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Showing posts with label John McTernan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John McTernan. Show all posts

Monday, 12 January 2015

Tweets on Murphyism–a new New Labour sect

Peter Curran @moridura 

Murphy seems close to adopting a heretical YES creed. But NO voters wink and tap their noses: he's brought in the Witchfinder General!

Murphy says Scottish Labour is open to indy supporters. How exactly does he plan to deliver it? By referendum? By recanting? By Irn-Bru?

The Scotsman does its best to explain Murphyism with a straight face

Jim Murphy inspires me - to throw-up, then laugh. He reaches the depths of expediency other politicians cannot reach - not even Nigel!

Even non-believers in Henry Jackson may join Murphy's New Labour. Anti-NATO? We have a place for you too! George Robertson is a donor!

Murphyism - the new health food for disenchanted Labour YES supporters. It's bland, non-nutritious, cooked up by our new chef McTernan

Enough of politics - an indy crossword clue! Politician with no beliefs and forked tongue. No entries required - no prizes offered.

New Murphy Labour - open to all! We'll adjust to anybody's beliefs because our new party has only one - believe in Jim Murphy's career

Jim Murphy - why not invite unilateral WMD disarmers to join your new creed? And flat-earthers, creationists, perpetual motion fans?

To say that Murphyism is a confused, contradictory, opportunistic creed is not to do it full justice. Anyone who swallows this is nuts

SCOTSMAN on Murphyism: "referendum has resulted in the party being overwhelmingly characterised as unionist" Fancy that! 100 towns? Irn-Bru?

Murphy says Scottish Labour is open to indy supporters. How exactly does he plan to deliver it? By referendum? By recanting? By Irn-Bru?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The People’s Flag is deepest - Red? Blue? Purple? Tartan?

 John McTernan, king of the What Labour Must Do? franchise, has accepted a post as director of communications to the Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard. Julia, a Labour Prime Minister has just turned fifty years of age. It would be ungallant to speculate on what the half century does to a woman’s judgement, so we must assume that she was either impressed by his former role as Tony Blair’s spin doctor, or she wants an antipodean version of McTernan’s franchise, What Australian Labour Must do?

But it’s nice to think of John sunning his bronzed body on an Australian beach, munching a Vegemite sandwich – a kind of Scottish Adonis. I wish you well, John. But then a dissonant note sounds – what if he plans to do the job from Scotland? After all, one can write a What Labour Must Do article anywhere in the world …

And perhaps Julia should take a long hard look at what has happened to the party that John devoted his communication and strategic skills to for so many years.

 

WHAT THE UK OWES SCOTLAND

The Nationalist Government of Scotland – nationalist means a government committed to the nation of Scotland - have been taking a long, hard look at the UK’s asset base, sending cold shivers down unionist spines. After all, given our significant contribution to the UK for over 300 years in technology, science, innovation, tax and oil revenue -  and blood - and the less than significant return, it is only fair that Scots tot up what is owed to them. In addition to the assets that are based in Scotland, we own a fair chunk of assets based in England. Since the unionists insist on using the analogy of a marriage (a shotgun marriage) a divorce and a separation to describe the Union and Scotland’s imminent independence, we may safely say that that divvying up the assets will be as protracted a negotiation after independence as many other aspects. But the break-up comes first …

 

THE BUDGET

The outraged squeals of vested interest groups over John Swinney’s budget, with the Scotsman conducting the cries in a kind a hellish choir, was followed rapidly by what we hoped might be objective third party analysis. Surely Glasgow University’s Centre for Public Policy and Regions would provided such a cool, objective look at the figures? The analysis by the CPPR’s John McLaren, described by Robin Dinwoodie in the Herald as “Ex-Labour special adviser and CPPR economist John McLaren” claimed that the budget would take an extra £849m in business taxes over the next three years. John Swinney, in a detailed rebuttal in a letter in yesterday’s Herald, says that this is misleading and is the result of double counting.

