Saturday, May 7, 2011

John McTernan on one-man mission to thwart the democratic process?

It seems Scottish Labour's very own Prince of Darkness can't even let the dust settle on the election result before practicing the dark arts once again. Iain Macwhirter's jaw almost dropped to the floor last night when McTernan claimed that an independence referendum wouldn't happen on the grounds of illegality. McTernan loudly protested that this wasn't a political point, it was simply a matter of "fact". Which, however deluded, I was prepared to accept as an honest view until I spotted that he'd touched on the same issue from a slightly different angle in his latest Scotsman column -

"This leaves Labour with some stark choices. They need a candidate for presiding officer - a crucial position, given the SNP commitment to a referendum bill. The Scotland Act clearly states: "The following aspects of the constitution are reserved matters … 1 (b) the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England". The presiding officer has to assure themselves that any government bills are within vires before putting them before the chamber in Holyrood. Labour's Hugh Henry looks like the right man for this job."

Tell me, John, if an independence referendum's illegality is simply a matter of 'fact', why on earth would Labour need the 'right' Presiding Officer to interpret the matter in a favourable way?

I've no idea if Labour would be crazy enough to heed McTernan's advice - as Iain Macwhirter pointed out, it's these destructive neanderthal attitudes that helped to take the party into the wilderness in the first place. But I hope SNP members are at least alive to the danger, and bear it in mind as they vote in the secret ballot for the new Presiding Officer next week.


I've just caught up with the news that Tavish Scott has resigned as Liberal Democrat leader. In one sense I'm actually quite surprised, because a party that's been reduced to a rump doesn't have a lot of options. Well, to be precise, they now have four options, and by a process of elimination I presume it'll have to be either Liam McArthur or Willie Rennie.


  1. "I've just caught up with the news that Tavish Scott has resigned as Liberal Democrat leader."

    Damn, that's made part of my blog today look out-of-date already!

  2. It seems we live in fast-moving times, Doug!

  3. To be fair, most of the blogs I've been catching up on that were written before the election now look absolutely ridiculous. How silly do we all look now, having assumed the opinion polls showing 45% support were wrong?

  4. I know. It's the 44% on the list that I find truly mind-boggling - to put it in perspective, Labour under Donald Dewar only managed 35%.

  5. Surely The Scotsman should drop McTernan and Michael Kelly from their list of contributors. Negativity was the downfall of Labour on Thursday, and these guys are masters of that, but will never be able to change.
    That's 2 elections Labour has lost with McTernan's guidance on policy--time for some silence from that quarter.

  6. Astutely spotted James.

    Its not surprising that Mcturnip's first impulse is to try and corrupt parliamentary procedure by advising SLAB to get someone into a central post who'll work for them behind the scenes. That is typically Labour.

    Unionists like to rhetorically characterise their politics as the normality by comparison with which the SNP are aberrant. But Unionist hysteria is an established historical phenomenon, going way back, long before even the formation of the SNP.

    Mcturnip is clearly an extremist and his very public begging letters to London labour in the Scotsman to re-employ him are an embarrassment.

  7. The 'Labour Establishment' in Scotland which tried to frustrate the Scottish Government now needs to be swept away. Scotland has indeed moved on.