By Martin Kelly
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has been called on to distance herself from comments described as “offensive to Scotland” made in the House of Commons by Labour MP Anas Sarwar.

Speaking in a debate on Tuesday in which MPs voted to grant Holyrood the powers to hold a legally binding independence referendum, Mr Sarwar claimed the Scottish Parliament was “not a democratic place”.

Speaking in the chamber, the Glasgow MP attacked the Scottish Parliament saying: “We have a majority SNP Government in the Scottish Parliament, but that is not a democratic place in the conventional sense.

“It is a dictatorship of one man sitting in Bute house, who will do not what is in Scotland’s interests, but what is in his own or his party’s interests.”

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The comments from Mr Sarwar came despite the Labour MP pledging recently to cut back on negative campaigning.  The Scottish Labour Deputy Leader, who heads his party’s referendum campaign, also admitted that constant negativity would not win over voters.

It has now emerged that Glasgow Kelvin MSP Sandra White is writing to Mr Sarwar’s Scottish leader Johann Lamont asking her on behalf of the Labour Party to apologise for his comments.

Calling the attack “an embarrassment for Labour” and “unpleasant”, Ms White added:

“Only a week past Sunday, Anas Sarwar promised to raise the level of debate from the No camp, but instead he has done the exact opposite and plunged to new lows with this ridiculous statement.

“Johann Lamont is the leader of the opposition in the Scottish Parliament – does she really think she is an elected and prominent member of a parliament that is ‘not a democratic place in the conventional sense’? 

“Mr Sarwar’s words were directed at the whole Holyrood institution, of which Ms Lamont is rightly a proud part of.

“As well as being offensive to Scotland, Mr Sarwar’s silly choice of words could also be offensive to people who really know what it’s like not to have the democratic freedoms that we are so fortunate to enjoy.

“It is sad that Mr Sarwar should have allowed his partisan hostility to cloud his judgement, and use such absurd and inappropriate language about Scotland’s Parliament.

“Johann Lamont is the leader of the whole Labour Party in Scotland – including its MPs – and I am writing to ask her to do the decent thing and apologise on behalf of her party, so that a line can be drawn under the matter.

“Mr Sarwar should reflect on the fact that the votes of the people of Scotland returned the SNP to office with an overwhelming mandate at the last election, and rejected his party.

“His problem is that Labour supports the broken, undemocratic Westminster system which has the trust of just 18 per cent of people in Scotland, compared to the Scottish Government which has the trust of 71 per cent.”

Mr Sarwar’s comments followed similar attacks by his Labour colleague Ian Davidson who claimed Scots only celebrated Bannockburn because English people had been murdered.

Glasgow MP Davidson caused outrage when he said the commemoration of the 700th anniversary of the ancient battle was timed “to take place after the anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn, which is celebrated mainly because Scots slew large numbers of English people,” and that it commemorated “the murder of hundreds of thousands of English people”.

Ms White added: “Anti-independence politicians at Westminster seem to be scared stiff of the process of Scotland taking charge of her democratic future – but their unpleasant language only exposes the No camp’s weakness, as deep down they know it is true that Scotland is better placed to make decisions for herself.”

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2013-01-16 23:26

I’d like to advise Sandra White MSP not to hold her breath while waiting for an apology. She could be in for a long wait.
I seem to remember that Johann Lamont once took it on herself to apologise on behalf of the people of Scotland. Will she now just apologise for her deputy’s remarks? That would show that she has a bit of respect for voters in Scotland and the constituents she represents and the Scottish Parliament.
But just in case, I’ll be taking my own advice and not holding my breath either.
2013-01-17 00:00

Sarwar said: “We have a majority SNP Government in the Scottish Parliament, but that is not a democratic place in the conventional sense.

“It is a dictatorship of one man sitting in Bute house, who will do not what is in Scotland’s interests, but what is in his own or his party’s interests.”

In contrast to the Westminster Parliament, that cesspit of corruption, that has been designed and moulded by it’s inhabitants to first and foremost serve, not the people, but the aforesaid inhabitants and their placemen.

We have in the past had majority Labour or Tory governments in the UK Parliament, put there on a 30 odd percent share of the total vote. That is definitely not a democratic place in the conventional sense.

It is a dictatorship of one man sitting in 10 Downing Street, who will do not what is in the UK’s interests, but what is in his own or his party’s interests.
2013-01-17 13:01

Sarwar also said that the ‘Labour for Independence’ group was simply an SNP ‘front’

Do none of this group have any comment to make on this?

In hope that they may (have some comment) I have just emailed Allan Grogan (Media & Public Relations contact for Labour for Independence).

2013-01-17 00:08

It is being noticed and its embarrassing to some of the Unionist Lords. I watched a bit of the debate to get a guaranteed laugh at Mickey Forsyth, and there was David Steele and Patrick Cormack saying as such. Dafydd Wiggley had the most considered speech in my view, making reference to the over-the-top attacks on Alex Salmond. The quicker we can get rid of these layers of Government the better. They are a total embarrassment to Scotland.
2013-01-17 00:29

omfg….the months not even out after Sarwars call for positive debate on Scotlands future,and here he his saying the democratically elected government in Scotland is a dictatorship? There just isnt enough duct tape manufactured on this planet that will do Scotland justice by silencing these muppets……perhaps i should go the Better together route and use earplugs.
2013-01-17 01:05

It should be pointed out that while it is true the d’Hondt system used in Holyrood is not quite fully proportional representation in nature, it is still far more so than the system which elected him in Westminster. Indeed, its adoption, on the admission of Scottish Labour’s Jack McConnell (before he became FM), was to (supposedly) prevent an SNP majority from ever happening.

