I’m finding it difficult to see the computer screen today with the brilliance of the light reflected over Maryhill from the Sun God down by the Clyde. Empress Nicola is reflecting her aura across Yes City and heads bow at her progress. I’m told aides walk backwards from her presence. Outside the SECC there is a board with hieroglyphics depicting her beside the Old Pharaoh Salmond and between them the Great Sage Curtice.
It makes it tough to write a blog, though, especially if you want to be cheeky and you might be torn to pieces by the mob.
I was chairing Alex’s Edinburgh book event last week and was taken aback by the thunderous reception he received. (His quiet aside that it was actually for me didn’t wash…) I’ve said before that to me he is a Great Scot, the best politician of his era, the man who used every skill to bring us to the very edge of independence. He deserves our gratitude. And I like him. But I can’t for the life of me forget that the Alex Salmond I know is a politician.
That means representative, advocate, lawmaker etc but on Thesaurus.com the associated sections are Bureaucrat, Demagogue and Sycophant. I’m delighted the membership has surged and the enthusiasm is infectious but I have an inbuilt alarm when support veers into adoration. The best politics occurs through engagement, not devotion. Politicians perform best when the route to achievement is marked by checks and balances. They are high-wire artists who have to know the cost of a single slip.
I suspect the SNP leadership has learned through years on the outside and now years in office how to behave and how to manage both expectation and failure but you can’t be sure until the votes are counted. If Labour form a government and deliver next to nothing despite needing SNP support, how will the new blood react? If the Tories get back in a coalition and the SNP bloc can only fume, how will the arrivistes respond? Suppose the votes don’t add up and the Scottish seats are fairly spread between Labour and the SNP, will a culprit be sought?
But in the spirit of unexpected holiday that is sweeping the movement, I offer instead of a blog two selections of what has happened to Labour champions when they became starry-eyed. http://www.scotsman.com/news/brian-wilson-raise-a-glass-to-nicholas-macpherson-1-3731556
The first I came across while searching for something else and clicked on with misgivings. Reading Brian Wilson is like opening a long-forgotten bin and finding maggots crawling within. I emerge relieved, like escaping from someone’s darkest nightmare. What made my jaw drop was the total lack of awareness from a man who built a name as a radical, both anti-Establishment and committed, and a Highland land reformer. I seem to recall him on television years ago arguing with the Earl of Thurso or somesuch nob of the realm.
Yet here he is, genuflecting to the Brit Establishment, crawling up the inside leg of a scion of privilege, down on one knee in supplication at a public official who decided, without any evidence of official approval, to abandon the rules of impartiality to defeat the democratic Yes movement in Scotland. Och! says Bulldog Brian, that’s nothing. He’s only doing what any honest official would in the national interest… Good old Eton…no difference there with Dunoon Grammar, is there? Doesn’t make you a bad chap…no social mobility issue here…
Nicholas Macpherson’s family are also part of the landowning classes Wilson used to oppose. They have substantial holdings in Ross-shire. Here’s what the Herald said some years ago.
‘Ewen Macpherson owns the 32,000-acre Attadale estate valued at £9m. (Now £13m). In Kevin Cahill’s definitive Who Owns Britain, he objected to a proposal by Highland Council to re-route a section of the A890 Auchnashaen to Lochcarron road through Glen Udalain on his estate in 1996. Mr Macpherson said at the time: Of course I have a vested interest but who wants a road going through their own property? ”This is a wilderness area and do we want a highway through wilderness? The proposal is still unresolved. The Attadale estate was historically part of the Clan Matheson lands that extended west to the Kyle peninsula. Most of the estate consists of bare hillside with around 200 acres of flat ground covering the floor of the Attadale glen. It was bought in 1952 by Mr Macpherson’s father, Ian, whose family had left the island of Skye in the early years of the 19th century. Mr Macpherson is married to Nicolette and they have a 43-year-old son, Nicholas, who was educated at Eton and Oxford.’
But then those campaigns were surely the imaginings of a young hothead and no longer relevant either to Scotland or to an entrepreneur living high on the hog. In here are the ramblings of a man who has given up and who, like Labour, has abandoned everything he once stood for, downing the New Labour potion to emerge mangled and crooked like Mr Hyde. This is what can happen when winning is easy and criticism muted – the foundations rot and principle bends.
If you can stand it, the second entry is top of my list of supreme vomit-inducing hagiography, or, as it’s known in Labour circles…Gie’s a joab. http://www.scotsman.com/news/john-mcternan-none-bigger-than-gordon-brown-1-3488146?fid=15278&isc=1&did=dc4523c6391c90870505bafab4ec7790370aad86&ctp=articleby