Take Me to Your Leader

We sometimes misunderstand the character and motivations of leaders. We may see them and hear them every day and yet never really know them. In fact we project on to them our own prejudices often unfairly and frequently take the image prepared by the media and allow that to shape our opinion.

Alex-Salmond

Most leaders never let their real self emerge except in small and/or private settings. Thus two I can think of, Ian Lang and Johann Lamont, allowed a distorted impression of their real self to become the persona of their leadership. Neither would thank me for the comparison, and I don’t mean it politically, but both have a sense of mischievous humour with dry and withering wit that rarely works for them in public.

Lang was famous for – apparently – writing sketches for satirical reviews but was so imperiously polite and socially correct that only those close to him ever saw that side.

How this buttoned-up Lloyds Name and Tory grandee needed a popular touch when he struggled as leader of a fast-disappearing Tory Party. Instead he was seen as a dry stick whose dealings with ordinary Scots was restricted to telling the gardener at the Ayrshire mansion to trim the lawn edges. He was achingly nice to all but never relaxed in common company.

Johann – who appeared in my dream last night wearing her coat inside out (any theories?) – has never translated her appetite for a biting one-liner into a weapon of debate. She labours jokes and people laugh out of sympathy – I know what this is like and am similarly afflicted. Her attempts at laughs sound cynical and scornful rather than witty. The advice would be – don’t bother. But in friendly surroundings preferably minus media, she can make it work. Some say her best joke was making Anas the deputy.

Unknown

I mention this because the media today is trying to work out David Cameron afresh. He had stumbled it seems over Coulson and Junker. We had assumed he was smart, borderline spiv, with that posh ability to smooth over the creases. But it was surely clear from the start that with warning after warning from friend and foe alike that the appointment of Coulson was a massive risk with no upside, something he was doing wilfully in spite of the evidence because he believed himself untouchable so long as he had the Murdoch gunslingers riding shotgun in Downing Street. He left himself no wriggle room and trusted all to a troop of fellow travellers whose interests were never the nation’s but the company’s. It’s a spectacular misjudgement similar to the one he made over the second question in the referendum. He has gambled all on a straight win and now finds that is a diminishing prospect. Having put in place the Edinburgh Agreement, he has again removed all wriggle room if there is a Yes. It looks like a fatal flaw in the Cameron makeup.

Andy-Coulson_2583167b

But I disagree that isolation over the new President of the Commission makes him look a failure. I think he has calculated this precisely to paint himself as the outsider fighting the powers of Brussels on behalf of plucky Blighty. When he rejected a treaty change at the end of 2011 his ratings went up and his right wing anti European support rallied. He is repeating the trick by ‘standing up to Brussels’ which is the language of the little Englanders who now run our country. This is bad news from UKIP’s point of view as Cameron again becomes the champion of the Eu-exiters.

Does he really care who is Commission President? Indeed, there is a case for saying that if Junker does make bold moves towards federalism, it will again enhance Cameron’s credentials. The trouble with this bus ride of brinkmanship is that it is leading to the terminus. There is only so much anti-European spin you can feed the public before they begin to believe you and the British public is half-way there already. Cameron’s wilful ignoring of hard facts will take us to the end of the European line even though that is not what he himself intends.

I spent time with Alex Salmond this week (batemanbroadcasting.com details to follow) and was reminded why he has been First Minister for so long. You get so used to the relentless anti-Salmond agenda that you don’t realise how it gets into your head until you see him close up and personal, reaching out to an audience and radiating belief.

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In the English media he is more often than not portrayed as assuming too much, like the ghillie getting too familiar with the laird. He hasn’t understood that Westminster leaders are the real thing – they’re national – and he is provincial.

To the London media and its laughable ‘ Scottish editions’ he is arriviste, a pretendy Prime Minister in a pretendy parliament that doesn’t realise when it’s well off. His comeuppance is clearly imminent.

It’s puzzling then why two third of Scots trust Holyrood more than Westminster, three quarters want more powers but only half think they will be delivered and Salmond has a popularity rating of plus 11 with Cameron on minus 45. And that’s after seven years in power. His party is cruising ahead of Labour in the opinion polls, his cabinet is favoured over Labour’s and his deputy is more popular than either of their opponents or indeed of Salmond himself. This by any measure is a political phenomenon which shows no sign of declining even if the referendum is lost.

