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Have the Unionists finally gone mad?

Posted on July 20, 2012 by

We know it’s the summer silly season for politics, but there’s a difference between “silly” and “stark slavering buggo”, and we suspect some in the “No” camp might have just jumped the shark. (We’d say they’d been out in the sun too long, but, y’know.)

We have some sympathy, because it can’t be easy being a British nationalist in Scotland at the moment. Despite massive blanket coverage of the Jubilee and the Olympics, and despite the Scottish Government having to wrestle with some difficult and controversial legislation on top of a sustained and co-ordinated smear campaign about Rupert Murdoch, the Unionists have made barely a dent in the popularity of either the SNP or the First Minister (who still remains the most trusted party leader anywhere in the UK), and scarcely any progress in terms of referendum polling either.

As we’ve previously noted, 2012 is likely to prove the high-water mark of “Britishness” for a generation, and if the FUDs can’t build a significant lead now, when every last star in the sky is aligned in their favour, then they’re going to be fighting an extremely difficult uphill battle over the next two-and-a-bit years, and particularly in 2014 when Scottishness will be very much to the fore thanks to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn, the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles and of course Scotland’s inevitable qualification for, and victory in, the World Cup in Brazil.

All the same, we’re unsure that a bit of depression at not having gained more ground in 2012 fully explains the apparent complete loss of marbles by some of the Unionists’ more senior online outlets. We’ve watched in bug-eyed amazement as ToryHoose, for example, has completely lost the plot in the last couple of weeks, since the addition of a new editor in failed Coatbridge candidate Jason Lingiah.

First, Mr Lingiah asserted that the Scottish Conservatives needed to “reach out” to the fine, upstanding citizens of the Orange Order, a piece quickly supplemented by a startling one from Andrew Yule – published on July 12th, naturally – insisting that the Battle Of The Boyne in 1690 was in fact not a sectarian occasion at all, but:

“part of a wider British achievement on the long path of human advancement. It is also one of the historical events which led to the creation of the unique principles and values which underlie British conservatism without which our party could not exist”.

You might think, then, that the Scottish Tories had merely embarked on an ill-judged and unseemly official affirmation of what most of us thought about them anyway, namely that they were the logical and default party of extreme British-nationalist Protestant bigotry in Scotland. But ToryHoose had a curveball waiting for us.

Just two days later, a piece by Andrew Hardie made the remarkable claim that as well as being the spiritual political home for members of the Orange Order, the Scottish Conservatives were also “the natural choice for Scottish Catholics”, which paints a captivating picture of some lively branch meetings debating the party’s response to, say, the anti-sectarianism bill. (Though we’re sure they’d at least find some common ground on gay marriage.)

Barely had we finished reeling from this heroically flexible feat of political positioning than, in a moment of befuddled weakness, we decided to see what Labour TV pundit Ian Smart was up to. We’d sadly given up on Mr Smart’s once-thoughtful blog some time ago in dismay at his increasingly wild-eyed insistence that the independence referendum won’t happen at all (we’ve repeatedly offered him a bet on it, sadly always declined), but more in hope than expectation we decided to give it another chance and see if the old sane Ian had made some sort of return.

What we found was something altogether more eye-opening. Seemingly rendered delirious by the small ebb against independence in the most recent poll, Mr Smart is nailing his colours even more firmly to the mast of there being no referendum, reporting that in Labour circles there is great certainty that the Yes vote will not exceed 25% if the poll ever does happen. More remarkable, though, was the prediction of what would happen should such a defeat for the SNP come to pass:

“So, at this point I need to make an important argument in support of the Tories own self-interest. Sure, in the aftermath of such a result, we’d likely be back as the Party of Government in Scotland. But with a bit more confidence they could be the opposition. And with the SNP restored to what they ought to be, an eccentric fringe Party: somewhat less serious than the Greens but still a bit more coherent than the Liberal Democrats, then, in the longer term the Tories would become the only possible alternative Scottish government.”

We’re intrigued, naturally, as to why a Labour activist should be seeking to give the Tories constructive advice at all, as the official party line is – amazingly – that we’re still expected to accept the great fiction that they’re the Tories’ mortal enemies. But let’s take a moment to examine what Mr Smart apparently believes.

Despite a near-uniform consensus of opinion that the SNP’s crushing victory in 2011 was NOT a result of people voting for independence but for competent government (and indeed that as many as a third of those same SNP voters actually oppose independence), Mr Smart seems to be saying that defeat in the referendum would see the Scottish electorate instantly lose its faith in that competent government and reduce it to a third-place “eccentric fringe” above only the Liberal Democrats.

