We’ve noted a few times recently that the increasingly bitter, angry and even violent tone of the “Better Together” campaign isn’t the sort of thing you’d normally expect from a movement confident and relaxed about its chances of victory.
But over the space of just the last few days – perhaps enraged by the positivity of the SNP conference – the defenders of the Union have been descending into madness even more precipitously than usual.
We’ve been unable to help noticing the almost comically furious tone of some of the quotes issued by the No camp in response to the most innocuous of stories, which would normally be bland, boilerplate affairs. Check out, for example, the extraordinary petted-lip teenage sulk summoned up by the unnamed “Better Together” spokesman in the Scotsman this week at the news that a high number of international diplomats were to attend the SNP conference as observers.
“This is typical of the Nationalists. They get themselves all worked up into a frenzy because people from other parts of the world are interested in the referendum.
Their problem is not interesting diplomats from overseas, it is convincing the people of Scotland that going it alone would be better for our jobs, our pensions and our taxes. This is something that cannot and will not be able to do. The truth is that we are better and stronger together with our friends, families and workmates from across the UK.”
The “frenzy” in question, incidentally, was this:
“We are delighted to be welcoming representatives from so many countries to our annual conference this week.
The number of diplomats attending this year is a clear reflection of the interest around the world in Scotland’s referendum and the decision that people living here will make next year.”
But we can do a bit better than that.
This is solicitor Mike Dailly of the Govan Law Centre, a man Labour are fond of presenting as a neutral champion of human rights when they’re demanding that the SNP adopt his tactics for fighting the bedroom tax. In reality his Nat-bashing track record is as long as your arm, but yesterday’s outburst was a remarkable escalation even by Mr Dailly’s standards.
Scotland currently has the most democratic and proportionally-representative Parliament in the UK, and one vastly more reflective of the electorate’s votes than the one in Westminster, let alone that of Soviet Russia. Mike Dailly’s only objection to it is that the electorate in question chose to give the SNP a majority.
His complaint about the Presiding Officer is an interesting one, though. By convention (though not by any rules) the current Parliament would most likely have had a Labour PO, but the SNP were more or less forced to nominate one of their own for the position in 2011, after a prominent Labour strategist suggested that if his party held the office, the PO would single-handedly block any referendum bill.
The strategist in question was John McTernan, who also piped up this weekend.
Bewilderingly, it seems to have escaped Mr McTernan’s notice that every single Olympic Games in history has been identified by the host city, rather than the host nation. Nobody talks of Jesse Owens’ heroics at the 1936 “German Olympics”, or Allan Wells’ 100-metre gold in the US-boycotted 1980 “Russian Olympics”, or Chris Hoy’s triumph at the 2008 “Chinese Olympics”, or the appalling massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 “German Olympics”.
There’s a bit of a clue in that last one, of course, because the 1936 Olympics were in Berlin and the 1972 event was in Munich, but apparently to John McTernan they were both just German. We’re not sure if he can tell them apart.
In the YouTube clip linked above, McTernan famously insisted that even with the SNP’s majority there would be no independence referendum (indeed, that the notion was, and we quote, “bollocks”) – a view shared until recently by his fellow legal eagle and this site’s dear old pal, poor bonkers Ian Smart, who today offered this demonstration of his impeccable socialist credentials:
We’re not quite sure who all these “lefty liberals” Smart knows are who are so left-wing and liberal that they’d honestly prefer Margaret Thatcher to a leader who wants to return the Royal Mail to public hands, expel nuclear weapons, ensure the minimum wage keeps pace with inflation and protect free tuition and universal public services.
We might even go so far as to say that if you’re opposed to a leader who advocates those things and would rather see your country ruled by Margaret Thatcher or David Cameron, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your interpretation of “lefty liberal” entirely. We’re certainly far from sure that the bulk of Labour voters in Smart’s home patch of Cumbernauld and Kilsyth (currently represented by an SNP MSP) would agree that they’d rather have the Tories. Perhaps Mr Smart should stand as one in 2016.
While we’re on the subject of inhabitants of our Zany Comedy Relief section, it’d be remiss not to passingly mention poor Alan Cochrane of the Telegraph. The blustering Tory columnist has been issuing some feeble, tired pieces recently, but even in that context we were a little dismayed at the insipid effort he offered readers on Friday:
Which is it, Alan?
Back with Labour, on this site we’ve recently documented several examples of Labour parliamentarians telling lies so obvious, transparent and crass that only a media as partisan and compliant as Scotland’s could ever have let them get away with it.
Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran made a desperate attempt this week at denying her own comments from last month on the subject of the Barnett Formula, which she agreed should be abolished in September but which was miraculously “serving Scotland well” just four weeks later.
(In absolute fairness, those two statements don’t actually contradict themselves. Curran appears to be saying that Scotland DOES do well out of Barnett, but it should be scrapped because it’s unfair to the rest of the UK. Which is an arguable case, but a weird thing for a would-be Scottish Secretary to be saying. And in either event, saying that Alex Salmond is the only person threatening it is clearly flatly untrue.)
The same day, Curran’s Glasgow MP colleague and notional “deputy” leader Anas Sarwar – who was recently caught red-handed lying about a charity’s views on constitutional powers – affected a massive huff about a comment from SNP MP Pete Wishart about the Westminster Parliament being “enemy lines” for the Nats:
Which might seem defensible, were Sarwar not the man who disgracefully and unrepentantly called Holyrood “undemocratic” and a “one-man dictatorship”, of course. It seems a little hypocritical, to say the least, for the inhabitant of one parliamentary chamber to refer to refer to another in such pejorative, contemptuous and false terms and then pretend to be hurt when he’s not regarded as a friend to that polity.
It’s not just Labour who constantly attack the Scottish Parliament’s legitimacy, of course. Lib Dem activist Caron Lindsay this week trotted out the timeless drivel that the SNP had no right to govern because they didn’t secure 50% of the vote, a feat no party has achieved in the UK for decades.
But like its sister argument which quotes percentages of the entire potential electorate rather than just those who vote (a favourite of Labour’s), Lindsay’s complaint misses the point. The SNP Government is effectively backed by something like 74% of the Scottish population, because everyone who didn’t vote in 2011 basically said that they were happy with whatever government everyone else chose.
(And the SNP’s 2011 vote share, in a four-party contest, was higher even than Labour’s massive 1997 landslide in a three-party UK one, which gave Tony Blair a crushing Westminster majority of 179 compared to the 2011 SNP’s modest 8.)
The especially amusing aspect here is that Lib Dems only ever get into government on small minorities of the vote. They came 3rd of the three main parties in the 2010 UK election, and 4th out of the four main Scottish parties at the Holyrood elections of 1999 and 2003 – the latter two on pitiful shares of around 13% – yet were happy to take power in coalitions just the same.
We could, frankly, do this sort of stuff all day. Heavens, we haven’t even mentioned Blair McDougall. In the interests of brevity (though that horse may have long bolted) we direct you to today’s Scot Goes Pop! for a few more case studies. But to finish, we must return to Mad Mental Mike Dailly, for surely the most spectacular example of “Proud Scot Syndrome” you’ll ever rub your eyes in disbelief at:
Wow. That’s just… wow. We’ve got nothing. Except, we suppose, that if you believe William Wallace fought and died for his love of the Union, it does at least make this month’s events in Stirling easier to explain.
We’re off for a lie down.