Easter Funny

So, not so much Spiral as Inspector Clouseau, then. Frenchgate turned from scandal to farce and left Labour – Miliband, Murphy, McDougall and assorted MPs – as comical as Rene and his leetle French chooms mouthing ridiculous accents in Allo Allo.

It’s the undignified haste with which Labour now pounces on anything that might, just might, nibble a corner from Nat support that makes it so embarrassing. And just when Ed has upped his personal ratings by proving not to be as gawky as the media pretend, he blows it by lathering up with cod indignation even as the story is disintegrating. Quelle tosseur.

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And what a squalid wee plan it turned out to be. The French, who will be unamused at being dragged into domestic election politics, clearly implicate the Scotland Office one of whose senior officials – and there aren’t many – was told on an informal basis by the Consul General about Sturgeon’s meeting with the Ambassador. This official then wrote up a version and included the line about the FM preferring Cameron to Miliband, bizarrely since it wasn’t said or perhaps maliciously, if it was for partisan reasons.

Since the Foreign Office deny knowledge of it and if we take that at face value, it appears the Scotland Office ‘leaked’ an unofficial document purporting to be official, to the Telegraph…for what possible reason, do you imagine? Did someone go rogue? Is such a thing possible without being creased up by laughter at a Scotland Office run by a Lib Dem? Carmichael, conspicuously missing throughout, denies all knowledge, as does Fluffy Mundell, the normal source for media briefings.

Of course, we enter the realms of Sir Humphrey here as, when a stink bomb goes off in Whitehall, Priority One is to isolate a culprit and separate him from the herd and collective responsibility…so that ‘The government is not at fault’.

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But there is a problem for the guilty one – this is an election when tighter rules apply and this involves a key third party, the French government. Both the electorate and a friendly neighbour will expect a proper explanation and proof of action, if not an actual defenestration.

As for the Telegraph, this is but the latest scandal in an organisation lacking in the credibility needed for a major player in public life, damned by the feebleness and cynicism of its journalism. If Simon Johnson had lived up to his media pals’ estimation as a fine pro, he would surely have sought reaction from the principal players – and found his story immediately compromised if not destroyed, and he couldn’t have that, now could he?

Yet the paper is but messenger on behalf of a government office either running a dirty tricks campaign – my own suspicion – or out of control. After the recent long list of abuses we suffered at the hands of the Great British State in the indyref, this fits perfectly the pattern of skulduggery which is its hallmark.

I suspect that a changed Scotland no longer treats this scheming against it with equanimity but regards it as yet another reason for retaliating against London government in the most decorous and yet most hurtful way – by voting SNP. It pulls together all those poisonous threads of resentment against Tories, Whitehall and Labour duplicity in one cathartic and yet democratic act. We are now the Scunnered Generation, eager to get into the polling booth to mark a cross that says: Take that, you lying bastards.

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Labour, again, are a sorry sight this morning, clinging to a lie, obfuscating and wheedling in a way that is beneath even the dignity of Jim Murphy. If teetotallers ever do wake up with headaches, this is his hangover Sunday – his story and associated accusations in tatters, apologies and corrections demanded with debates looming against Sturgeon. (As well as stories in the press about his personal links to the drinks industry which he’s promoting at football grounds). Is there anything they could say you would believe? I wouldn’t trust them to run an Easter egg hunt.

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23 thoughts on “Easter Funny

  1. Some people lost trust in the Government during the Miner’s Strike, some because of the Iraq War, some even woke up to their shenanigans during IndyRef and lost faith in Westminster then and some people will have lost trust because of FrenchGate (or whatever it is to be called).

    But what the Establishment seem incapable of realising is that if they continue in the same vein, making the same mistakes that trust will never be earned again. It is gone: for good (are you listening BBC?).

    If you beat an obedient dog often enough eventually that dog will bite back.

    And this particular ‘dog’ is indeed wee and ginger and the ‘bite back’ will come May 7th.

  2. Pierre-Alain Coffinier, the French consul general, does not come out of this smelling of roses. The French Government’s man in Edinburgh lifts the phone to the UK’s Scotland Office to brief them on a private meeting with Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister. Everyone pointing at someone else and the finger ending up in the direction of some high heid official in the Scotland Office. Who was it? It’s like a novel.

