Monday, 16 January 2012

Could Independence Supporters Become The 'Nice' Side?

Why are so many SNP supporters - particularly on Twitter - declaring absolute horror at Tom Harris's production of a Downfall video?  Downfall parodies involving politicians have been made all over the world but they're soon removed by the film maker as a breach of copyright. Let me stress, I'm not condoning Tom Harris's appallingly bad taste for using the medium to mock the SNP - his action was well out of line for an MP - but I never heard any strong objections when Gordon Brown was depicted in a similar manner.

Last week, the MSP Joan McAlpine, made two totally unnecessary, ill-advised blunders. Firstly she tweeted: 'Interfering in referendum is anti-scottish as is refusal to compromise on popular desire 4 powers to Scotland.'  Then, to compound her initial error, she made this statement during the debate in the Scottish Parliament:

''I absolutely make no apology for saying that the Liberals, the Labour Party and the Tories are anti-Scottish ... in coming together to defy the will of the Scottish people, the democratic mandate the Scottish people gave us to hold a referendum at a time of our choosing.''

I was listening to the debate on DemocracyLive and couldn't believe my ears. Surely someone, with Joan McAlpine's experience of the media, hadn't called those who didn't agree with SNP policies anti-Scottish?  She had. Later, she did her best to defuse the situation by saying her remarks were aimed at the leadership of the unionist parties. Joan was reading from a pre-prepared speech. Her remarks weren't 'off the cuff'. If she meant the leaders of those parties then she should have made that clear.

I'm not alone in thinking Joan McAlpine's foolishness obliterated the superiority gained by Alex Salmond in the week's political brinkmanship shenanigans.

Some SNP supporters say their anger at Tom Harris's parody is due to certain opposition politicians, in the past, using the word Nazi in connection with their party and their leader in particular. If that is the case then they ought to be bringing these specific grievances to the fore rather than showing outrage at a Downfall spoof. I was far more angry at an MP behaving in this way.

When I was researching this I came across the question 'Is Alex Salmond a modern day Hitler?' One of the responses was superb:

Yes. I've been conscripted into the Salmond Youth. We will be spending our weekends camping and knitting whisky.

I would suggest that the commenter is perhaps an independence supporter who sees the banality of unionists comparing the SNP with the Nazis and has a good sense of humour.  Of course, any such comparisons are disgraceful and should be treated with the contempt they deserve, but if opposition parties are handed ammunition on a plate, as they clearly were by Joan McAlpine, the blame must lie with the person who fired the gun.  Name calling is not positive campaigning. It belongs to the playground not to the political arenas our political representatives frequent.

A very important aspect of the campaign will be the manner in which supporters of all sides conduct themselves and the public perceive them. Alex Salmond will keep his cool and his excellent PR team will, I hope, swiftly rebut offensive remarks from the opposition. If his supporters stick to the facts and be calm when countering attacks from bullies, the public will notice, because they know two wrongs don't make a right.

Those in favour of independence could become known as the Nice Side. Wouldn't that be a first in politics?

Update:  It would appear Mr Harris has received his reprimand.  Johann Lamont obviously realised her party could not - or perhaps would not - defend him.


Captain Ranty said...


I think we both know this will get uglier and uglier as time passes.

Vested interests, bias, and sheer garbage will be the order of the day.

I notice in today's P&J that Salmond has said (if independence is won) that we "..will use sterling for a short time before moving to the Euro".

In which case, I will put my house on the market and head south.

Only a moron would join a currency in its death throes.

Very disappointing.


forfar-loon said...

Captain Ranty, worth considering that if the Euro is indeed in its death throes then it probably won't be around to be an option for an independent Scotland. I wouldn't worry too much about joining the Euro just yet!

SR, I just find the Tom Harris debacle hilarious. That of all people Labour's adviser on new media should screw up in this way...brilliant! NB the offending video still hasn't been pulled! Are Labour really so appalled by it I wonder?

subrosa said...

