Nationalist outrage as Labour’s Lamont says “We are not genetically programmed in Scotland to make political decisions..” But they miss out the important bit. #scotnight #indyref

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.

About caronlindsay

Scottish Lib Dem internationalist, mum, LGBT+ ally, Doctor Who, Strictly, F1 and trashy tv addict and blogger. Servant to two spaniels. She/her.
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42 Responses to Nationalist outrage as Labour’s Lamont says “We are not genetically programmed in Scotland to make political decisions..” But they miss out the important bit. #scotnight #indyref

  1. Gryff says:

    It is perhaps a more reasonable point than it is being presented as, but perhaps Lamont didn’t do herself any favours either?

    If I were playing the role of Yes I would argue that many of the debates that were mentioned have been had out, and won, in Scotland already, but this hasn’t translated into policy here. – that isn’t necessarily a knockout argument, but I think it is a point worth addresing. If I am a CND member, and have been for the last twenty years (n.b. this isn’t me, neither CND member, and twenty years ago I probably didn’t know what a nuclear weapon was), and I have voted in that time exclusively for parties or candidates that I thought had an anti-nuclear position, *and those candidates won the elections* what more am I supposed to do? – Why wouldn’t the Yes campaign attract me on that alone?


  2. anders says:

    I’ll be voting for independence … that said not having seen the debate last night I couldn’t quite believe my eyes and ears seeing the short clip going round this morning. Thanks for adding some context.

    It’s being badly misquoted … though it is by any account a bizarre choice of words, and it does leave me a little unsure what exactly she was trying to say.


  3. Mark Harper says:

    If any Nationalist had made this comment regardless of the context it would have been all over todays newspapers. Today the silence is defining.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. rws5 says:

    “We’re not genetically programmed in Scotland to make political decisions, we choose the world we want to live in”

    So what DOES it mean?
    I can’t figure it out…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen Barclay says:

      I think she means – it’s not written in stone that Scotland will be a more equal, more just place, just because we’re independent… Which is a fair point… I know a lot of people who think we’ll instantly turn into a socialist paradise… Which we might – but then we might not… (I hope my metaphor is slightly better than Johann’s!).


  5. Karen Barclay says:

    Thanks for giving me some context – I hadn’t seen the debate, but I had seen the clip… It’s a clumsy way of making the point, but not a terrible point to be making.


  6. The whole extract doesn’t do her & Labour any favours either.
    She has stated that Labour has to win the political argument. What really is the point of that, considering the majority of people in Scotland have reject the bedroom tax you might consider this as already winning the political argument but still the tax is still being imposed.

    The idea of a ‘political argument’ is only worthwhile if that argument can change government policy. As it stands, Scotland as part of the UK can argue as much as it want with absolutely nothing changing for the better.
    This is essentially what Johann Lamont is admitting too.


  7. A foolish choice of language at best, not least because it fits with the central contention of the No Campaign – that Scotland is genetically unfit to govern itself.

    Liked by 1 person

    • manandboy says:

      May I suggest, Robbie, that the central contention of the London driven No Campaign
      is that the Scots are unfit to have all that wealth,
      especially at a time when the ruling class in England
      need it so badly.
      And anyway, the Scots are used to being poor.
      They’ve been like that for 300 years.


  8. rws5 says:

    Nobody picked up on Aileen Campbell’s faux pas when, in discussing the coming bureaucratic and civil liberties disaster that is “GIRFEC”, she said, “…and parents ALSO have rights in bringing up children”. (My bold).


  9. Gazelle says:

    Having just read the quote in its entirety I would suggest it it worse than it first appears. The bedroom tax is inflicted upon us for having a Tory government, no other reason. So Lamont is suggesting it could have been introduced in Scotland by the SNP but she would have opposed it with her political argument. Quite ridiculous and irrelevant. Posting the context and concluding she made a valid point is desperate in the extreme.

    No political representation…….YES


  10. dave says:

    I know a bit about this…. let me explain

    What happened was a parapraxis, an error in speech, memory, or physical action that was interpreted as occurring due to the interference of an unconscious (“dynamically repressed”) subdued wish, conflict, or train of thought guided by the super-ego and the rules of correct behaviour. which revealed a “source outside the speech”.
    That Source may have been a sector of memory containing anti Scottish national one liners quite possibly from the daily Mail, Telegraph or indeed personal discussions or jokes shared with more influential but politically like minded people.

