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Scotland’s Labour leader Johann Lamont – good with words!

Posted on 23 April 2012 | 7:04am

You read and hear so much about how Alex Salmond is master of his universe that I was half expecting the Scottish Labour Party to be seriously down in the dumps when I spoke at a fundraiser in Edinburgh last night. Instead I came away rather heartened by the mood, and pleased to have met Johann Lamont, the Party’s leader in Scotland, and seen her in action.
Just as Salmond’s talents are overwritten by the press, so it became apparent that hers are underplayed. She spoke really well, funny and engaging, very feisty, passionate both about Labour values and the Union between Scotland and England, and clearly unafraid of the SNP leader, however much the media, Rupert Murdoch among them, have fallen under his spell. I can see her getting under his skin very successfully.
It was also good to see Alistair Darling there. I think pro-Union supporters across the political spectrum welcome the fact he will be playing a prominent role in the campaign against independence when the promised referendum finally comes.
In addition to seeing close up some of Johann’s political skills, I also witnessed her acute intelligence, when I set the top table a word test, which was one of the questions at a recent Nazeing cricket club quiz night …
Here goes … Look at the three lines of a qwerty keyboard on your typewriter, iPad or blackberry. What is the longest word that you can make from the letters of a single line? You are allowed to use the same letter more than once.
Within minutes, Alistair and Johann’s deputy Anas Sarwar were asking me to put them out of their misery, but Johann was adamant she would work it out, and sat with little circles of words, torturing herself until eventually she worked it out.
I’ll give you the same clues I gave her … Ten letters, and lines 2 and 3 have only one vowel between them …

  • Colin Meloy

    You should have a look at FMQs on a Thursday, Alastair.  A couple of ropey days apart, Johann has done pretty well i would say, even with an SNP presiding officer allowing Salmond to meander off on a diatribe of his own, that bears little relation to the question asked.  She has successfully wound him up a couple of times, and as with most, you can tell Salmond’s not doing well when he is clearly angered.
    Given the sycophantic press (in the main) up here, i still worry re Autumn 2014 though.

  • Gerard

    I see what you did there Alistair, but I only noticed it once I got the answer!

  • Dave Harris


  • Gerard

    Sorry – Alastair!

  • Olli Issakainen

    The hand of history is on Alex Salmond´s shoulder.
    I have been telling for years that Scotland will become independent.
    I just do not believe that it will happen, I KNOW.
    Scotland´s first minister is dominant by the sheer force of his personality. He is the best political operator in Britain.
    Now even Rupert Murdoch is behind him! (Interesting to see what Mr Murdoch has to say about his relationship with PMs.)
    SNP achieved a landslide in May winning the overall majority despite the electoral system fixed to prevent this.
    SNP is united and disciplined.
    Mr Salmond is intelligent, He is a former economist.
    He owns optimism and the future. Yes we can!
    There is no limit to Scotland´s possibilities. George Osborne´s economic policy will help Scotland to become independent.
    (Britain may avoid recession in Q1 due to petrol panic, but there is no recovery in sight.)
    Johann Lamont has only a fraction of Mr Salmond´s experience. SNP has no serious rivals.
    Public support for independence is now 38%. But it will grow.
    Salmond also plans a second question on referendum: independence-minus. That will surely pass.
    Salmond will make Scotland independent by his sheer personality.
    How much debt independent Scotland would have?
    Can Scotland keep sterling?
    How BBC would be divided?
    What about the oil revenues?
    EU membership? Trident?
    Many questions.
    Scotland contains around 5.1m people which would leave its share of debt at about £81bn.
    Traditional loyalities in politics have gone since 2008 financial crisis caused by banks.
    Voters can now see that the mainstream parties in Europe are in the pockets of bankers. (See Le Pen yesterday.)
    Bankers are getting richer, but ordinary people poorer. The poor and sick are made to pay for greed, incompetence and systematic corruption in financial sector.
    In Europe EU is now planning a job of a SUPER-PRESIDENT.
    National sovereignty will soon go.
    People are worried about immigration, Islam and multiculturalism which threaten Western culture.
    There is no real democracy in Europe as media is not free.
    Message discipline of constant spin, better use of focus groups and polling plus concentration on middle-ground is out of date.
    It is not enough to choose a “rock star” leader who looks good on TV, and then go for TRIANGULATION.
    Standard electoral techniques do not work anymore. People can see through inauthentic leaders like Cameron who try to ape Blair.
    There is mistrust between voters and politicians.
    The age of Clinton, Blair and the War Room is over!
    David Cameron is a man without a plan.

