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Wings Over Scotland

Echoes from history

Posted on August 05, 2013 by

We’d never heard of this until a reader mentioned it this morning in the comments, and it seems worth bringing to wider attention. The article we’re about to (re)print below is a transcript originally created by the now-defunct, along with a couple of extracts from the Scottish press of the time.

The original version is still visible on, but we’ve tidied it up a bit and added a few notes and comments of our own in red.


The Lorraine Mann Question


The Scotsman’s Great Debate, between Alex Salmond for independence and George Robertson for devolution, was held in the Royal High School, Edinburgh on Sunday 12 February 1995. It was criticised by some due to the absence of [Scottish Secretary] Ian Lang to defend the status quo.


Alex Salmond later said “George Robertson’s arguments and language showed exactly why Ian Lang wasn’t there. He didn’t have to be, because nobody could have been more Unionist than George.”


A prickly problem for Labour

LESLEY RIDDOCH (chair): OK, a question for Alex. Yes, the lady there.

LORRAINE MANN (audience member): I’d like to ask a question to both of the gentlemen really, and I think it should be a fairly straighforward and simple one to answer. What is your second choice? We know what your first choice is. We have independence, devolution or the status quo. What is your second choice?

[We wonder if it’s the same Lorraine Mann who now writes for the Inverness Courier?]

ALEX SALMOND: Well, these are, these are… When people say ‘this is an easy question’ its always the most difficult question of all! But I’ll be quite honest. You’ve said it. Independence, devolution, status quo. I think independence is first for Scotland. I think anything else is second best. I think the status quo is absolutely abysmal.

RIDDOCH: George.

GEORGE ROBERTSON: I don’t… I don’t see it in these stark terms. I believe that what we are offering here…

AUDIENCE: Answer the question!

ROBERTSON: I’m trying to answer the question. The problem is… The thing is we are going to create something within Britain, within the United Kingdom. I don’t believe that I need to make that choice at all. The alternatives are there…


ROBERTSON: I’m not voting for either of the other alternatives. One of them is not…


ROBERTSON (to Riddoch): You see Lesley, this is what you come to expect, you know, over the years…

RIDDOCH: George, there have been three choruses of ‘Answer!’ Everyone, I think, wants an answer to that question. Can you give us your one- two?

ROBERTSON: I don’t believe you can answer that question in the terms that are there. I don’t believe that independence is good. I don’t believe that the status quo is an alternative. I believe that the proposed –

RIDDOCH: But George, under the Constitutional Convention’s proposals, there would be PR for the assembly. You’re being asked a PR question. Give me one [and] two.

ROBERTSON: No, no, no way! That’s not the form of PR we have. You vote…


ROBERTSON (exasperated): This is the sort of SNP trick question that you come to expect from here.

[We’re not sure what he means by “here” at this point. The Royal High School? Edinburgh? The people of Scotland?]


ROBERTSON: No second choices, no second choices…

RIDDOCH: Our questioner is trying to speak.

MANN: I am not an SNP member. I am not a member of any particular political party. I am not particularly a SNP voter. I am a floating voter. I am the sort of person who you need to convince!

[So, it was just hard to get a straight answer to a tricky question out of Labour in Scotland 19 years ago as it is today. And anybody who asks them one is immediately accused of being an SNP member. Plus ca change, eh viewers?]




What the papers said

James Naughtie, Scotland on Sunday

Labour’s commitment is still stated in absolute terms – a first year bill, a parliament soon afterwards, a Scottish secretary sitting happily in the Cabinet, sharing the spoils with a premier – or someone with a title like it – in Edinburgh. Yet Jack Straw’s ramblings on sovereignty, uttered a few hours before the debate and gleefully repeated by Salmond, were an embarrassment to Robertson because they raised the question of the difference in tone between Labour in Scotland and Labour elsewhere.

The Straw view – possibly a Home Secretary’s view after all – stresses Westminster’s primacy and the importance of sovereignty which has not been divided. His view and the prevailing view in Scotland can be reconciled, rather in the way that the Chancellor and the Prime Minister can be reconcilled on Europe – that is, in a way which is not entirely convincing, because it ignores the profound differences in tone and emphasis.

Throughout the debate George Robertson was dealing, as he laid out the details of his scheme, with the lurking knowledge that even after all the work that has been done it is going to have to be sold anew to the many Labour MPs from outside Scotland who will have flooded into Westminster if there is to be a Blair government.

