Monday, February 14, 2011

Souter's donation is no dilemma

Brian Souter posed me a dilemma just over a decade ago. I normally believe in exercising the right to vote at every possible opportunity I get, so it was difficult to resist the temptation to take part in something as unique as a privately-organised nationwide referendum. However, the opponents of Section 28 were adamant that the best way of defeating Souter's agenda was to abstain, so I heeded that advice and stuffed the ballot forms in a dusty drawer, where they probably still reside (albeit hopefully accompanied by a different generation of dust). In fact, my only regret is that it didn't occur to me to do what apparently quite a few other people did, which was to simply return the envelope without a ballot paper inside, ie. to needlessly cost Souter the postage.

So, to put it mildly, I wasn't on the same page as the Stagecoach tycoon in relation to Section 28. But the problem for those who criticise the SNP's decision to accept his latest large donation is that it's not remotely clear how that issue is actually relevant. Has the cause of equality for gay people taken a backward step as a result of a Souter-funded SNP winning power four years ago? I'd suggest the answer is fairly obviously no, so any 'fears' about what the repercussions might be this time seem very synthetic.

Meanwhile, the best thing about the donation is the way it's completely transformed the media narrative about the election. Whether that's temporary or long-lasting remains to be seen, but the powerful message many newspaper readers will have received this weekend is that the SNP are very much back in the game.


  1. One popular approach, I hear, was to return the envelope stuffed with rocks, so that he'd have to pay the postage on that.

  2. Delicious irony is that some of his money will be helping gay MSP's directly or indirectly.