Friday, January 6, 2012

Dragon-fire and moon-howlers

This blog is in severe danger of turning into @Admin4TheYoonYoon Tweet-Watch, but here goes anyway...

Tom Harris : Comment 22 under Michael Kelly's Scotsman article really makes you feel positive about Nats: "GTF back to Ireland"

Joan McAlpine : Poison is endemic on internet. I get plenty of it from unionists whether Lab, Con or Lib Dem.

Tom Harris : Yes, Joan - the biggest problem is with unionists' comments on newspaper sites...Good grief.

Well, as it happens, Tom, I'm in a rather good position to comment on this subject, because I'm a Nationalist whose name is Kelly (for good measure my middle name is Michael) and I have been repeatedly and 'robustly' informed by a delightful unionist poster over a period of months that I cannot possibly be a Scot, on the grounds that my ancestry is Irish/American/French-Canadian. The 'name' of the poster in question is Moniker of Monza, and he posts at Political Betting. There are dozens of his ilk at that site, and elsewhere online. So don't try telling me there isn't a massive 'CyberYoonYoonist' problem.

Oh, and the fact that I don't know the real names of any of those CYYs brings me neatly onto this -

Tom Harris : Calling all Nat moon-howlers: You want to be another "Braveheart"? Well "brave" doesn't equate to writing poison under a pseudonym.

A sentiment with which I can just spot the one minor problem, Tom - namely, why have you posted your 'less constructive' Labour Hame pieces under the pseudonym 'Admin'? Or at least that was your practice until the leadership campaign was safely lost. Is 'bravery' a quality that only Nats should ever be expected to aspire to?

To turn to the Michael Kelly article itself...well, perhaps the best way of summing it up is that it bears an uncanny similarity to the irate letters Norman Hogg used to write to Scotland on Sunday circa 1995, and even in those days it was like entering a time-warp. Exhibit A -

"He [Salmond] remembers taking Mrs Thatcher on, while the rest of us recall that it was the SNP that started the Thatcher era. By bringing down the Callaghan government in 1979, the SNP forced a general election at the time most propitious to the Tories, and thereafter they ruled the UK for the next 18 years."

My money's on 2543 (for the year that Labour will finally dispense with that particular chip on their shoulder). But let's run through the actual sequence of events yet again for Kelly's benefit. The facts are these - the SNP propped up an extraordinarily unpopular Labour government for years in the late 1970s, and did so because they believed that Callaghan was acting in good faith on Home Rule. But after Scotland voted Yes to devolution in March 1979, Callaghan refused to honour that mandate. So what exactly was the SNP supposed to do - carry on propping up a lame duck government in exchange for absolutely nothing? It's true that they didn't achieve anything by bringing the government down, but neither would they have achieved anything by taking the alternative course - there would still have been no Scottish Assembly, and Mrs Thatcher's rise to power would in all probability have been delayed by only a matter of weeks (five months at the absolute outside). The idea that Labour could have overturned a 20+ point deficit if only they'd been given an extra few weeks is risible in the extreme.

Besides which, it wasn't the SNP that brought Mrs Thatcher to power. It was the people of the UK who did so by voting for her in a general election. The most sacred belief of unionists like Michael Kelly is that the will of the people of the whole UK must hold sway in Scotland - this is known as 'maturity'. Callaghan's defeat in a vote of no confidence (in which Labour folk-hero Gerry Fitt's abstention was just as decisive as the SNP's votes, let's not forget) merely facilitated and mildly accelerated the process of the UK electorate choosing a government that was more to their taste. So why isn't Kelly able to celebrate that? Isn't the fact that he feels unable to do so (especially after thirty-three years, for heaven's sake!) a rather strong indication that he is on the wrong side of the constitutional debate?

"And he [Salmond] is trying his best to fix both the timing and wording of the referendum question – the former on the grounds that he promised it would be held late in this parliament: a promise for which there is as little evidence as for a dragon’s fiery breath."

You mean, apart from the footage from the leaders' debates, and from several high-profile interviews? If both I and Hugh Henry imagined all that, then clearly we both believe in dragons.

"However, the Thatcher stopper deserves credit for being so honest in the assessment of his role. It is further to his credit that he kept quiet about his heroics for so many years, allowing us to believe that it was Tony Blair and New Labour that finally lanced the Tory boil."

Please don't try to change the subject, Michael - Alex Salmond was talking about his role in the downfall of Thatcher in 1990, not the Tory government in 1997. And if we're being strictly accurate, she was actually brought down by fellow Tories. Indeed, there's more than a grain of truth in the old joke that the Tories won the 1992 election because they'd succeeded in doing what Labour had tried and failed to do for over a decade - remove Margaret Thatcher from office.

* * *

I must say I disagree with Subrosa on her call for an entirely new national anthem to replace Flower of Scotland. It seems to me there's a disconnect between the people and elites (including the SNP elite) on this subject - the people have already made their choice of anthem, but the elite simply can't leave it alone. My guess is that if a new song was commissioned, it would be a repeat of what happened in Russia following the collapse of communism - the public wouldn't take the new anthem to their hearts, and we'd have to revert to the old one again after a few years.

