By Bob Duncan
In a series of illuminating online comments, senior figures in Scottish Labour have written of their despair of the prospect of recovery in their electoral fortunes while complaining that their party, under Johann Lamont's leadership, remains in denial about its current deficiencies.
The online conversation between four key members of the Labour party in Scotland was a response to the news that the SNP remains the most popular party in the country despite having been in power for nearly six years.

In the 2011 general election, the SNP was awarded a record 45% of the constituency vote to gain an unprecedented overall majority in the Scottish parliament – an outcome which the parliament's electoral system had been designed to make impossible.

In a Panelbase poll for the Sunday times released last week, Scottish electors again gave the SNP 45% of the vote – an extraordinary achievement for a party entering the middle of their second consecutive term in office, and a huge blow for Labour in Scotland.

Meanwhile, across the whole of the UK, Labour is around 7% ahead of the Conservatives as David Cameron's party passed the midway point of the 5 year term of the Westminster coalition government.

The Labour stalwarts involved in the discussion are Robert McNiel the East Lothian Labour party chair, Alan Clinch a North Lanarkshire councillor and John Ruddy the election agent for Labour in Angus north as well as Barry McCormish a Labour party website designer.

The Facebook conversation begins with Cllr Clinch asking:

“At what point should we start to be concerned that the support for the SNP hasn't budged since the 2011 election? People are saying that Labour's 10 point lead in UK polls isn't enough and yet in Scotland, Labour are even further behind the SNP government.

John Ruddy responds: “Now”, and calls for policy initiatives to be started so Labour can put the SNP “on the back foot” and “outfox” them, claiming Labour is taking the referendum too seriously.

Barry McComish also enters the discussion saying: “We, as a party, are screwed until we can change as a party with something to worth our attention nevermind voters.” he continues to state that many in the party are blind to the truth.

Robert Mcneill joins in, agreeing with the sentiments of McComish:

“alan the labour party in scotland in my opinion have a long way to go before we will once again become a party which is electable to the scottish people, however until the party recognise what the problems are then I am afraid it may take much longer.”

The Facebook debate demonstrates the seriousness of the problems faced by the Scottish party as they fail to make any headway in Scottish politics, despite a sustained and all-out attack on the integrity of the First Minister.

The concerns raised by the Labour members follows little movement in the polls for Johann Lamont’s party who have mounted a sustained attack on Mr Salmond, with the First Minister routinely being accused of being a liar.


# Displaced Patriot 2013-02-03 03:54
Let us hope the stalwarts of the SLAB remain in denial .
They believe they have a god given right to rule.
They expect the voters to see the error of their ways and return to the fold without doing anything.
In their mind their message , their antics , are all 100% correct ,it is the stupid voters who have been hypnotised and conned by the big bad SNP.
As Napoleon said "when your enemy is making a mistake , do not interrupt him"
# gayle 2013-02-03 05:09
The referendum which isn't important to the Scottish people?

Out of the mouths of eejits. It's only the most important vote we are ever going to face in our lifetime!
# Teri 2013-02-03 19:46
I think this statement actually shows, not that they are eejits, but that they are extremely arrogant. Johann shouldnt take it seriously as it wont happen, is I think, what they are saying. Remember, we are too wee, too poor and too stupid.
# Onwards 2013-02-03 05:37
The answer is pretty simple.
The SNP are seen as putting Scotland first, whereas 'Scottish' labour is incapable of promoting anything that could give Scotland any advantage over the rest of Britain.

Voters can see that most Labour MSP's have little interest in further meaningful powers for the parliament they sit in.
Those who do are afraid to speak out and stand up to their London bosses.