John Swinney’s trump card is of course that undeniable fact that Scotland is the only part of the UK where unemployment is falling and employment has increased. Union members like that, but union officials – and the Labour Party - don’t, masking their annoyance by attacks on the interpretation of the figures. I wonder why that should be? It could be something to do with the fact that the greater the degree of independence, the better Scotland works, and it could have something to do with four and a half years of competent SNP government, with a real economist at the helm.

But the Scottish Secretary has lurched on to the scene, demanding explanations. Michael Moore is “ … alarmed at the reaction that the Scottish Government’s Spending Review has provoked from the business community.” By the business community, he means the Big Business community - the one’s who extravagantly reward their directors with obscene amounts of money for pushing cheap booze and cancer sticks at the poorer sections of the community - and the ever-critical Iain MacMillan of the CBI.

The small to medium business community welcomed the budget, and the valuable check it places on Big Business to roll over small businesses, destroy competition and inflict near lethal blows on our once vibrant public houses. The Scottish Secretary, especially after the warm glow of the LibDem party conference, labours under the delusion that he, his party and his Coalition partners – the Tories - matter to Scotland, when in fact they are regarded as an irrelevancy, and inimical to Scotland’s best interest.

 

THE PEOPLE’S PARTY AND ITS TROUBLES

As what was once upon a time the People’s Party staggers into its conference, they are accompanied by Scottish headlines that must give them cause for alarm.

Can Britain learn to like Ed Miliband? (Scotland on Sunday) with the sub-header Seven out of ten people think the Labour Party are not fit for Government.

Labour told to forget about Thatcher – Alexander criticises party’s Holyrood election campaign strategy (Herald)

McAveety is held off Labour list amid probe (Herald)

Harris fear party could ‘stop being relevant’ (Herald)

This last one heads a report by Tom Peterkin and Eddie Barnes that also quote Harris as saying “Labour’s complacency could kill the Union.”  Tom Harris’s analysis is accurate of course, and he sees clearly what his party – and most metropolitan commentators have only glimpsed fleetingly, and in a glass darkly.

 

“We are on the brink of the biggest constitutional upheaval this country has ever seen.” (By country, he means the UK.)

“The idea that it’s business as usual in the Labour Party is going to kill us, and it’s going to kill the Union”

“I’m talking about standing up for Scotland. It’s Scotland first, the Union second, the Labour Party third.”

Nobody in Scotland – or the UK – is fooled by that last statement, Tom. You can’t hedge your bets- it’s too late to lay off the risk.

The scale of priorities has always been the careers of Labour politicians and trades union officials first and Scotland and its people a poor second. The Union is simply the necessary context for the Labour Party to pursue that naked self-interest. and your career, and those of every Labour MP, Labour Lord and Labour apparatchik depend on the continuance of this Union.

It has been ever thus in empires that exploit the people, and oligarchies masquerading as democracies. In their death throes, the politicians that depend on them will defend them to the death against the force of the ordinary people, as we have seen in the Arab Spring.  They have no choice but to go down with the thing they have supported.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Tom Harris, Calman – and toppling elected dictatorships …

My piece on Calman yesterday had an interesting sequel. Tom Harris MP - Westminster’s answer to the danger’s of a Scottish Labour UDI - having formerly opposed the Calman Commission, is now in favour of re-establishing it on a permanent basis  -  I quote Kate Devlin in the Herald – “to constantly review the devolution settlement, even if it recommends handing back some powers to Westminster”. Tom Harris says he wants to ensure that Scotland is not forced to undergo major constitutional upheaval every decade or so.

Modesty doesn’t inhibit me from saying that Tom Harris was clearly impressed by my definition yesterday of the Calman Commission as a Commission set up by a unionist opposition to defend the Union and to limit and inhibit the elected Scottish Government, and has belatedly realised the value of establishing such an instrument of colonial control on a permanent basis.