    • jacquescoleman

      The French Consul has not done anything nor pointed the finger at anyone, only at the Scottish Office (SO). He has replied to questions put to him by various media courteously and consistently, even while Sky tried to trip him up by asking the same question in various guises multiple times. He always denied that any mention was made at the meeting about Nicola Sturgeon’s preferences for PM.

      As I have said in a later comment the evidence so far available suggests the ‘note’ was probably leaked by a very high level source in the SO. And as no-one outside Government has yet seen the ‘note’ except the Telegraph the veracity of its contents cannot be validated. But in the light of the categorical denials of SG and the French there is at least the suspicion that the last paragraph, which is the sole basis for the story, was appended just prior to the leak.

      • I think it was not only leaked at a very high level but also doctored at a very high level.

        This has been a genuine note, dated 6th March, by a genuine Scottish Office civil servant acting in good faith and reporting accurately on the meeting, that has been fished out of the system on Friday by someone intent on smearing Nicola Sturgeon, after she did so well on Thursday’s debates, and a gossipy paragraph added on about Miliband and Salmond.

        It has then been passed to the Telegraph and Labour tipped off.

        The Telegraph may or may not be a witting partner in this scam, but as Derek has pointed out, Johnson has compromised his journalistic standards in not seeking comment and reaction from the French and the FM.

        Labour have not covered themselves in glory by taking the toxic bait so enthusiastically.

        But the biggest scandal was the top level person who fished it out and doctored it.

        My money is on either Carmichael or Mundell.

        I believe the French Consul General (Sunday Herald, 5/04/15) when he says he does not wish to name the top civil servant in the SO whom he briefed anout the conversation, as ‘they are my friends, and it is not in the press’. Mon. Coffinier has acted with transparency and integrity throughout. If he trusts the person he briefed, and does not wish to involve them, then I’m inclined to trust his trust.

  3. You’re on a roll Derek. 🙂

    This particular event has the potential to affect relationships and politics across the UK and now beyond. I suppose it depends on how far up and across the food chain it goes. Scottish Office? Civil Service? Government ministers? The further up it goes the more stench it will unleash, the more damning to the government of the day.

    Right now Mr Carmichael has some pointed questions to answer.

  4. Jack McGenily

    It was totally predictable wasn’t it and don‘t say I didn’t warn you..

    I can imagine the late night telephone call in the shadows of Whitehall after the Surgeon success.
    Big Slippy Tits Cameron to Adenoid Ed.. “She’s got to be stopped Ed She’s getting far too popular”
    “You’re right Dave mate.. Bloody Jock’s again!” ….. Pause…… “Can we get her rubbed out like Diana?
    “No Ed, she’s far too popular for that those kilted bastards would be over the border in a jiffy if we did.…Tell you what, how about the applying the 48 hour rule”
    “What’s the 48 hour rule David?
    “Simples Ed” you create a ‘Leak’ story that says she supports me rather than you and get it ‘front page’ public on a major respectable Tory paper,
    “And then what Dave mate……Ohhhhh I like this”
    “Get it headline news on ‘our’ TV News for 48 hours Ed and she’s gubbed…cause the Jocks feking hate me and that’s her knackered”
    “I Love it,,, love it David, is it true???
    “Ed fer fek sake, of course not but in 48 hours the damage is done, you are really gonna have to learn how we work down here just in case you do mange to get elected”
    “And another thing Ed… You’re really gonna have to get those adenoid out, you’re annoying the shit out of me”
    “That’s not fair David, it the shape of my dose”

    End of rant enjoy!

  5. “Take that, you lying bastards.”

    Or as somebody said to me the other day We are now in a “Get it right up you” phase

  6. Great summary and capturing of current sentiment. The speed at which the usual suspects relayed what they hoped to be true, has certainly not been matched following the realisation it was a complete lie. This shows bad grace and an untrustworthiness that has characterised unionist politicians in Scotland for too long.

    When even Duncan Hothersall apologised and admitted he had been duped, one would really think Labourite Parliamentarians would have done likewise. Who advises these people?

    They have been used and abused by a Tory sting just as much as our First Minister but they refuse to see it due to a stubbornness and desire for this invention of the Scottish Office to still somehow besmirch the FM. Why are they not demanding an investigation and the truth to come out?

    Their hatred of the SNP goes beyond truth, justice and a sense of fair play. Even when they have an opportunity to support an investigation into wrong-doing by their ConDem rivals, they cannot see past their bitter and childish resentment of the SNP.

