Poor Wee Things

I met a Labour man recently who said the party made a big mistake electing Johann leader. Of course the ordinary members didn’t….it was the payroll and the unions – Labour’s institutions – that wanted her in place. What must they all think now? As time rolls on to the next Holyrood elections how is Labour faring now that we are in year seven of SNP administration?

The opinion polls are grisly. By rights, with the No side in the ascendancy and the public surely tiring of Salmond and his mob, the main opposition have every right to think that, like Labour in London, they should be ahead. Perhaps not by much but commanding the agenda, pushing the government’s nose in it and picking up the support. Instead they are further behind than ever, part of a collective failed opposition at Holyrood that can’t even count on its combined support to match the SNP in voting intentions.

Clearly Labour has pockets of support – note the Fife by election – but there is no sense of a pan-Scotland advance. It’s hard with Johann to work out if she’s doing badly because she has no profile or because she is so poor when she does appear.

I think the Grangemouth business was bad news for her. Labour’s overall behaviour over Ineos and Unite was poor and trade unionists across Scotland would normally look to a Labour leader to exercise steely resolve through a commanding presence and judicious intervention. Instead she was invisible and was eventually forced into the light and sounded defensive. As a masterclass in leadership it got nul points. How would a real leader like Dewar have reacted? For a start the whole media would have been briefed in detail how furious he was, that collars had been grabbed in private. He would have appeared on site grim-faced and stony and brought a sense that his very presence was the catalyst for a resolution. People of all affiliations listened to Dewar, at times of crisis he transcended the debate and held the ear of all sections of society. A reluctant voter, asked by him to back devolution in 1999, remained stoically doubtful but said: If you say it’s alright, I’ll vote Yes for you because you tell me to. That kind of reverence hasn’t been in the gift of Labour politicians since he died.

Then yesterday the dreaded First Minister’s Questions, where at times Johann has made her point convincingly, turned out to be another occasion when the shortcomings of the Labour leadership were exposed. It isn’t that Salmond is any kind of expert at this questioning business. I think he’s more comfortable asking rather than answering but Johann managed – Kinnock-like  – to mangle her opportunity. Behind in the polls, losing a by election and then, according to the Unionist narrative, losing the currency argument with the governor, Salmond was a quivering plate of potted meat awaiting a fork. And not only did Johann miss, she created what has become a campaign tool for the other side. “Wee things” like ending the bedroom tax and ditching Trident is a campaigner’s delight to rank alongside “the something for nothing society”. Within the hour her people said it was a slip of the tongue, just as something-for-nothing was wiped from the website.

It’s too late now but Johann isn’t working. It doesn’t matter how much they vilify Salmond and remember her personalised attacks on Sturgeon? Despite everything, it is she and Labour who are sinking. She must say to herself: Thank God for the referendum…it’s the only thing holding it all together.

To illustrate how farcical things get at Holyrood, I read a piece on today’s papers how Labour was making an official complaint that the SNP was using government money to create a Wee Things hashtag and to fund stickers displaying it. How much is that then? £3.50p? The party that said getting rid of nuclear weapons was a “wee thing” is complaining about sweetie shop expenses in the SPADs office. Labour should be known as the Poor Wee Things from now on.

Ian Lang, millionaire landowner and Lloyd’s name, now Lord Monkton, defender of the poll tax and responsible for gerrymandering local government, joins the ranks of the true Britnats with his silly and hurtful suggestion that a free people choosing their own democracy, sullied the name of the war dead. He demonstrated how it is the British state he loves, not Scotland. And as I watched this parade of grotesques from the elephant’s graveyard, every one a Unionist clown, it occurred to me that this does nothing but good for the independence cause. It reminds us that Tories who profess to care about Scotland are really dedicated to Britain and that Labour people claiming to be socialists are self-aggrandising opportunists and that we will better off without any of them.



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0 thoughts on “Poor Wee Things

  1. Indeed. The closer they get to the spotlight the further they dwindle. All mouth and trousers.

  2. ‘You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.’

