Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dubious legality and unpardonable folly

I agree with the general consensus that Road to Referendum has been an excellent series that has hopefully presaged the broadcast media upping their game in covering the referendum. However, there was a factual howler in the final episode last night that really troubled me. Iain Macwhirter's narration suggested that one reason the SNP had struggled in the 1999 Holyrood election was that Alex Salmond found himself completely out of step with public opinion over "the United Nations bombing of Serbia". In reality of course, not only was the bombing of Serbia categorically not a United Nations operation, it wasn't even authorised by the UN. That is precisely what Mr Salmond was getting at when he described the unilateral action by NATO as being of "dubious legality". There was never even the slightest chance of UN authorisation, because of the veto powers of both Russia and China on the Security Council.

Leaving aside the factual error, did Salmond's stance on Kosovo really cost the SNP the 1999 election? Hardly. In fact, it may even have gained them a few votes, because a substantial minority of the electorate were opposed to the war, and it's reasonable to suppose that those people may have been more passionate about the subject than the majority who were willing to give Blair and Clinton the benefit of the doubt. No, Macwhirter himself put his finger on the real explanation for the election result - there was sufficient goodwill at that time towards Donald Dewar and Tony Blair that it was Labour's election to lose. And they didn't do anything to lose it. If the SNP made any kind of tactical misstep, it was the Penny for Scotland campaign rather than anything to do with Kosovo.

* * *

You've got to hand it to the "UK" Independence Party - they really are a class act. Having launched their Aberdeen Donside by-election campaign in the entirely logical location of a pub 125 miles away in Edinburgh, they went on to send a letter to the deceased MSP they want to replace, requesting his vote. Now they've given us a potted history lesson on how the SNP ceased to be an "anti-English" party after winning a by-election in Stirling that never in fact took place, but which Nigel Farage is quite sure he once read about in a book.

In the highly unlikely event that UKIP do win tomorrow, presumably their chap will turn up at the Welsh Assembly and demand to be sworn in.


  1. Great fun. I saw Nigel comparing the SNP to the EDL and then claiming he had read a history of the party, and that its founders in the 30s and 40s were anti-English....err.....just like the English Defence League? When asked he couldn’t name any of the party’s founders who were so anti-English, but went on to display all the knowledge he has read by saying that the SNP only began to be taken seriously when they stopped being anti-English and started being pro-Scottish at the Stirling by-election in the 1960s. It must have been Jim Sillar’s potted history of the SNP that Farage had read, that did not include the names of the party founders and moved a seminal 60s by-election from Hamilton to Stirling. Jim wasn’t a member of the party then remember! It was refreshing to see Nigel having a coffee instead of his usual pose quaffing a pint or two in the local boozer. Or using Nigel’s own notion of local in Scotland one that’s 125 miles from the by-election, the campaign for which your launching. It must be the same geography book Nigel consulted when looking to see where that pesky by-election was held.

    Either Nigel is a first class tit or he is so arrogant that he, like his other English colleagues (who love and respect our oil...oops I mean the Scots so much), thinks we are all too drunk all the time or too stupid to listen to the guff they spout. And that they can thus patronise us by doing no homework at all, saying whatever comes into their heads and expecting us to just accept it without thinking. Incredible!

  2. In 2003 when the Scottish Parliament campaign was held during the start of the Gulf War it seemed that the Scottish Elections seemed to take place when there was conflict abroad. It was a bit ironic that the SNP defeated the Labour MSP who was anti-war by 90 votes, helped by the SSP candidate who stood down and advised the SSP supporters to vote for him. They didn't, they voted SNP instead.

  3. i supported the, Penny for Scotland, and still think it was the correct stance, if somewhat politically naive. too many, something for nothing, in our society!!!!!! :-)

  4. He is a chancer.

    He started this by-election with the policy of repatriating all powers to Westminster and allowing MPs only to sit in Holyrood one week a month to discuss matters relating to Scotland. (He must have got the idea from his hated European parliament.)

    He then discovered that there were matters which were left to Scotland under the terms of the 1707 act, and had to revise this policy.

    He seems not to have considered that serious politician check facts before spouting off.

    I think we should prepare ourselves for UKIP making a bit of progress, though, given the publicity they have had over the last few weeks.