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Lamont would be Labour's lament; 'Lamont is totally unelectable as the first minister, and I say this as someone who has known her since she was a teenager'.

Byline: George Galloway

HOT money is flowing in to the bookies on Johann Lamont to win the Scottish Labour leadership - Stan James turned away a pounds 2000 bet on her at the weekend.

The previously hot favourite Ken Macintosh will be shifting in his seat uneasily in the run-up to Saturday's result.

The stakes could hardly be higher. The next Labour leader will almost certainly be the one on whose shoulders will fall the responsibility of saving the country from the grave consequences of partition.

If it's Lamont, you can kiss the 300-year unity in this small island goodbye. Lamont might, and it's only a might, be more left-wing than Macintosh but she is totally unelectable as the first minister of Scotland, and I say this as someone who has known her since she was a teenager.

Rosa Klebb was the East German apparatchik with the spike that shot out the front of her sensible shoes in James Bond movies. Grim, fanatical, unsmiling and machine-like.

But Klebb was The X Factor's likeable Amelia Lily compared to Johann Lamont.

If there is a less appealing political figure in world politics, I've yet to meet them.

If there's someone less likely to sweet-talk an elector and get their vote, they'd have to be a cross between John Major and Iain Duncan Smith.

The idea of Lamont up against Alex Salmond in the years before an independence vote would be laughable if the consequences were not so dire.

When I came on to the Scottish political scene, Labour's Scottish leader was the late Willie Ross. It was like meeting the King of Scotland to be in his presence. Bruce Millan and Donald Dewar came after and were made of the right stuff. But it's been downhill since then.

But a Lamont victory would be the end. Scottish Labour would be finished, having penned the shortest, most bitter, charmless, cheerless suicide note in history.

Why didn't Jim Murphy stand for leader? His principal political asset is that to meet him is to like him and he'd surely have been a shoo-in. He has a track-record of standing up to Salmond and showed in the seeing-off of Dr Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, that he knows the way to the opposition jugular.

An SOS - Save our Scotland - must be declared if Lamont, right, wins. It will be time for all good men and women to come to the aid of the party.

Labour should create a supremo charged with putting together the referendum operation with no time to waste.

Murphy should be in charge of it with the wasting asset Brian Wilson his chief amanuensis. This is no time for amateurs.


POWER Johann Lamont could be the next Scottish Labour leader
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion, Column
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 12, 2011
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