Listen Carefully

Not sure whether to laugh or cry? Perplexed? Wondering if all the noise is having an effect? I too have been weighing the evidence of the Labour propaganda and trying to gauge its impact on the voting public with an election imminent.

My conclusion is worse than I thought. At first I was convinced the Murphy machine was on the right track by emphasising pro-Scottish language. I put myself in their position and it didn’t take more than a moment or two to realise that Labour had been afraid to be ‘Scottish’. They had effectively ceded the ground to the SNP, flag and all, and were left trying to belittle national aspiration as petty nationalism kicking against the Great British Benefactor.

The people had been trying to tell them but Labour had gone from cloth cap to cloth ear. They knew best. They had adopted the patrician Tory mode of patting voters on the head and reminding them who was boss.

So all appeals to a vague Caledonian sentiment were broadly aimed in the right direction, corny as they were. And then a touch of old style socialism would also help by appealing to the very working class traditions Blairism had abandoned as passé._79707677_79707676

I got all of that. I saw it was artificial and opportunistic but if that’s a losing hand in politics, most post-war governments would have been stillborn.

So I was concerned at the prospect of a revived Labour effort, not because I don’t want a rejuvenated Labour in Scotland, but because right now we need to ride the Yes momentum wave to drench Westminster with demands and entreaties.

But I needn’t have worried. The Murphy effect has become a trending joke, an overstated contradiction of everything he stands for, a herculean push that has become a parody of itself. In French, it is debile (translation – something so stupid, weak and feeble, it verges on retarded).

So is he doomed to fail and everything’s OK? I don’t think so. It’s true that the main victim here is the credibility of Murphy and the damage done is to Labour but I think we are now entering a period when our politics is changing to such an extent that the fall-out will affect us all.

The Murphy machine is corrupting debate, debasing politics and alienating the people. I now see and hear regularly what I can only truthfully describe as out-and-out lies from Murphy’s mob. I have been schooled over many years in decyphering political encryption, that is translating statements into what they really mean like a kind of BBC Enigma Machine. Hours in studio listening closely to answers (and watching facial and body language) turn you into a spycatcher, evaluating phrases and words which can have double meaning and waiting for the giveaway line that reveals the truth behind the screed of chaff.

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To be fair, many of you are expert at this today too. It’s what happens when politics becomes important to you. You listen. So like me you will hear the little half-truths and the studied omissions that subtly change the message. (They all do it).

But what we are now getting is something quite different. I have witnessed Labour old-timers who know exactly what the game is deliberately misleading voters in the most naked and unrepentant way. Lewis Macdonald repeatedly and emphatically denying that Gordon Brown used the term Home Rule and Margaret Curran tweeting that she voted to stop to fracking…both out and out falsehoods designed to deceive and to fabricate the opposite impression from the truth.

Call me naïve but I have been taken aback at the wilful misrepresentation becoming common in Murphy’s team – the appropriation of the women’s prison campaign from Women for Independence, the jaunty letters to Nicola claiming that ‘You followed us on the prison, now will you back us on fracking…’

Now again, some chutzpah is needed when you’re fighting on the street which is where Labour is right now as a kind of dissident gang prosecuting its last throw of the dice. But I’m detecting a new and cynical approach which sets its face against truth and transparency and simply reorders reality to suit itself. It does so in the knowledge that virtually everyone from their own side, their opponents, the media and every intelligent voters is aware that they are lying but that doesn’t matter – as it used to do.

No, this welter of falsehood and fabrication is aimed squarely at the few tens of thousands who hold the future of Labour backbenchers in their pocket. And it seems clear to me that Labour regards these Scots as so ill-informed and dense that they will believe anything. Labour’s contempt for its own people is manifest in every trick statement and cod claim. It isn’t Glasgow Man Murphy is after, it’s Thicko Man. He believes, as have generations of low-grade apologists for socialist MPs, that if Labour say it, what he regards as the council house hoards with vegetables for brains will read it in the Record and vote accordingly.

