Friday, January 13, 2012

How very dare you, Joan McAlpine!

 I make absolutely no apology for saying that the Liberals, the Labour Party and the Tories are anti-Scottish in coming together to defy the will of the Scottish people and the democratic mandate that they gave us to hold a referendum at a time of our choosing, which, as the First Minister said, would be the latter half of the parliamentary session. The sight of those parties cosying up on the sofas of various Scottish television studios will really alarm the people of Scotland.
Joan McAlpine MSP  Official Report, 12 January 2012

I have to say I was livid when I first saw Joan McAlpine's comments that those who don't agree with all the details of the SNP's plans for the independence referendum were "anti-Scottish." To suggest that I want to act against the interests of the country I love, where I was born, which I yearned for so much it actually hurt during the 11 years I had to live away from it, simply because I don't agree with SNP plans for the independence referendum is outrageous.  

They say you should sleep on things before you say react. Well, I have, and I'm still livid, hurt and saddened at this poisonous attack on political opponents. I really can't stand this sort of thing, no matter who it comes from. 

I have defended the SNP on several occasions against jibes from Labour that they were not patriotic. It literally makes my flesh creep when this sort of stuff is used as a political weapon. Can we not just all accept that we all love and care for Scotland, whatever view we have?

Nobody doubts the SNP's mandate to hold a referendum on independence, but if wanting that poll to be fair, clear and legal, expecting both my Governments to work together to achieve that,  makes me anti Scottish, then, really, what is the world coming to?

What's more worrying is that senior figures in the SNP have tolerated this sort of language. Nicola Sturgeon defended her on Question Time last night and even the brightest of their new generation, Humza Yousaf, while saying that he wouldn't have used that language himself, didn't rebuke her anywhere near enough on Call Kaye this morning. That is more of a problem to me than the remarks themselves. Nicola referred on Question Time to those who talk Scotland down - that's pretty much become code for anyone who disagrees with SNP policy. So much for them listening and being inclusive.

If the SNP allow this sort of language to go unchecked, as my friend Allan pointed out on Facebook yesterday, it could be the biggest impediment to them being successful in their referendum. I don't quite agree with him on that because I think the evidence will prove the benefits of the Union but he has a point.

But, sadly, the story doesn't end here.

As the debate unfolds over the coming weeks, there will be a clear dividing line between patriots and nationalists.  
This came from new Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, in the same debate and has gone largely unnoticed in the media. To my mind, that's just as bad. I don't want to hear this kind of stuff from anybody.

How rubbish are we going to feel after 3 years if the debate has been full of bitterness and poison? I want to come out of this process uplifted by ideas expressed in a passionate and positive way. This kind of row suits the SNP, though,  - for yet another few news cycles they are not challenged on the mechanics of independence, its practical effect on our daily lives. Sadly, I have a horrible feeling the run up to the referendum will be permeated with such comments.

Joan McAlpine is turning herself into the Jan Moir of the SNP. She's exhibited the same sort of narrow minded intolerance that Moir does with her ill informed rants. If she can't sincerely apologise and withdraw her remarks, then she really should be sacked from her job as the First Minister's Parliamentary Liaison Officer. I won't be holding my breath for either of these things to happen, though.

Come the day after the referendum, we're all going to have to get on and live together, whatever the result. There will be a winning side and a losing side. The divisions will need to be healed.  That process will be much easier if we avoid corrosive language, conduct the debate with civility and mutual respect,  acknowledging each others views, right to hold them and genuine love for Scotland. It'll get passionate, angry and fiery at times, but there are limits to what's acceptable and we should all make efforts not to cross the line.


Unknown said...

*innocently wonders whether any SNPers will turn up to answer this blogpost...*

RevStu said...

Sorry, but denying the Scottish people the chance to vote for the constitutional position that two thirds of them support IS plainly anti-Scottish. It would perhaps be more pertinently described as "anti-democratic", but when the people that democracy is being denied to are the Scottish people, "anti-Scottish" is fair enough too.

You're not offended at the description, you're offended that it forces you to face the shameful reality you're perpetrating. How did it come to pass that Liberal Democrats would deny democracy, fight against the decentralisation of power, and undertake endless useless talking shops (is that now FOUR commissions on "Home Rule" you've participated in across less than two decades?) rather than ACT to implement your own beliefs when a golden opportunity presents itself?

I'm weary of "proud, patriotic Scots" whose pride and patriotism doesn't extend to the most basic act of patriotism imaginable - taking responsibility for their own country. You're not patriotic Scots, you're patriotic Brits from Scotland.

Tom Barney said...

