Another Blow For Lamont In Labour Turf War

Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont has been accused of presiding over a shambles as her party is embroiled in bitter infighting north of the border.

Reports in the Sunday Herald have revealed that one of Labour’s top spin doctors in Scotland has been suspended in what is being described as a turf war between London and Edinburgh.

According to the newspaper, Rami Okasha, Labour’s head of strategy, communications and policy, is facing disciplinary proceedings over alleged “insubordination”.  Okasha, former aide to Labour MP Jim Murphy, was suspended earlier this month following what the Sunday Herald describes as “a turf war and blurred accountability”.

Okasha was part of a group based at John Smith House who are accountable to the London based branch of Labour.  According to a source cited by the Herald, Scottish Labour MSPs were considered lower in the pecking order to MPs and councillors in Glasgow.

The suspension of Okasha follows frustration felt by Labour at Holyrood, which is led by Johann Lamont, her spin doctor Paul Sinclair and party business manager Paul Martin.  Lamont was declared leader of the entire Scottish party after a review of Labour’s performance following the disastrous Scottish Parliamentary elections.

As leader, she is supposed to preside over Scottish MEPs, MPs, MSPs and councillors.  However recent silence from the Glasgow Pollok MSP has led to claims from opponents that she is in fact a leader on paper only and London still calls the shots

Okasha is no stranger to controversy.  In 2008 he jokingly threatened to have members of the press shot if they came too close to former Labour Party leader Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah.

However, perhaps the biggest controversy and one that was suppressed by the entire Scottish media was the email sent by Rami Okasha to at least three high profile Scottish journalists that sought to smear a member of the public, David Ferguson, who was pursuing a Freedom of Information request relating to the resignation of former Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander.

In July 2010, the former advisor to Labour MP Jim Murphy circulated an email to a number of senior Scottish mainstream political journalists.

It was sent from Mr Okasha’s official Labour Party email address and was footnoted with the words: “Sent by email from the Labour Party, promoted by Ray Collins on behalf of The Labour Party, both at 39 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0HA”.

The email contained false allegations against Mr Ferguson and described him as a “hard core cyber-nat”.

The email also contained allegations against both Mr Ferguson and the SNP by Labour MP Willie Bain who claimed Mr Ferguson was part of a deliberate SNP “Black-Ops campaign” aimed at smearing people from “other parties”.

However, worse was a Facebook site alleged by Okasha to belong to Mr Ferguson, which turned out to belong to someone else with the same name.

To date, despite Mr Okasha and Mr Bain’s senior positions within Labour, the story has never been reported by any of Scotland’s main stream media outlets.

MEANWHILE Labour’s woes continued this weekend after comments from UK leader Ed Miliband in which he praised the legacy of former UK PM Margaret Thatcher.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Miliband said: “what she [Margaret Thatcher] was talking about struck a chord”.  The Labour leader admitted that Labour had gone too far and conceded the “depth of change” his party now needs.

It follows previous comments when he admitted there are sometimes no differences between Labour and the Tories.  Speaking in September 2009, Mr Miliband said: “On a number of things, there are differences between us and the Tories, but on certain areas there are no differences between us, and I don’t think you should make them up.

“People don’t like pretending there are big differences when there aren’t”

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2 Responses to Another Blow For Lamont In Labour Turf War

  1. brian mccabe says:

    You’d have thought that with Paul and Paul and ….. whoever else working for her she’d at least have the decency to respond to me. 3 letters, not a dicky bird.
    Says it all really.

  2. Patty says:

    The one thing to remember about any htchyoetipal savage budget reductions in the modern UK political environment is that there are only two parties that are truly capable of uniting behind any kind of doctrinal fiscal conservatism. The Conservatives and Labour. Neither Lib Dems nor the minors are parties driven by strong City influences. The two majors are.The Tories are the Nasty Party, natch. But even Labour are capable of getting behind Nasty Party economic ideas, and not just because Apostate Blair destroyed its soul. For instance, there is the legacy of Dennis Healey forcing the seventies Labour government to accept IMF spending guidelines, and more recently there is the example of Gordon Brown being the chancellor who floated the pound. It’s a very small step from those things to deciding to allow government spending of GDP to be reduced by a couple of percentage points, quickly and roughly, even if the original Brown Labour plan wasn’t to do it with any particularly haste if they had somehow been able to maintain a majority. But things change, and I see Opposition Labour (should that be the body we’re looking at) being most ambivalent about maintaining its former economic doctrine of a `soft landing’.This isn’t to say I believe Labour want to go into opposition, that they want to fob off the unpleasant business of tax rises and service cuts to the Tories. Just that they will accomodate themselves to that scenario if they can’t pull off the feat of a mega-coalition. I can easily see them deciding to provide nothing but token opposition to a horror budget. Though of course then they would want the Lib Dems to stand by any pact Clegg has worked out to guarantee Cameron in office, as no matter how much the Labour leadership are privately comfortable with Tory razor gang cuts they really don’t want to have to be the ones to provide the votes for this htchyoetipal budget, IMO.Yet I don’t even know if any of this is what will happen.We will soon know whether the Conservatives’ insistence on a balanced budget is even the preeminent theme in British politics. Sorry, Dave, but you haven’t been given the mandate to just write the UK’s political narrative from scratch. (And I really think the Lib Dems’ lack of belief in economic management orthodoxy is being sold short in media analysis. Vince Cable would be a major party politician if he believed Fix The Economy First was all that mattered.)

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