The currency issue and the EU need to be discussed at length CR and, should independence come to pass, I don't think Eck will have the final word on either.

The control of the country cannot be left solely in the hands of one man.

Unfortunately the quality of opposition politicians is so poor that there is no sensible contributions from these sides.

subrosa said...

Forfar-loon, it's fair to say, after the events of the past couple of years, that the Euro will never rid itself of its current stigmas for some considerable time.

I wonder too. Maybe Ms Lamont wanted to show who's boss? :)

William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
subrosa said...

I'm surprise someone with Joan's experience made such glaring errors William.

Yes I'm possibly an outsider because I don't belong to any political party.

No I'm not hostile to my, or any other nation - until they invade of course. :)

Clarinda said...

I suspect Mr Salmond and the SNP are far more long-sighted and circumspect than is realised by many in the so-called Holyrood Opposition, Westminster and MSM - the SNP is wise not to burn any boats including the holed EU tub and it's broken oar, the Euro, before we know the actualities of the world when we are further along the route to or gain Independence. I agree that the Euro may not exist in six months time never mind three years. Reading the comments today by EU officials on the fear-mongering claptrap from Westminster the SNP are well regarded rather than spurned as is Mr Cameron in his recent EU tantrum which is bad news for the UK at the moment. I don't particularly hold a candle for the EU but there is little point making enemies when Westminster and the MSM are doing such a miscalculated hatchet job. Has it not struck some people that Ms McAlpine's astute but robust observation pales when reading and listening to some of the vile anti-Scottish commments and behaviours from so called British institutions, representatives and citizens over the decades that appear to pass unchallenged - never mind the shocking racist comments in some comment and blog threads. Why have comments on the alleged Scottish BBC news site been blocked for the last two months compared to the open comments on English, Welsh and NI similar BBC sites - anti-Scottish? Perhaps unwise to be quite so cuttingly clear so early - afterall we have only waited 300 years - but are her words untrue? What's the saying - "the truth hurts"? She was afterall calling the Scottish leaders of the unionist parties "anti-Scottish" in attempting to interfere with a process to which the majority Scottish Government, and the sovereign people of Scotland are entitled.

There are things that the SNP do not do to my personal selfish satisfaction but I will resist as I am unwilling to sabotage our potential for Independence - there is plenty to lawfully and factually challenge in the unionist tripartate that is much more significant for the best interests of Scotland before we turn on our own. I almost welcome Mr Harris's youtube effort as it is more evidence of the negativity dividend when the unionists have not been able to produce a single reason providing the positive case why Scotland should remain dependent on Westminster or perhaps vice versa. This, perhaps, what was really behind Ms McAlpine's inference to the lack of a positive attitude towards Scotland from the unionists.

I wonder too, why the unionists have so far failed to respond to the democratic SNP offer for producing a 'Devo Max' option if they are so keen - as Ms Lamont states - for further powers. Would this further demonstrate how much better Scotland would be and what would be subtracted from Westminster coffers. Little wonder the Tories in particular wanted to bump the referendum forward with only one question?

I agree about keeping cool - but it's tricky when there is little difference between keeping cool and telling the truth!

Gedguy said...

To be fair, subrosa, the comment was taken totally out of context, but, having said that, this is not the first time that the Unionist media have done this to her. They have no answers as to why Scotland should remain in the Union so they resort to this type of spinning. It will only get worse.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

In truth and to truth politics is an anathema.

Politicians on both sides of the divide would do well to remember it's not their place to decide any issue but to expose facts for what they are and fiction for what it is in order for the people to base decisions on substance rather than the whimsy of style or the idolatry of icons.

My concern is, while at the moment the SNP may be ahead of the 'political game', by taking part in it we may win the game and in doing so remain within it.

The political game as its played now in the UK the EU and much of the Western world, is not the political model I would hope for in an independent Scotland.

subrosa said...