[So the main obstacle in terms devolving powers to Scotland is Labour MPs at Westminster. Sound a wee bit familiar at all, Johann?]

They do not know of the intricacies which lay behind the debate, nor can they be expected to share the attitude which has been successfully embedded in Scottish Labour in the last 15 years. Somehow there is a sense that a long hard pounding will have to come for the bill to sail through those long nights – long nights which will come as a surprise to new MPs who have fought the election on almost every issue except devolution.

In practical terms, the most difficult aspect of the bill to sell may be the commitment – reaffirmed by Robertson – to keep the same number of Scottish seats. Given the pressures which are likely to come on Tony Blair from those who will still regard this as a diversion even after all those years, it is hard to see him standing out to the end against a reduction in the number of seats. And that would be a delight to the SNP.

[Sure enough, Scotland’s representation at Westminster was quickly slashed from 72 MPs to 59 – a reduction of 18% – and is due to fall again to 52. So much for Labour’s “commitment” to keep the numbers the same.]

You could see in George Robertson’s stern defence of the plan – eloquent at times – a knowledge of the ferocity of the battle that is to come. Inevitably in such a confrontation, the combattant who has something specific to defend is always in the weaker position but Robertson, perhaps strangely,was better in defence than attack.

In his assault on ‘separatism’ his mistake was to choose the question of a currency giving Salmond the opportunity to use his rehearsed props.

[Blustering, panicky evasion and diversion described as “eloquent, stern defence”? Looks like we know what to expect in terms of impartiality when James Naughtie is sent up from London to head BBC Scotland’s referendum coverage, then.]



Robbie Dinwoodie, The Herald

“A single transferable landmine lay in wait for Shadow Scottish Secretary George Robertson last night in his debate with SNP leader Alex Salmond over the constitutional question.

Facing each other at claymore’s length across the floor of the old Royal High School building in Edinburgh, they clashed for the television cameras over what kind of Scottish parliament should meet there – independent and sovereign or excising powers devolved from Westminster.

The ambush for Mr Robertson came not from his SNP adversary but from a member of the audience identifying herself as a ‘non-party floating voter’. She asked the two protagonists to list the options of independence, devolution, and the status quo in their personal order of preference.

Mr Salmond said that after his first choice of independence, and with doubts and reservations, he would put devolution second because the status quo was ‘abysmal’.

However, to repeated shouts of ‘answer!’ Mr Robertson would only give his devolution as his first choice and refused pointedly to say whether independence or the status quo came next. Although he described the latter as ‘unacceptable’ he repeatedly refused to specify his choice between two unpalatable options.”

[We can only speculate as to Robbie Dinwoodie’s feelings about still being a mere “Scottish political correspondent” on the Herald almost two decades on from this accurate and truthful assessment of events, while Magnus Gardham occupies the “Scottish political editor” seat.]





“This context brought the evening to its most memorable moment, when a self-described floating voter invited the speakers to consider the options of independence, devolution and the status quo, and to name their second choice. Mr Salmond was able to say devolution without much difficulty. Mr Robertson found several visibly uncomfortable ways not to answer, allowing Mr Salmond to invite the audience to make the obvious deduction.

[Just to spell that obvious deduction out – Labour would rather Scotland was governed by Tories in Westminster than by an independent Scottish Government. This debate, remember, took place during a Tory UK government, and 12 years before anybody thought the SNP was capable of winning any sort of election. So the implied option which Robertson found so intolerable he couldn’t even bring himself to contemplate it was that of a Labour-controlled independent Scottish Government.]

This task was made all the easier for them by Mr Robertson’s earlier observation that if he thought devolution would lead to independence he would not be arguing for it. That is something which Mr Salmond persuasively predicted (and can be relied upon to ensure) will haunt Mr Robertson for some time to come.”

[Hats off to the Herald’s powers of prediction, there.]


It never hurts to be reminded of the gulf between Labour’s promises and their actions, nowhere more so than where the Scottish constitution is concerned. And of course, they’re no different in that regard from the Tories, who by 1995 had been in power for 18 years after promising Scotland a better devolution if they voted No in the 1979 referendum, and had in all that time delivered precisely nothing.

You know the next four words, right?

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61 to “Echoes from history”

  1. HeatherMcLean says:

    The more things change the more they stay the same! This just goes to prove how Labour have learned nothing in the last 18 years! Still regurgitating the same old rubbish and evasion and expecting the electorate to fall for it.
    What’s the definition of stupidity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
    Somebody should tell them, but I doubt they’d listen!