I feel he should go the whole hog and nominate himself as the chairman of the new commission, a post he would hold together with his leadership of the new Scottish Labour Party. There may be some niggling constitutional quibbles over such a dual mandate, but this solution is better than simply announcing Michael Moore as head of the new commission. To celebrate the New Scottish Labour & Unionist Party’s birth, Tom Harris should be presented with a bound copy of John McTernan’s Collected Essays, What Labour Must Do. The new party and the new Commission will of, course, need a spin doctor – one will do for both – and although a token recruitment procedure will be undertaken, there can be no doubt of identity of the successful candidate. (I offer my condolences to Lorraine Davidson, The Times and the Sunday Post.)

If I may offer a word to Tom Harris …

Scotland won’t be undergoing “major constitutional upheaval every decade or so”, it will be independent. It will achieve its independence democratically in a single referendum in which only Scottish voters will participate. I’m sure you understand that, Tom – we wouldn’t want David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy to have to intervene to ensure that Scots achieve their democratic freedom from a corrupt and unrepresentative dictatorship of wealth, power and privilege masquerading as a democracy, one that was trying to manipulate their democratic rights, would we? Or would their notorious expediency and partiality  in which dictatorships they chose to topple come into force?

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Scotland’s unsung growth industry–What Labour Must Do journalism. And some faces of Labour …

It seems unfair, among all the congratulation being heaped upon the Scottish food and drink industry today for their superb performance and growing international reputation, not to mention another small, but significant growth area – What Labour Must Do journalism. Two prime exponents of this new literary genre are John McTernan and Michael Kelly, with their principal market being The Scotsman.

Critics sometimes call attention to the repetitive similarities in the product range, and its lack of intellectual content, but this is mere carping in the face of the apparently insatiable appetite of the editor of The Scotsman and other newspapers for this traditional product. The spin offs, including television and radio punditry, are substantial.

The brand image is based almost wholly on the minor celebrity status of the two principal suppliers some years ago, when they were close to centres of power. The brand appears under various product identities, which are essentially variations of the core brand What Labour Must Do. Two examples, one yesterday and one today exemplify these variations - Scottish Labour needs to show a desire for change - John McTernan and Labour must take a breath - Michael Kelly, both in The Scotsman.

It is heartening and inspiring, that from the sad decline of a major political party into a confused, values-free, significantly corrupt, shambolic entity with no sense of direction or purpose, at least two entrepreneurs have managed to find a way to turn the situation to advantage, in the true, honourable journalistic tradition of exploiting the misfortune of politicians, a kind of schadenpolitik, if I may offer a German/Russian hybrid.

Michael Kelly’s  article today says essentially – calm down, dears – no rush on the independence debate or a new leader, just stagger on under Iain Gray.  Tom Harris is lauded for his ‘bravery’. But Kelly accurately characterises the refusal of Jim Murphy and Douglas Alexander to get involved as fear of Alex Salmond and fear of damaging their Westminster careers. (As someone once said, that kind of Scotsman would do almost anything rather than damage his career. ) And he also says, without any sense of irony as a unionist, that UK Labour politicians see the Scottish Parliament as the second division, and want to play with the big boys on a world stage. Again, true to the form of this genre of political article, there is not a word about values, objectives, principles or policies – it’s all about political structure and tactics. Labour is now a mindless, power-seeking machine, and Scottish Labour is just a wee rusty cog in that blind juggernaut.

I made some reference to the John McTernan article yesterday, but let’s take a longer look -

J.McT contrasts Murdo Fraser’s boldness, characterised as a ‘nuclear option’ – an appropriate allusion from one WMD party to another – with the ‘resounding silence’ from Labour that followed the Tom Harris call for radical change. McTernan makes the trenchant point that every Scottish Leader, from Dewar through to Iain Gray, managed to become leader 'without having to define themselves intellectually or politically’. He goes on to pick Johann Lamont as his favourite, but asks what she believes in.

McTernan, a Blairite, has the chutzpah to quote Joe Hill, the legendary American Labour organiser. John, I have to say that Joe Hill would retch at the sight of the thing the Labour Party became under Blair, Brown, Mandelson and Campbell.