    Au contraire, fantastic stuff! Last para particularly fine.

  3. Self-aggrandising is indeed the term. It was repulsive for anyone who has voted Labour in the past to witness Helen Liddell, in her defence of Lang, confirm her preference for the inflexible, unelected British establishment rather than democratic change. There can be no doubt that Labour peers (and MPs for that matter) are in it simply to look out for themselves.
    Some time ago, when she was Sec of State for Scotland, the Scotsman ran an item on how Helen Liddell utilised the Scottish Office to her own advantage and, in so doing, created problems for the devolved Scottish Government.
    The question posed was “What’s the point of Helen Liddell?”
    The answer is glaringly obvious. It’s Helen Liddell.

  4. Smith and Dewar -lucky not to be here to see what has become of their Party.

    • We, unfortunately, did not live in Scotland during all of the build up to Devolution, absent from 1986 until 2001. But my husband knew and admired Donald Dewar and of course we were devastated by his death.
      Recently though I read this comment from Craig Murray’s Blog and was shocked at what he wrote. The rest of the story can be read there.
      “In 1999 Tony Blair, abetted by the Scottish traitor Donald Dewar, redrew the existing English/Scottish maritime boundary to annex 6,000 square miles of Scottish waters to England, including the Argyll field and six other major oilfields. The idea was specifically to disadvantage Scotland’s case for independence.
      The pre-1999 border was already very favourable to England. In 1994, while I was Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I had already queried whether it was too favourable to England. I little anticipated that five years later Blair would push it seventy miles North!!”
      It seems we are surrounded by Labour politicians who have an agenda way beyond what the people who vote for them think they have.
      What is it that happens to all politicians when they enter Westminster, is it the Club atmosphere, the power? Scotland has been betrayed by generations of Labour politicians in Westminster, think of Ian Davidson( although I would rather not, mind you). As for Lib Dems- proponents of Home rule since 1886 and where are they in this debate for Independence, in bed with the Tories!
      Shame to all of them.
      As for the House of Lords and their DEBATE yesterday. How can you debate when there is no opposition? 6 hours of speeches supposedly supporting The Union but basically telling us that Scotland is useless without the rest of the UK.

      • Memaw
        This scandal is little known, even among YES supporters. I have often posted elsewhere that if this information reached the general public, yes would be a given. Sympathetic journalists, please note.

  5. Pretty grim reading the reports on the speeches from HoL.

    Well they’ve earned their ermine and no mistake. Their error is in believing it a good thing.

    Utter contempt springs to mind.

  6. I heard Lord Wallace of somewhere in his summing up of the Lords’ so called debate boast of the many benefits the UK has bestowed on the rest of the world including democracy. Such a stupendous lack of insight even for Lord Jim was remarkable as he pontificated in an assembly of non elected members.

  7. They show by their words how feart they are about their future and their gravy train. Its now clear, to me anyway, most of these Unionists care little for Scotland. It explains a lot actually, looking back.

  8. What a crew, luckily there is a way out of this tangle of unelected misfits and self serving politicians. If you want to retain your sanity it has to be a resounding YES in September 2014.

  9. I am absolutely convinced that the ‘pockets of support’ that Labour has would disappear if
    voters knew what theri policies were. I live in Fife and on asking Labour supporters what their
    Party’s stance is on Trident, Bedroom Tax, NHS, ATOS etc they have no idea; they certainly don’t know Gordon Brown introduced the Bedroom Tax for private landlords, they don’t know that 40-odd
    Labour MPs didn’t show to help abolish the Bedroom Tax on their own amendment and so on.

    Voters are being duped and it’s a disgrace.

    Should there not be a compulsory list of, say, Top 10 Party attitudes towards important issues?
    For example, on every leaflet, each Paty should state ‘our policy on Trident would be…’, -our policy on the Bedroom Tax is…’, ‘our policy on the NHS is…’

    Perhaps I am being naive but surely it should be made as easy as possible for voters to know what the policies are of each Party when heading to the Polling Booth? I don’t know anyone that would read a Party manifesto but surely voters should be informed. Misinformation and lies on leaflets should be illegal.

