Friday, 27 September 2013

Lamont's speech - disgrace and embarrassment



In early 1992 I was the SNP candidate for the local council seat of Ardrossan North. At the previous election, Labour had recorded a majority of over 900, so we faced an uphill task.

Part of our campaign involved me writing letters to the Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald, pointing out how Labour had let us down locally and nationally, and how without independence we would continue to have imposed on us Tory Governments we had rejected at the ballot box.

In response to one of my letters, a Labour activist stated: “Campbell Martin is a Nationalist and a Socialist, and we all know what happened the last time they got elected.” Seriously!

It was 21 years ago, but that kind of thing tends to stick in one’s mind. Because I was a socialist member of the Scottish National Party, I was a National Socialist – a Nazi!

The crass nature of that Labour activist’s comment in 1992 came back to me last week when I heard ‘Scottish’ Labour Party Leader Johann Lamont MSP address her party’s UK Conference in Brighton. There is something particularly distasteful about a Scot travelling to another country – any other country – and making a speech that belittles the people of Scotland.

For the most-part, Lamont’s contribution stuck to the tired old British Unionist line that, uniquely amongst all the peoples of the world, only the Scots are incapable of governing their own country better than someone else. Aspiring to be a normal nation, with full control of our resources and with full powers over all aspects of government, is not for Scotland, according to Johann Lamont. The ‘Scottish’ Labour Leader told her mainly English audience that, in her opinion, it would be best if the UK Parliament in London continued to take decisions for Scotland in relation to our economy, welfare and defence. Implicit in Lamont’s assertion is that Tories should continue to have the power to impose their policies on Scotland – such as savage cuts to public spending, wage restraint, zero-hours contracts, work capability assessments, the Bedroom Tax and nuclear weapons of mass destruction – even when the people of Scotland have used the ballot box to reject the party and its policies.

In addition, Johann Lamont described the wide-ranging and cross-party movement for Scottish independence as indulging in “the politics of narrow nationalism”. As if that comment wasn’t inaccurate enough, Lamont then stated her opinion that Scotland’s national movement for self-determination is part of the “virus” of nationalism.

The ‘Scottish’ Labour Leader told her audience in Brighton that she looked forward to returning to England next year, following the Independence Referendum, at which she hopes “Scotland renews its embrace of the United Kingdom”. So, in the eyes of Johann Lamont MSP, it appears embracing the British nationalism of the United Kingdom is a good thing, but Scottish nationalism is a virus.

I was a member of the Scottish National Party for 27 years: in all that time I never came across anyone within the organisation who advocated the right-wing nationalist (supremacist) doctrine of other European nationalist movements – the virus to which Johann Lamont wishes to attach the moderate, left of centre, social democratic SNP. Her comments were a disgrace and an embarrassment.

The SNP is only one part of the broad, national movement for independence, and even the party itself has been acknowledged as a ‘broad church’ – a ‘national’ rather than ‘nationalist’ party. For Johann Lamont to associate her Scottish political opponents with the “virus” of the right-wing nationalism that spawned the Nazi Party in Germany and the Partito Nazionale Fascista in 1930s Italy shows what appears to be a dangerous detachment from reality on her part. It was bad enough for Ms Lamont to brand SNP members and independence activists as part of “a virus”, but her comments also bracketed with Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini all of the ordinary members of the Scottish public who simply want to restore to Scotland the status of a normal, independent nation.

Johann Lamont is not stupid – before entering politics she was a school teacher – so we have to assume she knew it was a gross misrepresentation to equate the desire for Scottish independence with fascist totalitarian regimes in other parts of the world and from other times in history. With her party leader (the real Labour Leader), Ed Miliband, also using his conference speech to misrepresent the reality of the NHS in Scotland and England, and the care provided by both organisations, it is now transparently clear that the people of Scotland cannot believe a word Labour says. It would also seem to be the case that there is no depth to which the British Labour Party, and its North British sub-section, will not stoop in its efforts to maintain Westminster’s control of Scotland.

Incidentally, in case you were wondering, at the council election in 1992 the SNP won the seat of Ardrossan North, turning a Labour majority of over 900 into an SNP majority of 101.

2 comments:

  1. Campbell,

    I enjoyed reading this post. The attempt by Johann Lamont to equate the SNP and Scottish Nationalism with the Nazi party (National Socialist German Workers Party) is just a further example of the rut that part of the Labour Party, and other Unionist parties, have been in for nearly 70 years.

    The following extracts show what I mean -

    'It is of little surprise therefore, to find that one of the party's first actions was to issue a statement clarifying their attitude towards Fascism and the nationalist dictators:

    The Scottish National Party is opposed to Fascism and dictatorship in any shape or form,being fully persuaded that it is repugnant to the ancient Scottish ideal of liberty and repudiates the suggestion, implicit in Fascist policy, that Parliamentary government on democratic lines has proved a failure and maintains that until Scotland has resumed self-government Parliamentary government in Scotland on modern lines has not been tried.
    [Minutes of the National Council of the SNP, 1st of June, 1934, page 90.]
    ...
    The starting point for such an elaboration was to emphasis that Scottish nationalism belonged to the same family as those of the small nations of Europe whose ideas were liberal, tolerant and progressive. This was in contrast to the nationalism of the major powers which was strident, aggressive and prone to territorial aggrandisement. As such it was condemned outright:

    If the policies of Hitler and Mussolini and Japan are Nationalism: then Nationalism is indeed a world danger of the first magnitude. ['Scots Independent', April 1934, page 87.]'

    SOURCE: 'Independent and Free: Scottish Politics and the Origins of the Scottish National Party 1918-1945' by Richard J. Finlay, pp. 165-166, ISBN 0-85976-399-4.

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  2. Slight miscalculation in my previous comment 'nearly 70 years' should be 'nearly 80 years'

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