    Under pressure she drew from that unconscious source because her mood subconsciously encouraged defence by aggression.

    The fact that within context, this strange line makes very little sense only serves to amplify the conclusion most have made, both Scottish and Nationalists that this woman firmly believes at the root of her conciousness that Scotland is incapable of its own political decision…

    You can share that if you like 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Dai Lowe says:

    I can’t see how the fuller quote makes the short clip any last stupid.


  12. Dai Lowe says:

    Sorry, I meant ‘less stupid’


  13. Tom Murphy says:

    At best, an unfortunate choice of words – at worst, an expression of her personal belief.
    Either way, in a fair society she would be getting slaughtered for it – but the press/media
    are unusually quiet.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The Dragon of Whi says:

    Regardless context, it was a bad thing to say, and even given the context it actually looks worst.
    She says you “have to win the political argument” but how can any one in Scotland do that when we’re “not genetically programmed in Scotland to make political decisions”.

    There is no context than anyone could say this and it be good.
    If her argument was that no-one anywhere is pre-programmed for political decisions, then why are we ‘out-sourcing’ to Westminster? Because then they are equally inept to make those political decisions as much as Scots in Holyrood.
    But if she actually meant exactly what she said, that Scots are too stupid on a genetic level, that we ‘need’ the big brave Angel-Saxons to tell us how and what to do, then that’s not just border line racism, that’s clear as day racism and she shouldn’t be a politician.

    There is no context that can ‘justify’ her words.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Stuart Allan says:

    I am a supporter of independence but I am and always have been open to the views of others, while the comment taken on its own is insulting, I can not find anything in your explanation or transcript to make it less so. We are being told, yet again that we are too stupid to be independent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • keaton says:

      No. We’re not. No Labour politician would go on TV and outright state what she’s being accused of saying (even if they were thinking it). To believe that they would is mental.


  16. spamspamspam says:

    Would this be the same political argument she said she was willing to loose to both Ed and Dave in regards to renewing Trident?

    Ah, I suppose, when we are not built to govern we may as well just sit back and let the big boys sort it all out. Unfortunately those big boys arent fit to govern either. Cameron is so far removed from the general public he thinks speaking to a reporter is speaking to the man on the street and Miliband is so scared to stand up for Labour ideals his best answer to benefit cuts that are starving the poor, disabled and elderly is he’d still do them just slightly different.

    Doesnt matter what colour their tie is, they are all Thatchers babies.


  17. Harry Dozier says:

    The problem is it was a very poorly made point. Even on reading the transcript and having watched the debate I struggled to get her meaning. I think the fact that she would make such a statement that could be twisted into such a negative soundbite only reflects on her political adroitness and thus, as a figure head of the nationalist campaign, making a mockery of their work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Harry did you really watch the debate, do you have a clue who the people were who took part, Johann Lamont who made the “poorly made point” is leader of the unionist anti independence Labour party! However if you made a typo by putting nationalist where you meant to put unionist then you have merely been guilty of what Johann Lamont was guilty of, lack of due diligence. In you its excusable in her its not!


  18. Stuart Allan says:

    Looking through other comments on Facebook and I am “astonished” that supports of Lamont don’t feel embarrassed by the fact they have to explain what the leader of the Labour Party in Scotland meant.


  19. DaveB says:

    I agree with the first post from Gryff.

    I get that she is trying to say that a Scottish Parliament can make bad decisions too.

    But when the overwhelming consensus of Scottish public and political opinion is against something – in this case the bedroom tax, we need the powers as a nation to prevent that.

    Trying to argue otherwise is just illogical, and ends up with the muddled speech and thinking we can see in her quote.

    And leaves her open to the suspicion it was a freudian slip – her true feelings coming out.
    After all, it can seem strange not to want the parliament you represent to have more power.


    • Don says:

      But what’s worse is that in the recent vote in Westminster on the Bedroom Tax, moved by the Labour Party I might add, many Labour MPs INCLUDING her sidekick Anas Sarwar couldn’t even be bothered to turn up to vote.


