Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont is coming under increasing pressure to speak out as condemnation grows over the conduct of a Labour MP in a BBC Scotland interview.
Ms Lamont was today challenged to say whether she agreed with Labour MP Ian Davidson after the controversial Glasgow MP’s Tuesday night rant saw him launch an astonishing verbal attack against respected presenter Isabel Fraser.
Mr Davidson attacked the impartiality of the journalist and Newsnight Scotland as a whole, when being quizzed on his claims that the Scottish Parliament could only hold an independence referendum with Westminster permission.
The Labour MP repeatedly referred to the programme as ‘NewsNat Scotland’ and accused the programme of bias, claiming it was a “general political view”. Davidson then challenged Ms Fraser to offer herself up for election.
Mr Davidson also revealed that the Labour party had already complained on a number of occasions about the way “NewsNat Scotland” behaves.
The episode has been condemned across the Scottish political and constitutional spectrum with people from both sides and none levelling criticism at Mr Davidson’s bullying attitude.
Today, SNP MSP Sandra White called on Mr Davidson’s leader, Johann Lamont, to speak out and confirm whether she supports the views of her Westminster colleague.
Ms Lamont, as leader of the Labour party in Scotland, is responsible for the conduct of all Scottish Labour MPs after changes to the party system were implemented when she replaced former leader Iain Gray.
Commenting today, Ms White said the people of Scotland had the right to know if Ms Lamont agrees with the views and conduct of Mr Davidson, or not.
The MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, said:
“There has been wide condemnation from prominent voices form all parties and various people in public life in Scotland towards Mr Davidson’s conduct on Newsnight Scotland – but the Labour leadership silence on the matter is deafening.
“Johann Lamont must now must speak up or speak out to demonstrate if they are a party that promotes positive respectful politics or if they are a party stuck in dark ages.
“The only support I’ve seen for Mr Davidson has come from Michael Kelly whose politics belong in the dim and distant past, and even he admits the ‘onus is surely on Davidson to produce evidence’ to substantiate his wild claims.
“Ms Lamont and Labour have come to a crossroads and they must now decide what path they are to now take. I am sure they know what they should do, whither they are willing to do this remains to be seen.
“This isn’t the first time that Ian Davidson has publicly embarrassed himself, but his extraordinary behaviour cannot simply be swept under the carpet and he – or the Labour party in Scotland – must now apologise to Isobel Fraser and BBC Scotland.”
The episode has caused a flurry of reactions from across the political spectrum, with the vast majority condemning the Scottish Labour MP’s behaviour.
Frank McAveety @FMcAveety: Bit of a rammie on Newsnicht tnt with Ian Davidson and Isobel Fraser on the Referendum report. It may rumble on.
Murdo Fraser @murdo_fraser: Ian Davidson being unnecessarily rude to Isobel Fraser on #newsnicht. No need for it.
Angus Macleod @AmacleodTimes: Labour should demand Davidson apologises for his outburst on Newsnicht. Bonkers.
Andrew McFadyen @apmcfadyen: I don’t know why Ian Davidson chose to pick a fight with Isabel Fraser, but he comes across like a playground bully
Aamer Anwar @AamerAnwar: Absolutely Ridiculous-Ian Davidson MP just accused BBC of being biased against unionist parties just now on Newsnight Scotland.
Gerry Hassan @GerryHassan : Ian Davidson is a certain kind of bruiser. Whatever your views what kind of Scotland does he appeal too?
Gerry Hassan @GerryHassan: Great embracing of Diceyian view of British constitution by Ian Davidson. Not exactly an ad for a reformed, flexible union.
Lesley Riddoch @LesleyRiddoch : If Ian Davidson wants to c what bullying on air looks like he sd rewatch his #Newsnicht performance. http://tinyurl.com/dyzqvss
Jennie Kermode @jennie_kermode : I hope Ian Davidson has given due thought to what his performance on #Newsnicht will look like on YouTube in the cold light of morning.
The Firm @TheFirmOnline: We all admire a good fight, but only if you fight clean. The result of last night is that Ian Davidson diminished only himself.
Kate Shannon @HolyroodKate: MP Ian Davidson accuses Isabel Fraser and the BBC of being biased and repeatedly calls it ‘NewsNat Scotland’ – nice.
Pat Kane @thoughtland: Something iconic abt Iain Davidson on #newsnicht…As 2 his bias charge–Has he ever *watched* Brewer in full sneer? http://pic.twitter.com/RhGv8Yi2
Mandy Rhodes @holyroodmandy Just watched rerun of Ian Davidson on Newsnight last night – people would pay to watch that kind of thing on the Fringe!
[Following Ian Davidson’s claims that the Labour party has officially complained several times about Newsnight Scotland, we contacted the BBC Scotland press department for confirmation. We asked the BBC Scotland press office to confirm if “the BBC has received complaints from the Labour Party about Newsnight Scotland and/or Isabel Fraser?”]