Joan McAlpine is being outrageous of course, but why be outraged when she is making her self look so ridiculous? When F.E. Smith made the similarly foolish claim that the Welsh Church disestablishment bill was "a bill which has shocked the conscience of every Christian community in Europe", G.K.Chesterton commented, in part:

In the mountain hamlets clothing
Peaks beyond Caucasian pales,
Where Establishment means nothing
And they never heard of Wales,
Do they read it all in Hansard --
With a crib to read it with --
"Welsh Tithes: Dr. Clifford answered."
Really, Smith?

In the lands where Christians were,
F. E. Smith,
In the little lands laid bare,
Smith, O Smith!
Where the Turkish bands are busy
And the Tory name is blessed
Since they hailed the Cross of Dizzy
On the banners from the West!
Men don't think it half so hard if
Islam burns their kin and kith,
Since a curate lives in Cardiff
Saved by Smith.

GrassyKnollington said...

I'm not at all surprised to see opportunistic British nationalists making hay with McAlpine's comments.
Politics is a dirty business after all and I would expect no less.

Of course the fact that Joan McAlpine said their Behaviour was anti-Scottish rather than the people themselves has been conveniently ignored for propaganda purposes and again absolutely no surprises there.

What did surprise me is the genuine indignation felt by people like Caron. As RevStu points out the behaviour of these people most certainly could be described as anti-Scottish. So why the outrage?

Could it be that the very idea of being accused of anti-Scottish behaviour hits a very raw nerve with people who don't like to see themselves that way?

Making lots of noise and jumping up and down calling for Joan to be sacked is perhaps a distraction technique designed to prevent themselves and others from examining her words and why she might have said them.

Viewing the behaviour of certain British nationalists as anti-Scottish is perfectly legitimate in my view. Joan McAlpine was quite right to stand her ground.

RevStu said...

Tom: So, in so far as I can make any sense of it, your defence against an accusation of being "anti-Scottish" is to say "Scotland is too pathetically insignificant for anyone to notice anything that happens there"? Have I got that right?

GrassyKnollington said...

RevStu 3:21pm, lol

Tom Barney said...

No of course not. I just think Joan McAlpine was being ridiculously hyperbolic, just as F.E. Smith was on another issue 100 years ago.

Incidentally the SNP ought to remember David Abercrombie, professor of phonetics at the University of Edinburgh and ardent SNP supporter. To read his essays would teach you how to argue with reason and faultless courtesy and yet in such a way that you finish reading in startled realisation that there is nothing left of the people he has been attacking.

Munguin said...

In a week where there has been a concerted assault on the SNP from the three Unionist parties both north and south of the border there is little surprise indeed that somebody vented their frustration on twitter. There is also little surprise that the usual suspects who seem to circle like vultures looking for carrion have jumped on this and blown it out of all proportion.

Is there no dirty trick, no low that they wont stoop to these unionists, in order to keep our oil in their blessed Union? The most successful “partnership” in history according to David Cameron and Michael Moore. Only they don’t seem to live in Scotland where the sainted union has left parts of Glasgow the most deprived areas in the UK with life expectancy the lowest and child poverty the highest never mind the good the Union has done for the economy recently. And what do Caron and her ilk carp about? Not discussing the huge benefits of being in the Union, not rising above anything but instead a whole pile of sanctimonious claptrap regarding an unguarded comment on twitter!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Rev Stu's post.

It is not anti-Scottish to wish to be a adjunct or junior partner in the UK. Of course it is not.

To paraphrase Jean Brodie.."For those that want that kind of thing, that is the kind of thing they want."

Personally I don't want to be a part of a tumbled down, worn out old country that still thinks it matters because it once conquered the world and made it Christian, Anglophone and cricket-playing. And which, in order to buy a seat at the top table hands out vast amounts of money to countries that are better off that we are, and which spends an unimaginable amount to retain a bomb no one will ever use.

It's pathetic that at the same time this relic of a state takes money away from the poor to hand to bankers and financiers in "the City".

What a bloody farce.

Then just across the water there's Norway, with less oil and a standard of living most of us can only dream about, and an oil fund that would wipe out the UK debt for 5 million people. Oh to be Norwegian!

The UK has managed to build up debt of almost 1000% of its GDP!

But if people want to be a part of what Cameron and Moore calls the most successful union ever in the history of the universe (Does he know ANYTHING AT ALL about the history that he's supposed to have a degree in?) then that is their business, and if they see their country as the United Kingdom of great Britain and N.I., then of course it's not unpatriotic.

And yes, George, I condemn Joan roundly for the tweet. If I were a politician I wouldn't touch Twitter with a barge pole. She shuld know better.