I don't think her comment was astute Clarinda and it was certainly not clear she meant only the leaders, be it of the London parties or their Scottish branches.

We mustn't meet like with like. As I say two wrongs don't make a right.

Indeed the BBC shows their anti-Scotland and also, according to English friends, their reporting is Anti-English too. Their love of saying Britain when it should be England niggles many south of the border.

It was a furore we could have done without last week as it removed Alex Salmond's advantage. So unnecessary.

subrosa said...

I heard the speech Gedguy. It was running on my computer here. My first thoughts were she was calling anyone who disagreed with the government anti-scottish.

In speeches it's not for the listener to have to assess what the speaker means. It's the job of the speaker to make themselves clearly understood.

Fortunately the SNP's PR managed eventually to close it down and Tom Harris acted as a buffoon. His actions this weekend were immensely helpful in taking the heat off the SNP.

However, it was something that was unnecessary and you're right, it will only get worse. We need to do our best to rise above it.

subrosa said...

I'd agree Crinkly but it will take a few more generations perhaps before Scotland develops - if it ever does - a new form of governance.

I had hopes for the SNP but they have decided to follow in the footsteps of their predecessors. It's easy that way and our current statute book encourages it.

Gedguy said...

pa_broon74 said...

It was a silly thing to say for a number of reasons, if she'd (Joan McAlpine) only used the word 'democratic' instead of 'Scottish'.

There was a Hitler-Bunker-spoof on youtube about the trams which I thought was funny, while I haven't seen the thing Tom Harris put up, I'm not bothered by it.

I'm not keen when people become insensed when they see something which attacks their beliefs but who remain quiet when the same media or vehicle is used in support of it.

I'm not keen generally on hysterical outbursts based on imagined offence at all if I'm being honest. It's just not very mature.

William said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
subrosa said...

Thanks for the link Gedguy. Fair comment from Caron.

subrosa said...

Or, pa_broon, suggested in a round-about way that they didn't have Scotland's interests foremost in their minds.

I too become weary of the faux indignation, that's why I think a little dignity would do not harm.

subrosa said...

William, I have no knowledge of her time at the Herald, although I did hear mutterings at the time.

JRB said...

‘Independence’. What exactly do we mean by that?
For me, it means not depending on the control, authority of, or obligation to another.

So why would we wish to free ourselves from the fetters that tie us to Westminster only to hand those self same fetters to the control of Brussels, the Euro and the super-state that has become the EU.
Such would not be ‘Independence’.
We would be merely swapping one master for another.
‘Out of the frying pan, into the fire’ immediately springs to mind.

As for Mr Harris and Ms McAlpine they merely debase the entire argument, and alienate those whose support they would seek.
Labour has dealt with Mr Harris appropriately.
I await the SNP to do the same with Ms McAlpine.

Clarinda said...

I can't imagine for a moment that Mr Harris MP will now be less of an "attack dog" (as he described the necessity of their presence,and his, in political 'debate') through his demotion from Media McTsar - apparently with the lead from Ms J Lamont MSP. I didn't realise Scottish MSPs had such sway over MPs? I wonder, therefore, if his demotion was more of a Westminster-backed ploy to cajol the SNP into the same action over Ms McAlpine and appear to gain some moral high ground as the spoof video wasn't that good or bad!

I agree two wrongs do not make a right - but they both have to actually be wrongs in the first place and not selected sound bites out of context or flat-footed amateur comic timing.

I am concerned when facts (and I recognise the valid argument by Crinkly) are sidelined by style over content - but isn't that just the rough and tumble of politics. Keeping cool in this particular kitchen will just get harder in the coming months.

pa_broon74 said...


I'm not a huge fan of the EU but is it not the case that we never can be totally independent, I mean, we're always going to have to be compromising with someone on thee world stage, be it the EU or the USA or China?