In truth, there is form for this. Communities in grubby schemes without shops, transport, police or jobs have been fodder for calculating Labour careerists all my life. Check the map for the places with the worst social conditions and see which party has represented them for how long. Then see where the John McFalls, Irene Adams, George Foulkes and Tommy McAvoys and John Reids end their careers – in the comfort of the Lords.

Macdonald and Curran are only two of the gang who definitely do know better than to make up distortions but who are now goggle-eyed adherents of the Murphy doctrine of lie, lie and lie again.

And no wonder. Behind the chameleon Murphy is the man who wove hyperbole, fear and untruth into the fabric of Unionism as head of the No campaign, Blair McDougall. He is aided by the rat-like cunning of the truth-twisting McTernan, both men congratulated publicly on their jobs by the political editor of the Daily Record (to make sure he curries their favour).

I haven’t known a time when the telling of lies, as opposed to the massaging of the truth, has been so blatant. It has the potential to corrode our debate and repel voters.

And yet…the signs are that even those Labour regard as willing dolts have wakened up to the way they are treated. The indyref has set off the siren and the warning has been noted. They voted Yes for independence and SNP for Holyrood and must decide if they turn back now or follow through for Westminster and for the first time, shake off the shadow of Labour failure and compromise.

I believe the Scots of the West of Scotland are part of the pride in change that the whole country has undergone and I credit them with the insight and sense not to be fooled again by Labour lies. They couldn’t deliver independence but maybe Home Rule is what they really wanted all along and look – here it is.

 

 

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Know Who Your Friends Are

I have been silent for some days following a family bereavement and will try to catch up with events.

One thing that happened was the report detailing cooperation between the British government and Libya under Gaddafi.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/22/cooperation-british-spies-gaddafi-libya-revealed-official-papers?CMP=share_btn_link

This tale of betrayal of British and American interests – as opposed to commercial advantages which was their real objective – opens up a whole area of the Blair government to exposure for its double-dealing and naked hypocrisy affecting Scotland. It also leads directly to the door of Jim Murphy and reveals an untrustworthy individual who is the enemy of justice and transparency.

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The close ties between the UK’s intelligence and security services and those of Libya are nauseating to read laced as they are with a tone of complicity, subterfuge and sadistic pleasure at rendering back into the hands of the Gaddafi regime political dissidents for torture and death.

Not only did Britain play this sordid game of spider and fly with real people and in full knowledge of the consequences, it also invited foreign agents from Tripoli to operate here in our country where they could pursue and harass Gaddafi’s opponents.

This, remember, was a Labour government, ostensibly a left-of-centre party committed to human rights and an ethical foreign policy.

At play was a desire to bring Gaddafi in from the cold by encouraging him to disown weapons of mass destruction – an initiative with a social conscience which required delicate handling.

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Like much else in the contradictory world of Blairism, this became confused with other objectives like securing oil deals in North Africa for BP, a long-time corporate friend of New Labour and benefactor to its lieutenants.

What this attempted rapprochement did not need was to engage Libyan state security as Britain’s best friends in the grubby world of kidnap, torture and kill. Little wonder that when Moussa Koussa defected in 2011 it was to the UK and his friends in the Foreign Office that he turned for sanctuary, to be spirited away unscathed to a new life.

The other link http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2011/feb/07/labour-government-lockerbie-bomber-release

is to the story of how the Labour government simultaneously had an undeclared policy of trying to get the Lockerbie bomber freed in order to improve relations with Gaddafi and ease the way for those oil contracts in the Deal in the Desert. Here, Sir Gus O’Donnell, head of the Civil Service (the one we now we can trust courtesy of Sir Nicholas Macpherson) produced a report for the Prime Minister which proves that throughout the years of Megrahi’s imprisonment in Scotland it was the Labour government’s policy to help get him released.

 

So two things are going on…the UK is buttering up the man responsible for the Lockerbie bombing to the extent that it is working hand in glove with his state security while simultaneously it is beavering away behind the scenes to free the man they agree performed the actual bombing. It is a twin-track approach to appease the sponsor of the worst terrorist atrocity on British soil.

