Rest in Peace?

There seems to be no end to the Unionists’ loathing for Alex Salmond. If ever a politician needed confirmation of his success (as if), the last SNP leader receives it daily from aggrieved opponents in the commentariat. The charge of grudge and grievance has been swapped neatly from Nationalists to Unionists as they continue to lash out at the former leader even as he retreats to the backbenches.

He stands accused today in lurid terms of appropriating Charlie Kennedy’s death for a partisan purpose. Here’s what Salmond said: ‘Yes, he was an extremely generous human being. I have had one or two, but not many, people who had a bad word to say about Charles, and that’s very rare in politics. In terms of the independence referendum, I don’t think his heart was in the ‘Better Together’ campaign. His heart would have been in a pro-European campaign, that’s a campaign that Charles would have engaged in heart and soul. That is something he absolutely believed in.’ See? No? Well, he is clearly implying Kennedy was a secret Nat. Isn’t he?

There has been an outpouring of criticism unleashed with a particularly vitriolic item by Alex Massie in the Spectator describing his remarks as contemptible.  As usual, I am out of step with our friends in the pious mainstream media who see it as their duty to regulate the rest of us on behalf of decency and good journalism. His recorded comments in all media have been kind, warm-hearted and thoughtful. I found myself asking: What did Salmond say that was so wrong?

Was Kennedy a secret Nat? Of course, not. There was never a hint of doubt that he remained a committed Unionist who believed in federalism. To imply otherwise would not only be wrong but transparently foolish – hardly the automatic description of Salmond. But was ‘his heart in the Better Together campaign’? Try this from the Sunday Post ‘I looked at some of the rhetoric from last week’s Labour Scottish conference, It’s Salmond versus Scotland – I don’t think that’s the tone we are looking for. A lot of Scots probably think Alex Salmond is on the side of Scotland whether they agree with his ideas or not. So it’s a bit stupid to pose it as Salmond vs Scotland but I do appreciate Labour have a specific contest of their own, essentially anchored in the central belt against the SNP. The danger is that this drowns out the broader rhetoric needed to appeal to the landmass and islands of Scotland as a whole.’ Branding a campaign stupid and with the wrong tone might just indicate doubts about it.

Or there’s this from the BBC. ‘When asked about the charge of negativity in the No campaign, Mr Kennedy said: I’ve made that criticism. I think that we should be more positive in terms of the way in which those of us on the Better Together side are putting over our key messages. I think we’re right to ask the pertinent questions, of course. But if you take, for example, the recent figures on the state of the Scottish economy, the decline in the oil revenues and so on and so forth, I’m not sure that the right response to that from our point of view is to say There we are, we told you so, Scotland could never go it alone. I’m not sure that’s a resonance that you can establish with the people and I’m not sure it’s the right one anyway.’ He just might be implying there the campaign wasn’t meeting his aspirations.

Or how about this on the threat to withdraw the pound: ‘I don’t think that the Scots will feel bullied. I think that the national instinct, if you like, is more Who are they to come up here and tell us what to do? Which is a different mindset. I think it’s We’ll make our own mind up, thank you very much.’

He wasn’t finished: ‘I think it would be better if we had a more coherent blueprint to put to people, to say, voting No means Yes to this distinct proposition, as opposed to, well, something that will be worked out in due course. Because then you’re open to exactly the accusation that we’re making of the other side.’

So Better Together was variously stupid, had the wrong tone, set Scotland against Salmond, was negative, mistakenly told Scots they couldn’t go it alone, told the Scots what was good for them and didn’t offer a coherent blueprint after a No vote. To me this is sounding pretty conclusive – that while remaining a dedicated Unionist, Kennedy was less than impressed by the campaign his side was running. You could say his heart wasn’t in it.

I can’t say either that I saw very much of Charlie during the campaign apart from the occasional TV interview. I don’t know why but on the simple basis of visibility he was hardly the central focus of No.

All this contrived apoplexy, remember, on the very day Kennedy’s death is announced. Even if the conspiracy-minded were suspicious, couldn’t they wait 24 hours before turning mourning into controversy? Have they lost all respect as well as reason?  It does seem that in the Unionist mindset commentators can write the most horrible stuff about our country and be lauded as heroes exercising their right to freedom of speech but woe betide the Nationalist who thinks that right extends to them, even honoured former First Ministers whose contribution to the nation is unmatched. Reason has deserted them in defeat and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that fine-combing Salmond’s remarks is all they have left for the fight.

