Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The No campaign. You can't join it. Nobody speaks for it. Does it exist?

I really must resist the temptation to repost every single exchange I have with a certain controversial Labour activist on Twitter, but I feel that this one is very, very close to representing the pinnacle of the unique Hothersall art-form.  If you don't have time to read through the whole thing, it goes something like this.  Duncan thinks that the Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May does not speak for the No campaign, because she's an English Tory and only Scottish parties are officially part of the No campaign.  He doesn't need to have a view on whether she would be welcome to formally join the campaign, because it's not actually possible for her to join.  Well, OK, of course she can "join" - there's that big "join" button on the campaign's website, after all - but that doesn't mean she'd have really joined, she'd just be a sort of No campaign "fan".  He categorically wouldn't encourage non-Scottish parties to get involved in the campaign because it's supposed to be "made in Scotland", but that doesn't mean there is any inconsistency in his failure to attack the campaign's reliance on large donations from outwith Scotland, because when he said he wouldn't encourage non-Scottish parties to get involved that obviously didn't mean he was discouraging them from getting involved.  And please note that the fact he is neither encouraging nor discouraging them to do such a thing does NOT mean that he doesn't have an opinion either way.  Incidentally, another reason Theresa May doesn't speak for the No campaign is that the referendum isn't about the current UK government, it's only about future governments.  But even though Theresa May has every chance of being a member of one of those future governments, that still doesn't mean she can speak for the No campaign, because while the referendum may be about future governments, it isn't about the members of those future governments. That would be silly.

Duncan's zealotry in insisting that absolutely nobody at all is empowered to speak on behalf of the No campaign (not its own members, not the UK government, not Ed Miliband, not even Dunc himself) calls to mind that old Rory Bremner gag about Gerry Adams -

"I demand that the British government withdraw all troops from the north of Ireland without delay.  I demand that the DUP ceases its provocative language.  I demand that the RUC stop its harassment of the nationalist community."

"And should the IRA disarm, Mr Adams?"

"Well, it's not for me to tell the IRA what to do!"

*  *  *

Duncan Hothersall : Special #YesScot debating rule number 253: Alex Salmond doesn't represent Yes; but Theresa May represents No if its convenient.

Me : So what's your own view, Duncan? Do you embrace Theresa May as a representative of your own campaign, or not?

Duncan Hothersall : Of course not. From the moment the Section 30 order was passed the referendum became nothing to do with the UK government.

Me : But isn't she also a leading member of the Conservative party, your comrades in arms?

Duncan Hothersall : #Bettertogether is a campaign involving Scottish Labour, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Conservative Party.

Me : So English politicians can't speak on behalf of those parties? What sort of 'better together' is that?

Duncan Hothersall : Of course they can speak on behalf of their parties. But you can't pretend they speak on behalf of the No campaign.

Me : This is hurting my head, Duncan. Would you listen to yourself?

Duncan Hothersall : Theresa May does not speak on behalf of the No campaign. How hard can that be to grasp?

Me : Would you welcome her if she "joined" the No campaign?

Duncan Hothersall : In what sense could she?

Me : What on earth do you mean? Do you exclude on the grounds of race, or something?

Duncan Hothersall : What? Ludicrous leap after ludicrous leap. I asked how could she join the No campaign. Do you have an answer?

Me : To the best of my knowledge she is eligible to "join". Are you saying that's wrong? If so, on what basis is she barred?

Duncan Hothersall : How? It's a simple question. I'm not barring anyone from anything. How could she join the No campaign?

Me : By joining! There is a "join" option on the website, for pity's sake! Are you saying she's barred, or not? If she is, why?

Duncan Hothersall : Oh you mean as a supporter? Well of course. But that wouldn't mean she then spoke on its behalf, which was my point!

Me : Ah, so you're saying people who join have not really "joined"? They're just a sort of fan club? Another sham exposed.

Duncan Hothersall : No. I'm saying supporters aren't spokespeople for the campaign. It's not hard to understand.

Me : You've spent the last twenty minutes asking how May could join the No campaign. You seem to think there's a distinction.

Duncan Hothersall : You asked "Do you embrace Theresa May as a representative of your own campaign, or not?" and I answered very clearly.

Me : I then asked if you would welcome her if she joined the No campaign. You didn't seem to think she could. Why?

Duncan Hothersall : "You didn't seem to think she could." Evidence for this assertion? I asked how she could, I didn't say she couldn't.

Me : All right, so why did you ask, when the "join" option is prominently displayed on the website?

Duncan Hothersall : I'm not particularly familiar with the website.

Me : I'm appalled.

Dun Garbhan : Last week you declared Indy had nothing to do with Cameron and were proved wrong, as usual.

Duncan Hothersall : Proved wrong? It's an opinion. One shared by Alex Salmond until very recently ("a referendum made in Scotland").

Me : So why do you accept donations from outwith Scotland?

Duncan Hothersall : Me? I have never accepted a donation in my life. Why are you addressing me as if I am a spokesperson for BT?

Me : So this logic means that "Cybernats" are irrelevant to the SNP and the Yes campaign?

Duncan Hothersall : Sorry, which logic is this now? The fact that Theresa May isn't a spokesperson for the No campaign? Have we finally agreed that?

Me : The logic that you are not a representative of the No campaign. Wouldn't be pretending not to understand, would you, Duncan?