My view now is that a No vote is the worst outcome for Labour which will divide over extra powers in theory and is unlikely to deliver in practice as Miliband can’t make it to Number10. Two Scots Thomas Docherty and Ian Davidson publicly oppose more powers and the talk at Westminster among Labour MPs is of cutting spending to Scotland, not empowering Holyrood for more. Meanwhile when the remaining spending cuts still unfulfilled are added to the extra £25b planned, the effect on Scotland’s working and non working people will be devastating – it already is. Opinion will demand answers and defence from the party that said there was only misery to be had from a No vote.

Salmond makes that point in our conversation and says it is fear and fear alone that prevents us taking the chance to revive our democracy and re-energise our economy.

Alex Salmond has gifts as a politician that few can match and every professional opponent knows it. Why is he always late? Because he talks to people – anyone, anywhere about anything – he stops and engages, exchanges, shares. He struggles to stick to the itinerary because he enjoys the company of people and has to be dragged away. This innate ability to communicate is Margo-esque. They may not have been soul buddies by they share the people gene. He laughs with them, looks them in the eye. Cynical manipulation? Mastery of the political arts? Perhaps. But you can’t hide peoples’ affection if you’re only mimicking lines, can’t invent interest in each person’s individual story hour after hour if you’re a cardboard cut-out. Put it this way, if Salmond’s real opponent is Alistair Darling, how many of those skills can he muster? Would you share personal stories with Alistair? Can you imagine spending time with him – how was your trip to Monaco to pick up £30,000 for corporate speaking, Al?

There is a common experience of Alex Salmond that people will tell you – the public expect not to like him and after they do, they’re won over. His real strength is in personal contact not contrived situations and the press commentators know this too but it does fit their anti independence line. And it’s worth remembering that Salmond himself hasn’t begun campaigning yet. His own personal crusade when the best of him emerges is still winding up towards the final crucial weeks.

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You might not vote for him and some of you still might not like him but he has proved a worthy and pioneering leader for our times who may be on the cusp of eclipsing them all with a stunning win. Whatever does happen, the Unionist plan to crush him and his project has already failed. I think Yes or No, this is Win-Win for Salmond.

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47 thoughts on “Take Me to Your Leader

  1. I think there is ‘wiggle room’ in the Edinburgh Agreement Derek.

    I watched the latest ‘Scottish Referendum’ debate from the HoL on the 24th, and saw Jim Wallace stuttering and stumbling as he tried to round up proceedings.

    He was being nibbled at by the usual suspects – Forsyth, Foulkes, Purvis&Co – and it all related to the claim that ANY post Yes vote/pre-Independence Day (I like writing that) discussions would require full debates and votes in both Houses before THE Parliament (Westminster) could ratify them.
    There was much said about THE PARLIAMENT being ‘sovereign’ (the idea of the ‘Scottish people’ being sovereign was mocked by a couple of their Nobships), and that Section 30 could – and should be used to effectively prevent Scottish Independence becoming legal.
    My old schoolfriend Jim was struggling – he realised what they were saying – and that they could be correct.
    This may should a tad extreme, so I’ll leave you with a quote from Forsyth – the one that led to Jim’s borderline panic :

    ”Surely he’s (JW) not telling the House that in the event of Scotland voting to leave the UK, that that would not be a matter requiring legislation approved by both Houses ?”

    We don’t have to read between the lines to see the threat contained in that statement, and the exchanges that followed show that there are some in both Houses will do everything they can to disrupt and lengthen those discussions.
    They want every part of every section of every Bill debated in the HoL and HoC before an agreement is signed.
    How long would that take ?

    • Apologies : ‘… sound a tad extreme…’ not ‘…should a tad…’

    • it would not be the first time it has been noted that Westminster could say it is the supreme arbitor of constitutional change and could say No.
      On the other hand, we could reply: we are The People and we say Yes.
      Check and mate!

    • What their Unionist Lordships have ignored is the elephant in the room, the nuclear option that we will hand to Alex Salmond when we vote Yes in a Westminster approved referendum under the eyes of the world, including the EU and the UN: he can always go for a UDI if Westminster plays up rough.