(One right wing source even yelped on Twitter that Salmond had gone on – in the quote above – to mention Europe. Europe! The horror of it all. Is there no end to this man’s crassness?)

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

54 thoughts on “Rest in Peace?

  1. There is no beginning to their charm.

    • Good article Derek but I have – as a pro iny person- had to take issue with someone of similar views getting nasty about kennedy because he doesn’t like his politics. Peoples general decency and integrity or otherwise is not related to their political beliefs

  2. Derek, this poignant article explains why we didn’t hear much from him last year.

    His older brother was paralysed in an accident and needed 24 hour care.

    Read it and weep. Very, very, sad.

  3. I don”t think the likes of Alex Massie, Iain Martin, Cochrane, Carroll, White, Crichton etc will ever forgive Alex Salmond for taking us to within touching distance of independence.

  4. Just another example of some loony Unionists sticking the ball in their own net. I doubt if just one of them could meet Charles Kennedys values and his natural humanity and humility.

    These types have no sense of shame.

  5. Nevertheless isn’t it disrespectful and inappropriate for Salmond to be raising this issue(his commitment to Better Together) within hours of Mr Kennedy’s death? And aren’t you just as guilty as the people you refer to of politicising his death.

    • Why on earth was it disrespectful and inappropriate for Salmond to say what he said? He praised Charles Kennedy as a great man and a great politician. He mentioned Charles Kennedy having reservations about the BT campaign, which is the truth. But that comment was only one of quite lengthy things Salmond said about Kennedy anyway. Salmond also never said Charles Kennedy was not a unionist. Even Gordon Brown had major concerns about BT! What you are deliberately not mentioning is the fact that anything Alex Salmond says is twisted and smeared by a MSM that hates him, the SNP and independence at a visceral level.

      What is clear beyond any reasonable doubt to me is that Alex Salmond cannot say or do anything that will meet with the approval of some unionists, whether it is Brit nats on Twitter who are even blaming the SNP for Kennedy’s untimely death, or journalists like Alex Massie, Iain Martin etc. They detest Salmond because he took us so close to independence, and they really, really do not like this.

    • Mr R Teale, I would agree with if it were not for the fact that I watched the interview live, where Mr Salmond was simply answering the questions that were put to him on the Victoria Derbyshire show this morning BBC2. Perhaps if he had realised that, what was a lovely tribute would be used in this manner, he may have refused to do the interview.

    • It has now emerged that Salmond mentioned Kennedy’s role in Better Together in answer to a direct question about it. He has said that he wouldn’t even have thought of mentioning it, had he not been specifically asked about it.

    • Also, for goodness sake, the quote clearly but tactfully speaks to the fact that Kennedy’s recent appearances were (for many reasons) not representative of his career. In this transient and superficial media culture, it is all too easy to be defined by your most recent appearances. That was never how his constituents knew him. It will not be how we, or his admiring colleagues (from every part of the political spectrum, on whatever side of whatever issue) remember him. We and they will remember the campaigns in which his passionate and principled advocacy went to the heart of all that was still good in British politics.

      Anyone who actually cares about politics, as opposed to pointless petty point-scoring, knows that the quality of debate is defined by all positions, and sincerely regrets the loss of any principled participant. That’s where Scotland is today: the loss of a fine political mind, a great debater and a passionate democrat, being trivialised by the partisan press and its adherents’ addiction to reducing everything to schoolyard yah-boo popularity-contests.

    • I think it best to just say that Charles Kennedy had a humanity and integrity as does Alex Salmond. The two were clearly agreed on some big political issues and very definitely not in agreement on some others. Kennedy was, like Salmond is, able to rise above the politics and find tolerance, respect and admiration for his fellow human. The disrespectful contribution was from Alex Massie.

    • “I only mentioned the Better Together campaign at all because I was asked a direct question about it.”

    • BS! Is your real name Massie?

