There’s a rather horrible article by Margaret Curran in the Scotsman today. (No real news there.) It’s a combination of empty noise and ugly smears about the pursuit of independence – an attempt to engage directly with the rest of the world in our own right – being xenophobic and inward-looking and all the usual rubbish.
But we thought it might be interesting to take a look at a single paragraph, examine it forensically and see what it was actually saying. We chose one from near the end, because to be honest we’d be amazed if anyone else had actually had the fortitude to wade that far through Curran’s plodding, will-sapping prose.
It ran like this:
“That’s the thread that connects Gray’s comments last week to Alex Salmond’s belief that our country succeeds if we outperform England, even if people are worse off now than they have been for a generation. It’s the complete opposite of what Ed Miliband is talking about when he speaks about a one-nation Britain. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, “it’s Nationalism, stupid”.”
We’ll only take a moment over the toe-curlingly witless attempt to crowbar the Clinton line in there, which is both a semantic and thematic misquote, not a “paraphrase”. Paraphrasing is using another form of words to say the same thing, not using some of the same words in a sentence about something completely different.
Curran might as well have used “I can’t believe it’s not Nationalism!” or “Nationalism – because you’re worth it”, because neither would have been any more irrelevant to or distant from Clinton’s meaning.
His purpose in saying “It’s the economy, stupid” was to remind himself what his priority was. Unless Margaret has accidentally revealed that Labour’s new guiding ideology is British Nationalism – which of course isn’t a far-fetched notion – neither she nor Ed Miliband have any comparable intent.
The key passage, though, is the bit before that. Let’s break it down.
“[it is]Alex Salmond’s belief that our country succeeds if we outperform England, even if people are worse off now than they have been for a generation. It’s the complete opposite of what Ed Miliband is talking about when he speaks about a one-nation Britain.”
What is the “complete opposite” of Ms Curran’s (highly questionable) interpretation of Alex Salmond’s belief? In so far as we can construct a conceptually-accurate opposite to that sentence, it would be:
“It is Ed Miliband’s belief that our country succeeds so long as one part of it is not outperforming another, even if people are worse off now than they have been for a generation.”
In fairness, this does seem to be an accurate depiction of the “One Nation” philosophy. As we’ve previously explored, it’s clearly Labour’s future intent to eliminate the areas in which Scots currently enjoy advantages over other UK citizens. Free university tuition, free prescriptions, free personal care and bus travel for the elderly, and all other universal services are under attack as symptoms of a “something for nothing country”.
Gordon Brown, meanwhile, has made it clear that his vision of a Scotland with more devolved taxation is one where Scots pay higher taxes to subsidise the poor of England. It’s surely now beyond a doubt that this is deliberate Labour policy. All of these senior figures can’t be constantly mis-speaking by accident.
In plain and simple language, Lamont, Miliband, Brown and now Curran have all said that in the event of a No vote, Scotland will be dragged down to the level of the poorest regions of the UK, in the name of “solidarity”. If Scotland stays in the UK, Scots will not be allowed to escape the austerity that all three London parties promise for the next decade and beyond.
That’s the offer. There’s a year left to think about it.