Nevertheless, John McTernan is right to ask what Scottish Labour and their bosses, UK Labour, believe in? But he offers no answer, because there isn’t one. Where belief, vision, values, integrity and a burning concern for justice and equity once existed, there is now an empty echoing hall, haunted by the ghosts of those destroyed by New Labour and Blair.

 


POSTSCRIPT – FACES OF LABOUR

Scottish white hope Tom Harris MP features in the i today – cover story MPs pay family members £3m a year – as one of the top group who pay family members more that £40,000 a year. Tom Harris employs his wife as office manager.

Sir Stuart Bell, MP for Middlesbrough claims £82,896 in staffing cost, his constituents complain he is impossible to contact, he has not held a constituency surgery in the town for 14 years, and has no office in the town. He conducts such business as he does from his home outside the town. He pays his wife £35,000 a year as office manager.

Margaret Moran MP will appear before magistrates on the 19th of September facing 21 charges relating to her parliamentary claims for expenses.  Five charges allege forgery, a very serious offence at law.

Ah, The People’s Party – fearless crusaders for justice and equity for the common people, doughty fighters for the poor.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The Scottish Labour Leader–a new title needed? Gauleiter?

The Labour Party don’t have a Scottish leader – what they have is the Leader of the Labour group at Holyrood, whose only function has been to keep his MSPs on message and in line, on behalf of his London master, Ed Miliband, and the UK Labour Party.

But now Labour wants a Scottish Leader – a kind of gauleiter. (I will use a more apt and charitable name for the regional leader of a national party if there is one – suggestions welcome from Labour supporters.) Why do they want this? Because they lost the last two Scottish Parliamentary elections. 2007 could be dismissed as an aberration: 2011 was a rout.

It has been an ill wind, one that has blown little good for Labour, although it has provided a role - and presumably a nice little earner - for John McTernan, who has produced a seemingly endless series of articles telling Labour how they got it wrong and what they must do to put things right. More of the same today from John in The Scotsman. He looks south for inspiration, i.e. Westminster and a Labour MP.

Scottish Scots have been no bloody good – the ‘high-road-to-England’ version are what is needed. Of course, John McTernan has never submitted himself to the democratic process – to my knowledge - by running for Parliament. Instead he has been special adviser to just about everybody in the Labour Party. He is of that strange breed, a political strategist for a party whose political strategy has failed utterly in the UK and in Scotland. He blogs for The Daily Telegraph, exactly the right newspaper for a member of the Tory Lite Party, once known as the Labour Party.

John McTernan sniffs the wind carefully, and yesterday a breeze was blowing from Tom Harris MP, who on radio and on Newsnight Scotland threw his hat – well, sort of sneaked his hat – into the leadership ring, such as it is. I know all I need to know about Tom Harris, MP. He supported Blair, strongly supported the Iraq War, supports Trident – and, of course, he supports the UK.

Quote from today’s Herald: “I do not believe there is any great contradiction in looking after Scotland’s interests and the UK’s interests.” Tom Harris.

Tom Harris has already attracted the support of Louise Mensch, a Tory MP, and David Torrance, the Tory blogger and commentator and former Parliamentary Aide to the Tory Shadow Scottish Secretary David Mundell at Westminster. Louise Mensch was positively gushing in her delight at the prospect of Tom Harris’s candidacy. By their friends shall ye know them, as they say …

A seasoned politician, Tom Harris confessed to Gordon Brewer last night on Newsnight Scotland that he knew nothing of the mechanics  of electing a Scottish Labour Leader. Well, the Westminster village does that to a Scot – the state of his native land becomes a faint rumbling way up North – not to be taken seriously unless career is threatened or an opportunity presents itself. Tom, a man steeped in journalism, media and PR, scents both possibilities.

