Lamont urged to clarify Scottish Labour’s position on sovereignty after Harris remarks


  By a Newsnet reporter
Labour’s Scottish leader Johann Lamont has been urged to clarify her views on Scottish sovereignty after a leading Scottish MP challenged her party’s stance north of the border.
Speaking in an interview, Scottish Labour MP Tom Harris insisted that “sovereignty remains with the UK Parliament” and that Westminster could overturn acts of the Scottish Parliament “anytime it wants”.

Referring to the reasons for the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, Mr Harris explained that it was, “because we’re living in a country where 90% of the people are English and a very small proportion are Northern Irish, Welsh, and Scottish, so it was always possible for anything, any aspirations of the Scottish people to be outvoted by very large numbers.”

Speaking to Paul Burgin on the latter’s political blog, the MP for Glasgow South said: “…but sovereignty remains with the UK Parliament and that’s a controversial thing to say in Scottish politics and I will be lambasted for saying it, but everyone knows it’s true, but you’re not supposed to say it.”

The controversial MP’s comments were seized on by the SNP who pointed out that Mr Harris’ comments put him at odds with the stance of Labour’s Scottish Parliamentary group and his own Scottish leader.  The stated position of Johann Lamont and Labour in the Scottish Parliament, who voted in a Parliamentary motion earlier this year, is that it is the people of Scotland who are sovereign.

Following the review of Scottish Labour conducted last year, Ms Lamont was installed as leader of all of Scottish Labour – including the MPs – and not just the Holyrood group as had been the situation under previous leaders.

However, a series of revelations over the weekend about internal workings of Scottish Labour – culminating in the resignation announcement yesterday of General Secretary Colin Smyth – has exposed divisions within large sections of the Party, and called into question Lamont’s leadership and whether Labour does indeed support the sovereignty of the Scottish people.

Glasgow Cathcart MSP James Dornan has now written to Johann Lamont calling on her to urgently clarify who she believes is sovereign, and whether she will take action against Tom Harris.

Commenting, Mr Dornan said:

“This interview from Tom Harris has let the cat out of the bag about Labour’s splits – it shows that MPs are only paying lip service to her policy on sovereignty.

“Labour in the Scottish Parliament are meant to believe that sovereignty lies with the Scottish people, yet that is clearly not the view among Labour’s Scottish MPs, who still arrogantly cling to their Westminster fiefdom.

“This goes right to the heart of the problems within Scottish Labour, where for most of its elected politicians Johann Lamont appears to be the leader in name only.

“Ms Lamont needs to urgently clarify whether Labour in Scotland does in fact believe that sovereignty lies with the Scottish people, or whether it lies with a Westminster Government which has been overwhelmingly rejected by the people of Scotland.

“If she can’t confirm that her entire party support something that she herself has voted for, then she simply cannot call herself leader of Scottish Labour, and voters can’t trust a word Labour say on the vital question of sovereignty.”

On 26th January, both Labour and the Liberal Democrats backed the following Scottish Government motion, which was overwhelmingly carried:

That the Parliament acknowledges the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs and declares and pledges that in all its actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount, and asserts the right of the Scottish people to make a clear, unambiguous and decisive choice on the future of Scotland.

The full interview with Tom Harris MP can be read here –