By G.A.Ponsonby
SNP leader Alex Salmond has criticised the continued silence of Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont as the chaos in Falkirk continues to grow.
In a statement issued today, the First Minister has said the refusal of Labour’s Scottish leader to address issues over the selection process in the constituency blows apart claims that Scottish Labour is in control of its own affairs.

Commenting on the fiasco engulfing Labour following the row over the party’s Westminster selection process in Falkirk, the SNP leader said:

"Labour’s meltdown over its selection procedure in Falkirk has sent Ed Miliband’s leadership into a tailspin.

"But it also exposes the empty rhetoric at the heart of claims that Scottish Labour is in charge of its own affairs – and the silence of the party leadership north of the border.

"We were told after Johann Lamont was elected leader that Labour had changed their procedures so that she was in charge of the party in Scotland, including being responsible for Scottish Labour MPs.

"But now it turns out that is not true, and we are told that all of Labour’s ‘Westminster selections’, including those in Scotland, come under the ‘UK Labour Party rule book’.

On Thursday morning’s BBC Radio Scotland, Labour MP Willie Bain who is Labour’s Shadow Minister for Scotland, explained that "Westminster selections" come under the "UK Labour Party rule book" – and was not the responsibility of the Scottish party.

The MPs admission challenged the authority of Johann Lamont who was supposedly the first Labour leader in Scotland to lead the Scottish Labour MPs at Westminster.

Mr Salmond added: "Johann Lamont has stood by silent and immobilised while Labour have imploded in Falkirk.  It has exposed the total pretence that she leads Labour in Scotland.  It is London Labour who have been in control as Falkirk Labour spin out of control 

"It is time for Johann Lamont to break her silence on Labour’s Civil War"

The episode, in which Labour has claimed a leading trade-union recruited people into the party as members without their knowledge, has also called into question the validity of Labour party membership numbers in Scotland.

A House of Commons Library paper published last December showed that the SNP’s increasing membership is bucking the trend of decline in the UK-wide ranks of Labour, the Lib Dems and the Tories.  The Commons Library paper shows that, while membership of all three of the biggest Westminster parties declined significantly between 2003 and 2011, SNP membership more than doubled in the same period.

Between 2003 and 2011, individual party membership of the Tories across the UK declined by at least 31.5%, the Lib Dems fell by 31.0%, and Labour membership declined by 10.2%.  Over a longer period, the report shows that Labour membership fell by 52.3% between 1997 and 2011.  Between 2003 and 2011, SNP membership increased by 111.6%.

Addressing the membership issue, Mr Salmond added:

"The other aspect which Labour’s Falkirk fiasco exposes is the party’s plummeting membership in Scotland.

"The only defence against the kind of candidate selection rigging allegations engulfing Labour in Falkirk is a healthy party membership at all levels, to guard against rotten borough syndrome and ensure local branch votes cannot be artificially skewed.  That applies whichever candidates have been responsible.

"The SNP’s membership is booming, and we recently celebrated our 25,000th member joining the party.  In contrast, Labour’s membership declined by more than 50 per cent between 1997 and 2011.

"The bottom line in all of this – which the utter shambles of Labour’s civil war should not obscure – is that the people of Falkirk deserve proper parliamentary representation.  They deserve far better than Labour have offered since they tried and failed to stop Dennis Canavan becoming an MSP."

Labour’s selection process in Falkirk followed the expulsion from the party of disgraced MP Eric Joyce following a string of scandals, culminating in a conviction for assault.

Labour has refused to publish an internal report which followed an investigation into the process in Falkirk amid claims the trade union Unite tried to recruit new members into the party in an attempt at increasing the chances of its own preferred candidate Karie Murphy.

Ms Murphy has since been suspended from Labour along with Stephen Deans who is the party chairman of the Falkirk West Constituency.

The scandal has also led to the resignation from Labour’s shadow cabinet of MP Tom Watson who called for the report into Falkirk to be published.  However this looks increasingly unlikely following a decision by Labour leader Ed Miliband to involve the police.


# cjmasta 2013-07-06 23:40
So what is the number then? How many people are members of Labour in Scotland? I bet it`s not as many as they claim.
# Roll_On_2011 2013-07-06 23:54
I think that Alex will have to wait a wee while longer, even her own party are looking for her:
# BRL 2013-07-07 01:52
There's a fresh wind blowing through every corner of Scotland despite unrelenting effort by the seriously politicised press and BBC to wreck the democratic process.

I would hope that everyone in GB is aware of the need to toss the old out and start anew. Scotland, as always, is the firebrand.
# clootie 2013-07-07 06:27
Can anyone imagine another walk of life in which the "leader" failed to appear. A battle and the general didn't turn up / A riot and the police commander took the day off / The OIM offshore who didn't turn up at the command centre in an emergency / The ship captain who remained in his bed as the klaxons sounded.