  • Anonymous

    Lamont does get under Salmond’s skin. He can’t bully her and doesn’t know any other tactic. See any back level of FMQs on the BBC iplayer.

    I commented here a few days ago.

  • Anonymous


  • Dave Simons

    In view of the publication of a new edition of James Joyce’s ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ (Times, 23/04/12, pgs 2 and 18), might I suggest ‘QUOPYWRITE’. It doesn’t even use the same letter more than once!

  • Dave Simons

    Meanwhile I stare at my ‘TYPEWRITER’ and wonder what the answer could be?

  • Ehtch

    I want Scotland to go back to 1700.

    Sorry, but that is what I think. It will be a healthy thing to happen. SE England needs sorting, The City is an absolute perve of a place, and for Scotland to go, might change it.

    We can’t carry on this nonsense where everything is concerntrated in the fucking THE CITY – it is dysfunctional, it is barking, it is cuckoo, and it needs to stop NOW.

    Please Scotland, do us all a favour, kick Westminster into touch, you will be much better for it, easily. And don’t listen to the rubbish spoutings, go for self-determination, and leave Westminster behind, you will be better for it.

  • Rick Role

    Typewriter wit, try perpetuity.

  • Gilliebc

    ‘Traditional loyalties in politics have gone since 2008 financial crisis caused by banks’

    I agree with that Olli and also agree with what you write following that statement.  As for the first part of your post, you are more than likely correct.  But tbh, I for one genuinely do not know!

    I do know that many people feel let down by both main parties as they no longer represent their core supporters beliefs and traditional/historic values. Can anyone now say
    ‘hand on heart’ that the Tories still represent the aspirations of people such as small business people.  Nor imo do Labour still represent the interests of the ordinary working man and woman.  Both main parties, plus the soon to be annihilated (lol) ghastly LibDums are dancing to the tune/orders of the corrupt banksters.

    Back in the early to mid 20th century a British PM alluded to the fact that although he was PM, there was in fact another ‘government not far from here’ clearly meaning the bankers in the city or square mile of our capital city.  I have been searching for the name of this PM and his exact quote for some time now.  The first time I came across it (accidentally) somewhere or other some time ago, I didn’t entirely ‘get it ‘ then.  But I certainly ‘get it’ now!  So if anyone can provide his name and the exact quote, I would be most grateful.

  • ambrosian

    Can’t help with the name of the PM who said that but the French Socialist candidate Hollande said something very similar recently during the Presidential campaign. So far it hasn’t done him much harm.
    Vive la revolution!………..well, a left-of-centre President anyway.

    • Gillian C.

      ‘Hollande said something very similar’ 

      That’s interesting ambrosian.  I didn’t know that.  It will probably turn up on you tube sooner or later.

      Vive la revolution, indeed.  Interesting times certainly.

  • Ayr Laddie

     Sycophantic press??????  You’re having a giraffe!!  The Scotsman, the Record, the Mirror, the Times, the Herald, the Telegraph, the Sun to a lesser extent ALL pro-Union and anti-independence.  Most of the press and media in Scotland does not allow an equal debate and look for any opportunity to dig the knife in against anyone campaigning for independence.

    I can only assume you have never read any Scottish paper/Scottish edition of English paper or watched/listened to any Scottish news at all in recent years.

  • Foxhole Atheist50

    I have to disagree, sadly since Donald Dewar there has been a steady decline in the quality of what passes for leadership in the Scottish Labour Party.

    I thought  Mr “I didn’t run away I walked away” Gray was a low point but JL is no better.

    Nothing positive to offer, playing to fear and expecting that like naughty children Scottish voters will somehow realise our mistake and see the error of our ways.

    There is a case to be made for the Union but its a lot weaker now than it was 20 or even 10 years ago, and I don’t hear any bold thinking from Johann Lamont, just dislike of the Tories and a hope that Salmond is only a temporary phenomenon.

    If she is more impressive in person its time to step up in public.

  • definitely

    Yes Alastair, but what is she for? She defines herself as being against Alex Salmond. But five months after she took up post no one knows what she stands for – apart from the union. Maybe Labour should mimic the Tories and restyle itself as the Labour and Unionist Party, it would certainly be more accurate than Scottish Labour Party.