But, I'd be wary of criticising too roundly, people who tweet emabrrassing rubbish. It won't be long before the next one does it, and he may be yours.

Dubbieside said...

You are going from bad to worse.

She could have signed a pledge to do something, say for instance oppose tuition fees. She could then have reneged on that signed pledge at the first sniff power or a ministerial car.

Now that would have been an outrage and you could have jumped up and down and said "How dare you, oh wait a minute it was Nick Clegg"

One wonders why that outrage passed you by?

Why does G Potter think no SNPers will turn up to answer this rubbish. RevStu has nailed that, and we all remember the last four years when the Lib Dems with their Labour and tory chums were denying the people a chance to vote on their own future. That is both anti democratic and anti Scottish.

Unknown said...

I'm confused. In what way is an offer to give the power to make the referendum legal denying democracy? How is empowering the Scottish people anti-Scottish?

I find it very worrying that people are prepared to openly defend McAlpine's comment.

RevStu said...

"How is empowering the Scottish people anti-Scottish? "

The Scottish people do not need to be "empowered". They remain sovereign in Scotland as they've always been under the Treaty of Union, and can express their desire to leave that Union with or without London's permission.

"In what way is an offer to give the power to make the referendum legal denying democracy?"

It isn't. Attaching conditions such as a one-question referendum is.

Why do the Lib Dems want to waffle away pointlessly in YET ANOTHER commission that nobody will care the slightest bit about the result of, rather than take this golden opportunity to put what they claim to advocate - a federal UK - to the people of Scotland as an option? A referendum is as real as democracy gets, why do you want to limit people's choices, to the point of actually excluding the one you profess to believe in?

"I find it very worrying that people are prepared to openly defend McAlpine's comment."

You find it "worrying" that people make a rational and reasoned argument which you disagree with? Heavens, you're going to be in a real state if there's a zombie apocalypse.

cynicalHighlander said...

I find it very worrying that people are prepared to openly defend McAlpine's comment.

I find it worrying that you are embarrassed in your own parties involvement in the anti SNP rhetoric in the post I submitted which hasn't been published, yet. 'Who Cares'

Unknown said...

I read a post from you, CH, & thought I'd approved it. For some reason silly iPad won't let me on to comments page on blogger & I've deleted the e-mail notification. If you have a copy to hand, please can you resubmit it. If not, I'll see if I can find it when I get back on the laptop.

Dubbieside said...

I'm confused. In what way is an offer to give the power to make the referendum legal denying democracy? How is empowering the Scottish people anti-Scottish?

Im also confused Caron. What about the last four years when the Lib Dems joined with the toxic torys and Labour to specifically deny the people a vote on their own future, a move which was both anti democratic and anti Scottish.

Do you think we have forgotten the last four years when up to April a referendum was a distraction and suddenly in May a referendum was needed immediately.

I have often asked unionists just what happened in May that made then change their mind. Like Moores £3 million I am still waiting.

The reality of the situation was that up until May the unionists thought that Dewars gerrymandering of the voting system would still protect them, and they would be able to return to Holyrood and continue to block any referendum while forcing through Holyrood the dogs breakfast that is Calman.

Mays vote changed the game, Calman is a dead duck and a referendum will happen, and it will be the same as any other referendum held in the UK, advisory, though Westminster would ignore its findings at it peril.

So the governor general Moore tells us the torys have instructed him to offer to make the referendum legal. Thats big of him and them, will he follow the UK precedent on these things and bring beads that he can distribute to the grateful natives?

Lib Dems getting into bed with the torys have destroyed them as a creditable force in Scotland for generations, it will be interesting to see if Labour suffer the same fate.

Joan MacAlpine was telling it like it is, and the phoney outrage is a sign of the desperation of the unionist argument.

cynicalHighlander said...

Well I have just listened to Lesley Riddoch give Michael Moore and the LibDems a deserved mauling on R4 after he kept doing the constant interrupt method employed by arch unionists as their only substance.

Bob said...

Why should Scotland require the blessing of London to hold a referendum ? Are the Scottish people not Sovereign ? Attempts by London to bring in conditions for a referendum is against the wishes of the Scottish electorate who voted for an SNP Government that promised a referendum. London have decided to be anti Scottish and try and set the agenda. After 300 years of London control surely Scotland can have a free referendum without anti Scottish rhetoric from Clegg/ Cameron/ Milliband etc.

Bob said...

Oh I forgot to say. Do you not think you're being a bit precious Caron ? If being called 'anti Scottish' causes you so much distress do you think you should be in politics ? Have you ever read or heard what Scots are called in the English press ?
And if you love your country why don't you want it to set it's own agenda and run it's own affairs away from interference from London ?