The irony is that more powers could allow the party to pursue a distinct socialist agenda.
# Keef 2013-02-03 06:24
I know how to solve their problems in one word - Labour4independ ence.
# hiorta 2013-02-03 07:42
They have adopted the empty populist route - attack, rubbish, miscall, denigrate the individual - but never provide proof of their claims.
Gutter politics.
Their only hope would be to wear the clothes of their old rival, the I.L.P., the Independent Labour Party, but being Westminster controlled...... no chance.
# andymac96 2013-02-03 08:07
I'd like to thank them for their honesty and suggest they join LFI and start building a Party with aspirations to being a Party for the people once again.
# Dubai_scot 2013-02-03 08:23
The comments are quite telling. The feeling I get is the make up of the party thinkers are trapped in their own wee world. This is not meant in a derogatory manner at all. The John Ruddy's of the party have yet to come to terms with real democracy, by this I mean people led democracy and not a party centric view of the world.
Labour in Scotland could for instance create a legal entity called the "Scottish Labour Party" with its own articles of association for example. These would allow the SLP to articulate a specifically Scottish agenda with the power(s) vested in Scotland. The current set up is inappropriate for the changed circumstance Scotland finds itself in. The SNP are in tune with the Scottish electorate and from my perspective the Labour Party in Scotland are decidedly out of tune. Time to change the band master perhaps and bring in someone new,fresh and capable of writing their own scripts!
# clootie 2013-02-03 08:48
I have a simple solution for them - Return to the original values of Labour and put people of worth in position instead of their own mates.
# macgilleleabhar 2013-02-03 13:12
I don't think that's possible now as the SNP now occupy that position.I cannot visualise any of the present generation of Labour politicians in Scotland ridding their party of it's tainted image as it moves ever more to the right.I believe it will take a lot of time,new people and a new "Mission Statement" for Labour to be attractive to a new generation of voters.
# govanite 2013-02-03 08:55
Dubai_scot - I think Labour are doing just fine as they are, leave them to rot with their chums in the tories.
After Independence there will no doubt be a new form of Labour party, what they have will no longer be tenable.
Until then they will remain bound to an outdated form of tribal politics and in truth it is all they are worthy & capable of.
Lamont has no ambition for this country, all she and her cronies want is to get their mits on the piggy-bank again. Seeking power with no clue about what the power should be put to work for.
# Dubai_scot 2013-02-03 09:04
If there was even a small chance of Labour in Scotland reforming itself with a Scottish people and Nation centric agenda then I might be worried. But I sleep well at night. :-)
# Union City Blues 2013-02-03 09:06
I feel the Labour Party should be quite pleased with where they are in the polls given how bad their general performance has been. To have any support at all after so many disasters is quite amazing. What do we have to do to turn the final few?

I wonder if a decent proportion of the don't knows in the referendum are Labour voters struggling with the realisation something needs to change.
# mealer 2013-02-03 09:56
John Ruddy,
Labour did introduce new policies.Unfortunately,t he policies introduced of scrapping free prescriptions and education are a bit unScottish for even most tory voters to support,never mind Labour voters.
# Jim Johnston 2013-02-03 10:05
"We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars."

Wilde could have added that...""But remember, some of us are only in the gutter because the Commons, House of Lords and Labours normal cesspit habitats are already over full.""
# cjmjr 2013-02-03 10:14
The Labour party in Scotland says it all, not the Scottish Labour party because there is no such party. Johann Lamont is doing a great job and I hope she remains the Scottish Labour leader right up untill the Referendum Vote.
# Dundonian West 2013-02-03 11:26
Agree.Currently Labour in Scotland are between a rock and a hard place,and will remain so until post independence when there will be a root and branch change in vital policies,free of the constraints of Labour HQ Middle England policies.
# call me dave 2013-02-03 10:29
B Mc + R Mc in their e-mail comments have a handle on what's wrong the others are still in denial "referendum is of no interest to the people".

A Johann of Arc is what's needed to alter the Labour party in Scotland, not the present incumbent.

Let them whistle in the dark for a while yet. This referendum is not yet won and much work is still to do.

If the vote turns out to be NO the present Labour lot will have done nothing but sit on their hands, how galling would that be?

Crivens! They wont even try to sell us devo-jam and will rely on London Labour to produce a recipe.