      You think unifying the police and fire services and making them responsible to Holyrood ministers was all about efficiency? It’s an insurance policy to ensure that UDI can be made to work. Obstructionists may have to be put in the gaol for eg. Those who insist on still paying their taxes to Westminster will need to go there too pour encourage les autres.

      When vote Yes a UDI instantly comes into play. It will be messy, and disruptive, to fUK as much as Scotland but we will have handed it to AS nevertheless. I doubt we will need to use it, just make it known the Scottish Government is seriously thinking about it.

      Their Lordships don’t like to think about such things, Ian Smith in Rhodesia was the last but there is a long and much more honourable list, all the way to the American Colonies. I think our American cousins will look at it and see the last two words and recognise them.

  2. Onr thing that’s continually glossed over in the questioning of whether or not a probable win for Cameron in 2015 would make people more likely to vote Yes is that in the event of a No vote, a win for Cameron in 2015 is pretty much guaranteed.

    All these little things people obsess about, whether they will raise or lower Cameron’s rankings, pale into insignificane beside the achievement of saving the union and sticking it to these uppity Jocks. He’s setting up Darling and Labour to take the flak if there is a Yes, and that may or may not succeed. But he’s absolutely going to collect all the credit if there’s a No. And he’ll sweep back into Downing Street next year on the back of that, and there’s not a damn thing we will be able to do about it. And we will have done that ourselves.

    Vote Yes.

    • I think the Tories will win anyway. Everyone is looking at the next GE and just assuming Scotland will vote the same way it has the last two GEs. But after a Yes vote the logic of voting Labour in a GE will disappear. Those 11 LibDem seats are largely toast as well, their recent election results here guarantee that. What is the logic of sending unionist MPs to Westminster to represent a soon to be iScotland? I can’t see full slate of SNP people going to the last UK parliament but I can see a lot more than many are predicting, which means fewer Labour apparatchiks.

      LibDem support is not going to recover down south either so it will become a straight Labour/Tory fight in England and I can see the Tories winning in part because as you say Labour will be blamed via AD for losing Scotland and those little Englanders wanting to punish rebellious Scots will not vote Labour to do so.

      The current polls do not factor any of that in and I suspect many Scots will take time to get the logic of that GE through their heads, how many will even bother to vote? Who apart from SNP careerists will want to stand?

  3. Salmond is a personable and likeable man. He comes over extremely well in broadcast interviews. Why do we almost never see him on TV? That’s why.

  4. Not having engaged with him directly, I couldn’t comment. However, I remember some (maybe ten+) years ago being at Murrayfield with my mate Fergie.
    Whether coming or going for a pee, Fergie spotted Salmond some 20 metres in front of us moving the other way, & shouted ” Hey Alex!” He turned around & gave us the trademark grin before going to wherever he was heading.
    A genuine guy.

  5. It amuses me when people say its all that Salmond’s fault. I became a nationalist before Alex was out of his nappies, was that his fault? That unexpected win in 2011 wasn’t because people wanted independence, think back and recollect the number of folk pissed off with the Unionist taunting over Calman and a referendum. All those people who voted SNP and don’t support independence are those who thought at the time that we needed a referendum to clear the air, one way or another, but its Salmond’s fault, right?

    And you are one up on me, let alone meet him, I’ve never even seen the FM in the flesh

    • Alex Salmond attended a street meeting we held just before the Scottish election campaign started in 2011.
      He was late (as usual) and disappeared into a cafe for some well deserved refreshments. I had been asked to gather a bunch of supporters, and they had been standing around for some time waiting to meet him. He came out of the cafe eventually(having charmed the owner) and made straight for some elderly women who were sitting outside a coffee shop having a fag. About ten minutes later we managed to prize him away to meet our members,but again he spied another group of folk and spent the next ten minutes with them.
      By this time I was going round our members apologising profusely for their ,by now, ninety minute wait and preparing for him to be whisked off to Largs for his next meeting. However he eventually made it to our group and spent a long time talking to, and encouraging them.(At this stage we were still well behind in the polls.)
      When he eventually left there was not one word of complaint from anyone about their wait. Everyone from SNP members to members of the public had been completely charmed, and I remember mentioning in a campaign report to our members that it was just a pity that we couldn’t keep him in our constituency until election day.
      No one I have ever seen can work a crowd like Alex Salmond.
      And yet when knocking on doors I hear ‘I don’t like Alex Salmond’ time after time. The media are doing their job well.