As I see it, I worry the SNP might be a wee bit too keen on the EU but at least we'd get more say as Scotland than we do as being part of the uk which is really no say at all.

We're going to have to kiss some ones arse, we may as well try to maximise the say we have on who we pucker up for.

So to speak.

Brian said...

Perhaps the franchise for the referendum should be limited to SNP voters as everyone else is anti-Scottish and would not vote with the best interests of Scotland in mind. I fear the SNP's massive majority in the Scottish Parliament has gone to certain MSPs' heads. Once a powerful party assumes it is the same as the State (eg,allegedly taking operational command of the Police by ordering them not to attend polling stations)it is paradoxically threatened by any degree of opposition.
I am disappointed as I had hoped the Scots heritage of excellent education and culture would have enabled a high quality debate on all aspects of independence and union.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

PB -74; surely there's a world of difference between a sovereign state forging alliances and that of relinquishing its sovereignty in order to join a club run as a kleptocracy and, given present circumstances, an incompetent - some might say corrupt - one to boot?

Repeating another post, I for one can only hope Salmond is acting the canny general by choosing only to fight on one front for the time being.

Key bored warrior. said...

Clarindas post was right on the money in my humble opinion. Joan was quoted out of context, but that is the way this game is played. As it happens I agree that these leaders who conspired together in Holyrood for four years when the SNP had a minority government, to deny the Scots there referendum are anti Scottish, in the same way as they are anti Scottish as they circle the wagons in Westminster to try and trip up the referendum again. lets not forget the Cunningham (Labour MP) amendment in 79 which hijacked the first referendum on Devolution. That was anti Scottish.

Do you think that the odious Davidson was being anti Scottish when he shouted "who cares" in the Commons during Scottish Questions?

Was the little twerp Alexander being anti Scottish when he was allowed to mug Nicola Sturgeon on Question Time last week by Dimbelby.

Here is what Joan said:"I make absolutely no apology for saying that the Liberals, the Labour Party and the Tories are anti-Scottish in coming together to defy the will of the Scottish people"

And this is what Alexander quoted on QT: "I make absolutely no apology for saying that the Liberals, the Labour Party and the Tories are anti-Scottish"

He left out the most important part of the quote, which is not surprising given that it flags up once more the cabal formed by the unionist parties seeking to deny Scotland her democratic voice.

For four years they plotted and schemed with the Torys to block the referendum, now that the mandate was removed from them by the Scottish electorate last year, they are screeching to have it immediately on there terms.

Cameron and Moore and Osborne are now stumbling around in a mine field, and have no map to get out.

The point illustrated by Joan McAlpine is this. These Ukanians are fighting tooth and nail for their own survival, their own vested interests, their hard earned patronage and privilege is under threat like never before. The well trodden steps to the hallowed chamber that is the Lords by these hypocrites is slowly but surely being drawn further and further from their greedy grasping little pink pointy hands. They can see it and hear it, you can smell their fear. Are they therefore anti Scottish by being pro self. By God they are.

Alex Salmond is fallible as are all the SNP in line with the rest of us. but of this I am sure they all put Scotland first.

RMcGeddon said...

It's quite a funny video ( although it would be better if it was more accurate). In a different time it would just be laughed off. The problem is that Labour have made a rod for their own backs with all their 'cybernat' nonsense so anything they say will also be pounced on. And we all pay the price with poor politicians who spend their time on this nonsense at great expense to us.
I had a quick look at Tom's info on 'they work for you' and can see where he gets his spare time from...

"Has spoken in 13 debates in the last year — well below average amongst MPs.
Has received answers to 10 written questions in the last year — below average amongst MPs.

Replied within 2 or 3 weeks to a medium number of messages sent via during 2008, according to constituents.

Has voted in 52.26% of votes in this Parliament with this affiliation — well below average amongst MPs. (From Public Whip)"

He has written for 5 newspapers ( recieving up to £5K from the Daily Mail)
His expenses are eye watering but not unusual looking at other MPs'.