  6. I was on the Guardian’s (I know..) website whilst the ticker, sorry twitter tape of condolences were pouring in this morning…briefly caught an excerpt of Massie’s piece, saw the use of the word ‘contemptible in the context of Alex’s (Salmond) comments and immediately stopped reading. There isn’t a smidgeon of contempt contained within his comments! It beggars sanity how Massie contorted and arrived at this description and sought to smear him in the context of CK’s passing.

    I actually cannot fathom such mindsets’.

    I have no references for this level of vicious bile that seeks an outlet at ‘any’ opportunity; it’s like the entire body commentariat in Scotland has poisoned itself and needs to keep vomiting up that which it cannot digest. Instead of referring itself for treatment, and I would think ‘special measures’ are required: a deep long period of reflection and a genuine reassessment of their own outlook would be part of the anti-dote. But they won’t do it. I think they have gone insane from the affects of what has embittered them.

    I guess we can only sit back and watch them writhing in pain, for that is surely what we are witnessing. The only recourse for those of us who do not understand the depths of their aggrievedness is to starve them of ‘oxygen’ and allow nature to take its course. With the dawning realisation that they are fast approaching that stage in public life, when their views are no longer in step with the culture they inhabit. And their ramblings amount to nothing more than the last dying gasps of those who find themselves completely irrelevant, just before they pass into obscurity.

    They really are giving themselves a ‘right showing up’.

  7. Colin McKerron

    If we get to the root cause of Massie’s apparent hatred of Alex Salmond, perhaps poor Massie may be able to move on.
    My question is, ” Why does the establishment continue to rely on such vitriolic journalists?”

  8. Fine, rational piece, Derek. I’m afraid we won’t be seeing many of them.

  9. jacquescoleman

    “I don’t think his (Charles Kennedy’s) heart was in the ‘Better Together’ campaign.”

    And from his utterances I thought the same thing.

    But I think it is abominable that people like Massie think it is acceptable to use CK’s death for a bit of Alex Salmond and SNP bashing.

  10. GavinC Barrie

    A decent man has departed but solemnity and benign remembrance is not enough for the more vile amongst us. They indulge in irrational attacks on the SNP, and the generous words of Alex Salmond.

    Meantime Glasgow City Council has permitted an orangefest{?} in George Square this coming Saturday. Are they mad?

    Surely after the mayhem visited upon the Square on Sept 19th last year GCC should have denied this disruption to civic peace and wellbeing? Didn’t their eyes see the flag ripped from two young sisters, one of the young girls pulled to the ground? The police efforts to maintain some semblance of order?

    Is this the price that GCC must pay for Orange Order support in elections? Suspension of public order?

    And, for clarity.I don’t attend/support football, non-aligned with respect to religion, and pro-immigration of whatever creed.

  11. I’ve watched all day in horror at the vile outpourings of these demented people. To use Charles Kennedy’s death to have a go at the SNP and Alex Salmond it utterly disgraceful.

    The poor man was hardly cold, when the began ranting. I don’t know, or care, what they think they will achieve by this type of behaviour. It’s all so sad. Have some respect. They show no common decency or humanity.

    If nothing else they should remember Charles Kennedy’s family. He has a 10 year old son. Poor wee boy has just lost his father.

    • Exactly, which is why Salmond should have chosen his words carefully. Research exactly what was said and the sequence of events. Ignorance is no excuses. Neither is reading Bateman’s twisted article on the matter.

  12. The only people attempting to make political capital out of a human tragedy are those in the metro commentariat and the twitterati/online ‘we hate Salmond’ group think.

    These people are delusional hate mongers of the very worst sort. They care nothing for a family’s personal grief, collateral damage in society or simple human decency. They live to spread/project outrage and pain. Its what they do.

    Their own actions say more of themselves than anything we could.

  13. Yes, I too saw Alex’s reply, pointing out that the only reason he mentioned BT was because he was specifically asked about it. Seems Massie didn’t think it important to include that crucial part of the conversation and instead used Alex’s comments as a smear rather than putting them in context.

    Nothing the unionists come up in their attacks stands up to scrutiny. Every single lie, smear and distortion unravels as soon as you unpick it. To use the occasion of the loss of a good and decent man as an excuse to hack at Alex yet again shows how morally bankrupt they are. Hell mend them

  14. As I’m sure Charles would have been the first to point out ever single pointless diatribe and every incorrect assertion is grist to our mill! The union is dying and an independent Scotland struggles to be born. RIP Charles.