  2. Morag says:

    Robbie Dinwoodie.  Read Murray Ritchie’s book about the 1997 referendum campaign.  He describes Robbie as more or less running around in a kilt with a saltire painted on his face, shouting “Freedommmm….!”

  3. handclapping says:

    Funny how the “scientific method” also seems to be doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. 🙂

  4. “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”

  5. annie says:

    Isn’t Lorraine Mann a former Labour spin doctor – I think she has appeared on various Newsnight type programmes always pedalling the Labour view.  She also wrote for the Sunday Post as guest political writer, I had cause to complain about that since at the time the Post claimed to be politically neutral a claim they no longer make.

  6. Tearlach says:

    It is the same Lorraine Mann who writes for that Inverness bi-weekly.
    Remember she set up the short lived Highlands and Islands Alliance Party which stood in the first Parliamentary election. Bombed. 

  7. Morag says:

    Her husband did something in politics, but I can’t remember his name.  I thought there was a CND connection, but I could be mistaken.

  8. muttley79 says:

    It is Lorraine Davidson who is the former Labour spin doctor.

  9. Tearlach says:

    @annie – I know Lorraine, and I’ve never been aware of her being a Labour hack. I suspect that you are getting mixed up with Lorraine Davidson.

  10. Erchie says:

    I think that’s Lorraine Davidson you are thinking about. Such a trenchant observer that when Purcell resigned she was wheeled out there by the BBC to assure the public that there was nothing to see here, move along

  11. Jamie Arriere says:

    Great stuff, unless you know the recent history and realise how long Labour has been doing this, people are in great danger of letting them do it again and again. They seem to think they can pick and choose which questions to answer in a debate.
    By the way, Lorraine Mann was chairman of Scotland Against Nuclear Dumping (SAND), and I remember her all over the news when the dumping shafts at Dounreay were discovered. I think her activism and perseverence contributed greatly to the anti-nuclear path we’re now on!
    …and does anyone else think James Naughtie is stroking a white cat on his lap just out of shot?

  12. annie says:

    I stand corrected – it is indeed Lorraine Davidson I referred to.

  13. uilleam_beag says:

    What a great find in the archives! Even just from the transcript you can really sense how Robertson was squirming away from spelling out his real preferences. It’s an old SLab favourite when faced with an uncomfortable decision: “This is a false choice.”
    [Pedant’s point: in 1995, the Tories would only have been in unelected control of Scotland for 16 years, not the 18 they’d enjoyed by the time they were replaced by Tony’s red equivalent.]

  14. Craig M says:

    Lorraine Mann is just a bore. I used to read her comment in the Inverness Courier but it was pretty off the shelf emotive subject. If I mention “Palestine” you’ll get my drift.

  15. jim mitchell says:

    ‘Devolution will kill nationalism stone dead’, Bomber was always on the ball!

  16. James Westland says:

    Lorraine Mann is one of those people in the Highlands who used to be quite high profile in green-ish radical stuff. She was heavily involved in the anti-nuclear stuff. as others have mentioned. She used to have a column in the Inverness Courier. Here is an article she wrote in the wake of the 2011 election.

    Interesting analysis. Wendy Alexander? Remember her?

  17. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Here is an article she wrote in the wake of the 2011 election.”

    Aye, that’s the one I linked to in the post. DOESN’T ANYONE etc etc.

  18. James Westland says:

    Whoops! Hey, it was me who brought up the original article. 🙂 Just skim read it real fast…… (blushes, hides….)

  19. Vronsky says:

    “Lorraine Mann is just a bore. I used to read her comment in the Inverness Courier but it was pretty off the shelf emotive subject. If I mention “Palestine” you’ll get my drift.”
    You must be due some sort of apology from Lorraine for intruding the sufferings of the Palestinians upon you.  Naturally they wouldn’t suffer if they didn’t deserve it.  Jolly good for you, being bored by all that nonsense.
    Seldom went such grotesqueness with such woe;
    I never saw a brute I hated so;
    He must be wicked to deserve such pain.
    It’s a mirror, you chump.

  20. Craig M says:

    Vronsky says
    Lorraine has attached Alex Salmond in the past, with quotes about “chubby fingers” etc. I got the distinct impression that she was a bit anti SNP. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but I know lots of (usually) Labour types who seem keen on talking about the Palestinian conflict and the obvious terrible things that go on there. Terry Kelly, George Galloway etc, spring to mind. I should have been clearer; I would prefer people who comment in local papers to perhaps focus a little more on the problems that bedevil Scotland’s society. Inverness has many a social issue that requires focus and a loud voice to draw attention to them. Personal attacks on the First Ministers chubby fingers on the one hand (no pun intended) and emotive writing about a conflict far away will not solve the issues of poverty in Merkinch and the problems with a run down city centre in Inverness. PS, I’m from Inverness and I look great in the mirror.

