Thank you, Johann for the biggest laugh on the last day of the year. Reading the end-of-year bromides from our political leaders, I was absent-mindedly sipping my tea when I came across this.
Johann Lamont urged Scots to conduct the debate respectfully, especially as the eyes of the world would be upon them. “Will they see a healthy and invigorating debate about how we best cooperate and engage with our neighbours and exercise power to make a difference?”
My eyes widened in amazement. “Or will they see a bad-tempered debate, mired in bitterness and grievance? Will they see a divided country that has turned in on itself?” Now I was spraying English Breakfast across the IKEA kitchen tops. Johann accusing others of grievance and negativity…just picture in your mind that glowering face at FMQs, those sidling eyes, the pointing finger and hear that doom-laden, threatening voice.
Did she really say that? Has she seriously looked back at her leadership and thought it could be characterised as anything other than sour, negative and at times, insulting?
Oct 2012 Approves Salmond being called “barefaced liar” by Paul Martin.
April She refers to First Minister in chamber as “Wee Eck”.
Oct Labour leader Johann Lamont was twice asked to withdraw claims that the SNP Government was “dishonest”
Nov “It would seem we have a fool here who has no plan B on the currency.”
More than half her questions have been about independence yet she says that is Salmond’s obsession. Remember her stunt of having elderly patients with a grievance in the chamber and blaming the First Minister personally for their treatment, not the highly paid hospital managers. Talk about cheap and manipulative.
Add in Johann’s notorious description of nationalism as a virus and the Soviet-style expunging of her “something-for-nothing” speech and…oh, you get the point. Perhaps most disturbing is the way she mirrors the very characteristic she accuses Salmond of…self-delusion and a failure to acknowledge wrongs. I can’t help thinking there is more to Johann than we ever see and if only she could adopt on a day-to-day basis the tone she strikes in her New Year message, we could have a thoughtful debate to be proud of. But how long will it last? Until the first FMQs of 2014 is my bet.
I didn’t think Salmond himself had much to say except a theme that will recur…that this is the chance for change, don’t miss it. Don’t wake up the day after and regret it.
But Alistair Carmichael was best of all. He said to take care to think this through and check all the facts before you vote and not to act on a hunch but to use your head. Hear, hear. He said there was confusion over EU membership – you’re in the Cabinet Alistair, get them to write to Barroso for formal legal advice. Also, can you tell us if we will still be members after a UK referendum on the EU? He said there was doubt about the currency. Give us a definitive statement, Alistair. Is Osborne saying No or is he saying Maybe? Please clarify. He also says there are doubts about the costs of independence. That is true but he could clarify the costs of Union? The Institute for Fiscal Studies – much respected – says there will be tax rises after the next British election. There are more cuts of £47 billion planned which cannot be sustained without rises. Can you tell us how much those rises will be?
Lastly Alistair has confirmed my thesis outlined in Generation X – that this is not just about independence and that voting No is a positive vote for the UK as your country of preference over Scotland. He says: “A No vote to remain part of the UK should not merely be viewed as a rejection of independence. It should be seen as a positive and historic endorsement of the UK that generations of Scots have helped to build and improve.” There it is…the definitive statement. Vote for the UK because it takes precedence over Scotland. Vote No and effectively declare that Scotland is the second of your choices. You put Britain first and Scotland second. You are a proud Scot whose allegiance is to Britain. Now we’re getting somewhere. (I knew Alistair would be good for the debate).
By this time next year, the phoney war will be over and the first steps to a new Scotland under way…what a Hogmanay it will be.