  15. Massie is disgusting. No one with an ounce of common decency for the dead, would have written that piece. His writing is descending into hysteria, such is his loathing for Salmond/SNP. He can’t stand that the SNP cohort are down in WM, and that his ravings can be countered. Why let facts get in the way of your vitriol?

  16. Derek,

    Is there no end to it? At what point is the penny going to drop? The light bulb to come on? Are they going to push this discredited meme for what? 5 years, 10, 15. When does it finally sink in that this approach simply will not work.

    It’s jumped the shark. It’s deader than disco. It’s a rancid hate sink being repurposed as an echo chamber for the deluded. It’s a security blanket for idiots who don’t realise that using it is part of the problem.

    I don’t read the statesman any more, nor for that matter any other source of this keech. And yes that includes the BBC. Why should I pay good money to have my brain offended like this.

    You reach a stage where your face curls up in disgust, you hold up your hand and say: “whatever man, whatever” and keep walking on.

  17. Is there a transcript or a link to the actual interview?

    • Yes – that would be good to see. Hints above that we might even be in ‘Nick Robinson’ set up territory, if it turns out that AS was responding to a direct question about Charles Kennedy and BT.

      • I have spent two or three hours today trying unsuccessfully to track down a link or a transcript. There appears to be none available. It looks like someone has posted and “interpretation” of the interview and the rest of the MSM and social media guys have pounced on it in a feeding frenzy.

        I find it strange that this is all over the media, attributed to the BBC yet they don’t have any reference to it on their own website. I appreciate that AS did make some of the comments that they didn’t like. He has admitted it but it could be all about context,

  18. A change from the nauseating guff being pumped out by the MSM the last two days. He was a mortal man and he certainly didn’t walk on water, which is the impression that most of the Brit Nat Press and Media is trying to create.

    The matter of his voting against the opening up of the Official Secrets Act so that the Police could pursue child molesters will always leave a bitter taste in my mouth and for me cancelled out the principled stand he took against the Iraq War. In the end he failed as a politician for me and failed doubly because he should have led his Party to Devo Max but didn’t.

    When I think of him I will think of him as just another Brit Nat corrupted in the end by Westmidden.

  19. Steve Asaneilean

    As politicians go Mr Kennedy was definitely a cut above. That may sound like “damning with faint praise” but I don’t mean it like that.

    I didn’t share much of his political view but as a fellow human being I had a lot of time for him.

    I had a few direct dealings with him over the years and he was never anything other than kind, attentive, generous with his time and generally a decent guy.

    However there was a growing feeling among many in his constituency that I spoke to that with his personal and family problems he was no longer capable of giving the constituency the level of commitment he had in the past. That was understandable but many felt it was actually unfair to ask him to continue being an MP as that would not allow him the time and space he needed to tackle his personal and family issues.

    Anyway by all means people should be allowed to challenge his politics. But anyone wishing to disrespect him as a person should bear in kind what happens to people who throw stones in glass houses.

    As for Alex Massie? He’s a nothing who is over-inflated with his own ego and a belief that he has a superior intellect and that his self-righteousness is justified. Answer? Don’t feed the troll.

      • Yes, indeed.

        I’m beginning to wonder if some of these people who feel compelled to smear AS are actually suffering from a mental illness. They seem unable to distinguish truth from fiction, they have an unhealthy fixation on certain individuals, certain groups and seem to believe that one person in particular is the embodiment of all evil; they refuse to accept any evidence to the contrary of their belief even when that belief is demonstrably shown to be wrong; they twist and mis-interprete statements and actions so that these fit with their perverted world view and finally, when all else fails they resort to desperate insults. These psychoses are very unhealthy and they should seek help.

        • These people fear and what they fear, they hate. Just what it is they are afraid of? I have no idea, but they focus this fear on Alex Salmond and the wider independence movement. To give them notice is to give them publicity and oxygen to the fire. They seek to be engaged and spread their rage and their hatred. It becomes a self perpetuating cycle as anger breeds anger. They poke and they prod, provoke and bait all for this purpose.

