By Chris Rumbles
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has been warned that she should prioritise winning over her own party after her conference speech criticised SNP involvement in the ‘Yes’ campaign.
Ms Lamont told party members in Perth: “The nationalists are running the most dishonest, deceptive and disgraceful political campaign this country has ever seen.”
In her speech the Scottish Labour leader spoke of the need for Labour in Scotland to ‘reclaim social justice’ from nationalism which she said had for seven years led to a betrayal of social justice and ‘everything we believe Scotland stands for’.
The MSP repeatedly referred to supporters of independence as ‘nationalists’ in her keynote address that also dismissed calls from the ‘Yes’ camp for the anti-independence campaign to offer its own document on Scotland’s constitutional future.
“The nationalists ask for an alternative to the White Paper. We have one. It’s called the truth,” Ms Lamont said.
Responding to Johann Lamont’s speech, SNP MSP for East Kilbride Linda Fabiani questioned the wisdom of the Scottish Labour leader’s relentlessly negative attacks:
“This was a desperate speech filled with over the top attacks to attempt to distract attention from the absolute mess of Labour’s Devolution Commission, and the looming report from Johann Lamont’s Cuts Commission – detailing which popular SNP policies that help with the cost of living would face Labour’s axe.
“When Johann Lamont launched the Cuts Commission, nothing was off the table – but now the report seems to be hidden under the table.”
The so-called ‘Cuts Commission’, a working group setup by Scottish Labour to analyse economic matters, was announced in a speech by Johann Lamont in September 2012 where she also spoke of Scotland’s need to move away from its ‘something for nothing’ culture. At the time Ms Lamont stated the commission would assess all public services and publish its interim report within one to two years.
There was no mention of the commission’s work in Johann Lamont’s conference speech nor was the issue raised in the ‘Together We Can’ document published by the United with Labour group.
SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, Sandra White, stressed the need for clarity on the commission.
“Johann Lamont’s Devolution Commission is a shambles – but it seems that her Cuts Commission is to be a secret. People in Scotland deserve to know what Labour has planned for the policies which help with the cost of living, and which people across the country rely on.”
Labour at Westminster has already committed to maintaining the Coalition government’s spending plans for the first year after the next general election.
Shadow Chancellor for Labour, Ed Balls, said in December that under Labour there would be spending cuts and ‘tough decisions’.
A recent Panelbase poll commissioned by Newsnet Scotland found that Labour’s Better Together partnership with the Conservatives had diminished the party’s reputation in Scotland. 45 per cent of people surveyed said they thought Labour had been harmed by the Tory alliance with 22 per cent stating Labour had been damaged a lot.