    I am truly astounding to the levels SLAB have sunk and their complete lack of respect for the Scottish electorate.

  7. Bugger (the Panda)

    When Miliband weighed in, he was a day late and a dollar short.

  8. Stewart cameron

    Scunnered Generation … Love it!

  9. jacquescoleman

    REALLY excellent stuff Derek.

    Just one little query.

    “This official then wrote up a version and included the line about the FM preferring Cameron to Miliband, bizarrely since it wasn’t said or perhaps maliciously, if it was for partisan reasons.”

    What if, as someone said in your blog comments yesterday, the last paragraph of the ‘note’ was added by another unknown person just prior to the leak. Because it certainly doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the ‘note’.

    • Yes. My theory has been strengthened today by what Mon. Coffinier said to the Sunday Herald, that he had spoken to ‘an official’ at the SO (who was not Frances Osowoska) an official who was a ‘friend’ whom he didn’t wish to name ‘because it is not in the press’.

      Clearly Mon. Coffinier, who has behaved impeccably throughout this incident, retains trust and respect for this individual, and if he does, I am inclined to trust his judgement and integrity on that.

      This leaves the possibility that a genuine report made by Mon. Coffinier’s contact was subsequently altered by somebody else.

      And that somebody else must have had a higher level of authority or access to the data than the official.

  10. I’d like to call this boorach “Galligate”!………. No? Ok! I’ll take French leave as Carmichael appears to have! Hope it’s becomes permanent for him!

  11. I’m listening to the Manics sing ‘If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next’ and it seems to apply so well. I’ve clicked it back to listen again.

  12. “… the dignity of Jim Murphy…” A bizarre concept.

  13. Note to the Establishment : The first rule of throwing S**t is to make sure most of it leaves your hand..

  14. My take, on malicious rumours and those who hug themselves excitedly and squawk “no smoke without fire, is always this: check to see who’s holding the matches.

    Carmichael bleating that “these things happen” is so patently absurd that you really have to wonder who he thinks he’s fooling. In my perception he was finding it somewhat difficult to speak normally during that “these things happen” TV interview, what with his dry mouth and difficulty in swallowing an’ all. Not his usual rude self at all but somewhat on edge.

    One thing has puzzled me though. The consul-general lifts the phone and passes on details of the meeting, whilst also saying that these remarks are confidential and not to be distributed further. Why then is there a memo typed up in the first place, and for what purpose, since it appears (contrary to Simon Twitface’s assertion in the Telegraph that it’s protocol when dignitaries visit the Scotland Offisce) that the Consul-General wasn’t required to pass on the details but did so out of courtesy. Let’s have some details about the protocols in place and whether or not Carmichael runs oversees the office as efficiently as he should on the vast buckets of money he gets for being the ScotSec.

    There is skulduggery by the truckload afoot. Why was Willie Rennie – of all people – brought into this, and were various Labour folk slurping down coffee at the Telegraph offices while the Cake of Malice was being cooked? I wonder, seeing that they leapt upon it within minutes, seconds even, after the story hit the net. They’re all in this up to their back molars – Tories, Labour and LibDems, although the Tories are the ones pulling the strings. How they must have laughed to see Murphy windmilling his joy at thinking he had something on the First Minister.

  15. The comment above brings to mind an episode that took place during the by-election in Moray that followed on the untimely death of Margaret Ewing. The debate was intense and both the Tories and Lib Dems thought that they were in with a chance. Malcom Bruce was prominent in the LD team and at one point went hopelessly over the top in one of his pronouncements. When challenged, rather like Carmichael in this latest episode, rather than apologise or correct himself he squirmed a bit and defended himself by stating that in the hurly burly of hustings that “such things happen” and “things may have got a little out of hand”
    The editor of the local Elgin newspaper was not so forgiving and let him have it in the editorial in election week. After reporting the incident she finished along the lines of, “this is a farming community and we have no difficulty in recognising Bullsh*t when we come across it.”
    Richard Lochhead not only won the by-election seat but actually also increased the majority- a very rare occurence in by-election history.

    In this latest incident it seems that Malcolm Bruce, now busy fighting a rearguard action on behalf of the new LD candidate for Gordon, has been all too quick to give credence to the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail and, as far as I can see, has not had the grace to admit his mistake.

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