Meanwhile what was going on in Scotland where the Pan Am flight came down? Well, another Labour member, Scottish leader Iain Gray was regularly excoriating the SNP for  releasing Megrahi – the very thing that the head of the Civil Service now says was Labour policy.

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Gray said: ‘The last time the SNP appealed to ‘moral authority’ was when they released the Lockerbie bomber. They were wrong about that and most Scots agree that was the wrong decision. That’s another example of poor judgement.’

Gray used the release as a trump card during the election in 2011. He said: ‘The SNP must provide the US with details of how it reached the decision to free Megrahi, who has always maintained his innocence. We have to make it clear to the US what the basis of the decision to release Megrahi was. I don’t believe that lobbying by BP had anything to do with his release. I think it was a decision made by Kenny MacAskill and Alex Salmond and a decision I think they both got wrong. If we reach the anniversary of his release and Megrahi is still alive, I think Kenny MacAskill should apologise and admit he made a mistake and should apologise to the families of the victims.’

Now you see where this is going…in London it is the secret policy of Labour to work behind the scenes for the release of Megrahi because that will open up trade links and should make Libya a safer place. But up the road at Holyrood, poor old Labour is hammering away at a cracked bell trying to get a ring. How they must have smiled at Westminster when they read of Gray’s desperate attempts to condemn the very policy they were actively supporting.

So why didn’t Gray know the truth? (He told the BBC he didn’t know and made up his own view). After all there is a Secretary of State for Scotland in Cabinet whose job is to represent Scotland and to act as intermediary between the two.

Enter Jim Murphy. For most of this time (2008 – 10) Murphy was Scottish Secretary. (Des Browne is also but more briefly culpable).

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Yet it seems Murphy did not disclose any information to Gray or his Labour colleagues to rein in their criticisms of the SNP in case the news leaked that they wanted Megrahi released all along. Why not? I contacted Murphy’s office several times through the BBC and never once received a reply, clearly indicating that he knew he was guilty of deceiving his own party and Scotland on an issue of huge emotional importance. He sided with secret deals with Gaddafi and Moussa Koussa and the torture of dissidents instead of truth and fair dealing, even when dealing with his own side.

Iain Gray’s humiliation came in the 2011 election of course but if he ever wants to revisit the issue with double-dealing Jim, well he’s in his Cabinet today…

 

 

 

 

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The Propaganda State

It catches up with them in the end – the cheats and spinners, the swindlers and crooks. After an organised campaign of vilification against the senior civil servant at the Scottish government, a whole shovel-load of Unionists have been left with their trousers down as the top man at the UK treasury admits he deliberately bent the rules on which the impartiality of British administration is founded.

Sir Nicholas Macpherson is Permanent Secretary at the Treasury and is charged with taking a neutral stance in British politics, while obviously serving the government of the day.

Macpherson_Treasury will be tougher on public sector pay

But in a talk in London, Macpherson makes explicit that the view of the British state was that independence was a threat to the fabric of British society and its physical integrity (like a German invasion in 1944 I suppose). http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/why-the-treasury-backed-the-no-vote-in-the-scottish-referendum-its-top-mandarin-speaks-9989263.html  He said that in such an “extreme” case as last year’s referendum, in which “people are seeking to destroy the fabric of the state” and to “impugn its territorial integrity”, the normal rules of civil service impartiality did not apply.

It therefore was imperative that  – in effect – anything and everything could be spun, elided, made up, distorted and omitted. And there you have it. When it chooses, the British state makes up its own rules and, despite not bothering to inform you in advance (perhaps I missed the press release), mounted an all-out attack on the independence movement while pretending to be balanced and fair, while promoting their case. They lied. Who authorised this propaganda assault? Who approved tearing up the rules? Who decided to keep it quiet?

