As a result of my slight mishap the other night, I'm a bit late on catching up with the latest confected 'controversy' about a Joan McAlpine utterance. As we all know, her views were cynically misrepresented last time to fit the outrage certain people were determined to feel. For instance, here's our old chum "Braveheart" -
"MSPs who think that their opponents are "anti-Scottish" because they want to have a say in the referendum"
Which, of course, bears absolutely no resemblance to what Joan said. Without wanting to put words in her mouth myself, I think I'm on in reasonably safe ground in suggesting that she would have no problem whatever with opposition parties having their say on the referendum in the appropriate democratic forum - the Scottish Parliament. What she was characterising as "anti-Scottish" was their attempt to circumvent the democratic process by bypassing the inconvenient reality of an SNP majority in Holyrood, and instead interfering with the referendum via the quasi-colonial route of Westminster. Not quite the same thing, is it?
However, it's true she did use the words "anti-Scottish", which arguably left her open to such misrepresentation. This time, however, her detractors haven't got a leg to stand on. Ian Smart has written an utterly hysterical piece excoriating her for comparing Scotland's relationship with the UK to "domestic violence". There is no direct quote from Joan in the article, which is hardly surprising, given that she said no such thing. What she did say was this -
"Eventually she recognises the relationship for what it is - an abuse of power."
And of course the abuse of power Joan is referring to is financial, not physical. The comparison is with a relationship in which a man will not "trust" a woman with her own money, because she will "squander" it, and in any case "it belongs to them both" anyway. I can hardly think of a more apt analogy, given that Scotland's natural resources and tax take go direct to London, and in return we are generously "given" a very limited "allowance" to do very limited things with. It's also an analogy that some of the more thoughtful unionists (such as my fellow subway passenger Wendy Alexander) ought to appreciate, because it highlights the very deficiency with the current constitutional settlement that the Calman process was intended (but failed) to address.
If Ian Smart is offended that anyone could dream up a comparison between Scotland and a woman beaten by her husband, he ought to be looking in the mirror, because he's the one that thought of it, not Joan McAlpine.