Is it any wonder people are fed up with our 'representatives' ?

source ( assumed to be accurate but apologies if not)

subrosa said...

JRB you know we have the same views regarding the EU. It's the elephant in the room.

subrosa said...

Clarinda, I have no doubt he will be hanging around although now 'unofficially'.

I just can't understand why you think that part of Joan's speech was 'out of context'. It was crystal clear what she was saying and it sounded poor at the time. It still does.

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. :)

subrosa said...

Pa-broon, I think the SNP are going to have to address the EU business eventually. Too many people here are beginning to wonder about their policy.

To say the Scots aren't concerned about it is quite untrue.

subrosa said...

I'm disappointed too Brian. I watched nearly all of the referendum debate last week and there were only a couple of speakers who were better than a school debating team. John Swinney was one. On his summing up he balanced humour with knowledge and understanding of others views in a well-rounded way.

subrosa said...

We have around 1000 days the MSM say Crinkly, but the issues required to be rehashed repeatedly.

subrosa said...

In what way was it out of context KBW?

Joan is a professional journalist. She made her previous living writing. She knows more than most the pitfalls of politicians vs journalists, yet she decided to write a speech saying what she did.

Her context was perfectly clear. If she had meant 'only leaders' I'm sure she would have said that. After all it was a speech she had pre-prepared.

Of course there are plenty incidents of politicians insulting Scotland, but last week wasn't the time to call anyone who disagreed with the SNP anti-Scottish.

I would have preferred a more mature expression such as democracy - I think Brian mentioned that. Anti Scotland's wellbeing or development could have been other descriptions.

In many ways I'm glad the anti-Scottish business has been hit on the head now. It doesn't go down well with voters and by that I mean my friends. The majority vote SNP but have been uncomfortable with the continual accusation that people were anti-Scottish. They are two words which stick in the mind as negative.

footdee said...

William writes--

"I'm surprised you are surprised, SR. This is how all nationalist movements are played out."-----and no one does it better than the British nationalists

footdee said...

Does this mean the unionists wont call independence supporters anti British?

Key bored warrior. said...

Rosie if you look at my post I show how Alexander quoted out of context. To leave out half of her explanation was just malicious and oozing with the mendacity and snide that Alexander and the rest of his bunch are so well practised in.

For Labour and the rest of the Ukanians to jump up and down and try and get her sacked when it is quite clear she was referring to the actions of the anti independence parties in London, and not to the electorate, is just the worst form of hypocrisy and cheap nasty politics we have come to expect from them. She was absolutely right in my opinion. It needs to be said and she said it.

How can anyone looking at the history of these events and the actions and scaremongering lies of the anti independence parties, not come to the conclusion that their actions are about them selves and their survival, and nothing to do with Scotland. Their negative lies and hysterical screeching is killing unionism stone dead. Alex Salmond is absolutely right to wait until 2014, they will be in meltdown by then.

Key bored warrior. said...

PS The only thing I will find fault with is she has picked up on the latest unfortunate description of the common good by referring to people as "coming together." Is it just me or does any one else get a wee bit uncomfortable when hearing politicians using this terminology. Given what we know about their morals.

subrosa said...

Footdee, I should have said to William he should replace 'nationalist movements' with 'political parties'. It's too easy for others to label nationalists as more passionate (?) than others.

Oh we'll hear anti-British I'm sure, as well as anti-Scottish. But I hope not in formal speeches in the Scottish parliament.

subrosa said...

KBW, Alexander's behaviour on QT did him far more harm than good in the eyes of the general public - if I can call 3 of my English friends as being representative. Each one asked me what he was on about and mentioned how ill-mannered he was.

Plus they asked about Nicola and said how well she handled it.

So it was Nicola 1, Alexander 0, Dimbleby 0 for the five minutes.