George Osborne Underlines UK Government's Opposition To Currency Union

No one here is remotely surprised that the UK would go into ‘war mode’ against the Scots and break every rule it tells the world it lives by but it is rare indeed to hear the guilt admitted so soon. Indeed, it looks like an embarrassing mistake by the British if we find ourselves facing another vote in coming years.  Mind you, we are happy to learn that Macpherson did all this ‘for our own good’ – us silly little Scots who think we might run our country. And what mockery it makes of the Edinburgh Agreement and its Cameron-backed promises.

Item 30.  The United Kingdom and Scottish Governments are committed, through the Memorandum of Understanding 4 between them and others, to working together on matters of mutual interest and to the principles of good communication and mutual respect.  The two governments have reached this agreement in that spirit.  They look forward to a referendum that is legal and fair producing a decisive and respected outcome.  The two governments are committed to continue to work together constructively in the light of the outcome, whatever it is, in the best interests of the people of Scotland and of the rest of the United Kingdom.

Only one side wasn’t. It was planning to cheat its way through the process. Where is the section that declares; ‘the UK government regards independence as a threat to the fabric of society and impugns its territorial integrity. It is therefore tantamount to an act of war which we will oppose by all means at our disposal’?

I also struggle to see how the fabric of British society is threatened by a democratic choice. The SNP offered to maintain the social union, to have no frontier, to share any number of services and responsibilities including currency. It was unionists who howled Foreigners! (How excruciating now for the Margaret Currans and others who said their own family would become foreigners).

We were of course told, us blogging Yessers, that we were paranoid. We were obsessive. We built the state up into a sinister presence when it was just benign old Britain. Who’s paranoid now?

And, for fun, let’s recall all the really paranoid nutters who (publicly) attacked Sir Peter Housden in Edinburgh while their own side was gleefully breaking all the rules in London.

First up is Weasel (Brian) Wilson in the Scotsman: ‘And that brings me to Sir Peter Housden, Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Government and widely regarded as a wholly-owned Salmond subsidiary. Sir Peter’s eagerness to please ministers is well-known, but he needs to be reminded of his duty of care to fellow civil servants.’ And the funny bit is this Wilsonian Holy Willie epistle to his own utterly impartial time. ‘It all seems an incredibly far cry from my days as a minister in the Scottish Office when the delineation between government statements and party propaganda was rigidly enforced and a tension existed between politicians and the civil service, particularly the press office.’ Self-serving crap. I was there as a reporter on the wrong end of any number of contrived spin efforts by Wilson and his toadies. He has been a propagandist all this life. Do you really think he stopped when he could do most damage?

Another Labour slugger with a big boot is Paul Martin MSP. ‘The checks and balances that the permanent secretary is supposed to be providing in his role are being sorely missed and Sir Peter Housden seems content to cheer Alex Salmond on rather than scrutinise his conduct.’

Of course there is no Labour story without the demonic McTernan whose stock in trade is abuse. Ergo ‘What’s happened in Scotland is this extraordinary process where parts of the civil service have adopted the ideology of a political party and promoted it. That’s because of the leadership from the top, of the permanent secretary, and because of the weakness of the UK Civil Service in preventing discipline being applied. I know a lot of really good and talented civil servants who have simply left the Scottish government because they are being pushed too hard and not being protected from political pressure.”

And who’s this popping up with one of the most virulent and personalised attacks of all? ‘Yet again Sir Peter has failed to uphold the traditions of the independent civil service. He is acting more like an SNP lackey than the head of the Civil Service in Scotland.’ Yes, Wee Willie Rennie…

Alistair-Darling

And of course the Great Bore himself, Alistair Darling, as if to prove that the cabal had indeed organised its attack (you know, like the cybernats pelting Murphy with eggs). He told the Commons – to make sure it went into the parliamentary record – ‘The entire effort of the Scottish Government is now being directed towards the referendum. I just do not have the confidence that the permanent secretary … is going to have any control over the SNP at all…’ And, in the Guardian he followed up: ‘They’re getting away with stuff – we’d have been stopped in our tracks by the civil service. He is very fortunate in his permanent secretary. He’s incredibly accommodating.’