  20. Gasglow says:

    Thanks, I was looking for the context on this.

    So the Yes campaign have taken half a sentence that clearly means “The political decisions of Scottish people are not genetically programmed, they can change”, cut it in half and tried to pretend that the result makes any sort of sense.

    This the equivalent of the Republicans using “You didn’t build that”


    • It was, coming from a senior (sic) Labour politician, a very badly put point. However within the contest of the full quote she is ignoring the reality of the expressed will of the Scottish people in relation to the “bedroom tax”, preferring as usual to talk about hypothetical’s. The unionist objective is, as always, to confuse the electorate so in this respect, job done. It appears she is a natural at this not even having to work at talking in riddles!


  21. crankygrumpy says:

    Even if she did make a clumsy attempt to suggest things may not change post-independence (clearly she was told by her script-writer to say “not genetically predisposed to a particular politics”), she must be aware that the appetite for change does exist.

    If she had the wit to say that Independence is not a panacea to all of Scotland’s ills she would at least have made sense but sadly she also has to back the status quo and defend those ‘wee thngs’* ike trident, bedroom tax, food banks – that is the cost of getting into bed with the tories.

    *not taken out of context


  22. Yaroo says:

    Caron…. From what perspective are you seeing things??? I think you’re reading way too much into this…. Something extremely stupid was said so, being politics and all, of course it was going to be pounced upon. If it was a nationalist who said it then I’m pretty sure it would’ve been laughed all over the tabloids to further dismiss the nationalists as a credible fighting force in Scotland. I can’t believe this wasn’t a story 😦

    Holding such a high ranking Labour position in Scotland, you would think Lamond should have found it easy to avoid such a booboo even in the heat of the debate…

    Your post is as that of a typical unionist view and unionism hasn’t worked in Scotland for decades. To date, despite being one of the wealthiest nations on earth, we have naff all to show for it… The SNP aren’t perfect and yes, I am a Labour voter by nature however voting YES will be easy for me. I like the thought of my vote counting in my own country rather than being at the mercy of UK voters who decide ultimately who is in power… Vote YES, the Conservatives in Scotland are over… Vote NO, then more of the same hence forth onwards…

    There is no alternative,,, Labour have failed Scotland time and time again, Tory has never accepted Scotland as an equal and Lib Dem aren’t up to much anyway and will cosy up to who ever is in power just for a taste of something, anything… Not exactly something I can respect politically or otherwise….


    • Don says:

      Yes indeed, Labour have failed Scotland but rarely have they so spectacularly failed Scotland as when they secretly handed over 6000 square miles of the North Sea to Westminster. This was done without any public scrutiny and without any public consultation. What’s worse is that this treachery was enacted 7 weeks before the Scottish parliament was re-convened in May 1999. Read all about it…


  23. Even out of context, taking umbrage at the comment suggests that they actually believe the opposite is true – i.e. that we are genetically programmed to make political decisions.
    Much as certain demagogues may wish otherwise, I don’t believe that anybody – in Scotland or elsewhere – is genetically programmed to make political decisions.
    It is something we learn to do. Do they really want to argue with that?
    P.S. From a philosophical viewpoint, does this mean all those cybernats believe in determinism rather than free will? If so, why are they bothering to campaign when the result is already in our genes? 😉


  24. alister7 says:

    I agree with you that she did not really mean what she said. However, the more you try to unravel what she did say and take into account the context the worse it actually gets for Johann Lamont. For what it is worth my attempt to understand her comment can be found here –


  25. Rory says:

    Unfortunately, Caron, she was not mis-quoted. In an interview with BBC Scotlandshire later she backed up her claims by saying this.
    “We are missing the gene, the Westminster gene, which allows us to make decisions. That’s why we need other folk to make our decisions for us. Despite this, I am hungry to fight that genetic defect, fight through it, and have a debate with it, a bigger debate than what we are having today.”


  26. Pingback: Top of the Blogs: The Lib Dem Golden Dozen #367

  27. Madhatter says:

    I have read and reread this and it still makes no sense which leaves it open to interpretation and not necessarily yours.


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