NikkiiH said...

I'm baffled at the number of people who have chosen - and they have definitely CHOSEN - to be personally offended by a remark that was directed at the actions of political parties.

That's not a healthy relationship to have with a political party. If I felt as bad as you clearly do after reading the bile tweeted by unionists and directed at the SNP in the last 48 hours.... if I took it personally... even the stuff from sitting MPs.... well I can't imagine it. It doesn't sound healthy. Just saying.

Munguin said...

In as much as I personally do not believe that it is possible to be pro-Scotland and pro-United Kingdom, the pro-UK stance of all the unionist parties and particularly their Scottish bits (branches, adjuncts, glove puppets, them what you will) can logically be viewed as anti-Scottish. In as much as they wish to promote the interests of the United Kingdom over the interests of their home land, Scotland. Or more likely the parties involved place the interests of themselves and their particular parties above the interests of the Scottish nation or in the case of the Lib Dems they place the interests of the Conservative Party above the interests of the Scottish nation and people.

Let’s not get all dewy eyed about how much the rest of the United Kingdom loves the Scots. A glance at the comments sections on the Daily Mail or the Daily Telegraph should convince anyone that left to them, the Scots would have been out the door years ago. So what exactly are the ties that bind? Oh yes, it’s all that oil that we have off shore and that keeps the UK economy afloat, bails out failed British banks, pays for nuclear weapons that will never be used and keeps David Cameron at the top table, G7, Security Council and so on. That, that is the case is more than evidenced in the UK’s continual efforts to cheat us out of it by altering the sea borders of Scotland to be north of the Forth, cheating us out of devolution the first time round, encouraging Orkney and Shetland to become independent of Scotland, continually playing down how much is left and how much it’s worth and so on.

Is it any wonder then that when the Tory glove puppet Michael Moore pops up spouting Conservative policy and ignoring the Lib Dems previous pro-federalist stance that logic suggests would cause them to plump for the third “devo-max” question. That some are inclined to label him ant-Scottish?

Here is the rub Caron; the Scots associate the Conservative Party as being pro-UK as indeed it is, and the majority of them are not keen on that. When Nick Clegg jumps into bed with the Tories and Michael Moore makes himself the Tories man in Scotland instead of Scotland’s man in the UK cabinet. They are seen to be exactly what they are, anti-Scottish!

Please don’t be so easily offended Caron. I for one would certainly not be livid all night if I were labelled anti-United Kingdom!

Munguin said...

"innocently wonders whether Caron will answer any of the comments the many SNPers have made on this blogpost..."

Anonymous said...

Oh the joy of watching cybernats band together to bully this blog. The SNP's concept of democracy this week has sent undecideds like me fleeing from the Eckparty

Bob said...

I only knew about Caron's blog because it's linked from an SNP blog ( Munguins). A link not reciprocated by Caron.
Not sure where the bullying is.

cynicalHighlander said...

Anon you are Daniel Maxwell from the BBC

cynicalHighlander said...


It is if one scrolls down a bit as I have just done but must admit I have never looked before.

MakingHistory said...

I think that we can all agree that name-calling over who is the most patriotic or over who loves Scotland more is not going to get us very far. However there is also a danger of knee-jerk reactions being fired off all over the place. Lets look at what was actually said. Joan was NOT calling the members of the LibDems, Labour or the Tories anti-Scottish. The point she made was that the leaders of those parties were behaving in an anti-Scottish way. I think she was right to say that. The Claim of Rights sets out an important principle that it is the Scottish people themselves who have the right to determine their constitutional future. As such it is the elected Scottish Parliament that must determine the process and rules and timing of the referendum. Those who seek to impose a situation where the Tories in London can, on the basis of one MP, tell the Scottish people the terms of their own referendum are, I'm afraid being both anti-democratic and anti-Scottish.

Jackf834 said...

As a former Lib-Dem voter and campaigner, I am saddened by the recent decline in what was once a respectable and decent party. It seems that the taste of power in Westminster, and subsequent loss of power in Holyrood has gone to their heads.

To see the Lib-Dems stooping to such dirty politics is such a shame. I can't blame a lot of people for buying into this story, but those who follow Scottish politics closely (ie, MSPs, political journalists and bloggers) are well aware that this whole debacle relies entirely on a lack of context.

Perhaps McAlpine could have worded what she said more eloquently, and she should certainly have been less complacent about her political opponents' tendency to pounce upon any statement which could so easily be taken out of context. This mud-slinging defines that which is turning many away from politics. For shame.

Calton Hill said...

I'm with Caron on this one - using emotionally loaded terms like 'anti-Scottish' just isn't helpful.


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