Going down the town for coffee with my
'Vote for independence in 2014"

T shirt on this morning

I have made a few converts in the last few weeks and promoted NNS too.

Roll on 2014.
# Barbazenzero 2013-02-03 18:30
Quoting call me dave:
A Johann of Arc is what's needed to alter the Labour party in Scotland, not the present incumbent.

Reminds me of my favourite Rowan Atkinson line:
Was the man who burned Joan of Arc wasting good matches?
# CharlieObrien 2013-02-03 11:32
A good piece again the only problem is getting these comments out to the public,the Labour mob talk about "OUTFOXING" so that very word means they have nothing but lust for power and their own self-centred ambition not at all a party of the people or for the people.
# Jamieson 2013-02-03 11:50
I've put a link to this article on today's Observer together with a few pertinent comments. And already the Liebour activists are whinging.
If others do the same on a few more of the Sunday newspapers it will become common knowledge.
# McHaggis 2013-02-03 11:46
What planet is Ruddy on?
"lay out progressive policies... outfox the SNP"

Was he off the day Lamont announced a raft of completely regressive policies in Scotland?

Bus Passes
Higher Education
Care for the elderly

A TRUE labour supporter in Scotland would have switched to SNP years ago, or at least set up a new party.

oh, I almost forgot, Labour supporters DID switch to the SNP years ago and LFI is effectively a splinter within the main party which is leading on the pro-indy debate.
# fynesider 2013-02-03 12:31
Firstly - I certainly wouldn't describe Facebook as "Private" in the generally accepted meaning of the word. Don't you think this headline is just a tad OTT?

Secondly - although Mrs Graham may be the 'leader' of this party and is responsible for it's poor showing (long may this continue) she is not mentioned in any of the comments so why have a picture of her at the top?

[Admin - We understand that this was a private Labour Facebook Forum.]
# farrochie 2013-02-03 12:42
It has been said before, but if your starting point is that any Westminster government, whether Tory or Labour, is better that any government in Edinburgh, even a Labour SG, then you have little room for manoeuvre.

Everything Labour proposes has to be argued from the position that Westminster is better for us, the current tactic being to tell us that Westminster governments can be changed every 5 years, independence is for ever.

Labour's attempt to brand itself as "Scottish" is meaningless; it's prime responibility is to its London leadership.
# kenneth_clark336 2013-02-03 13:42
Darling uses the argument that independence is for ever, Westminster government changes every five years. Granted, but those five years multiply to leave generations of Scots with government they haven't voted for, until one century passes into another along with ongoing decline. The argument is spurious and should be challenged. Better to have an eternity of our own government than five, ten, fifteen, twenty years plus of Westminster's careless, uncaring ineptitude.
# weegie38 2013-02-03 15:29
Senior Labour figures? Possibly (though it's not like the Labour guy in Angus is doing much of a job fighting the SNP, is he?) Influential? Not in the slightest.

It's interesting to note nowadays, how almost all of Labour in Scotland's powerbrokers are from one tiny pocket, in Glasgow and to the SW of it. Lamont - MSP for Pollok; Sarwar - MP for Glasgow Central; Davidson - Glasgow SW MP; Curran - Glasgow E MP; Murphy - East Renfrewshire; McIntosh - Eastwood; Alexander - Paisley South.

These days, even Lanarkshire isn't getting a look in.
# bringiton 2013-02-03 16:28
Yes,Weegie38,I think Labour see Glasgow City council as a counter to the SNP controlled parliament in Edinburgh.
They are probably planning for a No vote in 2014 followed by a Labour administration being elected to Westminster in 2015 but the SNP continuing to control Holyrood after 2016.
Should this happen,then we can expect some serious disuputes to arise,especiall y in the area of local government funding.
I hope Scottish voters put them out of our misery in 2014 and we can get back to serious politics again.
# weegie38 2013-02-03 16:52
I don't think Labour can use Glasgow as a counter to Holyrood, for several reasons.