Happily, that fundamentally undemocratic intent has been circumvented by the good sense of the Scottish electorate.

Paradoxically, this means that Scots still enjoy once held Labour values regarding free education and health care for the elderly, to name but two examples.

Mr Sarwar’s increasingly bizarre, hysterical and abusive rantings must therefore be regarded in much the same light as those of Iain ‘doing’ Davidson.

And just as out of touch with the Scottish electorate, including Islamic Scots (indeed even with others in his own family it seems).
2013-01-17 08:40

And so the Tories have IDS and the New Labour Mob have IDD………

2013-01-17 03:06

BBC Scotlandshire praises Sarwar’s contribution to the debate.…/…
2013-01-17 07:27

“Glasgow Kelvin MSP Sandra White is writing to Mr Sarwar’s Scottish leader Johann Lamont asking her on behalf of the Labour Party to apologise for his comments.”

That sentence needs to be rearranged slightly. Sandra is asking Lamont to apologise on behalf of the Labour Party; as an SNP MSP, Sandra is hardly likely to be writing on behalf of the Labour Party.
2013-01-17 07:59

Surely the speaker at Holyrood should write to the speaker at Westminster about this slur on our democratically elected parliament.
josepy wallace
2013-01-17 09:04

Do not hold your breath but why is this allowed in the first place as there is a code of conduct who is monitoring this code????? who makes comments then get away with saying no truths and lies it is happening much to often any chance of having a positive from the NO campaingn for a change just a thot if the NO campaingn want my vote give me a reason if not then shut up as the noise your making is interfearing with the positive YES campain which is what i will be voting for roll on 2014 YESYESYES
2013-01-17 09:04

Something to remember is the opinion we’ve heard from Catalonia and Basque Independentists  . There are many potentially independent Nations who are looking towards Scotland as a model example of how Independence can be sought peacefully without the use of armed insurrection or bombings. I suspect a number of these people have a much more graphic idea about what a Dictatorship actually is than Mr Sarwar ever will.

I restate the point others have said, the Scottish Parliament was set up to make it exceptionally difficult for any party, principally the SNP, to secure an outright majority but they’ve done it democratically.

Personally, I was never keen about the language of a ‘devolved assembly’ becomming a ‘government in parliament’ because these were trappings of sovereignty being applied prematurely when the job still wasn’t finished.

We seem to use words very casually these days, and it cheapens the whole business of government.
2013-01-17 10:25

Someone on Facebook yesterday posted the following words of Mahatma Gandhi:
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviour. Keep your behaviour positive because your behaviour becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”
This wasn’t posted in relation to the referendum debate but it just made me think that if this is an example of the language employed by the No campaign then how vile must their true thoughts be. Event more concerning is the destiny of our country should they succeed with their entirely negative campaign.
The YES campaign is correct a positive vision is how we will win the day. But we just need to be more vocal about it. Lets stop wasting time by reacting to their negativity but use the time to promote our own positive arguments. Vote YES in 2014.
2013-01-17 11:24

Gandhi is also reputed to have said:-

“We should meet abuse by forbearance. Human nature is so constituted that if we take absolutely no notice of anger or abuse, the person indulging in it will soon weary of it and stop.”


“Truth is by nature self-evident. As soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.”

flying haggis
2013-01-17 10:49

I think Mr Sarwar is a bit of a hypocrite when he claims: “It (the SNP)is a dictatorship of one man sitting in Bute house, who will do not what is in Scotland’s interests, but what is in his own or his party’s interests.”

Wasn’t it Labour MP Willie Bain who let it slip that it is Labour policy to oppose the SNP at all costs, even if it is on a matter which is in Scotland’s interest?
2013-01-17 11:10

Heh, he’s going to have a bit of trouble backing his claim up. Seein’ as how the FM has just laid out timetable and structure for an inclusive written constitution. Which will of necessity include the input from the SG, the Scottish electorate and our current unionist opposition. They may not be willing to engage in that particular debate either since they’ve never entertained the idea of a constitution, nor indeed the idea of a sovereign Scottish electorate.

Who knew?

2013-01-17 12:18

Both these Labour MPs are a total embarrassment. They appear to have the intellect and the integrity of Beavis and Butthead.
2013-01-17 14:20

When watching FMQs, has anyone else noticed how when Alex Salmond goes on the attack and quotes Labour’s previous false figures and assertions back at them, Johann Lamont’s response is to become even more hysterical and abusive than usual?

Who needs the aggressiveness, verbal abuse and false claims of Davidson, Sarwar, and their Westminster cohorts, when we’ve got Johann Lamont to outdo them all every Thursday?
2013-01-17 18:20

I see from FMQ’s the Nicola Sturgeon attacks continue, That’s the first two FMQ’s of the year,I see a patern here, How long will it be I wonder before a complaint is raise against Nicola for breaking the ministerial code, laughable !

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