It's true, though, that the use of Flower of Scotland at sporting events needs a bit of imagination - it should be played fast, and definitely not by a pipe band.


  1. The whole Michael Kelly article is framed around a cheap shot at the FM's weight, but, of course, Harris has an inability to see the nastiness from his own side.

    He's also selective about that post, and I thought Labour folk were all about the context after the Diane Abbot tweet. The poster was stupid, but the mlication in the rest of the message is of the dichotomy of the Celtic man, with all the connotations f support for Irish Home Rule that club has with some of its fans, also being an Arch-Unionist

    Yes, it should not have been said, but there's your context

  2. BTW, I am third generation immigrant from Ireland and an SNP voter who wants Independence for Celtic AND who supports Celtic

    Just for some context

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Labour also provided the weakest opposition to Margaret Thatcher imaginable, first with Michael Foot and then with Neil Kinnock, two of the most unelectable people it is possible to imagine. Who can forget Kinnock’s memorable defeat by John Major in 1992. They seem intent on repeating this mistake with the truly ghastly Ed Milliband, who is doing considerably worse for Labour in the polls than they did with no leader at all!

    How the new Scottish Super-Leader JL will do remains to be seen. Hardly very high profile so far but its early days.

    As for “Admin” why are we even bothering to listen to this failed hack? He aint got that many greasy poles left to climb to the bottom of, as far as I can see!

    And the Scotsman (printed in England) if the cyber Nats did not read and comment on it all its second rate hacks would be out of a job, because God knows nobody else does. Just as well SNP support, membership and finances are so healthy then!

  5. Independence for Celtic should be Independece for Scotland, the perils of posting when you can't sleep and it is silly o'clock

  6. James,

    Excellent post and glad to see that you’ve got your mojo back.

    One of the reasons that the dullards in ‘Scottish’ Labour have got away with this ‘Thatcher was all the fault of the nats’ lie for so long is because most of them themselves don’t understand this period of history and, of the few that do, they know that most people in Scotland aren’t familiar with many of the details.

    It’s a convoluted tale (one of the reasons that it’s difficult for nationalists to provide a coherent counter to it). So, for those few in ‘Scottish’ Labour who do understand the period, it’s easier to collapse it into a soundbite (i.e. a lie). That way, they are safe in the knowledge that the MSM won’t provide any nationalist with the time to tell the truth and draw attention to the sheer incompetence of the Wilson and Callaghan governments in the period 1974-79.

    Curiously, if you read the memoirs of many of the senior English Labour and Conservative politicians of the period, they all address these and other events as causal factors in the rise of Thatcherism, but none of them make more than passing reference to the role of the SNP. Why might that be, I wonder?

    As for LabourHame, think about it. Why do you think that LabourHame publishes so many articles that bait nationalists? Could it be because they realise that, without the contributions of nationalists, LabourHame would be the most unbearably dull read on the Scottish blogosphere? They need us more than we need them. These people don’t want to have a ‘debate’, they want to win and get back into power and they will say and do anything to achieve that objective.

    As for Diane Abbott, you would think that a woman who sends her son to a private school would have the decency not to take the high moral ground on any “divide and conquer” argument. You’d think that someone like that would keep quiet and hope that no-one notices that she’s a hypocrite. It is an indication of how far Labour has moved to the right that you can still read commentators in the MSM who, without a trace of irony, refer to Diane Abbott as a ‘rebel’ or, (God help us) a ‘radical’.

    As it happens, Abbott was right, many white people have, and still do, use “divide and conquer” tactics to control ethnic minorities but it’s equally the case that many black people, like Abbott, use race as a power bid. The indecent haste with which Abbott provided her ‘apology’ to Ed Miliband and retracted her statement only demonstrated that, as with so many people in the Labour Party, she was only too happy to sacrifice her ‘principles’ to save her career.

  7. Great article, James.

    I wonder if any of the supporters of the notion that Salmond caused Thatcher to come to power, have explanations for why she won subsequent elections, and the Tories won yet another after she was gone?

    Has any of them have given consideration to the fact that an independent Scotland would not have had to tolerate what Malcolm Rifkind, no less, described as 'that bossy English woman'.

    And what, indeed, from unionists points of view, is wrong with Mrs Thatcher and her kind of government? It is exactly what the bulk of the UK population tends towards.

    If you believe in British style democracy, and in the union, then, regardless of your politics, you should be resigned to the fact that for most of the time the Camerons and Thatchers of this world will run the country.

  8. Incidentally, I voted for 'Flower of Scotland' too.

    I can't see the population taking to anything new after so long of accepting it as a quasi anthem.

  9. Tris,

    “I wonder if any of the supporters of the notion that Salmond caused Thatcher to come to power, have explanations for why she won subsequent elections, and the Tories won yet another after she was gone?”.