From someone who has been rescued by civil servants before and who must have known how his personal friend Macpherson was handling the referendum unfairly, this tells us pretty clearly that posh Alistair really is a shit.

Still, as we now know, all’s fair in love and war and if the Britnats have to lie and cheat to keep themselves in charge, if they have to diminish their own people and traditions to block a democratic vote, then we know them all the better for it. This process really has been enlightening –it has confirmed my own doubts about so-called integrity in government. Yours too?

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Scunnered!

Two aspects of our debate today which are connected and leave me scunnered. First, read this reply to my correspondent Anne from the BBC when she complained about Kaye Adams on Morning Call challenging the idea that Gordon Brown used the term Home Rule before the referendum vote.

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Dear Miss Galloway

 

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Thank you for getting in touch regarding Morning Call presented by Kaye Adams which was broadcast on Friday 9 January 2015, and posed the questions: Do you want Home Rule and does the price of oil make a difference?

 

We have received a wide range of feedback on this matter so the response below strives to address the majority of those concerns raised but may not address all of the specific points you have mentioned.

 

We forwarded your complaint to the Senior Producer of Morning Call, who has responded as follows:

 

1)In no way did Kaye attempt to mislead the audience over Gordon Brown’s stance on Home Rule because either she or the BBC have a particular agenda.

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During the debate with our guests; Mark McDonald, SNP MSP for Aberdeen Donside and Lewis Macdonald MSP, Labour member for North East Scotland, Mark McDonald stated that home rule had been exactly what Gordon Brown had been promising with regards to ‘The Vow’ prior to the Referendum. 2)Kaye at this point asks the question: “I don’t think he used the term Home Rule, did he?”

 

Immediately jumping in, Lewis MacDonald says ‘No’ repeatedly, denying that this was said. Mark McDonald then says that what Mr Brown offered was a ‘new federalism’- effectively Home Rule – which again Mr MacDonald denies. The conversation then moves to the support for home rule and from there back to the listeners calling in.

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From listening back to this section 3) it is quite clear that Kaye is probing to clarify and asking a question, which I concede could certainly have been phrased more clearly. Both politicians then give answers of yes, no and also a “version of federalism”. This is not Kaye lying about what was said, nor is it Kaye making a statement that Gordon Brown did not offer home rule. Lewis MacDonald is in fact the person throughout this section who denies it was ever said or offered by the former PM.

 

Morning Call is a fast and fluid programme and on that day we received over 70 calls, 18 of which got on air. As ever, the listeners dictate where the conversation goes and as we moved on we discussed; oil price volatility, the continued fallout of the referendum and callers in favour and not of Home Rule.

 

Some 40 minutes and five calls later, caller Chris took the opportunity on air to go back to what Lewis MacDonald had said and told Kaye that he was certain that Gordon Brown had used the term, to which Kaye replied that she had found it difficult to get an absolute on it, but that she accepted that was what Chris recalled.

 

We fully accept that in the lead up to the referendum, Gordon Brown said of proposed additional powers: “These proposals are radical. And we are putting them forward as a Labour Party. They change not just Scotland, but they change Britain. They move us closer, or as close as possible to Federalism as you can, in a country where 85% of it is one nation; England. They are equivalent of what Keir Hardie was asking for when he called for Home Rule for Scotland. Home Rule for Scotland within the United Kingdom, where we have powers over own affairs in these areas but still we recognise the benefit of pensions, health care, economic decision making, defence and security as part of the United Kingdom.”

 

I italicise three sections – 1) because I don’t believe she is deliberately trying to mislead (or lie). I know many now believe that is what BBC journalists do and the track record is checkered to say the least but willful distortion is not credible in my view.

