Labour Meets over Lamont Bombshell

26 October 2014, 11:27

Scottish Labour's executive committee will meet to discuss the process and timetable for selecting a new leader after the resignation of Johann Lamont.

Among those tipped for the leadership are Jim Murphy MP, interim leader Anas Sarwar MP and several prominent MSPs including Kezia Dugdale, Jenny Marra and Neil Findlay.

Gordon Brown MP has also been linked to the role but reports have suggested the former Prime Minister has ruled himself out of the running.

Mr Sarwar is expected to set out an agreed timetable for electing the next leader of the party following today's meeting.

Ms Lamont stood down claiming her position had been made ''untenable'' and called for greater autonomy for the party north of the border.

Writing in today's Sunday Times, former Labour first minister Henry McLeish said the party must change, or the result could be Scottish independence.

The Smith Commission, set up by Prime Minister David Cameron following the No vote on Scottish independence last month, is currently considering what further powers should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

Mr McLeish said Labour was trailing Scottish public opinion in its thinking on further powers for Holyrood.

He said: ''For the first time in a generation, people are no longer willing to accept that Labour continues to look at further devolution through the Westminster prism and appears grudging in the concessions it is willing to make post the referendum.

''Electors are unwilling to vote the same way as previous generations. The power of Labour is diminishing and will continue to do so.

''The Scottish people seem to be further ahead in their constitutional thinking than Labour.

''This process of timidity and ambivalence may keep Westminster intact but will eventually destroy the Union as Scotland is pushed out on a limb until the branch breaks and Scotland is on its own.''

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond accused UK Labour leader Ed Miliband of being responsible for the ''meltdown'' of Scottish Labour.

Former Labour first minister Lord McConnell said Ms Lamont had been ''fatally undermined'' by Mr Miliband.

Referring to the authority of the Scottish Labour leader, he told the Sunday Herald: ''It's quite clear from what Johann has said that the issue remains unresolved, and in fact she has been fatally undermined by Ed Miliband and others who have taken action on the organisation without her involvement.''

Lord McConnell said the question of where ultimate authority for the organisation of the Scottish party lies must be answered before a new leader is elected.

He told Sky News' Murnaghan programme: ''It cannot lie with the leader of the UK party. In the new, modern Scotland it has to lie with the leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

''I am calling on Labour's Scottish executive committee, that meets this afternoon to discuss the way in which to prepare for a leadership election, to suspend that process until this point is clarified.

''There's no point electing that leader if that leader does not have the authority they need to carry out the job.''

He said the party was in danger of squandering the opportunity presented by the No vote against independence.

''This should have been an amazing opportunity for Scottish Labour to set out its vision and values for Scotland.

''We are in serious danger of snatching defeat from the jaws of that victory and it really is time for all of those in positions of responsibility to get a grip, to sort out this issue of authority once and for all and then for us to have a debate and the election of a new leader who can take us forward, not thinking about the internal workings of the Labour party, but with a vision to be First Minister of Scotland and help change this country for the better.''