  21. G H Graham says:

    Labour’s position hasn’t changed because it was then & remains a fundamental advocate of the Union. It’s leadership continues to be mesmerized by London’s political & economic gift even if it means turning against all the principals that attracted its members to the party in the first place.
    The badge engineered “Scottish Labour” is a British Bulldog dressed very poorly to appear to look like a Scottish Terrier.
    Regrettably, the Scottish Terrier has had to have all his teeth removed, wear a muzzle & remain attached to his London minders by a long leash.

  22. DougtheDug says:

    You can see poor old George’s problem with choosing independence as his second choice.
    If he chose independence as his second choice then he was committing himself to an independent Scotland if Labour’s future devolution proposals fell through.
    He was also validating the SNP’s aim of independence by making it his second choice before the status quo.
    I’m not sure why he couldn’t choose the status quo though because if there’s no devolution and as Labour are against independence then the status quo is not just the logical choice, it’s the only choice.

  23. Jeannie says:

    Actually, that billboard in the picture would be quite good if you just changed the words “to a Scottish parliament” to “Independence”.  For devilment, we could just keep George Robertson in the picture – after all, they don’t have a problem with editing information in and out of pictures.
    Also, is it just me or does that “english rose” look a bit incongruous appearing just alongside the words “Scottish Labour”?

  24. Max says:

    You can see why the NO camp don’t want to debate in front of a questioning audience. They are simply scared of such a format. 

  25. Dcanmore says:

    OMG! Talk about memory flashback. I remember this clear as day. The next day the Unionist gut reaction in the MSM was to call Lorrainne Mann an SNP plant for daring to ask George Robertson such a pertinent and ‘unfair’ question. This caused quite a stooshie for a week or so back then. But for the life of me I would have never managed to track this down or even remember the woman’s name.
    Great investigative work. 🙂

  26. JLT says:

    I think this is the attack that the Yes Team need to concentrate on. Hammer away at the Scottish Labour Party, and DEMAND an answer to Labour’s vision of Scotland and what powers it will receive in the future should Scotland vote ‘No’.
    They BT mob have launched attack after attack on Salmond about his vision. We’ve heard ‘Sweet FA’ from the BT mob.
    Not – One – Answer ….not one! No vision explained! No declaration of new powers! Hee – F***** – Haw!
    I think once the White Paper comes out from the Yes Team, I believe the BT mob will be seriously on the backfoot. I think this White Paper will declare that Scotland will be in the EU, will retain the Pound, will tell us the financial future of Scotland, and how taxes will be raised and how the money will be spent in an Indy Scotland.
    The BT mob, at that point, have no choice. They WILL HAVE to …HAVE TO …present an alternative future of Scotland, as well as some answers.
    Mumbling and bumbling answers, going schtoom, and shaking of the heads will not cut it with the Scottish people. People will get angry with them if they provide no answers …and we all know, they have, no answers!
    The Libs and Tories don’t matter a jot in Scotland, but if pressure is put on Lamont once Parliament re-commences, then if we can get Labour to flounder with an answer, especially, when pressed continually upon, I think a lot of Labour supporters in Scotland will have their eyes opened. I think they will get angry with Lamont very quickly.
    The start of next year is going to be a very interesting time in Scotland.

  27. Tris says:

    I imagine that Robertson had his eye on the main chance. 
    A main chance that, even as a minister in a Labour government, in Scotland would have escaped him.
    After all he became a UK Defence Secretary, then he dropped his constituents like a hot potato when a highly paid post came along at Nato, where Bush wanted someone he could manipulate. En route he accepted a seat in the Lords.
    Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Defence would be nothing by comparison. Bush would never have heard of him had he been a minister for a small relatively unimportant country with a mind of its own, and there would be no £300+ tax free a day house of retirees and toadies in an independent Scotland.
    He knew who was buttering his bread.
    Thinking of himself, his income, his pension and his social position, I expect he worked out he was better together.

  28. Max says:

    There are other echoes, further back in time.
    “A devolved Scotland would become a left-wing one-party state, the Scottish Office warned ministers 30 years ago.”