    What a brilliant question. And let’s not forget that Mrs. Thatcher also increased her Westminster majorities in her period in office – from 44 in 1979 to 100 in 1983 and 144 in 1987. While we’re on the subject, let’s remind ourselves that while this was occurring in England, Labour in Scotland won the 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1992 general elections both in terms of their share of the vote and, more emphatically, in terms of seats.

    If I didn’t strictly observe my position that nationalists should boycott LabourHame, I’d post the following question on that site:

    Suppose that we could transport you back to 1979. Knowing what you do now about Scotland’s experience as part of the UK over the last 40 years, would you still argue that Scotland should remain in the UK? Give reasons for your answer.

  10. Anon: The true answer would be: 'absolutely yes', and the reason: 'because I'm pretty much a Thatcherite'. But he'd probably not put it quite like that! In fact he probably wouldn't put it at all.

  11. Callaghan had a shout if he'd gone for an election in October 1978. I seem to remember there being a call for him to do exactly that. He bottled it, we got the Winter of Discontent and Callaghan and Labour were finished after that, whether they went under the vote of no confidence or waited for the inevitable election later that year. We got Thatcher for the same reason we got Cameron.

  12. The 1979 no-confidence vote on Callaghan's Government which brought it down still rankles with Labour.

    I suspect that part of the reason is that despite Labour happily hobbling the 1979 referendum with the 40% rule courtesy of scottish born Labour MP George Cunningham and the votes of Scottish Labour MP's Robin Cook, Peter Doig, Willie Hamilton and Bob Hughes among others and despite the fact that Callaghan refused to whip the Labour party to oppose the Repeal Order on the Legislation which was all that Cunningham's amendment demanded they still expected the SNP to support the Labour Government.

    The outrage the Labour party in Scotland still feel is that after bullying the upstart SNP new boy whose presence had caused all the devolution legislation he didn't sit in the corner and whimper as he should have but stood up and whacked the Labour party on the nose.

    Callaghan's Government was a dead man walking and unelectable after the Winter of Discontent and nothing the SNP did could have changed the fact that the Labour party in England was unelectable for 18 years until they elected a Tory as their leader and adopted the Tories' clothes so I think that punch was worth it from the squeals that still emanate from time to time from Labour.

    One interesting fact is that the Liberals, as they were at that time, voted with the SNP to take down Callaghan's Government but you never hear about their part in the vote from Labour sources and Labour were happy to cosy up to them in the Lib-Lab coalition in the Scottish Parliament.

    The silence on the Liberals part in the vote is telling and the outrage is all about how Labour still can't get over the fact that the SNP stood up to them and their dirty tricks in 1979.

    Braveheart is an interesting film simply for the effect it has had on a large segment of the Scottish population.

    Strangely enough it's a segment that most commentators ignore when they talk about Braveheart and that is the Unionist community in Scotland.

    For most nationalists a film which, although essentially cowboys in kilts, treated Scotland as a nation not as a regional accent or regional rebels was uplifting but not dramatically and the idea of Scotland as a nation not a region was nothing new to them.

    For the Unionist community it was traumatic and that's the the reason Tom Harris and all the unionists can't get it out of their heads.

    The film came out in 1995 but the wound in their psyches from a film which described a non-British history for Scotland is still bleeding.

  13. Tris,

    I should say that my question wasn’t only directed at Tom Harris but at all members of ‘Scottish’ Labour today. Of course, we don’t need to ask them this as an entirely hypothetical question really, do we? After all, with a Tory government back in power at Westminster today and with ‘Scottish’ Labour arguing that we’re ‘stronger together and weaker apart’ and criticising the SNP for ‘picking fights with Westminster’ they’ve given us their answer. If ‘Scottish’ Labour today could be transported back to 1979, they’d put us through it all - Thatcher, Major and New Labour - all over again without hesitation.


    Well said and beautifully put.

  14. Excellent analysis, Doug. I'd almost say it should be required reading for anyone interested in the recent political history of Scotland.

    Wee Jimmy's appointment of Admin represents a ramping up of Scottish Labour's hostility of the SNP, this time with the view to taking the battle to the nats in cyberspace. The irony, of course, is that nats can point to the likes of Duncan over on Labourhame to see the type of bile yoonyoonists spout to illustrate that it's hardly a one way street (not to mention posts from the good Admin himself).

    The question about a tory government within the UK or an independent Scotland is one that Wee Jimmy & co should be forced to answer (even though we all know what that answer would be). They should be hit with this question at every opportunity. If Murphy does take the stand next to Cameron,it would neutralise any of his usual rhetoric if he's forced to choose between rule by Call-Me-Dave or an independent Scotland.

  15. "despite the fact that Callaghan refused to whip the Labour party to oppose the Repeal Order on the Legislation which was all that Cunningham's amendment demanded they still expected the SNP to support the Labour Government"

    And of course the main reason Callaghan refused to do that is he knew that enough anti-devolution Labour MPs would defy the whip to defeat him. Which tells the real story of who it was that actually sabotaged the Labour government.