Pressure builds on Labour’s Lamont as SNP call for inquiry into Eric Joyce ‘nutter’ comments


By Martin Kelly

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont is facing demands to speak out after comments attributed to a Labour HQ insider suggested Eric Joyce’s Falkirk constituents were better being represented by a ‘nutter’ than having an SNP MP.

The SNP has demanded the beleaguered Scottish leader, who has faced criticism for her continued silence over the Joyce affair, hold an immediate inquiry after the Daily Record reported a Labour party source saying of Scottish Labour: “They really would rather have a nutter in that seat than a Nat.”.

The comments were described as showing “contempt for the electorate” by the SNP’s Business Convener, Derek MacKay MSP, who has called on Ms Lamont to institute an immediate inquiry into her party’s headquarters staff.

Ms Lamont is facing mounting criticism over her refusal to make any sort of public statement into what is now a growing blemish on the party north of the border.

It comes barley two weeks after similar calls for an inquiry were made following accusations of intimidation and threats against the Labour group at Glasgow Council.

Commenting Mr MacKay said:

“This week’s events involving Eric Joyce are now a matter for the prosecution services.  However the comments and attitude of a source in Labour’s Scottish headquarters displays a staggering contempt for the people of Falkirk.

“They are putting party politics above the interests of the local community.

“As the leader of the Labour party in Scotland Johann Lamont must institute an immediate inquiry into her headquarters staff if one of them is harbouring such contempt for the electorate.

“However, she has been silent on this matter and also the recent allegations of bullying by a Labour councillor in Glasgow to get their budget vote through.

“She is responsible for the party in Scotland yet has said nothing about either incident.  She must now launch an immediate inquiry into this report that someone in her party’s headquarters has made these remarks and deplore the use of language such as “nutter” by her staff members.”

The image of the party was further damaged after a Labour councillor posted abusive messages on his twitter account.

The Herald newspaper revealed that Jim Docherty, a Labour councillor representing East Kilbride South on South Lanarkshire Council, used his personal Twitter feed to post an attack on SNP Minister Alex Neil.

The tweet read: “Alex Neil MSP. M is for monkey S is for spare P is for P**** biggest in parliment.”

The Labour Councillor also claimed the SNP were “full of traitors” after the Scottish Government approved funding for a new visitor centre at the site of the Battle of Bannockburn.

His tweet on the matter read: “£10 million for a Visitor Centre for the man that betrayed William Wallace what a travesty the SNP are full of traitors.”

A later tweet said: “Just watched that Traitor Robert the Bruce in Brave Heart why are we spending £12 million on a Vistor Center for him at Stirling Castle.”

Mr Docherty’s online comments came only days after Labour Peer George Foulkes compared nationalists to people who deny the Holocaust.

Foulkes tweeted: “CyberNat myth that Devolution was forced on the Labour EU or Council of Europe (stories vary) is akin to Holocaust denial”

These recent events are an unwelcome addition to a Labour party struggling to make an impression in Scotland and are signs of a party under pressure.

Under Johann Lamont support has fallen to a historic low and with local elections looming, the party in Scotland will be keen to present the new leader as being in control.

However with each controversy, and resulting silence from the new leader, there will be concern that the lack of leadership will be reflected in the local election results in May.


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