I’ve had a look at the press and the blogs, and since some have offered excellent and relatively objective analyses, given their political orientation, I won’t attempt to give my detailed commentary, although I had prepared one last night. I have moved well away from objectivity to total partisanship, and anything I say will reflect that - but I will remain true to facts.
I believe Scotland will be at a pivotal point in its history on May 5th, and that the Scottish National Party is the only party that can deliver my core political and social objectives. I want them to win and I want Alex Salmond be First Minister after May 5th, and there will be no place for ifs and buts, turgid balancing acts and extended ruminations, in an attempt to be all things to all shades of Scottish political opinion in the crucial run-up to the election.
Here are a couple of good reports, fair and balanced. I don’t agree with all of their content, but they give a sound base for debate.
If you want a laugh, try The Daily Record, who managed to see the whole debate through the Megrahi question, and gave close attention to what the Leaders were wearing. Well, they would do that, wouldn’t they? Any pretensions that this apology for a newspaper once had to be a serious political commentator are long, long gone.
It’s only good for folding up very, very small and taking into the lavvy for an extended look at the sports pages - and if the loo roll runs out, to use the political reports for the only useful purpose they can serve.
So what is there left for me to do? Well, I read The Herald - reasonably objective coverage by Robin Dinwoodie and Martin Williams, and a little opinion piece by Brian Currie.
The only caveat I have with the Dinwoodie/Williams piece is their last paragraph on the Amazon debate.
“Competition from Amazon has been cited as one of the factors that forced Borders to close its UK operations, including their store in Glasgow, with the total loss of 1100 jobs.”
As far as I am aware, this is factually inaccurate - Borders UK closed down in November 2010 with the loss of 45 stores across the UK and around 1550 jobs. Borders US has also been in serious trouble for some years now, and has closed at least 200 stores worldwide. This is part of a global trend in retailing, not only of books, but all goods and services that now face the Internet companies, especially Amazon, as competitors.
If we took the arithmetical mean job loss per store, this would be about 34 jobs. With five stores in Scotland, this would represent about 170 jobs. However, since the stores in Edinburgh, Dundee and Inverness would be much smaller than the stores in large UK cities, even allowing for the two Glasgow stores being among the large UK ones, the total is probably less than 170 - I would guess maybe 150. (If anybody can point me to exact figures for the Scottish job loss, I will be happy to state the exact figure.)
These job losses are sad, and like all job losses, represent personal hardship for those made redundant. But Borders is an international company, and there is nothing whatsoever any Scottish Government, of any political colour, could have done to avert the closures.
What the SNP Government and Alex Salmond did, instead of trying to play Canute with the unstoppable tide global retailing trends, was to go out and attract the very major international company, the hugely successful Amazon, to base 900 jobs in Fife, a coup with major significance for the future of Scotland in this vital area of employment.
But in the dyspeptic fantasy world of Iain Gray, 900 jobs replacing about 150 was a cause for complaint, demonstrating at one and the same time the utter negativism and uncertain grasp of basic arithmetic that this former maths teacher regularly displays.
And so to the paragraph from the Herald quoted above. A superficial reader could easily have read this badly-constructed and factually inaccurate paragraph to read that a loss of 1100 jobs to Scotland had only been partially compensated for by the gain of 900, a misreading that the two authors of this report I am sure never intended.
The best I can say for it is that this paragraph was as sloppily constructed, factually inaccurate and misleading as most of what Iain Gray says, a man who aspires to be First Minister of Scotland while simultaneously sending out a Luddite, backwards-looking, distorted vision of his country to any company contemplating investment in our nation every time he opens his mouth .
Brian Currie’s Comment piece? Two points only -
“The big boy, Alex Salmond, being taken on by the wee guy he’s picked on for the last couple of years, Iain Gray.”
I think a more accurate description might have been that of an inarticulate, innumerate playground bully, Iain Gray, being regularly and effortlessly reduced to spluttering, impotent incoherence by his intended victim.
“Mr. Salmond knows how to play the statesman …”
What is abundantly evident to the people of Scotland - if not to Brian Currie and The Herald - is that Mr. Salmond is a statesman, and this debate simply underlined that fact once again.