So Scottish Labour may have yet another Iraq apologist, Trident/WMD enthusiast and staunch Unionist as gauleiter. Well, they are all in the job specification. But we could have done worse – it could have been Jim Murphy


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The unionists share their identity crisis …

Billy Connolly may be an odd sort of Scot for a Scottish nationalist to quote, given his infamous “little pretendy Parliament” remark of yore, but I admire the man as a comic genius, with an ability to elevate the commonplaces of a Scottish working class life into high art.

Here is my recollection of one of his joke routines about his time in the shipyards, when the foremen were required to wear hard hats with their names on them. One such personage caught Billy and his mate skiving, and they gave him some cheek when he challenged them. “Do you know who I am?” asked the foreman, puffed up with self-importance.

Connolly and friend looked at each other in mock incredulity. “Here’s a guy wi’ his name oan his hat and he disnae know who he is!”

Much press and media coverage has been devoted since the Scottish Parliamentary election earthquake to the Scottish Labour Party’s loss of identity and confusion about who they are, and what they might do about it. The Scottish LibDems and Tories are regarded as already dead by the media, their corpses are therefore treated with patronising respect, and nobody wastes much time on thoughts of how they might be brought to life again. All that is asked of them is that they don’t smell too badly before being consigned to the flames of history.

The other dominant strand that has emerged from the profound emotional shock to the unionist mindset of the SNP's decisive electoral victory is an increasingly desperate attempt to define Britishness in the context of Scottishness. Only ‘British’ Scots appear to have this identity crisis, which they now want to foist on the rest of us: the English always knew that Britain meant England, and Britishness meant Englishness. And the English are right in this, and right to feel this way. Only in comparatively recent times has England feared to speak its name. Anyone who reads anything published before the Second World War (and quite a lot since) will realise that England was the Empire and Englishness was the nationality that defined it.

The kind of case being put for this, and for ‘Britain’ (for Britain read British Empire) is buried in gross sentimentality, as the vapourings of Rory Stewart and Michael Portillo on this week’s Newsnight Special so nauseatingly revealed.

Of course, sentimentality was the keynote of Empire while it was engaged in its worst colonial excesses: sentimentality is the cloying sugar coating on the deadly pill of exploitation and brutality, as history shows.

Heinrich Heine has devastatingly explored the link between sentimentality and brutality, as have others.

“Sentimentality is the emotional promiscuity of those who have no sentiment.”  Norman Mailer

"Think of the lamentable role of popular sentiment in wartime! Think of our so-called humanitarianism! The psychiatrist knows only too well how each of us becomes the helpless but not pitiable victim of his own sentiments. Sentimentality is the superstructure erected upon brutality…”  Carl Jung

THE SCOTSMAN NEWSPAPER

The Scotsman should,  in my view, change its title and its masthead to The Scotsman? or perhaps even to TheScotBrit, although that doesn’t really fit well with a quality newspaper, since the term Brit has come to be associated with the worst tabloid excesses, brutality, jingoism - and sentimentality.

The newspaper is all over the place politically these days, reflecting the same confusion of identity that has paralysed the Scottish Labour Party (insofar as such a thing exists) - and the Labour Party at Westminster, and it gives space regularly to commentators who exemplify this confusion - Allan Massie, Michael Kelly, John McTernan et al.

The first two on that list are featured today, and just in case the unionist message gets missed, we have an attack on the SNP by one Tom Miers, who is described as an independent public policy consultant, entitled ‘Fiddling while Scotland burns’, which in essence is the cry raised against the independence issue and the referendum before May 2011, that it was a deflection from managing the economy.

This of course rapidly changed to a demand that a referendum should be held immediately, after the unionists realised the scale of their defeat, while Alex Salmond calmly reiterated his manifesto commitment to a referendum mid-term so that he could concentrate on trying to limit the damage caused by the outgoing Labour Government and now being compounded by the shambolic ConLib Coalition.

To be fair, The Scotsman - or perhaps another title, The Occasional Scotsman but I’m also a Brit, does give regular space to Joan McAlpine, who is not at all confused about her identity and is an infinitely better journalist than any of the others, so there is some kind of balance, albeit a little lopsided.