    • That’s a non starter. Labour would just issue a leaflet claiming that their policies are the exact opposite of what they really are. Wait a minute, didn’t they just do that? Twice.

    • Yes you are Geoff. What, for example, is the SNP’s policy on Bus regulation, or on middle management levels within the NHS. Cuts both ways…

  10. “Labour people claiming to be socialists are self-aggrandising opportunists and that we will better off without any of them.” and you wonder why pro-indy Labur people are reluctant to get involved? I am a Labour member who is voting yes and a socialist, when you say you are “better off without them” are you advocating deporting us, or ignoring the votes for Labour post-indy, maybe we should just ban opposition altogether in the new Scotland #disgusted

  11. The Puir Wee Things : Ode to the Scottish Lords

    Oh dear me, the Lords are talking fast
    The puir wee things are trying to make it last
    Signing on for 40 minutes is no’ as it sounds
    They fairly mak’ ye work for yer 300 hundred pounds

    Oh dear me, I wish the day was done
    Standing up and doon is no much fun
    Haverin’, girnin’, sleepin’, downing fine wine
    300 hundred pounds maks it just fine

    Oh dear me, the warld is ill divided
    Them that works the hardest are the least provided
    But I am fair contented, dark days or fine
    300 hundred pounds expenses for wearin’ ermine

    (apologies to Mary Brooksbank: The Jute Mill Song)

  12. Lord Monkton? Baron Lang of Monkton, I’ll have you know. When Burns wrote “Bought and sold for English gold, such a parcel o’ rogue in a nation” did he have the Lords’ £300 a day attendance allowance in mind?

  13. Lamont is right. Trident, the bedroom tax and so on are just wee things. There is one big thing, and that is Labour’s divine right to rule Scotland – within the Union of course, so that leading Scottish Labour politicians have the opportunity to feed at the Westminster trough, first as an MP and then perhaps as a Lord.

  14. Brian Taylor’s Big Debate from Strathallan turned out to be farce. Out of the invited audience of 200 only 3, and I repeat 3, were YES supporters.

    How’s that for balanced broadcasting? BBC Scotland just keep on digging a bigger hole for itself.

    • All those who wish to participate in Brian Taylor’s debates have to answer the following online question;.

      5. To help us ensure a broad range of views, we’d like to ask if you’ve decided how you might vote in the Scottish independence referendum.

      Will vote Yes
      Will vote No
      Rather not say

      3 Yes voters out of an invited audience of 200 is BBC Scotland’s way of ensuring a broad range of views.


    • An excellent article expressing justified anger, but I must demur about the praise heaped on Donald Dewar. Donald was a four square unionist always. He presided over the redrawing of the border so that a substantial part of the North Sea fields would fall into the jurisdiction of a possible future independent England. Now why did he do that? Was he thinking of Scotland, I wonder? Also he was particularly keen on the set-up for the Scottish Parliamentary elections with the intention of preventing a majority SNP government. I was then a wavering Labour voter and it was the likes of Donald Dewar et al which led me to give up on the Labour party and become a convinced voter for independence.

      • I also like Derek had a high regard for Donald Dewar. I wonder if the boundary redrawing was the price for Blair’s support for the Devo referendum. It seems pretty clear now that Blair was dead against it.

        Notwithstanding, it doesn’t do Donald’s reputation much good does it?

    • Mac @ 1.53pm 31/Jan – I listened to Taylor’s Big Debate, not knowing at first the political composition of the so-called “audience” of mainly schoolkids attending this exclusive private school. However within minutes it became clear, as the clearly loaded questions and comments started coming in from the obviously loaded pro-union ranks of little spoiled Torquils, Farquhars, Nigellas and Samanthas. The snobbery and contempt for an independent Scotland was pouring out of them, no doubt the result of brainwashing by over-indulgent Tory-voting parents. Pete Wishart and his namesake Ruth battled on commendably to the end, but their attempts to rebut the mainly anti-SNP, anti-Salmond, pre-coached unionist propaganda struggled to educate the closed minds of these elitist, over-privileged little prigs.

