Johann Lamont: a necessary defenestration

Poor Johann Lamont, the leader of Scottish Labour leader who was always out of her depth and no time more so than during the referendum campaign when the Tory leader Ruth Davidson clearly outshone her.

The BBC headline writer’s verdict is cruel  but accurate:

Johann Lamont resignation: A leader without influence

The post referendum message couldn’t be clearer.

A Panelbase poll on 2 October showed: SNP: 34%, Labour: 32%, Conservative: 18%, Liberal Democrat: 5%, UKIP: 6%, Other: 5%. From the 2010 election, this is a huge 14% jump for the SNP, with Labour dropping 10%. On a uniform swing, these results would  see Labour lose seven seats to the SNP, while the Lib Dems would lose five to the SNP and two to the Tories.

The predecessors now praising her were in their own time no match for Alex Salmond. In Scotland and beyond, many will now  say that Ed Miliband should be as efficiently dispatched.  At least in Westminster there are alternatives. But in Scotland, Labour faces a yawning leadership vacuum , compounded by internal  differences over how many taxation powers should be devolved. Labour in Scotland will at last have to make up its mind whether its talent should  concentrate as much on Holyrood as Westminster. With the sole  exception of the founding  First Minister Donald Dewar, Labour  has staggered along with leaders of modest provincial quality for what is clearly a dual national  job for both the  UK and Scotland.  The crisis over the leadership underlines the difficulties the Smith Commission faces over reaching early agreement on devo more.  As much is at stake for the Westminster election next May, if a resurgent SNP holds the balance of power, shared or unshared with UKIP.

The Guardian is buzzing.

There was some speculation that Jim Murphy, one of the most high profile Labour figures in the later stages of the campaign, would return from Westminster to lead in Holyrood. The party was criticised for its unfocused strategy while traditional Labour voters considered the party’s association with the Conservatives under the Better Together umbrella campaign to be a betrayal.

Despite Scotland voting to reject independence in September referendum, her position had only become more precarious, with suggestions that Labour could pay a high price in next year’s general election, significantly in the greater Glasgow area, where voters in 12 Labour constituencies backed independence. Since the referendum, SNP membership has more than tripled with the party becoming the third largest in the UK.

( Gordon Brown) should consider whether his enormous talents could be mobilised to help Holyrood implement the new powers that are to be agreed by standing for the Scottish parliament.

Alex Salmond has not ruled out running for a seat at Westminster in next year’s general election as he prepares to stand down as Scotland’s first minister. Salmond, who will leave his office next month, was asked on BBC’s Question Time if he would consider a return to Westminster.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London