Freedom of speech, eh? You can say what you like – it’s a human right and nobody should try to stop you. But hold on. Supposing you’re standing on a busy street with a public address sound system and shouting about how you oppose somebody else’s ideas…supposing somebody who disagrees with you tries to shout over your sound system and you demand they stop because they’re denying your right to free speech…aren’t you denying them the right of reply and therefore of free speech?
Or are we really saying that if you’ve organised a sound system and tipped off the media and are stage-managing a PR stunt for the cameras, you should be allowed to get on with it and all the other people should restrict their right to free speech so can appear on the evening telly news?
I passed the Murphy event – laughably called a ‘rally’ by some media – just before it started at St Enoch and it was everything we’ve come to expect from the robotic political/media coalition…the party red coats (turning up in the same hired coach, it seems), a scattering of hacks and the Murphy briefers making sure the journos are on message. Seeing the cameras, a handful of puzzled locals stopped to stare but there is no crowd, no spontaneous reaction, just a street backdrop which will appear on camera as if something really was ‘happening’. The media conspire in this charade.
The contrast with the mass events of the SNP is so embarrassing that Labour really should give it up. It’s like their evocation of Donald Dewar, John Smith or, so help me, Keir Hardie which only serves to show how talentless and unprincipled the modern leadership is.
I don’t mind anybody going on the street and I don’t mind them making a noise (the buskers already do my head in) but what I can’t stand is their cod indignation when somebody answers back. Who the hell do they think they are? If somebody wants to chant to drown you out, isn’t that the risk you take – it’s the battle of the streets after all. Murphy is, in theory, inviting everyone in a public place to engage with him but, in reality, when they do, he can’t take it. He either screams at them, ignores their question or runs away. This isn’t engagement, it’s parody. He reverts to student politics by yelling and – as we saw in every televised hustings – speaking over and never, never listening. The public’s job is to listen to him. He is a bully.
Jim’s style is to badger and confront and that’s exactly what he got in return at St Enoch – a man (looked like Sean Clerkin to me) competing with his own loud hailer and being in turn pushed by what appeared to be Labour minders. When you read the media portrayal and quotes from Eddie Izzard (you don’t suit red, love) about violence, you have to pinch yourself at what’s become of street politics. As Alex Thompson of Channel Four tweeted: Anybody saying that was a violent protest needs to get out more and see what violence looks like.
And if there’s any evidence that Clerkin or his pals are somehow controlled by Nicola Sturgeon, I’ll eat my hat. When, oh when, can we get rid of this manipulative clown Murphy and find a Labour leader who connects with people and joins debate with honesty and wit? There are so many policy areas to be confronted and a leftist agenda to be pursued but he has no credibility with the public on either front. His am dram performance on the last debate summed him up. When Sturgeon said she would vote against a Labour budget if it added to austerity, he did a pantomime face. ‘Ooooh. The cat’s out of the bag. They’ll vote against Labour’, he howled in mock outrage. Of course, they will, if it means more austerity. But he refined it to exclude the key caveat – and so did some of the media. Isn’t it time there was a professional qualification for journalists? Wonder how many would be in work?
(I see the excuses for Murphy’s dismal campaigning efforts are already in hand. Professor David Torrance http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/david-torrance-how-thursdays-election-will-represent-another-political-sea-change.125003618 was virtually exonerating Murphy, McDougall and McTernan in the Herald -which ran an ‘SNP Will Vote Against Labour’ headline – on the grounds that the decline was already well under way before they took over. Indeed it was. And who was responsible for it? Exactly the same cadre of Blairite insiders who triangulated the party to death, backed the purse-crushing PFI schemes, privatisation, foreign wars, sucked up to the finance sector and refused to restore workers rights – Murphy, McDougall and McTernan. http://www.scotsman.com/news/john-mcternan-private-sector-nhs-s-best-medicine-1-3045699
They are the epitome of Labour’s failure and are now making a mockery of Labour principles as they wheedle and whine about the SNP while adopting their policies. Today’s Labour panto in Argyle Street was about students – about whom there are genuine issues under an SNP government – and one placard said: No tuition fees. Yet Murphy himself voted for fees in England. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/03/snp-scottish-labour-tuition-fees-pledge Which is it? Fees – good or fees bad? Good in Scotland, bad in England? Or is the answer simple: Jim will say whatever he has to…depends who’s paying the piper.)
By the way. Better Together Labour spinners are suggesting the SNP or the government are tipping off the protestors about Jim’s ‘rallies’. How would they know about them? And given the inevitable publicity, how likely do you think that is? I think it’s as likely as Sturgeon demanding a second referendum. Much more likely is somebody inside the Labour campaign is making it known either because they are disaffected or because they are luring the shouters into a trap. Thank god it will be over soon.