It is not about having answers - it is the morale boost of seeing someone with the authority to lead in place.
Johann's behaviour reminds me of a recent cruise ship incident with a captain sitting quietly in the lifeboat hoping nobody notices or asks a difficult question. If we had the equivalent of a political coastguard she would be told to get onboard again and take command.
# UpSpake 2013-07-07 07:18
The veneer of a Scottish leader of Labour in Scotland is a busted flush and only the BBC in Scotland and Brian Taylor can ever regard this non-entity as barely credible.
At no time during the past few days and the analysis of this matter in the 'national' news has the party organisation nor Johann Lamont ever been mentioned.
Therefore she and her so called 'organisation' is nothing more than a sham at best and puppetry at worst.
# Old Smokey 2013-07-07 07:37
Do hope your all keeping up with developments!
The Sunday Herald has a story that I first mentioned on here last Wednesday (July 3rd)
About a statement by Unite's Steve Hart in which he stated "setting up the Devolution Commission at our [Unite] behest". It has been picked up by Tom Gordon in the Sunday Herald
Of course a 'spokesman' for Labour denies this, insisting that the Devolution Commission set up by Labour, all Lamont's idea. Personally I tend to believe Steve Hart of Unite on this as Lamont, where ever she is, hasn't got or had an original idea since becoming 'leader' of Labour in Holyrood
# Macart 2013-07-07 07:50
I don't know... You go away for a few days break and all the fun stuff hits the headlines. Looks like a busy week for news and right at the top of the pile Falkirk.

Ms Lamont's/Labour's bluff has been called. Is there a Scottish Labour leader? Apparently not! Not exactly news to followers of politics, but its going to hit home to more than a few households now.
# farrochie 2013-07-07 08:20
Ms Lamont is now a lame duck leader. She has been damaged by her attitude, and that of her advisers, that all she has to do is to turn up at FMQ, follow the script, bark out her ad hominem attacks on the FM then disappear from sight for the rest of the week.

Scotland needs a stong opposition; what we get is anti-independence rant.
# Old Smokey 2013-07-07 09:11
Harman interviewed on 'Andre Marr Show' didn't at any time mention Lamont. Apparently Falkirk is being dealt with by Milliband as he is the Labour leader.
She also insinuated that Falkirk was a one off and that it was all the fault of Unite in trying to stuff the membership with Unite people. Good job her nose doesn't grow when not telling the truth!. Fact is Labour themselves have been doing this practice of stuffing constituencies with friends and family in order to have someone elected and goes well back to the early 60's at least. Harman stated that they represent the 'ordinary working person' - that did make me laugh, almost s much as when she stated that she took out a second mortgage to finance her own campaigning
# curley bill 2013-07-07 09:54
At one time in sunny Muirkirk, if you took part in the local Labour Party's 50/50 club, a few weeks later you got a letter thanking you for joining the labour party. (this is true, it happened to me).
# km 2013-07-07 09:20
This gets better and better... more from the Herald

In a coded acknowledgement of Unite's role, the only non-politician on the Devolution Commission was Unite regional political officer Jackson Cullinane, who is now the chairman of Scottish Labour. An SNP spokesman said: "Clearly Johann Lamont is no enthusiast for more powers for Scotland, and is being dragged along unwillingly to maintain the fiction of more powers following a No vote."
# Graham 2013-07-07 11:29
That Lamont doesn't want any more powers for Scotland should come as no surprise if you understand that Lamont didn't want devolution in the first place.

Johan Lamont was not. She was a leading light in the “Labour Vote No” campaign. You read that right: Johan Lamont, in 1979 actively campaigned against the ever so modest measure of devolution her own Labour Government offered the people of Scotland.
# Arraniki 2013-07-07 10:22
Mrs Lamont's "Subway" moment?
# Roll_On_2011 2013-07-07 10:55

“ Mrs Lamont's "Subway" moment? “

Naw Arraniki, it’s more a… Brown “Bunker” moment!

But on a more serious note… would you reinstall the very people who previously screwed up your business?

NuLabour have done just that….. Aye and I have heard it through the grapevine they have named it the “Dream Team”.
# RTP 2013-07-07 10:56
Politics Scotland Sunday.

Just listened to this the Falkirk story got a mention for a few seconds and according to Lab person Lamont referred this to Miliband and was at the front of this,thats it then from BBC Scotland.
# cuckooshoe 2013-07-07 11:59
Sunday Politics Scotland, in their review of the Sunday papers, couldn't bring themselves to show the whole of the Sunday Mail cartoon of Andy Murray as a super hero ripping his shirt off to reveal a Scotland flag. They did their own bit of ripping, and tore the page across the middle, so that as little of it as possible was shown to their viewers of a nervous disposition.. :)
# proudscot 2013-07-07 11:05
There is also an uncharacteristi c silence from Alan "anti-SNP/anti-Salmond" Cochrane on this subject. He recently claimed Lamont had the First Minister "on the back foot" week after week at FMQs. Obviously Cochrane watches a different version of FMQs than I do, but it's fortunate for her that Holyrood is in recess as Falkirk Labour implodes, because her non-existent leadership on this issue would have been exposed by the First Minister. And her usual tactic of making snide personal insults when she attempts to go "off script" wouldn't work on this matter.
# Davy 2013-07-07 12:52
Surely now is the time for Labours "Truth Team" to come to the fore, and show us the truth !!
# call me dave 2013-07-07 21:02
Lamont is found and has made a comment on the big story.

Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont : "Andy Murray has made history. This is one of the greatest achievements ever in Scottish sport.
"This was about more than just his athleticism and his tennis ability. This was about Andy Murray's strength of character.
"This was a triumph of self belief. Andy Murray is an inspiration to us all and what he did today will live with everyone who saw it."
Now that's good.
# src19 2013-07-08 00:18
Great comments by FM here (bottom of page) :-

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