          They want to point and say ‘see I told you’.

          For me? Well I would suggest they never be engaged with at all on a one to one basis, but more importantly they must never be engaged with on their level. Their balloon must be deflated with derision, humour or fact from arms length. We leave it to pros like Derek, WOS, WGD, BELLA to seek out the stories and highlight wrongs.

          We’ve got better things to do than feed their narrative. 😉

        • Allan Sutherland

          I don’t suffer from a mental illness but I do, like many people suffer from increasing waves of nausea at Alex Salmond’ increasingly hubristic and insular attempts to wind people up so when he comes out with the type of comment about Charles Kennedy i can’t help tjinking there he goes again. I was at school with him, heve met him fairly 9f5en since then and had a 2 page ‘open letter’ to him published in the daily record a few weeks ago. Like all the snp leadership he has no empathy with people 8s not genuine and a huge danger to our nation. Perhaps the Kennedy outrage was an overreaction but that is the kind of scotland this monster has created

          • What comment? Perhaps you can provide a transcript of the comment that offended you?

      • I spent some time yesterday unsuccessfully seeking out the transcript of the interview upon which most of the condemnation of Alex Salmond was based. It arose from people reading a load of vitriolic nonsense from Alex Massie of the Spectator.

        Today we now have an admission from Massie that his article was “over the top”. It was in fact much more than that. It was based once again on lies or rather Massie’s warped interpretation of what AS had said but the mainstream media jumped on it. Using Charles Kennedy’s death was an opportunity for attacking Alex Salmond. Once again no validation was done. Thousand of people with the unionists mindset spread this all over blindly accepting that it was correct.

        What makes this lie so vile is that they were using it to accuse AS of what they themselves were doing. In other words making political capital out of Charles Kennedy’s sad passing. I wonder how many of them will apologise to Alex and perhaps be more careful about posting stuff without first checking if it is true. It seems they learned nothing from the Alistair Carmichael episode but then they don’t really want to, do they?

        • Few or none I would suspect.

          They see only what they want to see, what confirms their own mindset.

          Mr Massie may have apologised, but he wrote what he wrote with only one aim in mind and that was to harm to others not of his particular world view.


          • As “London Calling…” makes clear this is typical of the MSM and Unionists in general – someone makes a claim about AS, SNP, Indy Supporters, without any evidence or twists the evidence to mean the opposite and then there’s a bandwagon effect as every piece of low-life jumps upon the cart. By the time Truth gets it boots on it’s too late.

  20. Only you could try and turn a disgraceful comment from Salmond into something that creates ill feeling towards others.

    I see your followers have really moved forward in society with the hate towards people. You and the SNP are responsible for the product of nationalism we now have here in Scotland.


  21. The “Social media storm” that wasn’t. He said nothing disrespectful.

    Alistair Campbell was interviewed at length and said much more about shared political views. His remarks were not disrespectful either. They did, however, go much further than Salmond’s remarks.

    If anyone TRULY thought Salmond was being offensive they’d have been even more offended by Campbell’s interview.

    Again we have the feigned offence and caricaturing of Salmond. So who is behind this? It’s in the right wing press but only Scottish Labour hate Salmond with such passion. They still don’t get it…

  22. I was at Glasgow University when Charles Kennedy was there and I remember him from the debating society. I really didn’t know him personally but I’ve watched him from afar all these years and I’m finding myself being very upset right now at how for years people were laughing at him for his drinking but now suddenly they are all praising him for what a great guy he was (despite it) now that he’s gone. Remembering the man, not the drunk. It’s not the hypocrisy that’s upsetting me, it’s thinking on the cruelty he’s silently suffered.

    It just feels very, very sad, that for over a decade he was the butt of cruel jokes, when in fact, he was suffering from a disease. How can it help you to get better if you are constantly being laughed at?

    We really need to get our attitudes to drink and alcoholism sorted out. You wouldn’t laugh at somebody for having cerebral palsy these days and you shouldn’t laugh at somebody for being an alcoholic either. Neither should people think of drink and drunkenness as something that’s a bit of a laugh. It’s a dangerous habit, and though we enjoy it, we should be more alert to when it is a problem, when it’s excessive.

