Monday, 16 January 2012

es ist eine komische alte Welt!

A Nationalist MSP called Joan McAlpine made some twitter remarks about politicians who don't support the Nationalists referendum being "anti-Scottish" and then defended these remarks in the Scottish Parliament. (see here)..

Tom Harris, Scottish Labour's "twitter czar" , spoofed the events in one of the many Hitler/Downfall videos that have been popular on the internet this last year or two.

Funnily enough, it was Harris who lost his position over the spoof. McAlpine, whose "crime" is at least, IMHO, equally as egregious, stays in position.

You can judge for yourself how funny Harris's film is, but I have a rule, reinforced by Godwin's Law, to steer clear of Hitler and Nazis. No matter how bad you may think your opponent is behaving, calling him/her "Hitler" is on the road to losing the plot.

Of course, calling your opponent "anti-Scottish" is just as offensive (assuming your opponent is Scottish). It's just like calling them traitors or quislings.

In my experience, it's a trap that Nationalists fall into too often: in fact you get the impression that they don't even try to avoid it.

McAlpine's remarks are a good study in how they do it.

On twitter she wrote “Interfering in referendum is anti-Scottish as is refusal to compromise on popular desire 4 powers to Scotland.”

Then in defence of criticism of these remarks she said "..“I was criticising behaviour, I wasn’t criticising people. People from all sorts of political backgrounds can be proud Scots. The issue here is the behaviour of the anti-independence parties coming together to seek to stop Scotland having a referendum at a time of our choosing."

The first thing to note is that "interfering in the referendum" is not "anti-Scottish". If Ms McAlpine means the Prime Minister of the UK has no place in discussions about the UK constitution then she's just wrong. If she means that the referendum is sacred and no-one, not even Scottish politicians, has the right to question it, she's plain bonkers.

As for "a refusal to compromise" on devo-max!!! How can that be "anti-Scottish"?

Devo-max, or the idea of more powers for Holyrood, is a straightforward matter of policy. You might think it's a good idea, you might not. But neither position is treason. You have to conclude that the SNP MSP is conflating "Nationalist policy" with some unchallengeable Scottish interests. Needless to say, these are not the same thing and opposing the SNP is not treason. In fact it's common sense, IMO.

The "defence" is even more revealing. McAlpine says “I was criticising behaviour, I wasn’t criticising people."

How, I ask you, do you criticise behaviour without criticising the people who are behaving in the way you don't like? You can't say, "He robbed a bank. He behaved like a bank robber, but I'm not calling him a bank robber. It's just bank robberly like behaviour by his bank robbing gang..." Aye right.

It gets even more convoluted with ".... The issue here is the behaviour of the anti-independence parties coming together to seek to stop Scotland having a referendum at a time of our choosing."

So it's not people who are behaving like traitors, it''s "parties". But parties don't "behave", parties are made up of people and people behave. How can a party beghave in an "anti-Scottish" way, but none of its members?

As for " to stop Scotland having a referendum at a time of our choosing.".. who pray is "Scotland"?.the SNP? Should that not be "the Scottish people"? In which case the sentence becomes "seek to stop the Scottish people having a referendum at a time of their choosing". The SNP is confusing SNP with Scottish people.

And whose is the "our" in "...a time of "our" choosing". Again what the SNP wants is being conflated with the interests of Scotland and the Scottish people.

To conclude. It is clear to me that Joan McAlpine was serious when she called her opponents "anti-Scottish". She meant it. She conflates the desires of the SNP with the interests of Scotland. From there it's no step at all to declaring opposition to SNP policy as "anti-Scottish). The idea of treachery is inherent in her rhetoric, which consists of weasel words in an attempt to conceal, but of which close analysis reveals, her real thoughts.

If you dare oppose the SNP, you are "anti-Scottish". That's the message. But still, she keeps her job and her tormentor gets the sack.

As Maggie Thatcher said, it's a funny old world!


  1. Parties whose Scottish members shout 'who cares' when the SNP ask a question, who bay like animals when their fellow Scots (SNP)speak, who organise a voting system for Scots but not for Westminster, and who try to deny further devolution or support a Westminster agenda are anti democratic and if they think that is not anti Scottish they are bemused - the Scots will not be!!!!!!

  2. Interesting that in the run up to the Scottish elections last year, right up until voting day, labour and lib dems were trying to scare people by saying a vote for the SNP was a vote to destroy the union. The second the votes were counted, clarifying one of the most resounding victories and upsets in the history of UK politics, their mantra changed to "this doesn't mean the Scottish people want independence..."

    So, maybe someone can help me by telling me what part was true and what part was a fib? Was the party line before the election their true and honest opinion or was that espoused after the election their true and honest opinion? Serious issues, of course, very serious thing to be caught lying about and trying to scare people over -- reveals a lot about those involved.

  3. Anon

    I appreciate your industry. The number of words is impressive.

    But I post things to discuss the things I post. This post is about the McAlpine/Harris controversy and whether some politicians are anti-Scottish.

    Please comment on-subject. In future I will not be publishing your off-subject comments.

  4. after the mcalpine comment, it beggars belief that, harris goes on to post his downfall parody.

  5. It must (I hope) be somewhat disappointing for you that:

    1) Labour just said "tough" to the unions demands, resulting in a loss of funding perhaps for Labour.

    2) Labour now agree fully with the Tories cuts (you can argue nuance if that helps)

    3) 32 Scottish Labour MPs voted YES to the principle of NHS privatisation, including Tom Harris (again you can argue nuance if that helps)

    You are fighting a lost battle -

    I wish you no personal ill but Scotland will be the better when the number of SNP councillors is manifold in May and Labour are but a distant memory. It will take about: 1 week for a change to begin to be felt and about 1 month for Labour to begin to drift into the ether of the ineffectual and about 1 year for Labour to become a distant memory.

    At least that's the way it looks - if it doesn't happen - we'll shrug our shoulders and continue on. We won't stop any of us till we achieve independence. If anything, I've never seen anything like this before: there is now a national movement for independence. When I say movement, I mean a great deal of people all over Scotland working a wide range of activities because they believe in what they're doing.

    When was the last time Labour did anything that made you feel good about yourself, even proud for that matter?

    Scot nats are proud of what the SNP has done and continue to do.

    You're on the wrong side of history and in the wrong party (I hope). The era of the Brit nats is doomed - leave them and get a career in poilitics with the SNP - actually do something for the common good.

    In any case, good luck in May.

  6. "Scot nats are proud of what the SNP has done and continue to do."

    such as?

  7. A real NHS, a drop in crime figures because of 1000 more police, a cessation of continuing an ever upward tax on the people called rates, no charges on bridges, free prescriptions, a balanced budget...need I go on?

  8. Not sure what you mean by a real nhs. Scotland has always had a better funded Health Service than England. all it a union dividend if you like (I don't).

    Police numbers are falling (and what about 400 fewer teachers? does that balance?)

    Tory council tax freeze (adopted by nats when LIT collapsed)= closed libraries and cut social services. I do hope nat council cadidates are going to claim these "benefits" in the May election.

    bridges are small beer, county council stuff.

    only 10% paid prescription charges. but it has lost £60m to the NHS (see above).

    a balanced budget? a balanced budget? what does that mean?

    good try 0.5 out of 10, I would say