Meanwhile, we must put up with articles such as Proud to Scottish … and English from John McTernan, former Labour Party adviser to Tony Blair, a Prime Minister easily moved to tears and deeply sentimental, one who launched an illegal and horrific war in Iraq, responsible for the violent death and mutilation of countless thousands of innocent men, women and children, and the involvement of the UK in the misconceived, decade-long and utterly pointless war in Afghanistan.

Or Allan Massie, with his article Labour must be bold and give Gray a second chance, with advice such as

“Instead Labour has to be true to itself, to assert that independence is unnecessary as well as undesirable, to say the Scottishness is compatible with Britishness, to insist that its values are shared by millions of people in other constituent parts of the United Kingdom. It should be unashamedly and indeed proudly Unionist, arguing that the continuation of the Union is in the best interests of the Scottish people, and defending the devolution arrangements as a settlement, not as a process of gradual disengagement.”

Wrong on every count, Allan Massie.

Independence is necessary, desirable and vital to Scotland.

There is no such things as ‘Britishness’, or ‘British values’ - they are false constructs designed to support an empire that has long since died.

The very reason that Labour is dying in Scotland is that it is “unashamedly and indeed proudly Unionist” and the Scottish electorate have recognised that at last, realised that it is incompatible with the interests of Scots, their ancient identity, their pride as a nation, and their common humanity.

That is why they rejected Labour and the other Unionist parties and embraced their ain folk on May 5th 2011.

No amount of jingoistic sentimentality, cloaking the essential amorality, corruption, brutality  and incompetence of the UK Establishment and its successive puppet governments, currently on blatant display in the News of the World debacle, and the deeply questionable links, at the highest levels, of successive governments and the police to an unscrupulous and possibly criminal newspaper and media monolith, News International, can conceal that something is rotten in the state of the UK, and has been for a very, very long time.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Polls and Polls - and that Independence thing …

Take your pick of the polls today. That sounds like the first line of a jolly Victorian music hall song -

Take you pick of the polls today, take your pick of the polls

Some say up and some say down, but the lead goes rolling on

SOS (that’s not a panic message from a sinking unionist ship, but the name of a newspaper, Scotland on Sunday) carries a little headline in the right-hand column of the front page - Labour slashes SNP lead in election. The pale fluid that passes for blood in Iain Gray’s veins gives a little surge, but then slows down again as the third paragraph hits the reef of reality with the chilling words

 Alex Salmond remains on course to beat his main opponent …

But the SOS poll gives a crumb of comfort to Labour, and reminds the SNP of what they already know - the game ain’t over till the polls close, on this fateful Thursday for the Scottish people.

The Progressive Scottish Opinion/Mail on Sunday poll shows the changes (bracketed) from the same poll early in March at the start of the election campaign

Constituency
SNP: 45% (+8)
Lab: 35% (-8)
Con: 10% (-1)
Lib: 6% (+1)

List
SNP: 41% (+4)
Lab: 36% (-8)
Con: 8% (-3)
Lib: 5% (+1)
Gre: 6% (+2)


Seats projection:
SNP: 62
Lab: 51
Con: 8
Lib: 5
Gre: 3

THE INDEPENDENCE THING

Columnists over the last week have been liberal - if that is the right word - with their advice to Iain Gray as to how he might wrest victory from the jaws of defeat, advice that has ranged from the considered but misconceived (Kenny Farquarson) to the realpolitik expedient populist (John McTernan) - advice which, if taken, will infinitely compound Labour’s misery.

Much of it has centred on what unionist believe is the SNP’s Achilles Heel - that independence thing. And today, in the Sunday Herald, Iain Macwhirter leaps into the maelstrom, scorning the dangers, apparently unconcerned by the fate of his two colleagues, and invokes the spirit of Wendy Alexander on the independence question.