      • Sadly – as Derek, Ian MacWhirter, and a few other ‘real’ writers say – the media is doing it’s job very well.
        And that job is to support Westminster – the demonisation of Alex Salmond is a key part of that ‘job, and some of us saw that first-hand after his Carlisle speech.

        A handful of Yes Scotland activists had been invited, but 80% of the audience were business people from Carlisle and the surrounding area.

        AS gave his speech, and immediately sat down next to Derek McKay (MC for the evening). There then followed a very length Q&A (it lasted far longer than the speech) which didn’t end until EVERY question had been answered.
        Listening to comments from those sitting nearby, they were impressed, and comparisons made with ‘events’ where local Tory MP’s had been the main event.
        It seems for them there’s usually a 5-minute Q&A – and then off they go.

        When this Q&A finished, AS came down from the stage and started chatting to anyone who wanted to chat.
        We had to leave about 40 minutes into this part of the meeting – and he was still talking to people.

        When I read some of the reports the next day (or lack of them if we’re talking about BBC Scotland – which WAS there), and it became obvious that the shockingly dishonest negative articles had been written by journalists who hadn’t been there.
        Special mention must go to the odious SNP/Yes Scotland-hater who is apparently the chief political hack for the Scottish Daily Express.
        It was obvious he’d filed his copy before the speech had even been made !

        That’s what we’re up against – the shocking power of the media – and if there’s a No vote, it will be that media who is to blame.

        Were are the decent, honest journalists we used to have ?

        What we are actually seeing now is a UK media that with regard to the Referendum has effectively become Soviet-era Pravda, with decent journalists frightened to tell the truth, and editorial policy being controlled by Westminster/Better Together.

        • “Journalist” and “Honesty”?

          Those two words should never be used together whenever anything is reported by those rags of newspapers in the pockets of the Unionists about Scottish Independence..

      • Well Nat, it is not their job they are doing well. Anything but if the truth be known. What they are doing is making sure that a very big part of the Scottish electorate is being denied a fair and balanced coverage of the referendum debate and in the process demonizing the only leader in Scotland and the UK who has Scotland’s best interest at heart.

  6. I came into contact with the FM only once when the SG made one of their public surgery road tour visits a couple of years back to my locale. Watched him handle questions from the audience and later at the meet and greet watched him mix (minus minders) with the crowd.

    He chatted on a huge range of subject matter with all comers and invariably left them with a smile on their face. I suppose that visit and watching the man in action is what finally won me over from non politically aligned cynic really, at least for the term of this campaign. 😉

    His greatest assets from what I could see were a natural empathy, an ability to listen, hear what the other person has to say and then speak. I just don’t recognise the same guy portrayed in daily titles the length of these islands. It is what separates him from all the rest by a country mile. He’s not distant, doesn’t require minders or spads to correct him in public or protect him from the crowd or media. He has what my old maw would describe as ‘the common touch’.

    When a nation’s premier politician isn’t afraid to get into the crowd and lead from the front, that’s a rare thing and whilst I’m not exactly on board with every policy of the SG, I certainly give little or no notice anymore to anything the press have to say about the FM.

  7. I’ve been lucky enough to meet Alex Salmond a number of times, including at the Edinburgh Book Festival when he came up to us and chatted, though he actually said little and wanted to know what we thought.

    I met him again yesterday in Selkirk, surrounded by a mass of people (lots and lots of women), all wanting to be photographed with him and for him to sign copies of Scotland’s future which he did whilst conversing with the person concerned.

    He chatted about the opening of the Borders railway and eagerly discussed steam trains with an enthusiast. He always comes over as charming, genuinely interested, and warm and caring about what happens to the people who live in Scotland.

    Many years ago I was told by someone who had worked for him when the SNP were a small opposition party, that Salmond truly believed that if he could talk to everyone in Scotland then he could convert them to the cause of independence. And before anyone jumps to the conclusion that his belief is born or arrogance, is is not (well, not totally, our FM does not suffer from the Scottish cringe), his belief is born from what he truly believes is the strength of the case for independence and the good it will bring to everyone in Scotland.

