Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Joan McAlpine does it again - compares Scotland to an abused wife

It's not that long since SNP MSP and senior aide to Alex Salmond Joan McAlpine suggested that the unionist parties were acting in an anti Scottish manner. Their crime? Not agreeing with SNP policy on the referendum.

Now, courtesy of a lucrative new deal with the Record (I have no idea what she's being paid, but I can't imagine she's doing it for free), she's published her first weekly column for them. 

Now, why would a Labour supporting paper sign up a Nationalist prone to fairly poisonous comments? They clearly feel her particular sort of vitriol needs an airing, but what do you think their motive is?

Joan certainly didn't disappoint them today, with her column comparing Scotland to a wife trapped in an abusive relationship. 

This is wrong on so many levels. It insults genuine victims of domestic abuse for a start. 

Joan doesn't seem to get the concept of partnership. She also seems to think that independence would automatically create this dream world where there was no poverty or unemployment. And what a cheek to suggest that they were responsible for free university tuition. She might have a degree in Scottish History, but she's a bit hazy in that period after the 1999 elections when the Liberal Democrats stopped Labour from introducing fees in the first coalition.

If an independent Scotland were going to meet its international obligations on climate change, I suspect it wouldn't be cutting taxes on petrol by that much, either. The thing is, none of the problems she mentions are guaranteed to be resolved by independence, sadly. 

I'm glad to see Jo Swinson has called McAlpine out, saying she should apologise or resign for her remarks. Jo holds a similar role as McAlpine to Nick Clegg and I'm fairly certain that he would have something to say about it if she came out with such poisonous language.

Jo said:
“There should be an immediate and unreserved apology from Joan McAlpine and if one is not forthcoming Alex Salmond should sack her as his parliamentary aide. “This is a deeply offensive comment that shows profound disrespect for the many victims of domestic violence which is an appalling crime.
 “The relationship between England and Scotland within the wider United Kingdom is a successful partnership; one based on mutual respect and shared values. “To imply otherwise and compare it to domestic abuse for partisan political ends is abhorrent.”
McAlpine's words bring to mind what Willie Rennie said in his speech to Conference the other day about cybernats, the people who are not one nation nationalists.

That’s us. Constructive in opposition and delivering in office.I think it’s positive politics.It is an approach that accepts that you have to work with other people.It’s a generous approach, that recognises that people may have different ideas.And it poses a massive challenge to parts of the SNP.The SNP ‘heavies’.
The cyber-nats.
The people who attack personally anyone who disagrees with them.It’s ugly politics.
And they will hunt down one-by-one on the internet those who stand in their way.Faking letters from academics, telling cross-party groups they can’t criticise the government; telling airlines to downgrade Jim Wallace.They talk-down Scotland’s place in Britain and cause division between people.They are not one-nation nationalists.
If they are not careful they will cause Scotland to become a divided country, setting Scot against Scot for a generation.My message to the SNP is simple: please don’t question my loyalty to my nation just because I don’t agree with your policy.It’s not all of those in the nationalist camp.There are many sincere, generous, liberal-minded people in the SNP.But it is their behind-the-scenes stalkers and abusers who need to be tackled.The SNP leadership needs to rein them in, to tackle the abuse, to overcome the division-creators.Their leaders need to act. And act now.
He's right. I want the progressive forces in Scotland to unite against independence and win in a positive campaign. I don't want us to win because people like Joan McAlpine have spent 1000, or 500 or however many days spreading a message of hatred. Like I've said before, we have to wake up the day after the referendum and all live with each other, to get on.


cynicalHighlander said...

This is wrong on so many levels. It insults genuine victims of domestic abuse for a start.

Your party is getting abused every day by the Tories yet like a lot of people being abused they stick with it in the hope that things will change.

As you obviously have no understanding that there are different types of abuse under that label shows your own narrow mind that you prefer dependency to independence at any cost.

Unknown said...


That's an absolutely disgusting comment. Domestic violence destroys lives and can psychologically and physically break people.

If you think that that is remotely comparable to a political union of nations, where Scotland actually has many things (such as no tuition fees, no prescription charges, etc.) that England doesn't have then you are a cretin. It's one thing to think that Scotland would be better off independent but it's quite another to think that Scotland and its people are in anywhere approaching a situation like the specific one given in the article in question: namely an abused life.

I suggest you go and do some research into the realities of domestic violence and then have a long, good hard look at yourself in the mirror before you go around supporting such ridiculous and offensive hyperbole in future.