  29. ianbrotherhood says:

    A few threads back I suggested projecting ‘Project Feart’ onto BBC Scotland’s Pacific Quay HQ – asked a pal with good contacts, and he just got back to me with a name. The guy’s work is brilliant, and can be seen here:

  30. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Great investigative work”

    Well, if by “investigative work” you mean “reading the comments” 😀

  31. Gordon Bain says:

    The more things change, the more things stay the same.
    Am I alone in finding James Naughtie seriously creepy?

  32. Bruce Hosie says:

    Labour will never change until there is a yes vote. George Robertson is just a symptom of the problem that is Labour to this day. Rather than direct positive change they are a reactionary party who don’t know what they stand for other than protesting they are not the Tories while the facts are they are more Tory than the Tories and the Tories are now UKip and Ukip on a par with the BNP.
    The war has been won by the ruling classes using their version of the free market to further their aims of protecting and growing what they believe is theirs, while also ensuring that all of the hard fought gains from the 1920s to 1970s have been lost due to an electorate that started not to care and politicians who learned that by becoming the system they could pretty much get rich by being a part of it.
    The word labour is an important symbol to what many of us believe to be a fair society but the actual labour party gave up caring about that a long time ago as they gave up everything they believed in or retreated to far and too fast to the exent they sold their sole.
    The only hope for labour is having to reform in an independent Scotland where their members will not accept the current system of privilage leaving behind the poor and most vulnerable. This article just reinforces my continued loathing of the labour movement and how much it has done it’s buisness on top of honest hard working people.
    Labour are better together but most of us are not. Hope this rant makes sense, it does to me.

  33. muttley79 says:

    Was having a look at WoS Twitter, and there is an astonishing rant from poor old Allan Petrie.  Absolutely hilarious accusations and bile!  😀 😀

  34. ianbrotherhood says:

    @Gordon Bain-
    re Naughtie’s coupon.
    It’s fascinating how some people believe that adopting a particular expression gives them gravitas and authority when, in fact, it just makes them look psychopathic.

  35. ianbrotherhood says:

    Re Petrie twitter-rant:
    Ooooh-er. Those of us who own bunnies had best get them under lock & key pronto.

  36. CameronB says:

    At least a little bilious. 🙂

  37. ianbrotherhood says:

    Wasn’t there a band called The Blue Bile?

  38. CameronB says:

    Almost. They were from Dundee as well. 🙂

  39. annie says:

    Who is Allan Petrie?

  40. david says:

    is it a contradiction that labour polititions accept knighthoods and promote the class system ?

  41. CameronB says:

    In case your question is not in jest (I didn’t know who he was until today), check the “Together on tour” thread, towards the end.

  42. muttley79 says:

    Allan Petrie appears to think we are all fascists, bullies, bigots, and members of Scottish Watch.  Who knew?  😀 Apparently he is on the same side as us as well in the referendum campaign.  With friends like this…  😀

  43. Peter says:

    David that is the question I have always asked, surely the whole Lords thing would go against their beliefs of all men being equal etc.  I used to vote Conservative until I stopped believing we were unable to go it alone but even I have never believed in the whole class system where  like the Lords some halfwit or person by being born into a certain family is elevated to a supposed position of privilege.

  44. david says:

    agreed peter

  45. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Anyone guess who D is?

  46. Currywurst says:

    “I think once the White Paper comes out from the Yes Team, I believe the BT mob will be seriously on the backfoot.”
    Of course!
    Because all of the other SNP “policy papers” over the last few years have had such a massive impact.
    Haven’t they?

  47. Caroline Corfield says:

    my mother is receiving free personal care in Scotland, and very good it is too, could that be one of those policies that have come out in the last few years which have made a difference? I think we should be told!

  48. Currywurst says:

    Er, I was referring to the comical series of “policy papers” dealing with all sorts of subjects which have been roundly ignored by everybody.
    A real highlight was the one on foreign affairs, which said that independence would be a good thing because UN secretary-generals were usually picked from small countries.
    God help us.

  49. NorthBrit says:

    Er, you seem to be talking to yourself.
    Perhaps you should seek help.  Probably best not from the source you mention.

  50. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “which have been roundly ignored by everybody.”

    Don’t make the mistake of confusing yourself, or the Scottish media, with “everybody”. Nor, indeed, of confusing Yes/No opinion polls with a true picture of what people are thinking.

  51. Jock McDonnell says:

    Thanks for this. Although I well remember the debates of the 90s, several on TV, it is easy to forget that many are too young or newly awakened to be aware. In short Salmond walked them all easily… But still the rewards did not come in elections. It takes massive, year on year effort to fight this battle.