  8. I have never met him but the wife has. She speaks very highly off him, she couldn’t believe how well briefed he was but more than that he came across as a normal human being and not just a politician. I myself like the man, I always find that I can relate to his speeches even although I might not agree with everything he says. I always get the impression that he believes in ‘us’ and is always trying his best for Scotland, I don’t think you could ever say that about anyone in the Labour Party, they just come across as spiteful and petty. The one thing I can never understand is why so many people bad mouth Salmond, he is an asset to us all, proper Statesman in my mind.

    • “I always get the impression that he believes in ‘us’ and is always trying his best for Scotland”

      That is what does it for me. I can’t wait until he starts campaigning, I think there will be a lot of people that change their minds about him.

  9. Thanks for this insightful analysis. I too have recently reassessed Alex Salmond. Whilst I have never doubted that he is the most formidable politician we have, I confess I have not always liked him. I think his ‘takes no prisoners’ bruising and glib catch phrases like ‘bluster, bullying, and bravado’ alienate and irritate in equal measure. He ought to be more statesmanlike these days now we are on the cusp of a truly historic moment – some gravitas now an again would not go amiss. At least with some audiences. But I have come to the conclusion that for the most part I was conned by a Labour dominated media who have consistently tried to poison his persona and present him as a bit of an oik. Just as they have tried to poison public attitudes towards the ‘pretendy wee parliament’ at Holyrood.

    In the Wilderness Years I much admired his ‘take no prisoners’ stance when combatting opponents like the horrible Michael Forsyth and even the gentlemanly Ian Lang (whom I confess to finding likeable though I detested his politics). I’m on the edge of my chair going: ‘That’s right man! Bite their heeds aff!’ because they had no mandate, so that was fair do’s. Pity about nice Mr Lang; but he put himself there.

    But after we got the Parliament that was different, because then he was dealing with opponents who did have a mandate, even if I find it hard to believe that somebody would consciously vote for Johann Lamont. But you’ve got to respect that she does have a mandate, and you’ve got to respect the Scots who voted for her, even if you think they got it wrong. They still one of us.

    But it was when he suddenly turned on Margo Macdonald on Newsnight about ten years ago that I started going off the man. It was really the most blistering and astonishing attack on one of the Mothers of the Nation. I can still see the hurt etched deep on Margo’s face, as he accused of her of ‘in, out, doing the hokey cokey’. And also the great dignity with which she mustered her self-composure. I’ve never entirely forgotten the shock of witnessing that even though I now understand that Margo wasn’t a team player and was driving him nuts. But he still could have made his points in a kinder and more respectful manner.

    I’m glad they were reconciled. And I hope he took her last words to heart. A different style of dealing with opponents within Scotland is needed than in the 1990s when the Tories were riding rough shod over us.

  10. Dreaming about Johann Lamont ? I got a theory. You might not like it. Please see someone !

  11. Johann – who appeared in my dream last night wearing her coat inside out (any theories?)

    Go and see a shrink .LoL

    Alex is not a career politician like so many unionists are as he has a vision which drives him and many others not in a bullying way to achieve that goal no matter how long it takes.

  12. I’ve seen the FM in action twice during visits to client’s premises. I would guess both organisations and their staff were not strong SNP supporters but I would be surprised if he did not end those visits with 5-10 new supporters in his pocket. He spent time, way over the allocated time, talking genuinely to staff and listening with interest, so no surprise he is often late for engagements. He wins over new admirers wherever he goes.
    I know of one case where if it was not for his personal intervention a young enterprising entrepreneurial company would have been thrown to the wolves by a leading bank. His representations forced the bank to take a different approach and saved 150 jobs. The company continues to make profit year on year, has just invested more than £1 million in extra premises and a new training facility, will recruit a further 100 staff in the next year, and flies the flag for Scottish ingenuity in the Middle East, Far East, Canada and US. There is no way in hell a Westminster MP would have had the same clout or would have pulled out the stops to give that company the breathing space it needed and deserved to fulfil its potential.
    His denigration in the UK (and Scottish) media is a disgrace and I hope that transfers in to YES votes come September.

  13. Findlay Farquaharson

    johann was in your dream. surely that was a nightmare?

    • Friday the 13th Comes to mind.