Despite the people of Scotland having overwhelmingly rejected the Tories for the last 30 years, the mere retention of the Union will, we’re told, see a gigantic surge in their fortunes. (And it’d need to be a gigantic one, because even a doubling of the Tory vote wouldn’t have been nearly enough to secure them second place last time out.)

And all this would be taking place – one assumes on Mr Smart’s behalf – against the backdrop of a Labour government at Westminster under Ed Miliband having been elected in 2015, and with Johann Lamont still in place as Scottish Labour “leader”. (At this point we’d normally link to Mr Smart’s coruscating published opinion of Ms Lamont, but amusingly the Herald has decided we’d rather read about Madonna, although the page address and comments still refer to the original story. Perhaps the paper’s plunging sales have forced it to economise by recycling web space.)

Of course, if the Tories do manage to attract both the Orange Order and the Catholic vote to their camp, this prediction could easily come true, and perhaps that’s the premise on which Mr Smart is basing his vision of Holyrood 2016. As we’ve said, these are challenging times for British nationalists, and if we’re to maintain standards of mature debate then supporters of independence mustn’t be too cruel when the strain occasionally gets the better of them.

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21 to “Have the Unionists finally gone mad?”

  1. YesYesYes says:

    I’m not sure that I’d agree with your use of the term “mad” here, as in loss of sanity, though I agree that the contributions you refer to in this post are peculiar. But ‘mad’ as in foolish, frenzied, angry might be a more appropriate interpretation of the term in this context.
    How is this to be explained? I suspect that much of it is attributable to the fact that the reality that there is going to be a referendum in 2014 is starting to dawn on them. 

  2. Theuniondivvie says:

    The most interesting thing about Mr Smart’s clumsily written blog (I’d assume it was a satire on SLAB intransigence if I didn’t know better) is the final dropping of any pretence that the SNP are not the eternal and mortal enemy of SLAB. Like all zealots (and SLAB unionism has now become the most zealous) they assume that all right-thinking folk share their hatred, ignoring the polling showing significant support for independence among Labour voters, not to mention those who have made the journey from SLAB to SNP. I don’t know how significant the recent Labour Voters for Independence flowering is, but I hope it’s just the start.

    ‘Essentially, the Tories just want to save the Union. We do as well, but we have a further objective and that is in destroying the SNP…

    Seeing off Salmond is the big prize, After that it is back to normal politics…

    And once we get rid of the common enemy, we can then get back to proper politics.’

  3. redcliffe62 says:

    Smear can only go so far.

  4. balgayboy says:

    Good to get back to real madness, Mr Smart is not really “smart”  and yes the anti independence parties are definitely getting desperate. There is a long way to go till Autumn 2014 and the shambles of this UK coalition government policies and their agenda will prove to the people that there is only one choice where to mark the X on the referendum vote and that is YES. 

  5. Juteman says:

    I would guess that Labour voters are/were folk who had a socialist mindset, but were of  an Independence or Unionist leaning. Independence had always seemed distant, so it was irrelevant to their party allegiance, and never had to be faced.
    As the referendum looms, this must be causing a lot of internal strife within the party.
    I fully expect a schism to appear before the referendum.

  6. Doug Daniel says:

    I see Theuniondivvie has beaten me to it, but it is certainly interesting that Mr Smart has decided to say out loud what we all knew – that Labour are a party with two fundamental principles: unionism and destroying the SNP. What an inspiring bunch!

    It’s an interesting contrast to the SNP, who do not seek to DESTROY the Labour party, but rather to see it rediscover its old revolutionary spirit. There’s good reason why so many principled ex-Labour supporters are backing the Yes Scotland campaign, and indeed, I would hazard a guess that a substantial section of SNP support would switch to Labour in a second, if they would only stop the brainless twin obsessions of saving the union and killing off the SNP. Perhaps Labour should just change their name to the Anti-SNP & Unionist Party?

    Ian’s continued assertions that the referendum won’t happen are getting pretty hilarious now. How on earth is he going to try and retain some semblance of credibility when it happens? Of course, the man never replies to criticisms on his blog anyway, so perhaps it won’t even matter.

    (Incidentally, I for one can see the Ian Smart article at the Herald website. Maybe your browser’s doing something wacky?)

  7. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Ooh, interesting. It works here now, but it was very determined not to before. Have saved a copy just in case it goes wonky again in future.

  8. Tris says:

    I too can see the Smart article.