  52. fordie says:

    They’ve been ignored by the MSM. Policy papers published by the democratically elected Scottish Government on the most important constitutional question to be asked of people in Scotland, ever. A government that has a mandate to hold the Referendum and, quite properly is providing information to the people re. the Referendum. That proves the point that the MSM are actively attempting to undermine our right ie the people, to be informed and are actively seeking to undermine said democratically elected Scottish Government.

  53. Ian Mackay says:

    I remember one site from the 90s that listed the poll response to the Yes/No question to Scottish Independence that split the Don’t Knows by half to give adjusted results – showing the Yes vote in front every year. If I could remember its name, it’d be a good one to check via that web archive.

    I was thinking of that when I found 2 results of opinion polls I did find for a Yes/No Independence Question (via that same alba site on archive):

    1. 2005. Yes vote 46%; No vote 39%; DK 15% – this when the SNP vote was around 15%-23% … See

    2. 2006. Yes vote 44%; No vote 42%; DK 15% – this when the SNP vote was 29%… See

    Can’t help but feel today’s opinion polling totally underplays the Yes vote by some margin! 🙂

  54. Marcia says:

    I do remember recording this programme in 1992 entitled ‘The Big Debate’.

  55. Iain says:

    I remember this debate being reported on radio by the late (not the living) Kenny MacIntyre of BBC Scotland. He had a noticeable antipathy to the SNP, very rarely finding anything positive to report about the party: sometimes his negative spin was quite ludicrous. This was one such occasion: he said that ‘some people’ (a favourite rhetorical device of MacIntyre’s, to introduce his spin) had felt that George Robertson ‘had won the intellectual argument’. Well, if anyone really had told MacIntyre that, they could only have been stupid, or disingenuous.

  56. Robbie Dinwoodie says:

    I’m puzzled by the comment about me by “Morag”. Murray Ritchie said no such thing about me in his book. The closest would be one piece of obvious comic banter between me and the Telegraph’s Alan Cochrane on the day of the Scottish Parliament’s official opening. By all means criticise anything I actually write but don’t go misreporting what someone else didn’t say about me. 

  57. Morag says:

    Robbie, I’m really sorry if I have misremembered the book.  I will find it this evening and check what the passage actually says.  I admit it has been some time since I read it and perhaps I have got you mixed up with someone else.

    And I generally like what you write, actually.

  58. Caledonalistic says:

    It only takes a cursory glance at Robbie vs. Naughtie for me to know who I’d leave the keys to my house with when I went on holiday.

  59. Morag says:

    Dang, I forgot to get that book last night.  Unexpected visitor.

  60. sneddon says:

    Sort of related to this.  Does anyone know of any studies being planned into the mentality of NO/YES voters?.  I ask as I’ve just noticed NO voters I’ve spoken to are quite ‘defensive’ for want of a better word.  They tend to repeat the negative mantra very quickly and in a scatter gun way.  The nearest  comparision I’ve seen is the Ulster Says No campaign against the Good Friday Agreement.  Or is it just me. and the effect I have on people with my good looks and charm 🙂

  61. Morag says:

    Having now checked Murray Ritchie’s book, I absolutely concede that I was mistaken as to where I had read the passage I referred to.  Ritchie’s book deals almost entirely with the 1999 Scottish parliamentary elections, not with the referendum campaign itself, and the comment I was referencing was definitely in relation to the referendum campaign.

    It’s possible it was in one of the collected editions of Tom Shields Diary, but that’s going to take longer to trawl through.

    Ritchie’s book as an absolute eye-opener, 14 years on.  The actual diary starts with Ritchie and Harry Reid taking the Tory candidate for Govan to lunch.  The candidate is one Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.  “Tasmina is presented to us by Conservative Central Office as typical of the new breed of Scottish Tory; young, talented and determined, the type on whom the party’s future depends after the slaughter of the General Election.”  (She then goes on to call the seat absolutely wrong.)  Am I wrong to be nervous that she’s now being lionised by the SNP leadership and is high enough on the SNP Euro election list to have a chance of a capturing a seat?  Or is it just peachy that the Great White Hope of a Tory future is deserting to the SNP?

    You know, if you’d caught me when I was yomping round Dumfriesshire campaigning for the SNP in 1999 that it would be another 15 years before we’d get our referendum, I’d probably have clocked you one.  But from the other end of the telescope, wow, that was quick!

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