Firstly, The man heading up Glasgow Council is a problem for them. Gordon Mathieson was a disaster waiting to happen as council leader, and we've seen that on 2 occasions in the past month.

Secondly, Mathieson is very much an ally of Lamont and Graham. Last weekend saw the beginning of signs of civil unrest in Glasgow Labour, with a lot of off-the-record briefing against Mathieson (and therefore Lamont) - instigated, it is rumoured, by Frank McAveety.

Thirdly - and never forget this - Lamont was not the choice of the party membership. She was heavily defeated by McIntosh in that college of the leadership election. She only won overall because of the union vote. The troops aren't motivated to work for her.
# Old Smokey 2013-02-03 16:29
Found on a facebook page for Labour party members discussing forthcoming meeting, "Will this be a place to express how you feel,or to convey the views of others. The reason I say this is,the party seems to full of robotic androids. I have watched with interest how people within the watch what theys say. In doing this they are detracting what we the labour movement is about" there was an interesting answer, quote "I think it will be an open discussion", to which the original commentator stated " I hope so ... I don't go on the Scottish Labour for Scotland ,site now a waste of time. Seems to be full of A.L,s."
In the same thread, the following "I am part of a small group of pro-indy members in the party, welcome the idea of being able to speak with party members, something we have being trying to do inside party structures - BTW we are NOT the 'labourforindy' labour-bashing facebook group!"
Now thats interesting
# Bob Kingdom of Fife 2013-02-03 17:24
Unite sponsor ' slab ' if they ever promote better to-gether propaganda through their branches then the game changes,my unite branch secretary will receive my union card where the sun don't shine , Alba Gu Brath.
# Old Smokey 2013-02-03 18:04
It would be an idea for you and your colleagues that are in Unite to apply pressure on the union openly debate the referendum and put it to a vote that they withraw funding to Labour in Scotland.If they refuse then tell them to stick it. If enough people do that, then Unite may get the message.
# Marian 2013-02-03 19:24
Shhhhh don't tell the "NO" campaign it has the wrong message from the wrong people and that insulting Scotland and its leaders doesn't win votes cos things are just fine for us as they are.
# Keef 2013-02-03 23:14
The thought occurred to me- this is the conversations we get to learn about. It may well be the tip of the iceberg. I wonder how many more labour supporters are quietly sitting at home, in the office, in the pub and on the bus feeling as if their party leaders have sold them out?
Talk to them, for they need to feel welcome in the yes camp.
# ButeHouse 2013-02-04 00:29
The problem for 'thinking' Labour at their level is that the real leaders at the level of Murphy and co actually believe they are only 24 months away from Government in Westminster, at which point everything will fall into place at Holyrood because the SNP will be so down following their 'loss' in 2014 and Labour's victory in 2015, victory will follow for Holyrood Labour in 2016.

What's the problem?

The problem is Labour is riddled with people who can't see the wood for the trees and as Displaced Patriots brilliant Napoleon quote goes:
"when your enemy is making a mistake, do not interrupt him."

VOTE YES Next Year
# mountain man 2013-02-04 10:31
We can see the new tactics of the better together mob starting to form,they are starting to roll out the devo plus option again,so much for scotland not needing any more power:?.I think their true feelings about how the referendum is realy going are starting to show,get ready for the devo max sop everyone.
# Davy 2013-02-04 15:19
In a Galaxy far far far away, a secret meeting is taking place about the future of the Empire.
Their leader addresses the meeting , fellow head-honchos, we the chosen four have been tasked to come up with policys and methods to outfox our enemies and cowel our people. This mission has been granted to us by our great leader "she who must be obeyed", from the very depths of her bunker. Let us merge our minds in the 'way of the cringe' and quickly complete the task.

One day later: anything anyone, nope.

One month later: well ?? nope

One year later: no no no nope.

One thousand years later: anything nope, bugger this just tell her to set up a commission, aye aye aye aye.

The moral of this tale, until independence they wont change, vote yes.

Alba Gu Brath.

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