2) For Kaye ‘not to know’ that Brown did indeed use the term is barely believable. Why? Because it is central to the referendum outcome and no one across government, opposition or politics generally, disputes that Brown was to a degree instrumental in the final decision. If you follow Scottish affairs, you know this. If you follow professionally, it is in your memory bank. If you do this as a main presenter – whose programme is entitled Do you want Home Rule? (that’s the clue) then it is to the forefront of your mind and on the tip of your tongue. Whenever a Unionist attempts to duck out of the Devo Max commitment, as Lewis Macdonald shamefully did here, you’re job is to jump in with: ‘Gordon Brown said we’d get Home Rule…’ (Macdonald’s repeated denials here are unworthy of a man of his standing and reputation).

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3) Kaye may indeed be ‘probing to clarify’ but that only confirms point 2) above. Why the Hell is she having to clarify one of the seminal points of our recent history? Probing to clarify in this context is tantamount to saying the presenter doesn’t know the basic information on the subject she is speaking about – and is supposed to the guiding the nation through.

Now I have to concede, because many a BBC producer reading this will have a wry smile, that I too have found crucial information not to be on my radar at the key moment. It happens – through laziness, rush, badly-drafted briefings or just forgetfulness. (I’ve even sat looking at a guest who has arrived in studio and realized I’ve completely forgotten their name until my look of horror is translated through the glass and the identity is dropped in my ear).

And right there is the answer to Kaye’s dilemma – she is only one of a team and while the public understandably relate to the presenter, the real work is done by the unseen and under-valued production team, or should be.

So when the presenter blurts out ‘Gordon Brown didn’t say Home Rule, did he?’ the studio producer must immediately come on talkback and confirm he did indeed. Or, if unsure, get someone to check the actual detail and then tell the presenter. That no one, it seems, on the programme team and no one listening out in the newsroom was able to intervene to correct the output is deeply worrying. It speaks of lack of care and professionalism, of lack of bodies to do the job properly and a lack of engagement in Pacific Quay with the accuracy and quality of output.

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The net effect of course is to leave the BBC with egg on its face and confronting charges of bias because Kaye appears to those better informed to be supporting the mendacious Macdonald line. I know it’s easier just to conclude that BBC presenters will lie on air to damage the SNP, but whatever her personal leanings, I don’t believe Kaye Adams was doing that. But it is an insight into how professional failures at PQ have become endemic, how management appears unconcerned at patchy standards and how, ultimately, it doesn’t matter because they get away with it.

Where is the external scrutiny that should make senior managers anxious to keep up standards by, for example, resisting job cuts instead of rushing them through? The regulatory architecture lacks authority and the overriding mindset is complacency.

There has been no parliamentary demand for a retrospective examination of BBC output which makes it look as if there was no problem in covering the referendum, despite scientific evidence of bias. Kenny McQuarrie who has presided over it all, has not been pensioned off. I hear John Boothman, thankfully recovered from illness, is back in charge of news to the despair of all staff.

The annual report will be produced in due course where staff will be congratulated on an excellent performance. No mention will be made of widespread distrust of BBC news, of embarrassing ignorance by London correspondents, of threats to academics who offered evidence of partial coverage, of the three-to-one programme guest configuration or of the broadcaster’s role in helping to elect a UKIP MEP…and so on.

It is the powerlessness that is corrosive as we watch, and pay for, a public service that on so many fronts fails the Scots. Like Alistair Darling’s epitaph: He saved the Union and lost the Labour Party, so McQuarrie’s will be: He built Pacific Quay and lost the BBC’s reputation.

Which brings me to the associated point of telling the truth, or a reasonable version of it, over falling oil prices. Just as Lewis Macdonald made a fool of himself for posterity in his desperation to avoid responsibility for arming his country with the powers promised, so the one-dimensional, catch-phrase attack on the SNP smells putrid for the opportunistic gambit it is.

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An identity parade of chancers has reduced a vital industry, our economy and thousands of jobs into a facile mantra…Blair McDougall (is there anything he could say you would believe, up to and including Hello?), Jackie Baillie, the Queen of Cant, whose fake indignation and smug condescension sends an icy shudder through our house, Kezia Dugdale, the Jackie Baillie Mini Me, and Margaret Curran whom I sometimes suspect of weeping into her pillow at the deceitful and self-serving claptrap she utters.

