That was an impressive acceptance speech by the new Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont. Have a listen (it's only 10 minutes) because the headlines have picked up only the familiar old lines not the harder to summarise change of tone and voice in Johann's speech.
So here are a few thoughts that will form the basis of a Scotsman column on Monday – constructive comments are welcome!
I didn't count precisely the number of times she mentioned "change" and "Scotland" but they were given more prominence than any others. The first five minutes didn't even mention the constitutional debate but concentrated on hammering home one message – the inward-looking and "tired old party machine" of the Scottish Labour Party must change.
"Nothing will be off limits – there will not be one rule, one policy one way of working that cannot be changed. Our one test will be what's in the interests of the people of Scotland, not what's in the interests of the Labour Party."
She sent a warning shot across the bows of Labour's "entitlement" brigade – those who think they can "haud the positions they haud" in perpetuity. Party candidates in future will apparently include folk who aren't in the party yet and those who are but don't think they've got a chance. Shadow Cabinet members will be chosen only on the grounds of expertise and ambition for Scotland – hinting that non-Labour party members could be included.
Strong stuff – heard by her Labour Party audience in slightly stunned silence. The first burst of applause was prompted by more familiar ground – a brave attempt to tackle the "visceral" hatred rumoured to exist between Labour and the SNP.
"I don't hate the SNP but I just love Scotland too much to believe in separation -- to disagree with the SNP is not to talk Scotland down but to seek a better future for the people of this country."
Last May Scotland didn't let Labour down – we let them down.
It's a good line – but once uttered there's no going back. Visible change needs to be immediate otherwise Labour will be left foundering – holed beneath the waterline by a leader who accepts the party is effectively "not fit for purpose."
Ms Lamont may have opted to get elected before she started paraphrasing the rejected Tory leadership candidate Murdo Fraser – but her message to party members is almost as stern and revolutionary. Now change absolutely must happen – and not just nuanced change like the deeply unmemorable but much hyped new name that means something significant only to party members. There were a few snags.
Firstly the vision Johann outlines is very, very similar to all the rest. I couldn't hear anything in the ambitious, caring, more equal Scotland she envisages that would stick in the throat of any other party leader – and that includes the young Conservative leader Ruth Davidson. There was a very good line about the need to continue devolution beyond Holyrood to renew local government so that power is closer to families and communities. Small, mutual, co-operative and community-based ventures have been growing like topsy outwith the Scotland's distant, over-large and top-heavy council structure. It's not just local taxation that needs reform – it's the whole shebang and looking to Nordic social democratic tradition, there's no reason why Labour shouldn't be the champion of a radical de-centralisation of power.
I would like Johann to have made the reduction of inequality Labour's single guiding goal before she moved on to echo the SNP's trademark stance about ambition.
Mind you, in many ways the absence of a startlingly different vision reflects the changed times in which Scottish Labour now operates. There are no primary colour differences between the parties in the Scottish Parliament – except for that vexed constitutional question. Like many other PR legislatures, coalitions and consensus tend to mean the difference between parties is reflected in the people they promote and their reputation for competence, inclusion and modern attitudes as much as well chosen single issues or oft repeated guiding lights.
Secondly though, there's a contradiction in the role of the new Scottish Labour Party. Is it a movement or a calling or a less emotionally charged vehicle anyone can join?
In her speech Johann made repeated mention of the concept of service.
"It's the people of Scotland we serve and not the institution in which they ask us to do service." This conceives of the Labour Party as a kind of Church and Labour politics as a religion. In some ways it's good to hear a Labour leader dare to aspire to such lofty ideals and long term goals. In another way it smacks of the slightly smug and supercilious "higher purpose" that always excluded very active non party-members.
I'm delighted to say Johann didn't utter my least favourite Labour phrase "our people" which always struck me as presuming the automatic support of traditional supporters AND the automatic exclusion of everyone else from a meaningful role in civic society.
But some parts of her speech suggested a zealot-like belief in the innate goodness of Labour as the only legitimate People's Champion is a hard default attitude to ditch.
Johann says "We were deluded to think Scotland was a "Labour country." The task is to make Labour Scotland's party again." Uh?
I know each party leader is in a political party for a reason and must believe their members are better equipped to solve problems and hold office than anyone else. But the vast majority of active citizens in Scotland are not members of ANY party. And the contrasting fortunes of the Lib Dems and SNP lately demonstrates that voters change party allegiance without necessarily changing their own political outlook. The long period during which non card-carrying members were regarded as "off-message" has to end. And not just as a device. Labour did indeed deliver the long list of social and constitutional goods Johann Lamont listed. But as she accepts -- that's now taken as read. Are all Scots equal or are members of the Labour Party still going to be more equal than others should the party regain power?
We will judge that one on deeds not words.
Finally – there's a slight delivery issue. Johann slow down!!!
I'm not too worried about Ms Lamont's fairly deadpan delivery style – Johann has an ironic sense of humour which will emerge more strongly over time. The awful memory of a grimacing Gordon Brown should be viewed by anyone who thinks "colour me beautiful" type change does anything other than undermine the confidence of naturally serious people. But a few pauses wouldn't go amiss.
Johann thanked her family for their support and included her absent young son who had her up at 5am "skyting about" on icy pavements to take him swimming. This was a more effective mention of the fact that she too is a parent than Ken Mackintosh's endless mention of his own six-strong brood – which happily has not effectively waved goodbye to a much-needed father.
There was also a laugh at Johann's analysis of campaign coverage; "There were many labels in this campaign – some flattering ....it says here....."
This tough but self deprecating approach will work well as an antidote to Alex Salmond who often comes across as bombastic and arrogant.