You've probably already seen it on Newsnet Scotland, but this is nothing short of astonishing. A team of civil servants in the London Treasury was last month given a special Civil Service Award for running a propaganda campaign in the run-up to the referendum that was designed to terrorise the electorate into voting No. In their acceptance remarks, the team openly expressed pride for doing something that was, by their own admission, very close to being inappropriate. They were also entirely shameless in setting themselves up as personal enemies to half the population of Scotland, as opposed to defining themselves as public servants who were dispassionately following instructions from politicians.
Mario Pisani : “In the Treasury, everyone hates you. We don't get thanks for anything. This is one occasion where we've worked with the rest of Whitehall.
We all had something in common, we're trying to save the Union here, and it came so close. We just kept it by the skin of our teeth. I actually cried when the result came in. After 10 years in the civil service, my proudest moment is tonight and receiving this award.
As civil servants you don't get involved in politics. For the first time in my life, suddenly we're part of a political campaign. We were doing everything from the analysis, to the advertising, to the communications. I just felt a massive sense of being part of the operation. This being recognised [at the Civil Service Awards], makes me feel just incredibly proud."
Shannon Cochrane : “we've learned that it is possible for civil servants to work on things that are inherently political and quite difficult, and you're very close to the line of what is appropriate, but it's possible to find your way through and to make a difference.”
Paul Doyle : “This award is not just for the Treasury, it's for all the hard work that was done by all government departments on the Scotland agenda.
The reality was in all my experience of the civil service, I have never seen the civil service pull together in the way they did behind supporting the UK government in maintaining the United Kingdom. It was a very special event for all of us.”
I know there are many readers of this blog who would be completely opposed to the SNP becoming part of a full coalition at Westminster after the general election, but let me ask you this - isn't there some appeal in the idea that within just five months, the proudly anti-independence Mario Pisani could be required to follow direct instructions from an SNP minister at the Treasury? By the sounds of things, that's a development that really would make him "actually cry".
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The ever-reliable George Eaton has kept the laughs coming - he's claimed that Jim Murphy's Clause IV wheeze exhibits "the kind of imagination and creativity that will be required in the months ahead". Imagination? Really? Frankly, I'm struggling to think of anything LESS imaginative than a Blairite politician saying to himself : "Now, I need my own Clause IV moment, just like Tony. What could it possibly be? Wait, I know, why don't I rewrite Clause IV?"
The current abomination of a Clause IV as dreamt up by Blair starts promisingly enough by stating "The Labour party is a democratic socialist party", but then goes on to explain why the Labour party is not in fact a democratic socialist party. For my money, a new constitution needn't be longer than about twenty words to meet Jackanory Jim's specifications -
"The Labour party is a Democratic Socialist But party, and a Proud Scots But party. We love Irn-Bru."