He offers a lifeline to Iain Gray if “he dares to take some bold, inspiring steps as the election nears”, the main one being to challenge Alex Salmond to call a referendum, with the inspiring Alexandrian words “Bring it on …” ringing in his ears. This will “reboot the entire election campaign … as the SNP … say what they actually mean about independence. Flags and armies? The euro? NATO? Scottish passports? Customs posts?”.

Oh, Iain - what possessed you to pen this stuff? Leaving aside the fact that the SNP have already made their intentions clear on all of these topics, do you really think Iain Gray and his team, incapable of even marshalling a few hard statistics on knife crime without bringing the derision of the numerate down upon their heads, have got the political intelligence to even begin to address such issues in the three campaigning days left?

Let me wearily set out the facts on that independence thing yet again, aware that I am talking to a man I considered as one of Scotland’s most incisive and objective political commentators - until today …

The Scottish National Party’s raison d'être is the independence of the Scottish nation by the free democratic choice of the people of Scotland, a choice that will be offered to them during the life of the next Scottish Parliament, the electorate and May the 5th permitting.

Alex Salmond’s position on that is as clear today as it was at the beginning of this election campaign, and for a long time before that. When will he call for a referendum? When he judges the time to be right for the Scottish people to be given the opportunity to make their choice within the life of the next Parliament.

Let’s move from those clear waters into the muddy pool that is the unionist parties’ collective mind, and examine the multiple contradictions in their approach, starting with about the only two things that are clear to them -

1. They don’t want independence.

2. They don’t want the Scottish people to have the opportunity to express their democratic view on whether or not they want independence in a referendum.

From what should be these two Forsythian (the wee Laird of Drumlean) tablets of dogma, they then wander off in all directions, eventually moving in ever-decreasing circles, encouraged by journalists such as the three above, eventually flying up a number of orifices into their own guts.

The tortured ‘logic’ that flow from the above goes something like this -

The best way to avoid independence is to stop an SNP government being elected, but if they are elected, as seems likely, to ensure that they don’t have enough seats to table a bill requesting a referendum, and which the combined unionist opposition could block. But if they might just get enough seats to do this, to ensure that a referendum is declared quickly, before they can demonstrate yet more effective government in Scotland, hopefully returning a NO vote (based on the present polls of voting intentions), and taking the independence question off the table ‘for a generation’.

The above is bad enough, and cynical enough in itself - a dying hegemony desperately trying to halt a people’s wish to determine their future - but what follows from it descends into farce, a kind of Carry on UK up the Khyber production.

To achieve this, the Farquarson/McTernan/Macwhirter Plan is to use the last three days of a floundering, failing Labour campaign to demand that Alex Salmond call a referendum - right now, Alex - this very minute! Gie us a date, Alex - go on, gie us a date! We dare you! Ya Boo, big fearty - gies a date noo!

This slides over the fact that Iain Gray spent the last couple of years telling the First Minister that a referendum would be an unwarranted deflection from the serious business of managing the appalling economic crisis created by Iain Gray’s UK governing Labour Party when in power, and now being compounded by the incompetent, quarrelling, collapsing ConLib coalition.

Alex Salmond, a statesman and a master tactician, has a wide range of effective responses to this, and with his usual sure touch, will select the best one.

The one I would love to see, just for the sheer delight of watching the response to it, would be to calmly ignore the playground taunting. This would produce the following risible scenario -

Iain Gray: (with Bluetooth link to advice from The Three Journalist Stooges) See ! he’s feart, he’s feart! We say he’s secretly planning UDI, and will declare independence on May 6th, with a simultaneous erection of border posts, withdrawal from NATO, the waving of the Saltire and the standing down of the army.

But he can’t do that, because Parliament would have to approve a bill to request a referendum, and that would go the Westminster - and they widnae let him dae it! Naw, they widnae …

SANE JOURNALIST IN THE AUDIENCE (probably Angus Macleod) Why then are you asking him to “bring it on” and demanding a referendum, Mr. Gray?

