. 

Say also that the people who know you understand what you mean and while you’re at it, sack Midwinter.  End the commission.  There are no votes in taking from people when they have less.  It’s the very time they look to the state for guidance and security.  Turbo charge the Devo Max commission to design a new settlement for Scotland for the day the referendum delivers a No.  That will be popular. 

Unless of course the truth is, as some of those who know you well think, that there are to be no more powers for Holyrood.  If that’s true, I suggest you stick to Position One.  Stay silent.  Stay out of sight.  Arrange to be seen with Gordon on the beach at North Queensferry, looking out to sea wondering where it all went wrong.

Regards.

(Any ideas for Johann before I send this?)

Courtesy of Derek Bateman