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Thursday, 19 May 2011

Scotland’s new dawn, sectarianism in football, Labour and Michael Kelly

TRIVIA

I now want to engage in a shameless display of self-delusion and misplaced vanity - please forgive me in advance …

From time to time, I notice that ideas and phrases I have used sometimes appear quickly thereafter by the media and politicians. This coincidence allows me to nurture the fantasy that they actually read my blog. An example -

I have used (and defined) the Hebrew word chutzpah in  blogs passim and also very recently. It is not a term I have noticed much in use in the Scottish media or by politicians, (someone will doubtless correct me on this) in spite of the fact that our new First Minister is chutzpah incarnate. But Annabel picked it up, and used it yesterday in the Parliament.

I’m delighted, but have to advise her that if she decides to use a word, especially a foreign word that she has not used before, she should learn to pronounce it before uttering it in public. It is not chutt-spa, with the ch as in cheese, Annabel, it is choot-spa, with the ch rendered as in loch. But thanks for the echo …

THE SERIOUS STUFF …

Two weeks ago the Scottish electorate went into the polling booths and confounded the three major UK parties and their strategists, and surprised even the superb SNP campaigning team. Let me quote again the perceptive insight of Ferdinand von Prondzynski -

Referring to a BBC comment that Scots seem to have lost their fear of independence, he said -

It doesn’t mean they voted for it when they voted SNP. But it means that they knew that, by voting SNP, they were making independence a live issue. They might still voice caution when polled. But they are there to be persuaded, and expect the persuasion to come. They are not yet all in favour, but they are no longer determined to be against.”

That penetrating insight, from a European new to Scotland and Scottish politics, said more about the reality of this extraordinary election, this pivotal moment in Scotland’s history - and about where the future might take us - than most of the heavyweight political punditry during the campaign and immediately after. I hope we hear more from Ferdinand.

In the immediate aftermath of the morning of May 6th, we have seen and heard a range of responses to the results, from those horrified and disappointed by them,  from the risible through unrealistic denial and very sour grapes to sober, considered analyses that begin to define what the unionist contribution to the great debate will be. There was one to day that managed to be all three - risible, unrealistic and smelling of very sour grapes indeed.

MICJAEL KELLY in the Scotsman

This reaction may be exemplified by just about anything Michael Kelly says. Why The Scotsman gives column inches to this politician of yesteryear is a mystery to me. They might a least use an up-to-date photograph of the man at the  head of his outpourings. But I understand why he wouldn’t want that …



(I should say that some voices in the SNP suggest that party supporters, especially in the new media, should project a new atmosphere of goodwill towards all men in the lead-up to the referendum. I regret that I cannot oblige, although I fully understand that they wish to avoid the worst excesses of abuse that disfigure some online comment, something I deplore and take all steps to kill on my blog and my YouTube channel, TAofMoridura)

Kelly is in typical form today in his piece, Glasgow faces new fight for top spot. He got that right at least. But by Glasgow, he doesn’t mean the great, vibrant city of my birth, and its wonderful, resilient people, but the gruesome excrescence known as the controlling Labour Group in Glasgow City Council that has failed the people of Glasgow for half a century or thereabouts.

Kelly attempts to conflate Glasgow and Scottish Labour with Celtic Football Club, mixing his metaphors and examples in a blatant appeal to ancient tribal political loyalties, while condemning sectarianism. I have little interest in football or indeed in spectator sport of any kind, and in this, I am wholly unrepresentative of my countrymen. But I do know the place Celtic holds in the hearts of its supporters, and I know the history of the club, because it was founded by Brother Walfrid, of my primary school in the Calton, St.Mary’s Abercromby Street.

(For the hardcore bigots out there, always keen to seize on names and schools to stereotype, let me say that I am an atheist, and was married in the Church of Scotland in  Drumchapel village in 1960 to  the love of my life, who came from a staunchly Presbyterian family. Make what you will of that, boys and bhoys …)

For the record, I believe that Celtic Football Club should exert every endeavour, while respecting its history, to escape from its associations with a specific religion, Labour politics and the Republic of Ireland, and Irish nationalists in Northern Ireland, and that Rangers Football Club should break similar links. If either club wants to fly a flag, let it be the saltire - the flag of Scotland. If they want to sings songs, try Scotland the Brave, or Flower of Scotland, or Ae Fond Kiss (that would be something the hear!) or make some up that are about the club or the game.

Michael Kelly devotes his first column to football, to the degree that I thought I had strayed on to the Sports page. But it is in fact an extended Scottish cringe, presenting the Scots as inveterate losers, leading to the following first sentence of his last paragraph in column one - “Contrast this approach with that of successful nations, like, say, England.”

I will resist the temptation to examine England’s history over the last half century, especially the Blair/Brown years, but find myself agreeing with him that Scottish Labour, the Scottish Tories, the Scottish LibDems and Glasgow City  Council do fit the description of losers - loser of values, of integrity, of direction, and of the trust of the Scottish voter and the Scottish people.

A few more gems from yesterday’s Glasgow politician -

The party workers … who spent hours on phones being lied to by former Labour voters. The grass roots don’t fall for the pap that the voters are always right.”

Rather, they ” the party workers “are angry that the voters are so easily fooled.”

Michael, let me explain reality to you - the former Labour voters were fed up being lied to by your party for two generations, and made a clear-eyed shift to a party they believe they can trust - the SNP. And the SNP will not betray that trust, as your party has done so cynically and contemptuously.

Michael is actually looking ahead to the local council elections next year, hoping that Labour councillors can look up from the trough long enough to see what’s coming to get them. More unintentional humour here -

Labour has nothing to beat here. What has the SNP government done for Glasgow?”

It’s the way you tell ‘em, Mikey …

And it was a friendly match - a no-risk election with voters taking out their frustration on Labour knowing that they were not voting for independence.”

Have a wee word with Ferdinand von Prondzynski, Michael - he’ll put you straight …

I could go on, but it would be like pulling the wings off a bluebottle - sorry, greenbottle …

2 comments:

  1. Well, sorry to be the one to correct you Peter, but "chutzpah" has certainly been used in the Scottish media long before auntie Bella used it. It's one of Brian Taylor's favourite words, so he's been using it for years. In fact, it was even used by Michael Portillo on his Portillo On Salmond programme on Sunday.

    Nice try, though!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ah, well - another fantasy dissolves ...

    Thans, doug!

    ReplyDelete