Duncan Hothersall : Of course I am not a representative of the No campaign. Did you seriously think I was?

Me : So "Cybernats" do not speak for the SNP or the Yes campaign. Correct?

Duncan Hothersall : Of course they don't. Who has ever claimed they do?

Me : Good. After all the obfuscation, an historic admission. It will be recalled.

Duncan Hothersall : (responding to another tweeter) That is a ludicrously broken piece of logic.

Me : Do you think it's a mistake to ban "non-Scottish" parties from Better Together, Duncan? Where's the togetherness?

Duncan Hothersall : Nobody's "banned". BT is a campaign set up by 3 Scottish parties which includes individuals from all parties and none.

Me : So would you encourage non-Scottish parties to get involved? All hands on pump, and all that?

Duncan Hothersall : No, I wouldn't.

Me : Why not?

Duncan Hothersall : Because the campaign is doing fine as it is.

Dun Garbhan : (responding to earlier comment) It flies in the face of reality. Fact - Cameron, UK Ministers, Treasury, MoD, DWP et al are all promoting NO.

Duncan Hothersall : And in my opinion it's none of their business.

Me : So would you agree it's not the business of donors outwith Scotland to bankroll the No campaign?

Duncan Hothersall : I'd prefer it if campaigning was state funded. Neither side should be reliant on private donors.

Me : But as there are private donors, would you discourage non-Scottish donations just as you've discouraged non-Scottish parties?

Duncan Hothersall : No, and I haven't "discouraged" non-Scottish parties. I merely answered your question.

Me : So you're neutral on whether non-Scottish parties should get involved? Do you have an opinion on anything?

Duncan Hothersall : Yes. I think you're wasting my time, and you know damn well Theresa May isn't a spokesperson for the NO campaign.

Me : Duncan, I've indulged your logical gymnastics, but in the real world everyone knows the UK government speaks for No.

Duncan Hothersall : "In the real world everyone knows" = "I can't justify it but this is what I want to be true".

Me : Your entire campaign is about the UK government continuing to rule Scotland - and yet they don't (and can't) "represent" you?

Duncan Hothersall : No, it isn't, and you know it. #indyref is about Scotland in the UK, not about the current UK government.

Me : I didn't say "the current" UK government - I said "the UK government". Next excuse?

Duncan Hothersall : You said the current UK government speaks for BT. #indyref is about future governments, not current governments.

Me : So on that basis would you accept that Theresa May might be representing you, but you don't know it yet?

Duncan Hothersall : Stop being silly. #indyref is about constitutional decisions, not individuals currently in power.

Me : Stop moving the goalposts. You said it was about "future governments". Theresa May might be in a future government, yes?

Duncan Hothersall : It's not about the members of future governments. Stop playing the daft laddie.

Me : So it's only about future governments collectively? But wouldn't May be bound by collective responsibility, as per tradition?

Duncan Hothersall : (no reply)


  1. An amazing exercise in denial there by Dunc.
    All this talk of Scottish Parties when he's actually talking about branches of British parties with varying amounts of power to dictate their owners' manifestos (starting at zero and not increasing much from there).
    This is emblematic of the BT mindset - living in denial in magic pretendy Scottish land. I refuse to believe the high-ups actually believe this stuff themselves.

  2. I am reminded here that the prime minister came to his Scottish party conference, where he could have talked about any number of problems facing the UK (including Scotland) over which he has control, but chose, instead, to major on the referendum.

    He then made it clear that he would not debate the subject with Alex Salmond, because it was nothing to do with him (Cameron).

    If it is nothing to do with the English parties, surely they should stop talking to journalists and at public meetings about it and leave it to Scots.

    Likewise the funding should be only from Scotland. Any funding from either side, from without Scotland, should be returned.

    Of course it isn't going to happen, but, in reality I have little problem with it.

    There's nothing Scots like better than being ordered about by posh Tories with plummy accents.

  3. Spot on Tris.
    I love it when Ed comes up north. :-)

  4. I've just picked out these three tweets from Duncan:

    Duncan Hothersall : #Bettertogether is a campaign involving Scottish Labour, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Conservative Party.

    Duncan Hothersall : Nobody's "banned". BT is a campaign set up by 3 Scottish parties which includes individuals from all parties and none.

    Duncan Hothersall : No, and I haven't "discouraged" non-Scottish parties. I merely answered your question.

    Is Duncan under the strange impression that "Scottish Labour", the "Scottish Conservative Party" and the "Scottish Liberal-Democrats" are actually real parties? None of these fantasy "Scottish" parties exist in the Electoral Commission's register of political parties.

    There are no parties whose headquarters are in Scotland, whose leaders are based in Scotland or whose membership is overwhelmingly Scottish in the Better Together campaign.

    Theresa May is senior to Ruth Davidson in the Conservative Party and a member of the UK Government. Theresa's party is also one of the members of Better Together so why are her comments on Scottish independence to be disregarded while Ruth Davidson's aren't?

    I think it's actually very funny and in a way very sad. Duncan is fighting hard as a british nationalist to promote the idea of one British nation and one British state and yet he still believes that Scotland has its own Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem parties separate from the British Labour Tory and Lib-Dem parties and that "non-Scottish" parties shouldn't get involved.

    If Duncan only wants Scottish Parties involved in Better Together he'd better get rid of the present bunch and replace them with the SNP, Scottish Greens and the SSP.