by Rod Mac
Much has been been made of Joan McAlpine’s contribution to the debate in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday. She has been attacked vigorously, castigated and vilified for her comments which according to the Unionist Party, depicted the Scots people who didn’t agree with independence as anti-Scottish. How dare she!
Much has been made of such despicable slander by those nasty nationalists. The Unionist hurt and abhorrence has been of epic proportions. They have endeavoured to personalise their attacks in the most damaging way possible, and Joan has had quite a rough ride of it.
I happened to watch that session of Holyrood Live, and I heard full well what she said. I am bound to agree with her, but I fear that her choice of words could have been better chosen. She unfortunately unwittingly left herself and her party, and the nationalist movement, open to unwarranted attack by appearing to call all opposition politicians anti-Scots. The Unionist Party need only a sniff of a weak statement to make hay with it. After all, they have very little else to work with and are more used to making things up, so Joan’s phrasing was a gift from heaven for them and the way they conduct their politics.
A lesson will have been learned by Joan herself, but others should also pay close attention.
I have in my possession the actual transcript of the exchange in parliament, and what was said, so I will print it here.
Joan McAlpine (SNP): Will the member take an intervention?
Ruth Davidson (Conservative): On the idea of reasonable argument—yes, absolutely.
Joan McAlpine: Since David Cameron’s intervention in the referendum debate, 300 people have joined the SNP. How many people have joined the Conservative Party?
Ruth Davidson: We are in the middle of a very big membership drive, and I would ask anybody who has an interest in centre-right politics to join the Conservative Party.
Let us talk about that reasonable debate, because there is an ugly side to the argument that has been made in recent days, and it has come not from the Prime Minister but from the very member who has just intervened. I am sad to say—it probably says more about me than it does about anyone else—that I follow Joan McAlpine on Twitter, and I know that she has tweeted that Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives are “anti-Scottish”. That type of ignorant, petty nationalism is an insult not only to us but to Scots up and down the country. I know the difference between patriotism and nationalism, and I do not doubt for one moment the desire of all patriots and nationalists to do what they think is best for Scotland. However, the narrow opinion that the only true Scots are those who believe in separation is demeaning to those who peddle it and an insult to the majority of people who live here. Ms McAlpine’s intervention is a sign of how the SNP mask can slip: a sign of SNP members’ desire to play the politics of grudge and grievance, to complain when they do not get their own way and to act as if they own the hearts and souls of all Scots and as if only Alex Salmond can speak for Scotland.
Joan McAlpine: As for the Conservative group leader’s assertion that those who suggest that what is happening is anti-Scottish are somehow narrow in their politics, I make absolutely no apology for saying that the Liberals, the Labour Party and the Tories are anti-Scottish in coming together to defy the will of the Scottish people and the democratic mandate that they gave us to hold a referendum at a time of our choosing, which, as the First Minister said, would be the latter half of the parliamentary session. The sight of those parties cosying up on the sofas of various Scottish television studios will really alarm the people of Scotland.
Neil Findlay (Lab): I think that the member should seriously consider what she is saying. Given what opinion polls suggest is the view of the vast majority of the Scottish people, is she suggesting that they are not patriotic and do not love their country? If she is, that is an utter disgrace.
Joan McAlpine: I did not address my comments to the people of Scotland; I addressed my comments to the Labour Party, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, who—thank goodness—do not represent the people of Scotland and were in their entirety outpolled by the SNP last year, as the First Minister said.
The anti-independence parties stood together against Scottish democracy yesterday in Westminster. That will be no surprise to the people of Scotland, because for four years between 2007 and 2011 those parties stood together to stop a referendum. Now they want to dictate the terms of a referendum. They want to exclude the young people of Scotland from choosing their future, but their elderly Labour peers down south say that they should have a say, even though they do not live here. The electorate told Labour what they thought of that strategy last May, but Labour seems to have learned nothing.
Jackson Carlaw (Conservative): I am a proud Scot and an elected member of this chamber and I have every right to be an active participant in this debate, which is what I intend to be. The claim by the SNP that those who vote SNP have some additional pride or more moral authority, or a birthright to speak on behalf of the people of Scotland, is offensive. If you spoke against someone who was gay, you would be homophobic. If you spoke against someone who was black, you would be racist. If you say that people are anti-Scottish because they belong to a different political party, that is a form of political racism, which is absolutely disgraceful and has no part in our politics. I suppose that, in the words of the Deputy First Minister, I should be relaxed about that type of remark, because it is what will win the argument for those of us who believe in the union.
So there we have it,the words from Holyrood’s record of business.
At no time did Joan impinge the Scottishness of the people of Scotland who do not hold a nationalist viewpoint. Nor did she even accuse individual members of the Unionist party of being personally anti-Scottish. Her attack was on how these parties had behaved the previous day in Westminster, against the Interests of the settled will of the people of Scotland, by attacking of the Scottish Government’s democratic mandate to hold and organise a referendum through seeking to remove that mandate, by removing their right to do so unhindered and unfettered. Thereby they were acting conclusively against the will of the Scottish people.
There can be no doubt whatsoever that the Unionist Party has constantly sought to disrupt and interfere with that democratic mandate from the very moment it was granted. Nor can there be any doubt in their collusion to hand that power over to the Westminster Parliament, where they can gain and retain control over it and its process and how it is conducted. What questions can be asked, who is entitled to vote, who should oversee it, and when it should happen.
If they and Westminster really were concerned with the legal legitimacy under the Scotland Act of the Scottish Government’s ability to call it, and for the people of Scotland to have their sovereign right to determine their future, then all that need be done to remove any dubiety over legal legitimacy is to make the power freely available under section 30 of the Scotland Bill without any strings attached. They have not done that, and will not do that, thus disregarding the people of Scotland’s wishes, their democratic right, and have acted in contempt of their elected Government by seeking to hinder the progress of Scottish democracy and freedom of choice.
Joan’s choice of wording could have been somewhat improved from a purely political point of view, but her message is correct in principle.
The fact that the Unionist Party have sought to make political capital over this, by twisting her words, and with their attempted character assassination, says much more about them than her.
The fact that the Labour MP Cathy Jaimeson, when she was an MSP had called the Scottish Tory party anti-Scottish, was of no import or significance when she said it! However we must as usual forgive and forget the usual Unionist political hypocrisy.
Note also the collusion between the Tory leader,Ruth Davidson, in creating the ambush, and the bitter support of Labour’s Neil Ferguson in labelling Joan McAlpine a disgrace. And the Tory Jackson Carlaw, of all people, equating her comments with homophobia and racism.
I would also have to say that our broadcasters and journalists have failed miserably, yet again, to give a proper and true portrayal of events, and have propagated the Unionist lie by giving the impression that the story carried legitimacy. Such is our fair and just British media in action. They too are not acting in the Interests of the people of Scotland by their slanted and unbalanced reporting. But I dare not say they are anti-Scots, dare I?
As to the Unionist Party I would say this. If the shoe fits wear it!