      Back on topic, a piece in today’s Dundee, Evening Telegraph about two elderly ex SAS veterans. (Mr Jim Cox and Mr Andy Nicoll 78 & 76 years of age respectively.) Who served in Malaysia and had been invited by MSP Joan McAlpine to visit Holyrood.

      They were amazed to be received by the FM who invited them into his office where they were also received by the Deputy FM Nocola Sturgeon and then invited to watch First Minister’s Questions.

      Mr Nicoll said “Where in the world, except Scotland, would the First Minister invite two elderly visitors into his office and spend time with them without a previous appointment?”

      Exactly what Derek has just been talking about!

      A man of the People for the People.

      • Andy Nicholl, at 76, is one of Yes South Annandale’s most active and committed members. He’s still grinning about meeting the FM, and more importantly the WAY it happened.
        As he keeps saying, where else but Holyrood would something like that happen ? Andy’s not the only one who says that (the author and charity leader Mark Frankland is another) – but ‘our’ media and it’s Westminster bosses (or is it the other way round ?) are determined to turn AS into a monster.
        They should, and I hope will be thoroughly ashamed.

  14. smiling vulture

    5 years ago when Wendy said,Bring it On,Alex knew it wasn’t the right time,funny how Gord went against Wendy,when in hind-sight she was right.

  15. http://www.dreammoods.com/dreamthemes/clothing-dream-symbols.htm

    ‘To dream that your clothes are worn inside out represents your non-conformist attitude. You like to go against what everybody else says. If you turn your clothes inside out in your dream, then it suggests that you are trying to protect yourself against something. You don’t want to get hurt.’

    Dunno about someone else’s clothes though….

  16. Johann the Scottish turncoat, obviously.

  17. “It’s a spectacular misjudgement similar to the one he made over the second question in the referendum. He has gambled all on a straight win and now finds that is a diminishing prospect.”

    I don’t think he had any other choice. I think as far as Westminster is concerned, the only thing worse than “losing” Scotland would be keeping Scotland but having to hand over a huge tranche of powers in return. The Little Englander types simply wouldn’t stand for it, and it would be impossible to resist demands to devolve similar powers to Wales and Northern Ireland (and London?)

    I dare say Devo Max isn’t even deliverable, meaning they would have to say “yeah, see that thing you just voted for? Erm, you can’t actually get it.”

    It’s a risk they had to take.

  18. I’ve been Labour many years, last 3 years as a Yes voter, we are conditioned to hate Alex Salmond and SNP but never questioned why other than if Labour are feeding their obssessional hatred for them then it feeds into us……almost like systematic dripping of a tap. When I read McCrone report I took my head out of the Labour sand and the more I read in positives of Indy,I took time to listen to Eck and though my loyalties are with the grassroots Labour I grew up with and want back….I can honestly say I like him, I respect him and if with Indy we can get a leader who is even half of what Alex Salmond is in his love of Scots and Scotland then I’ll be happy. As for Lamont’s inside out coat Derek…that to me is on the outside she is against Indy but wearing inside out…a clue that she is a closet Yes voter;)

  19. I read David Torrance’s biography of Alex Salmond (an airport book!) aware of how little I knew about the man who might transform the country forever. His performances on FMQs, his interviews, his ability to engage with the public are remarkable. The media and Unionists have attempted to tarnish his reputation, as they always do if a charismatic independence leader emerges in any of their fiefdoms. We await the next “Zinoviev letter” or accusations of being a Stalin, Hitler, Mugabe, Kim Jong Il (why do they miss out Mao?). If he terrifies the Establishment so much he must be doing something right. So I look forward to your next broadcast. It’s up to us to find out the truth behind the media image.
    One thing is certain – if YES wins on 18th September, Alex and Nicola will be the most famous politicians in Scotland’s history.

    • I was given a copy of David Torrance’s biography of Alex Salmond and I have to say that in spite of the author’s thread of cold dislike running through the book I learned much about the FM’s childhood and his grandfather’s strong influence.
      I have always trusted Alex Salmond’s judgment. He takes time not only to know but also to understand situations and the facts involved. He also knows that a great deal can be learned from history. His memory is incredible and there is not a single MP in Westminster who can debate at his level……and they know it. Hence the mockery. It’s their only return to his challenge.
      As far as I’m concerned he’s the one for the job and we’re incredibly fortunate to have him at this point in time.

