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Lamont fails to maintain key Labour strategy group

A new body created to set the strategic direction of Scottish Labour has failed to meet on a single occasion since Johann Lamont became party leader.

Labour's "Political Strategy Board" has gathered dust after it was set up last October as part of a fundamental review of the party north of the Border.

The party responded to its devastating defeat at the 2011 Holyrood election by initiating an inquiry into the organisation's structures and operations. The creation of a Political Strategy Board was pushed through, with the intention of helping unite Labour's disparate factions.

Led by MP Jim Murphy and MSP Sarah Boyack, the inquiry also recommended that the party should have its own Scottish leader, and backed reforms to candidate selection and the make-up of constituency parties.

The official remit of the Political Strategy Board was to "develop and deliver strategic direction and political leadership for the Scottish Labour Party", as well as being responsible for implementing a five-year business plan.

Membership of the board was to reflect "the diversity of our different stakeholders", including Lamont as chair, her deputy Anas Sarwar, shadow secretary of state Margaret Curran, a Labour councillor, and other figures.

However, while the Sunday Herald understands that former Holyrood Labour leader Iain Gray chaired the body last year, Lamont has failed to do so.

This has meant that one of the key recommendations of the Murphy-Boyack review appears to have gone by the wayside.

Party figures are waiting for Lamont to announce whether the body has a future. A senior Labour source told this newspaper that the new board's failure to meet was symbolic of Lamont's lack of progress as leader.

The source said the recent departure of two senior personnel at the Labour's Glasgow headquarters had been "spun" to give the impression of Lamont shaking up the party.

The insider added that the sum total of the Glasgow Pollok MSP's contribution as leader had been one policy speech. However, another party source said the strategy board was almost irrelevant as Lamont had good relations with MPs and the trade unions.

The revelation comes after it emerged that the party's Devolution Commission, announced in March to review the powers of the Parliament, had also failed to get off the ground.

Six months after being approved at Labour's party conference, no remit and membership has yet been agreed..

An SNP spokesman said: "Johann Lamont isn't even going through the motions of leading her own party – how on earth on that basis can she have any serious ambition to lead the country?"

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: "We are very pleased with the progress being made in modernising the party but our real focus is the people of Scotland."

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Local government

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