Chris Deerin famously wrote that ‘Scots have a clear moral duty to stay British’ . He was head of comment at the Telegraph till 2013 and previously political editor of the Daily Record and executive editor of Scotland on Sunday.
So he’s never going to love Salmond’s referendum diary ‘The Dream Shall Never Die — 100 Days that Changed Scotland Forever’, but his account ‘The 45’s Biggest problem’ is truly hilarious.
He starts by ridiculing Salmond for referring to his dad as his ‘Faither’, a wonderful insight into Deerin’s worldview to kick us off.
He complains that ‘Denigration and spite provide the book’s rhythm: it has a backbeat of malice’. He’s clearly not read his former colleague Alan Cochrane’s account which is spittle-flecked with invective.
‘Sir Nicholas Macpherson, the widely respected permanent secretary of the Treasury, who has worked with three chancellors and is the longest-serving senior mandarin in Whitehall, ‘radiated hostility’ towards independence during the campaign.”
This a jaw-dropping assertion given the now-public facts about civil device collusion and abuse of power as revealed by the Sunday herald only a week ago ‘Revealed: Civil servant who issued RBS leak email links with Better Together leader’.
He continues, quoting Salmond: “The BBC’s coverage of the campaign is ‘entirely malicious’, and it is this ‘lack of real journalism’ that caused 1,500 people — his figure — to ‘spontaneously’ protest outside its Glasgow HQ.” The inference here is of course that the protests were somehow ‘masterminded’ by some malign force, presumably the SNP or the Yes campaign? It’s a regular trope of unionist commentators to assume that the movement is being controlled from some central command post. The idea of self-organisation is so alien to these people that it’s impossible for them to conceive of it.
Did he think there wasn’t or isn’t widespread hostility to the BBC coverage? Perhaps Salmond invented that? It’s unclear.
The essence of Deerin’s review is that Salmond is the problem, a massively flawed egoist and a dangerous bloated glory-hunter. It’s a demolition piece. It’s an odd account given that Salmond transformed the SNP, delivered two landslide victories and his party is on the verge of a historic UK victory, he was twice named Politician of the Year, and led the Yes campaign in the face of extraordinary hostility. But Deerin is hopelessly trapped in last years battles and the message and political focus is still simply: “Get Salmond”.
He writes without a trace of irony: “A comical lack of self-awareness runs like a burbling stream through the book.”