Leader: Lamont’s lament lacks substance

SCOTTISH Labour leadership hopeful Johann Lamont MSP has clearly been reading too many books by motivational gurus, or perhaps attending too many public sector conferences where contributors spout management-speak. What other conclusion can we draw from her declaration yesterday that her mission, if elected, was to make her party “fit for purpose”.

Leaving to one side the question over whether such an over-used phrase has any remaining meaning, the question which Ms Lamont and the two other contenders to lead Labour north of the Border – MSP Ken Macintosh and MP Tom Harris – have so far failed to answer is what is the purpose of their party in a devolved Scotland dominated by the Scottish National Party?

Launching her campaign yesterday, Ms Lamont was big on analysis but short on solutions. Labour had lost its way, lost its confidence and lost Scotland. The party had to “listen and learn, show humility and seek again to talk for and to people’s ambitions and concerns”. So much for the obvious but welcome pledge of humility for a party which lacked this quality for so long; but what should it do to regain confidence and voters’ trust?

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On yesterday’s showing from Ms Lamont, and the statements so far from the other candidates, we are none the wiser in terms of learning what a modern Scottish Labour Party in a country heading for greater, if not full, independence from Westminster stands for. Alex Salmond’s trademark grin will be growing ever wider.