  20. A propos DC and Claude Juncker.

    Junker is a consensus politican, coming from Luxembourg that is how politics ahs to work there. The same for Switzerland.

    Cameron comes from an imperialist political culture bred from a two party, first-past-the-post and winner-takes-all tradition. Chalk and cheese.

    Juncker will seek to expand that philosophy into the EP and that is a nightmare for Cameron because he will see the dirty backroom deals he and the other government heads have been use to, melt as the EP starts to emerge as an import element.

    Cameron’s view of European pooled democracy is a sham. Juncker will try to turn the EP into a truly democratic institution.

    Oil and water.

    Cameron has already lost but will spin it as a victory.

  21. A Labour supporter for 41 years I left when Blair took Britain into the illegal and, as it turns out, hopeless war in Iraq. My English wife and I first met Mr Salmond in 2005 when he was campaigning for Douglas Chapman for the Dunfermline West MP vacancy – the Labour incumbent had died, sadly quite young. Met him again this spring when he was campaigning for Natalie McGarry. He remembered a story I had told him about Blair, and his make up, and insisted on crossing the road to meet my wife who was buying fish.
    He charmed all in the fish shop and is as natural as anyone I’ve ever met. I know name-calling is part of the political world but I really despise those unionists and their tame press who call this most decent and dedicated of men, foolish names!

  22. Wins thread.

  23. I like Eck – and always has: like you said, the people touch with oratory. And good economic sense. He has remained for a reason – not power-mongering or ineptitude of the others in the ranks of power (Nicola Sturgeon is highly able, John Swinney too) but because those heidyins in the party know and recognise his skills, apitudes and values.
    A rare breed.

    Interesting about the position of Labour and Socialism, after the Referendum.
    Labour if they cannot gain power in Westminster (in the even of a No vote) cannot, as you said, deliver Devo-Whatever nor socialist policies (indeed they are not promising to reverse cuts and straightenings). King-like, I had a dream this morning that Scottish Labour WILL wake up and smell the turning of Keir Hardie in his grave, the withering of the rose and the death of principles socialist for all eternity, and defect in droves to the Yes Camp. Important as a factor only because they will bring with them he die-hard Labour supporters of the Central Belt who harbour such antipathy to SNP qua SNP. And it really is, in some ways, a divide that comes close to mimicking the sectatarian disputes in terms of “just because” rather than sound reason.

    It behoves those yesocialists who are still in or have contacts in the Labour Party to win over their plus one (for Margo) to the Yes Camp. In fact we should maybe all now identify one or two of our acquaintance to be our plus one, and begin the campaign.

  24. Best thing that has ever happened to Scotland since that damned union, he lives & breathes for this country & it’s people. He is not perfect, but is head & shoulders above any other Politician or leader of all other parties, Only Nicola equals & at times can better Alex. And he does always answer the questions, unlike ANY labour politician. The media have a lot to answer, for the way they have tried to destroy that man. Yet give time & grace to the likes of LAMONT, SARWAR, Ian Davidson, & that god awful Jackie Bailey & Mags Curran.

  25. I met Alex ‘off stage’ after a formal event a long time ago now (20 years, time flies). Although we had never previously met, he demonstrated an immediate ability to converse informally as if we previously had. He truly engaged in conversation. Whatever your views of him as a politician, this is an incredible asset, and all the more impressive considering how many people he must meet, day in, day out.

  26. Toom Tabard, Derek. Empty Coat.

  27. Quinie frae Angus

    I have always been an SNP voter, and have always liked and admired Alex Salmond (while not agreeing with everything he does and says). But I am hugely encouraged to see all the Labour (or formerly Labour) supporters on this thread acknowledging his strengths and his commitment to improving the lives of people in Scotland. Met him for the first time at the first major rally a couple of years ago in Princes Street Gardens. He was lovely,charming, and extremely personable, just as people have said above.

    The media demonisation of him infuriates me. Thank goodness he’s got the hide of a rhino as well as all his other qualities….

    What’s also infuriating, but now just seems a bit sad and pathetic, is the Labour Party’s obsession with him, and its cynical manipulation of trying to turn everything into AS’s “fault” in order to deflect attention away from their own years of mis-rule, lies, and corruption scandals.