    I wondered if you were aware of the blog

  9. pa_broon says:

    Had a wee look at Ian Smart’s blog, nothing to report, indeed, he seems to have adopted the same paradigm as did the MSM (Copyright newsnet apparently) where dire predictions where made for the SNP and huge gains imagined for Labour but in reality the polar opposite happened despite unionist’s best imaginings

    So much more heads-in-the-sand and refried Scotsman tripe, you’d think they would’ve learned it doesn’t matter how much crap you write in newspapers or broadcast on the telly, people are getting wise to that kind of nonsense.

    And it goes with out saying, a political party hell bent on the destruction of another party does not have the electorates best interests at heart, even although I still felt the need to say it.

    With that in mind, I’m afraid its a no from me.

  10. gnohbdi says:

    Well, if you consider that the Labour party and the SNP (setting aside British/Scottish nationalism) overlap quite a lot ideologically, then the destruction of the SNP is pretty much a prerequisite for Labour success in Scotland. Doesn’t make Ian Smart any less delusional though, in his beloved fantasy of ‘English region’ style voting patterns taking hold in Scotland.

    Labour have always been fanatically anti SNP, but I wonder if we have had years of filtration of party memberships, what with the rise of the SNP to majority rule, so that British nationalism is now even more embedded in Labour’s DNA.

  11. Braco says:

    Hello Rev. I have never really understood the term ‘jump the shark’ and just tried to ignore it as best I can. A bit like ‘do the math!’ but with a wee bit added exclusive nerdiness.  Context is everything though, so I swallowed my disgust. After a google search I was duly rewarded for the now shamefully rare opening of my increasingly closed mind.
    Having ‘Jumped the shark’ (via wiki), is the general conclusion within a sympathetic audience that enough is enough and this is now just embarrassing. So you are (unfortunately) entirely justified in your usage, (bugger!). After my obvious disappointment I felt the rare and delicious scratchings of a positive thought. ‘Jumping the shark’ events, just as in Happy days, need to be considered still generally popular as they happen, in order to get the required catastrophic implosive reverberation that makes recovery impossible. At least in the medium term anyway, (see Dukes of hazard, The Saint, Tarzan, Batman, Paco Rabbane and Vietnam [the American war] to name but a few).
    So to cut to the chase, I am just positing that the Andymurrayallenglandjubolimpicalbunfest is not a threat to a prospective YES vote but in actual fact an essential element. How many watched? How many now and will in future feel they were forced to witness?
    As for Rangers, sectarianism, tories, Labour and Liberals, let’s not pick at the scabs eh? They will all heal nicely once the puss is diluted down to normal political party levels. Nobody ate Creamola foam powder but it made a strange fluffy fizzy drink that children enjoyed as a refreshment once a suitable bland ‘waterlike’ fluid was added. Politics Eh!

  12. MajorBloodnok says:

    Nope, these blasted 3D glasses still aren’t working.

  13. Doug Daniel says:

    I must disagree with Branco’s comment about nobody eating Creamola Foam. One of my main pleasures in life as a child was licking my finger and dipping it in a tin of Creamola Foam. Mmm, fine.

  14. Braco says:

    Dear Dunk,
    licking, thankfully, is not eating.
    Braco Dunk, Braco.
    Kiss Kiss (xx)

  15. YesYesYes says:

    Most of the politicians in the Scottish parliament that I would compare unfavourably to Johann Lamont are on the Labour side, which might explain why she won the leadership contest.

  16. YesYesYes says:


    I’ve just discovered that it helps a little if you wear them upside down. That’s the glasses, not you.

  17. DougtheDug says:

    “Have the Unionists finally gone mad?”
    It’s more nostalgia as far as Ian Smart’s blog goes. He wants it all to go back to the way it was before the SNP when Labour ruled the roost in Scotland, when the Tories were the bogeymen opposition and the others didn’t figure.
    It was a time when nobody had to think about difficult questions like policy or nationality, when London issued instructions and handed down policy to the grateful minions in all parties, when reporting on Scottish politics was all about reporting on Labour party feuds and there were jumpers for goalposts.
    What he’s doing is looking forward to a future which is based entirely on nostalgia for the past. I’m sure the Germans have a word for it. 

  18. Waqar Ali says:

    Hearing of the mad delusional rantings of unionist types gives me a nice warm glow of hope, and makes a bit ashamed of my previous cynicism ^^;.

  19. Tamas Marcuis says:

    Perhaps what is really happening is that they’re being told they can say whatever they want “go a bit mad” because no one in the media will ever bring them to account.

  20. Cuphook says:

    Perhaps Ian Smart is hoping to pick up the Angus Curran trophy for coherency at the Scottish Press Awards.

  21. polar says:

    Is Mr Lingiah an Orangeman – who else would defend them? He seems to have Church of Scotland connections.

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