They are not so much interested in the oil industry as in their own self interest and it is farcical for any Unionist to claim otherwise when successive governments have run it like a slot machine and saved nothing – not a brass farthing.

But there is a point behind their blethers – the oil price IS important and would be in an independent Scotland. The trouble is that in their rush to condemn, they haven’t made the case and got it to stick.

Here is how I would present the case and why I’m not John McTernan.

I would stop pretending the SNP is responsible for oil. Anyone who is Labour and toying with the SNP has already been awakened to this game of cheat. It’s only four months since they were telling the same people that oil had to remain in the UK’s control and the SNP shouldn’t get their hands on it. In other words, don’t pretend they can change North Sea policy, accept the reality of it as a UK responsibility. Then, ‘even with the UK, the price is volatile and cannot be maintained by any one country. We are at the mercy of global forces which don’t care about the UK, let alone wee Scotland.’

Don’t kid people that anyone saw the fall coming – the SNP’s figures were the same as the Department for Climate Change. On Radio 4 a presenter suggested the fall from the SNP estimate meant they ‘couldn’t be trusted’ in dealing with a Westminster government. Duh…

‘Previous governments should have set money aside for the bad times, but didn’t. That was a mistake and we regret it. But the fact is they didn’t and we can’t begin one now. Much of the money came to Scotland in additional spending anyway.’

Scotland would not have been independent yet after a Yes vote, but how much more difficult would the negotiations have been if Scotland’s economy was facing a bigger shortfall? The loss of revenue in the meantime would need UK financial support, reducing the likely settlement.

A high oil price partly underpins the rate at which Scotland would borrow, so unless there is a substantial rise in the price in the short to medium term, those costs would go up.

Unionists also need to find a way of expressing what failed them throughout the campaign – hope. And resilience. They must constantly say that the price will recover in time and show belief in the sector. Right now, they sound as they did on renewables – doom-laden and negative.

The fall in oil price after the referendum is a bit like the collapse of Royal Bank before it…an existential blow to the Nationalist momentum that forces a change of tone if not direction (and plays into Patrick Harvie’s Green fingers). But Scots shrugged off Royal Bank knowing the dust would settle and, since there is nothing we can do about the oil price, they will repeat in the knowledge it will return to the peaks (when Unionists will remain silent). They will also grasp that the oil industry is not in decline – it planned housekeeping on expenditure and staffing before the fall and 200 onshore jobs lost doesn’t suggest Armageddon – yet.

And they now know they are NOT voting for independence when the oil price would have focused minds. The Unionists are still pretending that is an option when it isn’t – the referendum’s over. They are voting for the best representation for Scotland to deliver what was promised (Home Rule, Kaye). They look at the dismal list of Labour failures at Westminster and most will conclude that a jaggy thistle or two on the green benches is just what’s needed.

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Meantime, I point you to the BP website  http://www.bp.com/en/global/corporate/about-bp/bp-worldwide/bp-united-kingdom.html  where any sense of panic and gloom is manifestly missing… ‘BP has been present in the North Sea for many decades and we intend this to continue for many decades to come…we are investing a further £10billion in the North Sea by 2017… BP has a healthy exploration and appraisal programme in the UK and Norway, which is designed to look for additional opportunities to develop the existing business. Last year, we announced a two-year multi-well appraisal programme to look at the potential for a third phase of development in the Clair field. In the UK’s 27th offshore oil and gas licensing round, BP was awarded licence interests across 14 offshore exploration blocks, our most successful round since the 1990s…BP has an active exploration and appraisal programme in the North Sea, and announced in October the Vorlich discovery in the central North Sea…BP is pleased to announce the start of production from the Kinnoull field in the central North Sea. Kinnoull is BP’s seventh and final major upstream project start-up in 2014.’

Without perspective, all information is worthless. I fear the panic and hyperbole in Unionism is the clearest sign they too can smell the air and know what’s coming. It isn’t North Sea oil that is about to disappear over the horizon.

