Johann Lamont has, at long last, broken her silence perhaps as a result of the constant criticism she has received from bloggers and others for appearing for only 30 minutes in parliament on a Thursday and reading a London-written script.
So following last week's clear out in Glasgow headquarters, Johann appeared today to announce a commission on cuts. Some things never change, eh! I suspect this may have been commission king Gordon Brown's idea, if he has time to think about North Britain these days.
Lamont is wondering why there should be a Council Tax freeze for the rich, a position that Labour has held since the SNP brought in the freeze, except of course, in the run up to the election, when it they decided that in fact it was such a good idea that they adopted it themselves.
Mrs Lamont goes on to wonder about other things that the Scottish government provides free of charge like tertiary education and prescriptions.
She asks why a judge on £100,000+ should benefit from free tertiary tuition for his or her child. It's good question. But why not also ask why should they benefit from free secondary education, or primary education?
One might also ask why someone who has earned large amounts in their working life is entitled to a winter fuel allowance, or even a retirement pension (although of course this is a reserved matter and outwith Mrs Lamont's commission's remit).
One answer to these questions is: because they have paid their taxes, [and, incidentally, unless they have been fiddling (which it is the work of the Treasury and Inland Revenue to sort out) they have been paying a damned site more in taxes than I have].
Another is that the process of means testing is so expensive that it frequently costs more to operate than it saves, or it is easily fiddled.
Of course some benefits can be means tested on a sliding scale (council tax relief is one), and although it is extremely expensive to operate it is a fairer system. But other benefits cannot be calculated in this way. You can't have half a bus pass, for example.
A further argument against means testing is that once a benefit becomes means tested, the bulk of the population, or groups of the population, has no interest in its continued existence. It is then much more likely to be scrapped or reduced, because the political fall out will be far less.
We can see, for example, how the government in London is getting away with treating sick and disabled people. If this treatment affected us all there would be an uproar.
There is no doubt that Johann has opened up an interesting and hopefully stimulating debate, because at its heart is the kind of society we wish to have in Scotland.
I would have preferred for her to look at expenditure in a more all encompassing way. So, for example, if we weren't paying for our share of a 10 year plus war in Afghanistan, if we weren't paying for nuclear deterrents, if we used the North Sea gas to supply our nation with gas ...then what?
In light of the upcoming referendum, it would be interesting to bring these and other issues into the debate.
The Government's response from the Deputy First minister is as follows:
“Almost one year on from her election as leader and Labour still have no policies of their own to bring to the table. Establishing a Commission for Cuts but hiding the final conclusions until after the referendum is simply pushing Labour’s policy problems into the long grass.
“What Johann Lamont fails to realise is that the Social Wage put in place by this SNP Government delivers protection to households and families across Scotland from the impact of the UK Government’s attack on living standards and economic growth.
“Tory cuts to spending are happening now and it is by taking the difficult decisions that this SNP Government has been able to protect support for households.
“At a time when people are facing serious wage restraint and rising living costs the council tax freeze, the abolition of charges for prescriptions, support for higher education, apprenticeships and the elderly are all part of the support we in society give to each other.
"To destroy those shared social bonds, that we all pay for through our taxes, is a disastrous approach for Labour and one that will only increase support for an independent Scotland.
“All Johann Lamont has achieved with this morning’s hastily-arranged press conference is to highlight the successes of the SNP in Government.
“If Johann Lamont thinks that mimicking the Tories on police, prescriptions and tuition fees is the way ahead, she really has lost touch with the people of Scotland.