Sunday, 15 January 2012

A different quality of debate? Not likely.

It's depressing how quickly the independence debate has descended into petty squabbling, character assassination and downright lies. I'm talking, of course, about the Joan McAlpine incident. I've been an admirer of Joan for some time - her articles are informative, her blog was always interesting (until becoming an MSP slowed down the updates), and the contributions from her in the Holyrood chamber that I've seen have been excellent (I particularly enjoyed her contribution to the Scottish Studies debate). She's never come across as the knuckle-dragging, swivel-eyed, drooling anti-English type of nationalist that she is being portrayed as, so when I heard that she'd called people who didn't believe in independence "anti-Scottish", I was more than a little surprised. Of course, she said no such thing, but this is how it was being reported on Twitter.

What Joan actually said in the chamber was:
"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"
Now, what exactly is so bad about that? She's clearly talking about the MPs of those three parties and how they acted in the House of Commons the day before, and if their behaviour - the coalition conspiring to impose sanctions and stipulations on the Scottish Government's referendum, thereby denying the Scottish people the referendum they voted for in May, and Labour backing them to the hilt - is not anti-Scottish, then what the heck is it? Pro-Scottish? Some of the contributions would be lucky to make it past moderation on the Scotsman comments pages, and the treatment of the SNP MPs was even more disrespectful than normal.

Now, I highlighted part of her quote in bold because this was the significant part that Douglas Alexander chose to omit when reading his version of the quote on Question Time. What he read was:
"I make absolutely no apology for saying that the Liberals, the Labour Party and the Tories are anti-Scottish"
Was there a full stop, comma or other predicate-ending punctuation or word there? I think not, so he's not giving a full quote. Now, being the snivelling little toad that he is, he claims that this is what Joan McAlpine said. Well, it's certainly true that she "said" this insofar as these words came out of her mouth, in the same order that he quoted them - but it is not what she actually said. By leaving out the rest of the sentence, he has fundamentally changed the intent behind the words. No longer is Joan criticising the behaviour of MPs in this one incident; suddenly, she is saying that those parties are quite simply anti-Scottish by their very nature, ingrained into their DNA. But his is not what she was actually saying.

If the chinless, rodent-cheeked member of parliament for Paisley & Refrewshire South had misquoted Joan, claiming that she had uttered words which had not come from her mouth, he would be accused of lying. Well, I don't see what is so different about misquoting someone by deliberately omitting words in order to change the meaning behind what the person said. There were things said in the Commons on Wednesday which, if you quoted them in full, do indeed display a contempt for Scotland, and are therefore anti-Scottish; and in the actions taken by all three of these parties, it's very difficult to see how they would actually defend against the claim of being inherently anti-Scottish, if this was indeed the criticism being made of them.

Joan's only crime has been in not realising that unionists are just begging for nationalists to say something that can be taken out of all context and twisted into some alternative meaning. She should perhaps have realised that calling their actions anti-Scottish was bound to lead to unionists jumping on their high horses and making out that she was actually calling everyone who voted for these parties - and eventually everyone who is against Scottish independence - anti-Scottish (although I don't remember her mentioning UKIP or the BNP...?) Still, hopefully it's just a rammy that will be chip paper next week.

But what about the three unionist parties she mentioned? Are they indeed anti-Scottish? Well, you'd be hard pressed to find a Scot that doesn't think the Tory Party is fundamentally anti-Scottish - I doubt the poll tax will ever be forgotten as long as there are Tories around to remind us of it - and the Lib Dems have unfortunately tainted themselves by association. As for Labour? Well, they may like to think that they are the traditional party of Scotland, but if the jury wishes to see evidence of Labour being anti-Scottish, then let's call on our first witness, the esteemed Mr Craig Murray.

The prosecution rests.

This does not bode well for the "different quality of debate" that the worst of the two MPs called D. Alexander called for on Question Time, nor does this video from Tom Harris, Labour's Shadow Minister for Internet Trolling, or indeed just about anything from Harris' Twitter feed of anti-SNP bile. So in keeping with the low bar they've set, I'll say this: Douglas Alexander is the worst kind of human being imaginable. He has the mannerisms of a PR robot (please just stop the hands-holding-imaginary-sheet-of-paper thing), and behaves like the snivelling, snot-nosed brat in class who pulls the hair of other kids while the teacher's back is turned, and then claims innocence when the teacher turns around just in time to see the real victims retaliating. He is a disgrace to his profession, achieving a level of transparent falseness that is surprising even for a politician. You, sir, are a completely loathsome individual, and you can quote whatever piece of that you like, because I mean Every. Single. Word.


  1. I wish I had posted that excellent analysis.

  2. You are spot on mate but as Tony Bliar showed you have to smarter than that. All it did was give ammunition to ar**hole Alexander to attack Nicola on QT. Don't give them the ammo!

  3. Great blog - I agree with just about every word, and I would have re-posted were it not for the swearing in the last sentence.

  4. Well, I always think there's nothing quite like a swear word or two to convey just how passionately you're feeling about something, but just for your benefit Anonymous (and in no way to try and help get my blog more readership...), I've removed the swear word! So, re-post away!