  15. JLo is turning out to be our secret weapon. Yesterday was the best example yet as to why she is so scripted. Once she diverts from the text, and her seething hatred of Salmond and the SNP takes control of her, there is simply no telling what tosh will come out. It is a common Labour tactic to try and deflect attention when something goes wrong. Of course, on most occasions the press are happy to keep silent and not make their pals look bad. That phrase will come back to haunt her, and you don’t have to be a political genius to work out ways of getting ‘something for nothing’ and ‘wee things’ into the same sentence or question for a particularly effective jibe. Perhaps not quite as bad a blunder as ‘project fear’ but certainly close behind.

    The lack of scrutiny Labour gets in the press is the only thing that saves her. Interestingly, this is the second time a Labour politician has been caught speaking in this flippant disingenuous way about independence, coming not long after Sarwar’s fax pas during the BBC’s (simply dreadful) first independence debate. Is talking down independence and with it democracy, social justice and aspirations for economic improvement, now official Labour policy? If it is their tactic they need to have a serious re-think!

  16. It is indeed truly ironic, if not particularly pathetic, to watch the self-aggrandised, unelected and undemocratic ‘Lords’ in Westminster, lamenting how Scotland exercising the universal right to choose its own government is in some way disrespecting those Scots who died fighting for freedom and democracy.

    Of course, Ian Lang, rejected by Scots at the ballot box in 1997, is the kind of Tory party individual whom we might expect to make such an odious treacherous comment, but to have Labour’s Helen Liddell publicly back him in his moment of disgrace, is truly something to behold.

    The reality, however, is that in the house of lords in London, what we have is an assorted miscellany of unionist ‘troughers’ who have reached the top of the greasy political pole, rejected at the ballot box, yet enabled to claim 300 pounds per day, tax free, no receipts required, plus business class flights, or first class sleeper from Scotland, or fully flexible 2nd class rail, plus taxi fares, plus up to six free return journeys to London per year (biz class air or 1st class sleeper) for their spouse/partner and children.

    Is it not the case, that on its own, the fact that Scottish taxpayers would no longer have to fund these 831 enobled has-beens on their pointless ‘jollies’ to London following independence, would be reason enough to vote YES?

  17. I imagine her advisers decided not to take issue on monetary matters as when you send an English teacher in to bat against an economist,there is only going to be one outcome.
    As for Lang and especially Liddell,they are in the right place,just a pity we have to listen to any of their geriatric drivel.
    I suppose we could always not listen.
    Thanks Derek.

  18. Donald Dewar would have turned up at Grangemouth then popped down to the local gallery and purchased an expensive painting for his art collection to hang in in one of the two houses and a flat, he owned.
    If the said painting was a bit to much to buy with his loose change, he could have dipped into his portfolio of shares worth almost £1m for a top up.

    That’s a socialist, Labour Party style.

  19. Derek says:

    ‘How would a real leader like Dewar have reacted? ‘

    Well, he would probably have promised Ineos a secret deal and given them 6,000 square miles of the North Sea if they promised to keep Grangemouth open and kept it hidden from the Scottish public.

    Dewar a real leader, sorry can’t agree with that.

  20. Someone should tell Johann, in the real world it is the ‘wee things’ that are always most important and without them the world collapses ….

  21. More peers and the aristocracy telling us what to do please 🙂

    Oh happy days when we get shot of that lot.

