I can’t help thinking Frank Roy will provide some light relief for the Yes campaign. The Motherwell MP is yer actual unreconstructed Scottish Labour windbag, like John Robertson (if there is an independent Scotland: no yard, no ships. Not a threat, it is law of the land ) or Jimmy Hood (If the Scottish people are going to be better off economically and so on, I would still be against breaking away from the Union.)
There is nothing of the gentrified New Labour schmoozer about these guys who all sound as if they still go to work with a tool bag, a piece and a flask. Sadly some of their political ideas are just as dated, be it gay marriage, nuclear power or fealty to the Establishment.
You’ll remember Frank showed all the likely lad tendencies of the Lanarkshire steel worker out for a laugh when in he was censured for placing a bet on the outcome of the election for House of Commons speaker. When Betty Boothroyd retired Frankie Boy spotted his chance. Armed with the inside info of an MP he “asked a friend” to pop out to Ladbrokes with £200 and got 20 to one on Michael Martin MP, another of Scottish Mafia. To compound the naughtiness, he also got a pal to put on another bet on behalf of – and this is where Frank’s well-known altruism comes in – a group of his constituents. Then, and we really are heading into Mother Theresa territory here, when Frank realized the odds for his constituents’ bets were only 14 to one, he split the difference with them from his £4000 winnings. Truly, a Man of the Peeepill…
Inexplicably, the Commons authorities took a dim view of MPs behaving like loadsamoney punters on the elevation of the Speaker. His apology was gracious.
And only in the West of Scotland could you fashion a story in which an MP resigns over security at a Catholic grotto. Yes, Frank told the Irish Government it would be unwise for security reasons for the Prime Minister Bertie Ahearn to unveil a memorial in memory of potato famine victims at Carfin Grotto and the visit was cancelled, playing into the hands of the sectarian bigots and the fury of the Labour-run Executive.
It was revealed he had been an official of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a kind of Catholic Orange Order and stories from the time suggest his Lanarkshire mate, Dr John Reid may also have been involved in the warning to Dublin. Frank gave up his very important role as assistant to Helen Liddell. Interesting that both Frank of Dr John (or Lord Reid of Celticpark) are now to be prominent emissaries of the British Union. (Could Celtic Park with its Irish flag be the cover for a secret HQ of pro-Union campaigners? I shall write to Michael Kelly and find out).
Frank will provide plenty of spark between the patrician Darling and the real Scottish Labour party and don’t forget how hated John Reid is by the Brownites who in turn can’t stand Darling. (This is Labour, remember). I see even the mainstream have stopped pretending that Darling and Brown have buried the hatchet. They haven’t and won’t. What we are now seeing is jostling egos as the campaign enters the panic zone.
Frank may be an ace card in one way. He at least knows the core vote and relates to them in a way far beyond Darling’s capability. It is shoring up those waverers in the West that holds the key to success. Clearly they have deduced that Johann can’t do it – and her figures are truly mind-boggling – so it’s Frank’s turn. It may work, if he can stay out of trouble but it’s hard to think something wont turn up to add to the disastrous decision-making by Darling and McDougall and the misfiring Jim Gallagher whose sensible statements as an academic on independence now haunt the campaign as he tries life as a politician.
I see there is yet another go today at the idea that there is no distinction between attitudes and culture in Scotland and England. This time David Torrance has journeyed south in a voyage of discovery, like Livingstone presumably, only to find that there is nothing to divide us from our English cousins. Well there’s a lot of truth there. Personally I find there’s not a lot to divide me from the French or the Germans or the Spanish either. It’s just that I’m not French, German, Spanish or English. Nor do they pretend to be Scottish. They are what they are without dancing on the head of a pin about what that means. You never hear an Englishman says how much like a Scotsman he is, do you? Yet we have Scots every week in the media desperately seeking ways to align us with English folk.
Of course we share a lot and I agree that many people have similar ambitions but here’s the thing. What David doesn’t tell us is how our policies differ. It’s one thing to say political rhetoric is similar but – LOOK AT THE POLICIES. Sorry, it just strikes me as blindingly obvious that we are not the same. Forget speeches, check out what people vote for and what their government delivers – those are the hard facts. Thus we have no prescription charges, free personal care, free travel, free tuition, no council tax increase, NHS pay rises, living wage, extra police, lower crime, no redundancies and we want rid of nuclear weapons. The list of policies both delivered and promised is totally different from the race-based, spending-cut austerity followed by the parties in England, even Labour which is caught in its own trap by appealing to the South east on one agenda but to Scotland on another.
I am tired of the idea that if only we stick together it will be alright on the night. The English electorate is not going to deliver the policies we want, first because UKIP is leading the polls and secondly, Labour is committed to Tory spending plans and is openly saying it will clamp down as hard as the Tories AND they voted for the benefits cap.
Why are some people so afraid of just being Scots and voting for a government that reflects that? Are they afraid of annoying neighbours in England, are we to sacrifice our own democracy in the vain hope that somehow things will suddenly change in the south? I’m fed up waiting. This is our chance and it will be dereliction of duty for the coming generations if we don’t take it.
Unless Frank can convince me otherwise….by