    Thinking about it now, and in the light of what Steve says, he really should have stood down in 2010, and got himself sorted out. He would still be here today. And playing a role in public life for many years to come, if not in the Commons.

  23. Steve Asaneilean

    Absolutely right MBC. Alcoholism is a disease just as much as diabetes or asthma or whatever.

    True friends would not laugh at you. Rather they would try to help.

    Sadly at Westminster there is a culture which has for generations tolerated alcohol misuse. Alcohol was and is cheap and freely available within the building.

    What other business (out with the license trade) would allow that? And what other business would allow it’s workers to drink alcohol at work?

    We would not tolerate a nurse or doctor or pilot or train driver or teacher or police person turning up to work under the influence of alcohol yet at Westminster that’s okay.

    It’s perfectly possible as an MP to make decisions which affect the lives of millions whilst being “under the influence”.

    I have long advocated breathalysing all MPs before each vote but that’s never likely to happen is it?

    I was appalled when I found out that the Scottish Parliament building was going to have a members’ bar. How is it ever necessary for alcohol to be available at one’s place of work? Why don’t they just stop the selling and consumption of alcohol in all parliament buildings?

    • I mostly agree. The “little drinkies” culture in our politics is embarrassing and dreadfully hypocritical. I remember a friend was once organising an event at Holyrood and was more or less instructed by Holyrood staff to buy booze because otherwise the MSPs just wouldn’t show up. These attitudes need to be dealt with. No doubt there are many more “sociable,” “affable” politicians around who’ve just avoided Kennedy’s public ignominy. We need a cultural shift around booze if we’re to really deal with our problems.

  24. Steve Asaneilean

    Sorry – I know I am leading this thread a bit off topic but in the context of what happened to poor Mr Kennedy I think it is worth pursuing a bit further.

    The average cost of a unit of alcohol in the Houses of Parliament is around £1.50 (e.g £3 for a pint of beer).

    Each year close to £1.5 million worth of alcohol is sold and consumed there by Members and their guests. That’s 1.5 million units of alcohol per year.

    Between MPs and Lords there are about 1500 “members” between the Houses. So that’s a consumption equivalent to 1000 units per member per year or about 20 units per member per week – close to the recommended maximum for men and well above the recommended maximum for women.

    Now of course much of that alcohol is being consumed by guests and at functions. But by the same token there must be many MPs and Lords who drink little or no alcohol.

    Whatever way you look at it that institution has a problem with alcohol.

    • No, it’s not off topic at all.

      The hypocrisy I’m mentioning above isn’t so much the hypocrisy of individuals, as I think it is fairly clear that given the reaction to his death the tributes and the concern we heard in the Commons were sincere.

      But rather it’s the hypocrisy of society and the social attitudes which we all display in, on the one hand condoning – celebrating – alcohol, but then on the other hand blaming people for becoming alcoholics and then laughing at them. On Wings there were a lot of snipey comments about Kennedy’s distracted state on his last appearance on QT in March. That’s the sort of cruelty I despise. But it’s society’s values speaking through those individuals. If they thought about it more they might not be so cruel.

      The best tribute to his memory would be if the boozy culture of the ‘little drinkies’ and Westmister and Holyrood bars were curtailed. I think what Alex Salmond said about the cheap booze and bars and late night sittings of Westminster not helping and it being easy to fall prey to them if you are hundreds of miles from home was spot on.

      A psychologist friend pointed out to me many years ago how, during the height of the temperence movement, it was booze, not drunks, that was rightly condemned. The demon was in the drink, not in the person.

      But that since then the success of the drinks industry has reversed all that. Now we appear to believe that if someone has a problem with drink, it is somehow their fault, and not the fault of the drinks industry or with drink.

      We are having some success in tackling the tobacco industry but the drinks industry and the drinks culture needs the same treatment.

  25. All this blogging to establish what we all already know! Alex Massie is a ultra right wing hack best avoided. Just give him a wide berth

  26. How fortunate we are to have such perceptive commentators as Allan Massie, who are capable of instructing us in the ways of others’ thoughts: “Salmond…sees potential converts or secret sympathisers everywhere.”

    On the other hand….

Leave a Reply