Social media has come alive with nationalists expressing outrage at a comment made by Johann Lamont in last night’s Scotland Tonight Referendum debate. The first of these debates got 190,000 viewers in May last year so if we assume the same for this one, that means something like 3.33% of the population watched it. Significantly more than that have now seen from social media from said outraged will Nationalists that Johann Lamont said:
“We are not genetically programmed in Scotland to make political decisions.”
Was the leader of the Opposition actually saying we needed Big Daddy Westminster to decide things for us?
Err, no. Of course not. You need to read the whole thing. I have transcribed it for you here. What she actually meant was that independence doesn’t inoculate politicians against doing daft things. It might not have been the language I would have chosen, but the point is quite reasonable and one I’ve been making all through this debate.
Rona Dougall: Lsst week your social justice spokesperson Jackie Baillie said that the introduction of the so-called Bedroom Tax was nothing to do with the constitution. In an independent Scotland, would this policy ever have been introduced?
Johann Lamont: Well, certainly, I wouldn’t support it, Ed Miliband doesn’t support it. We see the indignity it’s created. My point about the Bedroom Tax, that’s about political choices. We can’t presume that that an independent Scotland somehow…
RD (interrupting): But it was introduced under Westminster rule, Johann
JL: Yes of course, but it could be introduced anywhere if people believed it was a good idea. We’re not genetically programmed in Scotland to make political decisions, we choose the world we want to live in. And we have to win the political argument. My frustration with this debate is the idea that by changing the constitution you presume that the arguments around equality, around justice around women’s rights have been won. They have not. You win them by political argument. And I think the fundamental..
RD (interrupting): But Holyrood doesn’t control welfare policy..
JL: No they don’t, but you would still, whether it was in Holyrood or not, you’d still have to win that political argument. I’ve fought the Tories all my life. I disagree profoundly with what they have done round the Bedroom Tax which is why we forced the Scottish Government not to use it as an opportunity to prosecute their case for independence but to use the powers that they have to mitigate it. That was the challenge that we forced up on them within the Scottish Parliament.
Of course, the Nationalists would not want this whole, very reasonable point to be well known. I suspect they will put the first part of it out there as much as they can so that people believe that that’s just all that she said. It’ll become one of those myths. That’s why it’s important for those of us who know it’s not the truth to let people know the whole context. And if you see any nationalists trying to quote this out of context, they are lying. Call them out for it.
There is much more to be said on last night’s debate. Watch this space.