    But the fact that genuine Labour people have seen through the tribal hatred of this astonishingly competent and intelligent FM, and are honest and enquiring enough to make their own independent (! ha! that word again!) assessment of him, is really great to see.

    Labour for Independence are a crucial group in the rainbow grassroots movement we are creating. More power to their elbow. I will be voting for the SNP in the first Scottish general election after independence – whether it’s AS or NS for FM. They bloomin’ well deserve it, in my view! But also I am sure a restored Scottish Labour party (or preferably a whole new group led by Allan Grogan, Jeane Freeman et al), will create a vibrant and sincere “opposition” (or co-alition – or even majority party!) that will totally transform political and public life in this country.

    But I am so glad to have been able to see a “coming together” of both these historically opposed groups during this long campaign. Friendships have been made; alliances struck; and mutual respect fostered – this bed of comradeship and co-operation in pursuit of a common cause can only stand us in good stead.

  28. Squirrel Towers

    What a lovely BTL thread you have created Derek. All rather lovely to hear such postivity. I always wondered how Alex Salmond seems to know precisely what the mood of the people is, I know now its because he talks to people. So many politicians are out of touch and he so patently isn’t he knows what the people of Scotland think and when you see him at Q&A’s he doesn’t fear questions/challenge. I have noticed that many Yes campaigners (in particular Patrick Harvie) who have been out on the campaign trail seem relaxed and confident, these public hustings are good for both people and politicians! Hurrah for the Indyref!

  29. My wife was in a shop in Inverurie when in walked Alex Salmond on his own. He had come in to congratulate the owners on the anniversary of their taking over the business.
    I’ve met him myself on a few occasions for different reasons and have always been impressed by him.
    The secret of his success is that he sees going out and talking to the people he leads, so that he can represent them, as his main job – which it is. If more politicians did what he does, and acted on it, we would be transformed as a nation.

    It is the fact that he is listening to the people, not the lobbyists, is what makes him so hated and feared by vested interests.

  30. I think in years to come Mr Salmond will be one of our most famous Scots.

    Much has been said about him in the MSM but going by the times i have seen or heard him he has spoken only for Scotland and that makes him so different to the others.

    Some hope a “new Labour” will emerge after independence and i will let the people decide but they will never get my vote. Far too many times they have let Scotland down. The rise of food banks and the like show me they have failed in the most spectacular way. God forbid they get any chance to represent us again. I am not bitter ,I hope, but can’t look at the poverty and unemployment of some of the most needy parts of this country without seeing Labours finger prints all over it.

    Now they abuse and scare the people they should be defending , lies , corruption, and downing this country to protect their cosy jobs for life in Westminster.

    Scotland is buzzing with talk and idea’s , If we are to progress it cannot be with the same politicians that have run us down for years. I’ll vote yes and anyone other than a labour party again. There will be new parties with aims and agendas put forward by the people of Scotland . We don’t need to copy or imitate Westminster. We all know that so lets see whats on offer after a YES vote and choose a better way.

    For now. Mr Salmond has my vote and respect.

    P.S. This is a fantastic blog Derek. It is my hope we can see and hear more from you after a YES vote. Please don’t go retiring or disappearing to the quiet life.it would be a waste of talent and a loss to all your readers.

  31. I received the much ‘anticipated’ defence of the union booklet from HM Government. Thanks to you and others Derek, I have enough information to counter their assertions. The booklet is a laugh a minute!! Thank God for the internet. It and the campaigning on the ground will win over the Undecided voters.

  32. I have already left a comment after listening to Derek’s excellent programme. I can’t get over how lucky we are to have so many skilled people committed to gaining independence.
    It’s well worth while listening to another good man, Dennis Canavan, on this morning’s GMS which was hosted by two skilled and fair-minded women, Isabel Fraser and Moira McIvor. Dennis gave Ian Murray a thorough tanking and what’s more, was allowed to do so. No Naughty protection. Great stuff. Made my day. I look forward to more of the same.

  33. Excellent to read so many pro Indy posts and praise for AS – thanks Derek for the informative web site, I too feel so grateful for the Internet, social media, you tube etc – it’s giving people a chance to get to the truth about UK politics, the scale of the grass roots movement towards Independence and the extent of the corruption, bias and lies peddled by the MSM and BBC…..and to realise the intelligent thing to do in September, is to vote Yes

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