Forteanjo said...

"That’s us. Constructive in opposition and delivering in office.I think it’s positive politics.It is an approach that accepts that you have to work with other people.It’s a generous approach, that recognises that people may have different ideas."

How positive is Malcolm Bruce's assertion that getting rid of Salmond is more important the giving Scots a real choice in the upcoming referendum, an assertion that your conference agreed with?

Isn't that a personal attack because Salmond doesn't agree with Bruce? Is that Rennie's idea of "beautiful" politics? Doesn't the libdum leadership need to rein in these abusive division makers, don't they need to act now?

Or is it the usual, it's okay for the unionists to do it, it's only bad when the nationalists do it?

Forteanjo said...

George, Scotland doesn't have things such as no tuition fees and no prescription charges due to England's generousity or kindly stewardship and you're the cretin if you believe that to be the case.

Scotland has these things because the government we voted for has prioritised these things. Long may it continue.

Fourfolksache said...

Your lot progressive, positive?
Talk to Mr Bruce!

Unknown said...

*abused wife

Unknown said...


Where did I say that it's thanks to England? Because I've read and reread my comment and, you know what, I don't seem to have said that anywhere.

All I said was that, given that, in several regards, Scots get a better deal than the English (for whatever reason) it is ridiculous to compare that in any way to Scotland being an abused wife.

You could make that argument about countries like Ukraine as part of the Soviet Union (as they saw deliberate starvation and attempts at cultural genocide) but that is a million miles away from the relationship between Scotland and England.

And, for the record, the reason Scots don't have to pay tuition fees is because Scottish Lib Dems entered coalition with Labour in the Scottish Parliament and prevented fees from being implemented at the same time as Messrs Blair and Brown were introducing them in the rest of the UK. You're welcome.

Fourfolksache said...

In fact Caron given this last comment I think I will leave you well alone. Whilst I didn't often see eye to eye with you I did still have some residue of respect for you and your party. No after the last few days.
How you can interpret McAlpine's comments with such outrage but ignore what was said at your conference whether personally about Alex Salmond or about the status of Scotland as a country I cannot begin to understand. I'll stick to reading Andrew Page in future - honest balanced and truly liberal!
I won't bother reading you again
I hope you are reconciled to being in the political wilderness.

Dubbieside said...

"My message to the SNP is simple: please don’t question my loyalty to my nation just because I don’t agree with your policy."

However Rennie must think that it is appropriate to compare Alex Salmond with Stalin. My message to the few Lib Dems left in Scotland do not compare my leader with unelected dictators, just because you do not agree with his policy.

The people who attack personally anyone who disagrees with them.It’s ugly politics. If they are not careful they will cause Scotland to become a divided country, setting Scot against Scot for a generation.

Unknown said...


I don't imagine Caron will shed many tears somehow...

cynicalHighlander said...

George W. Potter

Show me and others in what Joan said in her article that refers to physical abuse which is what Caron and others are referring too except in the anti independence brigades minds.

I suggest that reading the article rather than jumping to preconceived opinion for political gain does yourself no favours.

Forteanjo said...

George, why did you mention tuition fees and prescription charges if it wasn't to imply that it's only due to England's largess that Scotland has these things.

After all, you're argument that Scotland couldn't possibly be in an abusive relationship is that Scotland has these things and England doesn't. Stands to reason then, doesn't it?

Your blatant assertion that Scots get a better deal than England is simply propaganda. There is some truth in it if you look at some very specific areas of government spending (social security, for example) but the picture is the exact opposite if you look at others (defence).

As to your attempt to correct the record ala tuition fees - I stated that we have these things "because the government we voted for has prioritised these things". You felt this was incorrect and required correction. Yes, I accept it's hard to believe we once voted for libdums in sufficient numbers to make up the Scottish government but it is true, I'm afraid.

Dubbieside said...

George W. Potter

No you may be correct and Caron may not shed many tears, but this is systematic of how a great many people across Scotland feel about the Lib Dems.

Maybe you think that May 2011 was a freak result, try going round the doors in the old Lib Dem heartland of North East Fife and ask them what they think of the Lib Dems. You will find that May 2012 will make the last election look like a good result for the Lib Dems.

Angus McLellan said...

And who introduced the language of divorce and separation into the debate anyway and who perpetuates it?

Stalin. Republic Srpska, South Ossetia, Kashmir, Basque Region, Catalonia, Chechnya, Greenland, North Cyprus, Transnistria.