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See You Jimmy Murphy

I’ve spent a lot of time laughing recently, first from looking at my bank account after Christmas and then from following Jim Murphy’s transformation from Bertie Wooster to Sawney Bean.

Having cultivated the impeccable British Unionist image and airily dismissing the SNP as ‘these people’ as if they were beneath him, he is now biting off the heads of the English with relish and spitting out the remains in the face of the Nationalists.

This is Anglophobic, redistributive, Tartan Army, mad-as-fuck McMurphy. He is bare-chested, tangle-haired and blood-smeared. ‘I’m See-You-Jimmy McMurphy, by the way.’

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In the shipyards of the Clyde, in the classrooms and hospital wards, a roar goes up to hail the hero who is a force of nature that no man can stop – without an army.

Sturgeon? Salmond? mere human skittles to be scattered at his approach…

You have to concede, as damascene conversion goes, this is an epic. Everything he stood for is turned upside down, inside out and put back on back-to-front. ‘Blairite? Me? No way – I’m all for redistribution and universal benefits. Unionist? Me? Forget it – I’m a Labour Scottish Nationalist fighting harder than the SNP. I want them to join our party.’

The sheer welter of discombobulating releases has me grabbing for the steering wheel as my understanding of what Murphy the Original stood for veers one way then the other. Scotland has become a film lot where every day a new myth is created, a new persona emerges, a new script is written and we watch on open-mouthed.

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He has even created a Scottish Labour constitution which is like the Arc of the Covenenant, a mythical artefact lurking only in the imagination of wistful old Labourites. He then went on to amend the non-existent document under the eyes of the media who are hypnotised by this daily welter of stories.

Murphy’s Game is already a triumph. Of its kind. It is entering the pantheon of publicity stunts to rival the Hitler Diaries and every sensate Scot knows it is a naked pitch for votes aimed at a narrow constituency identified by the polling. That in a way is the triumph – we are part of it like willing dupes watching a magician and relishing the trompe de l’oeil.

I don’t know how many people will be swayed by this and I doubt if many will want to own up to buying into it. But it seems to me that beyond the general election, the groundwork is being laid here for what we should have had all along – a real Labour Party. No, I don’t think Murphy believes a word of it and sees it merely as form of body grease which helps him slip sideways into Scottish politics. But, after the election, it makes it very hard to disown any of it and claim it was just a wee ruse for votes.

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What he is laying down is the policy foundation – or at least the patio base – for a left-of-centre party championing home rule with a clear mandate to differentiate itself from London Labour. Even if it is moderately successful – and holding only 20 seats would be taken as such – it cannot be jettisoned and will become the framework for the Scottish Party. If the unions believe it, they could re-engage and in theory at least, we could approach what many outside the political bubble see as the logical conclusion – Labour and the SNP working together on 90 per cent of policy and committed to Home Rule/Devo Max.

It isn’t my objective which will always be independence but since the Scots rejected that, I support the Salmond view that Home Rule is the short-term objective.

I understand how Nationalists can’t begin to imagine sitting down with Murphy but in pursuing a self-interested agenda he is, against his own instincts, preparing Labour for a massive shift in emphasis, despite himself. He will become hostage to his own rhetoric if Labour people like what they hear and demand more of the same. Indeed, it wont be long before they demand a different fiscal policy and more borrowing to fund investment to defeat Balls’ (and Osborne’s) austerity plan which is crippling recovery. It won’t take much longer for the Scottish members to demand an end to Trident either and that will have its own logic for a party of the Left used to making up its own mind. (It won’t change Labour policy but it will be a statement of principle).

Murphy is devising a Jekyll and Hyde pantomime to con the voters, but in so doing, he is charting a path back to real Labour – the one he himself rejected for Blairism. Many will warm to this for the Holyrood election if it can be seen to be honest and true rather than the cynical campaign he intends. Labour dissidents should bide their time…their moment may be approaching.

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