Monday, 5 March 2012

Will Lamont's Cowardice Trump Baillie's Lies in Labour's Race to the Bottom?

On Saturday, as senior figures in what is left of the Scottish Labour Party prepared to give speeches about the SNP and Alex Salmond to a couple of hundred bitter Unionists in a half-empty Caird Hall in Dundee, Jackie Baillie hit on a super wheeze to get herself into the headlines.

Wordle of Lamont's speech. "Scotland" and "Scottish" removed for clarity

Labour's most northerly MSP decided that she would accuse Scotland's hard-working NHS staff of cruelly forcing hospital patients. Baillie claimed in her speech to the Labour Conference that she had correspondence between her constituents and the Royal Alexandra Hospital detailing the claims.

Baillie, the privately-educated MSP for Dumbarton, further claimed that at the hospital, patients were using gowns in place of blankets.

Paisley's Royal Alexandra Hospital - victim of Baillie's smear campaign

Naturally, the BBC treated Baillie's claims with the reverence usually only reserved for the sort of statement carved in stone and handed to them on the top of Mount Sinai.

However, there was one problem with the claim.

It was a total lie - a fantasy invented by Baillie for no reason other than to get a cheap headline and embarrass the Government. These fantasy claims are a thread which seems to run through Scottish Labour: it is not long ago that Johann Lamont stood up in Parliament and told a malicious lie about a rape case in order to get a soundbite on TV and embarrass Alex Salmond.

The Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board itself stated that:

There [is] no truth in this claim. Extra blankets are available in all our hospitals, as and when patients need them.

in response to Baillie's claims (and quite why Baillie's constituents would be at the Royal Alexandra Hospital rather than the Vale of Leven hospital, I'm unsure), Health Secretary and Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, commented that:

Jackie Baillie should be ashamed of herself for talking down Scotland's health service in this way and misleading people - the health board provided proof weeks ago that there is no truth in this claim.
Even after being shot down in flames by the Health Secretary and her lies exposed by the Health Board, Baillie continued to try and brazen her way out of yet another lie, only months after it transpired that she had tried to blacken the reputation of Scotland's Health Service for political reasons with a lie, sending a spokesliar out to claim:

If the Health Board tries to cover this up rather than deal with it, that is an extremely serious matter. It is unacceptable for patients to have to use their dressing gowns as a blanket because there are not enough
Baillie's repeated attempts to demolish the fantastic achievements of Scottish Health Service workers, to lie about them, and to cheat them out of the praise they deserve, is little short of despicable, and all too symptomatic of the total collapse of morality and decency in Scottish Labour.

Baillie - notorious liar

However, after the accusations, after the media coverage, after the mud had been thrown and some of it stuck, after she had sent her lickspittle out to accuse the GGC Health Board of a "cover-up" - she casually admitted in yesterday's Herald that she had invented the whole thing.

This is the second time that Baillie has uttered outright lies - not mistakes, not mistruths, but something she is well aware is a lie, coldly, cruelly and calculatedly designed to harm the reputation of Scotland's Health Service for her own political gain.

She has gained a reputation for putting the interests of Jackie Baillie and Scottish Labour far ahead of the health of the people of Scotland: blocking the Minimum Pricing of Alcohol Bill despite the pleas of doctors, police and health service professionals, for which she received and accepted a "gift" from a major brewer.

So, what will the outcome be?

Johann Lamont, the Invisible "Leader" of Scottish Labour has, since her election last year, behaved with nothing other than total and utter cowardice.

She refused to take action against Baillie for lying about infection statistics.
She refused to take action against drunken ned Eric Joyce for assaulting MPs and policemen.
She refused to take action against thuggish MP Ian Davidson for threatening to attack a female MP.
She refused to take action against Glasgow Councillor Gilbert Davidson for his threat to sack a Councillor's disabled son from his apprenticeship if she voted against Labour in Council.

By refusing to take action against these people, her cowardice provides tacit support for them.

She is content to let Baillie lie about infections in Scottish hospitals. She is content to see "her" MPs on a drunken rampage, headbutting bystanders. She is content for her MPs and Councillors to intimidate, and threaten to violently assault women.

By any measure, Baillie is not fit to be Shadow Health Secretary. Her hatred of the Scottish National Party, and her contempt for the workers in the Scottish Health Service, outweigh any residual shred of ability to do her job.

In any normal party in any other democracy, a Shadow Health Secretary caught out in a blatant lie designed to batter the reputation of the Health Service would be summarily dismissed.

But Labour aren't a normal party. Anne Marie Millar could tell you that.

Will Lamont's cowardice outweigh Baillie's attempts to trash the compassion of Scotland's health professionals?

Or will she finally find some courage and sack a woman who has no right to impose her lies on the Health Service