  22. At present I reside outside Scotland, although all being well I should be moving back in the next few months, I am not always able to access all the information and the English media is doing their very best to keep a lid on the debate this side of the border so I may appear inadequately informed at times and if I am please forgive me but: It does worry me very much that it seems (from here anyway) that both Labour and what is left of the Scottish Conservative party are concentrating so completely on the whole ‘Yes/No’ argument and no one (dare I say including the SNP) actually seems to be offering an actual constitution fit for an independent nation. All I can see on offer are party political manifestos and in the case of both Labour and the Scottish Tories there seems to be a complete refusal to consider a ‘plan B’ in the event that the nation should vote ‘Yes’ but not re-elect the SNP. A Yes vote isn’t an automatic vote FOR the SNP and yet neither of the alternative parties seems to be preparing for the eventuality that they could suddenly inherit an embryonic independent nation.

    • Ayrgael
      Dr W Elliot Bulmer (in association with the Constitutional Commission)has produced “A Model Constitution for Scotland” setting out detailed proposals and discussion on the topic. Worth a read.

      Its published by Luath Press Ltd 543/2 Castlehill, The Royal Mile, E’Burgh EH1 2ND or you can just go through AMAZON

  23. I don’t think that Baron Lang thought through his argument very carefully. By referring to three hundred years of shared history in the Union he of necessity included the first fifty years of what was essentially a civil war with the added twist of English intervention. Given the savagery with which the uprisings were dealt with, I wonder which dead and which forces the noble lord felt he was honouring. I suspect his remarks were a lazy and facile appeal to sentiment now that we are a century beyond the first of the Twentieth Century’s great wars. I suspect we will get a lot more garbled history in the coming months.

  24. Donald Drewar went anywhere for a free lunch, and died a Millionaire. Canny or creepy.

  25. On the contrary the SNP are advocating a written constitution:


    There is an answer to all the questions you may wish to ask.

    If you can’t find it, just ask it and the bods in charge and they will endeavour to answer you.

    Glad to help.

  26. This should read:

    “If you can’t find it, just ask and the bods in charge will endeavour to answer you”


  27. I was no fan of Mr D Dewar – he was a political operator not a statesman. I remember him really laying into an SNP rival candidate he was up against in a Glasgow by election who happened to be CND (Keith Bovey?). Really laid into him, questioning his values and views – doing the dirty as they say. Not nice and very cynical but it got him his seat and job!

  28. I watched part of the HoL debate (?) and was particularly impressed with the quality of the contribution from Baron Maxton of Blackwaterfoot in Ayrshire and Arran who claimed that the entire concept of nationalism -presumably he was referring to the Scottish variety rather than the Great British variant – was “hopelessly outdated.”
    This coming from a nephew of the famously principled ILP Clydesider MP, Jimmy Maxton, was rich stuff indeed!
    John Maxton was a fairly limp socialist when he was himself an MP but to be seen paying lip service amongst the “noble lords” along with Helen Liddell and Des Browne takes the biscuit.
    There are more than 70 Scottish peers in the House of Lords. It is to the eternal credit of the SNP that they will have no part in this undemocratic charade.

  29. Two things.

    Of course Lamont is a dead leader walking, she has been such since her disasterous “Something for nothing” speech. An indication of this is the amount programmes Darling & Sarwar appear on. Unless she is removed, “Scottish” Labour wil lose in 2016… badly.

    However, you do wonder what the state is within the Labour party itself. There seems to be a “cold” war between the pro-Blair Progress wing and the pro-union wing (it’s this wing that got caught fixing seats, while no one has bothered to investigate the Progress wing to see if they’re doing the same thing). In a curious way, a No vote will be the worst thing to happen to “Scottish” Labour. Salmond will still be odds on to win a third term while “Scottish” labour have been, to all intents & purposes banging on about the SNP’s obsession with Independence (not true, if the SNP were obsessed, they would have made a better fist of the campaign).

  30. Fife, a Labour pocket – what gives? Ex-mining territories aren’t all still Labour, surely.

  31. I was at the Airdrie “Yes” public meeting during the week. Speakers included Alex Niel and Jim Sillars( who was launching his new book “In Place of Fear II”). To a packed room both Alex and Jim gave well received speeches, full of interesting facts and information. Certainly gave me a good deal to think about, some good information on the anomalies in the Education system, and I’m currently enjoying a good read of Jim’s ideas for a socialist iScotland.

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