Iain Gray: (after long pause to listen to Bluetooth Trio) Because he widnae win it! And he’s hiding the fact he wants independence …

Sane journalist: But he’s the Leader of the SNP, committed to independence, and he has said he will request a referendum within the life of the Parliament, Mr. Gray? Do you believe him?

Iain Gray: Naw, I don’t - he disnae really want independence. And I cannae wait - I want it right now, so he cannae have it. Anyway, a referendum would be a distraction from managing the economic crisis which Labour created … (pause for Bluetooth advice)  … which the global ConLib bankers created and which Gordon Brown had nothing to do with. And I want that distraction right now! Gie’s is a referendum, Mr. Salmond - you know you want it!

Sane journalist: What if he agreed to your request and set a provisional date for say, 2014?

Iain Gray: What? 2014? The Scottish people cannae wait that long for independence! (more Bluetooth) What I mean is - if he waited that long, they might vote in favour of independence. But if we have it right now - today, or even next week, they widnae … But even if they did, we’d find a way to stitch up the result, like we did the last time. They’re no gonnae get it, OK? Anyway, he disnae want independence - he’s feart, and we’re determined to show that he is.

Sane journalist: If he doesn’t really want independence, he’s on your side surely, Mr. Gray? Don’t you think there are  logical inconsistencies in your argument?

Iain Gray: You would do well to emulate your colleagues, Angus - they’re as logically inconsistent as me … (plaintive aside to aide   That didnae come oot, right, Andy …)

Wendy Alexander, at rear of crowd, in dark glasses and a big hat: Oh, Jesus Christ …


Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The politics of John McTernan, the politics of the gutter - and Labour

An article today by John McTernan in The Scotsman epitomises what the Scottish Labour Party is all about. I quote -

Playing the nasty card might get results

by John McTernan (The Scotsman 27April 2011)

“Everyone who aspire to political office has to be, at least in part, an intellectual thug.”

“How do you become First Minister of Scotland? Simple. Malcolm X was right. “By any means necessary.” If you’re not prepared to follow his advice, you should avoid politics as a career.”

I spent some time earlier today in an exchange with John McTernan on Twitter about what the thing that now calls itself the Labour party now stands for. At that point, I hadn’t read the article, but I have now. It is the politics of the gutter, the worst kind of right-wing Tory ‘Laura Norder’ populism, appealing to fear, ignoring statistics and the views of the professionals who actually have to maintain law and order. We have heard it recently from Goldie, Gray and Kerr in all its intellectual poverty and innumeracy.

It is the politics of desperation, employed by every right-wing party when they see power slipping away to real democracy and the power of argument and the spirit of a people as their national consciousness awakens after a long somnolence - a fevered nightmare. And the thing that is now the Labour Party machine is a right-wing party, by any definition.

It is interesting that John McTernan chooses to quote Malcolm X, rather than John Paul Sartre, the author of the phrase. Malcolm X was a convicted criminal at age 21, some years before before he embarked on a career of violence with the Nation of Islam, a violent extremist organisation: a man who advocated openly the use of violence and weapons to achieve his ends, and who despised the way of democracy and peace, the way of Martin Luther King. Malcolm X came to see the error of at least some of his political philosophy, broke with the nation of Islam, and was then murdered by those he had antagonised.

I think I can say with some certainty that John McTernan’s answer to his own question “How do you become First Minister of Scotland?” - “By any means necessary is not the answer that would have been given by Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish or Jack McConnell, nor would they have regarded themselves “at least in part as an intellectual thug”. It is certainly not the answer that would be given by the present First Minister, Alex Salmond, nor has it ever been a political approach that he has ever employed.

It is, quite simply, a contemptible philosophy, one that I would say the Labour Party should be ashamed of, but for the fact that they are now incapable of shame or remorse, as the tragedy of Iraq continues to show (McTernan defended Blair’s folly today on Twitter), and their inability to acknowledge their fundamental role in causing the UK’s present economic nightmare.