Joan's mote, Alan and Malcolm's beams.

Unknown said...


The reason I mentioned those things is to point out that there's no way the union could be likened to an abused wife - an abusive relationship between countries is the way Ukraine was treated by Soviet Russia, or the way Korea was treated by Japan.

I'm not going to get involved in the detailed arguments of who gets the most out of the union as we're bound to disagree on it - but a situation where the supposedly abused country gets a better deal in several areas than the supposedly abuser country would seem to indicate a flaw in the argument that the union is an abusive relationship.

And, incidentally, the Scots never voted for no tuition fees per se. There has never, in Scottish history, been a party that got more than half of the votes. So, while Scots undoubtedly voted for Lib Dems in larger numbers than they have lately, this does not translate into no tuition fees simply because that's what Scotland voted for. In reality, you don't have tuition fees because Lib Dems decided to make that a condition of entering government. So I think that they should get the credit for that, don't you?

And, for that matter, the UK is a democracy (aside from the lack of PR) and everyone was able to vote in the general election - so, if Scots voted for no tuition fees, then, by that logic, they must have also voted for the Coalition's policies - along with everyone else in the UK. You might not like the outcome but that's democracy.

I'd like to see how you resolve that particular paradox.


I quote from the article:

"The union between Scotland and England is a bit like the marriage of a talented, well-educated girl with good prospects and her own income, to a domineering man ... But the husband complains she can't be trusted to manage her own money. She would squander it ... Eventually she recognises the relationship for what it is - an abuse of power"

That is most definitely likening the union to the situation of a woman in an abusive relationship.

Caron doesn't mention physical abuse anywhere in her article. What I said was "Domestic violence destroys lives and can psychologically and physically break people". So no one has said that Joan likened the situation to physical advice. Here's another quote, this one from yourself:

"I suggest that reading the [blogpost and comment] rather than jumping to preconceived opinion for political gain does yourself no favours."


I have no interest at all in knocking on doors in Scotland. I'm English and from Sussex. Just as I leave knocking on doors in Cornwall to people from Cornwall, so too will I leave knocking on doors in Fife to people from Fife.

I have no idea what the Scottish people think or feel about the Lib Dems and I've no interest in getting involved other than when I see good, proud Scots (who also happen to be in the same party as me) being insulted or attacked by cretins.

And, fyi, if you really think that the majority of people in Scotland behave and think in the same ignorant, abusive, trollish manner as Fourfolksache and others then that really doesn't say much for your opinion of the Scots.

Personally I imagine the majority of Scots are much more reasonable and open-minded than that.

Forteanjo said...

George, George, George. I said "because the government we voted for has prioritised these things". Now, this is the second time I've pointed this out to you. What bit of it are you finding sooooo hard to comprehend. I didn't claim we voted for no tuition fees. I didn't claim we voted for no prescription charges. I said "because the government we voted for has prioritised these things". Now, are you claiming that, somehow, the government at Holyrood, past and present, is somehow NOT the government we in Scotland voted for? Is this some sort of confession that the SNP should have been elected as government from day one but the libdums fiddled the ballot box?

Your argument about voting in the general election betrays the real attitude libdums have to Home Rule. They don't get it, they don't back it, they don't believe in it. Clegg, Moore, Bruce, Rennie and now your good self have all confirmed that. Or were you simply indulging in a wee bit of petty pedantry? Well, if you want to get pedantic, the libdums voted to end UP FRONT tuition fees only. It took an SNP government to remove them altogether (perhaps you should thank THEM for that). But being disingenuous does tend to be a trade mark of Unionists.

As to your feeble argument that the analogy of an abusive relationship doesn't fit Scotland because we have no tuition fees/prescription charges:

I know a few couples with exactly the relationship described by McAlpine. The women, although earning large salaries, sometimes more than their men folk, hand over their wages and get pin money in return. Don't get me wrong, they buy nice things with that pin money, clothes, shoes, go on holidays, etc. They're men tell them they'd be worthless without their man's help, isolated and alone, cut off from their friends (because they're all the men's friends, you understand). Buy hey, it can't be an abusive relationship because they get a (nearly) new car every other year. The fact they could afford to buy themselves a brand new car EVERY year is by the by.

Longshanker said...

I thought McAlpine's piece did exactly what it set out to do on the tin - provoke comment.

I posted a rebuttal in the style of her original and it brought in the second highest torrent of traffic to the site.


If you consider the posting of this link to be spamming, please accept my apologies.


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