Oh dear, I do agree with many of your points but to harp back to Joan's speech and the context. The subject was the independence referendum and her remarks were about those who did not support independence.

It's silly generally calling a Scot anti-Scottish. Doesn't make sense does it? Mind you, there's Gordon Brown... :)

J. R. Tomlin said...

I keep wondering what is so horrible about saying that defying the expressed will of the people of Scotland is anti-Scottish. One would think that it was.

As for Tom Harris I saw very little horror on Twitter. I did see quite a bit of finger-pointing at Mr. Harris's stupidity. It was totally unoriginal as has been pointed out and was as stupid when done regarding Mr. Brown. Tom Harris apparently thinking this was hilarious only shows a lot about him and nothing about anyone else.

There is a reason why in internet tradition, the moment you call someone a Nazi you are considered to have last the argument.

subrosa said...

That's not what was said though Jeanne. The opposition parties now accept there will be a referendum.

I'd agree with your last sentence. True, they lost the argument then.

Observer said...

Late to this one but Lordy do I agree with you that Ms McAlpine was giving a hostage to fortune with those words.

She needs to stop being a cybernat blogger & start acting like an MSP.

Observer said...

The irony about the Downfall parody is that the first one I saw featured Gordon Brown. I initially laughed but then felt guilty because it wasn't really funny.

It wasn't funny then & it isn't funny now, & actually demeans what is an utterly brilliant film.

subrosa said...

She does Observer but she's more interested in her journalism than learning the ropes I think.

I suppose Downfall is the modern style of parody but it's become stale and yes, the film was brilliant.

Stoo said...

I have to say, what infuriates me is the deliberate misrepresentation of what Joan McAlpine said. This blog has just repeated that mistake. Is it deliberate, or is the author choosing to hear what she wants to hear, just like everyone else who chose to be 'offended'?

Subrosa. She absolutely did not say that if you disagree with SNP policy you are anti-scottish. We're not talking about minimum alcohol pricing here. The unionist parties were banding together, both north and south of the border, to try to dictate to a democratically elected Scottish Government the terms on which our country can hold a referendum on possibly the biggest issue of all: self-determination.

Now, was it unwise to use such language? Perhaps. But Margaret Curran or Cathy Jamieson (not sure which) called the Tories anti-scottish in the Westminster parliament not so long ago, and I didn't see anyone jumping up and down then.

By the way, CR (first reply), Salmond said "we will continue to use Sterling until the people of Scotland decide otherwise". That's a direct quote from an interview on channel 4 news. In otherwords, we'll have a referendum on the euro.

subrosa said...

Hello Stoo.You're right, she did not say that if you disagree with SNP policy you are anti-scottish. Neither did she say, as she has been trying to convince the public, that she mentioned it was the leaders of the parties she mentioned.

Stoo, I listened 3 times to what she said (I was watching the debate on DemocracyLive) and I'm afraid the only conclusion I could reach was that she meant everyone who was against independence.

Do you honestly think Westminster would jump up and down at something like that? It's loaded with unionists who, for their own reasons, want to keep Scotland.

I'm sorry if you disagree with me but I will not admit to a mistake. Joan McAlpine is a professional journalist and writer. Her speech was pre-prepared. She knows the pitfalls of the media far better than most MSPs.

There was no need to over-reach herself to this degree. The quality of the debate, until it reached her, was fairly tedious but reasonably courteous.

There is no misrepresentation, deliberate or otherwise. I know what I witnessed and was taken aback, particularly when it came from someone who ought to know better. The parliament is not a place where anyone should be called anti-Scottish, no matter what personal opinion a member has.

Thankfully the Tom Harris business defused her blunder slightly. She's certainly managed to get her name known amongst my friends - two of whom asked 'who was that angry, silly woman'.

Her anti-scottish remark was completely unnecessary. During the debate all sides accepted that there would be a referendum and Joan spoke towards the end. That's what makes the whole business sad and blotted the success of the SNP's week.

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