The idea of a post truth era helps explain a lot. Today for example Labour front man and unrepentant Unionist Duncan Hothersall tweets: Can anyone seriously deny that Our People First is a shared value between Trump and Sturgeon? Horribly uncomfortable though it makes you?
Now Hothersall has been Labour clickbait since pre indyref and still has only got 7000 followers despite being editor of Labourhame and chair of Edinburgh South CLP and running a programme of relentless self-promotion. Tells you something. But Duncan’s real gig is winding up the Nats and that’s fair enough albeit desperately shallow. However I am playing his game today because that little tweet is, for once, entirely relevant to part of today’s debate and symptomatic of where the rump of Unionism now stands.
First, to the question he asks…my reply is: Can you name a politician in any country on earth and in history who hasn’t been elected to put his country first? Try this on a Glasgow doorstep – Hello, I’m from Labour. We’re the party that doesn’t put you first.
Then ask Duncan his own question: Who do YOU put first? Who are your people?
How is it possible to engage in elective politics without committing yourself to defending the people you represent? Does Duncan have an answer? Indeed, since I had to, I saw on his timeline references to eradicating poverty in Scotland and improving transport. Whose poverty and whose transport? That’s right, the Scots.
So on a political level Duncan is deeply concerned about the issues facing the Scots but when it comes to making those shallow observations on Twitter he implies he has a nobler constituency in mind. Who? Does he mean British voters outside Scotland? Could that be Labour’s real problem – that they have failed consistently to give the impression of caring enough about the Scots individually and as a nation? And, indeed that’s exactly the finding of the post-2007 election research – Scots no longer believed Labour represented them or stood up for their interests. So by playing rhetorical games, he does in a way reveal the deeper truth, that his default position is not defence of Scottish interests at all. In reality Labour is ready to run in the other direction if the Scots need their help…horribly uncomfortable though it makes you.
Oh, come on, it’s only Twitter. And that’s true, it is. But that’s where so many of our random thoughts now emerge and this little emission suggests that Duncan is desperately trying to align the excesses and unpleasant impulses of volatile right wing Trump with Sturgeon with the SNP – a party that Trump has made his sworn enemy. Why would anyone honestly engage in serious political discourse do such a thing? Or is it a joke? If not, it tells us Duncan has some profound issues over understanding. Put aside tribalism in so far as any of us can and ask yourself if left-leaning, socially conscious, EU-supporting, anti-Trident Sturgeon who entered the Forbes List of the world’s top 50 most powerful women this week – at number TWO in the UK – is on any level remotely similar to Trump. Ah, but he only meant in one respect. And so he did and of course the reason is that there is no other basis for a comparison except on the weasely rhetorical point he concocts. Even that is paper-thin because Sturgeon constantly references other nationalities in her remarks, she welcomes immigration, she engages with Muslims, her internationalism is clear and has European cooperation at its heart. Those are her people – all of us in Scotland, irrespective. And Trump’s concept of putting people first…?
There is no rational connection between the two – she’s even publicly criticised the President elect. But when truth, or even serious discourse, is deemed irrelevant it’s a field day for pedlars of distortion and innuendo. It is so nakedly contrived that, far from challenging Sturgeon, it tells us more about Hothersall himself. As I’ve argued often here, the desperation evident in this kind of infantile barb demonstrates the failure of their arguments. Nobody with a serious and respectable case to put to the people or with the remotest chance of opposition, let alone government, would engage in such pointless tactics. It’s now commonplace for oafish and maladroit remarks to emerge for example from the once solid Murdo Fraser who had a strong claim on leadership of a rebranded party of the right, but is now reduced to joke tweets. These are the gambits of the defeated who see no prospect for improvement, the argument having been lost. They become careless with fact and generous with contempt.
How much more respect would you have for a Labour front man who decried Trump’s xenophobia and thanked our lucky stars it wasn’t shared by our leaders and our nation. To be fair, that’s what Kezia has been doing. Get on message, Duncan. Or it won’t just be a post truth era – it will be post Labour.by