Off the Record

 

Having been mentioned in dispatches, I thought I’d stamp my purdy little foot and seek a right to reply.  Or at least, set out why the analogy of an abused woman was discomfiting and I considered inappropriate.

First, the timing.  A male SNP MSP has just been suspended because of an alleged litany of abusive behaviour towards women in his life, with very little response from any of the MSPs – perhaps rightly – about the issue.  The timing could not be more inappropriate and suggests that the SNP does not take the issue of domestic abuse and violence towards women seriously, except when required to make a constitutional argument.

Second, the construct.  Anyone who has ever worked to support women (and indeed children or indeed, men) to recover from the trauma of abuse and violence knows that it takes years.  I, for one, feel very uncomfortable that the very real and terrifying consequences of abusive behaviour can be used to demonstrate a political ideal in this way.  And I’m not sure how any abused woman might feel about it.  I doubt that many will see the joke about the dependency culture (sorry Mike).  But what do I know? Some women do seem to have responded favourably, and presumably, the SNP tested this idea privately before putting it into the public domain.  However, most I have tweeted with on it were yes voters anyway.  Maybe it is exactly the kind of argument required to persuade more, currently undecided/agnostic/anti women to support independence.  Maybe it will result in a bounce in polls.  We’ll see.

Of more interest was the half-argued idea of Unionism/the UK being a sexist dinosaur, which behaves in a patriarchal way towards Scotland – a point Mike amplifies in his response.  This one does I think have legs, for men and women alike and more please.  But essentially, what we have here is the SNP (or at least an SNP representative) indulging in its macho constructs about independence and dressing them up in a feminine, or at least, its take on a feminine guise.  The point remains, I think, that the SNP has not quite worked out how to pitch the appeal of independence, and the SNP, to women in a way that builds a real wave and movement of support, rather than a protest vote.  This is still not language or ideas that will carry a majority of women towards a yes vote.

Third, this is the first public gambit that the SNP has made to appeal directly to women;  one of its MSPs has done so in a highly negative way.  Vote for independence to get away from an abusive relationship, not vote independence for anything.  It totally runs against the grain of the positive message, of the cosy idea of a social union, of the idea that a vote for independence is just that, a vote for that is being articulated more generally by the party just now.  For that reason too, the premise jars.

Fourth, it is not particularly well constructed.  In fact, the article runs out of steam.  Listing key SNP achievements – free tuition, council tax freeze, free prescriptions and ending bridge tolls – without explaining how these have benefited women is simplistic.  Have these measures benefited women as much as or more than men?  And frankly citing Labour’s failure to reduce poverty is a hostage to fortune, when poverty – and child poverty in particular, something that by definition affects women – has risen significantly under an SNP Government, whether its fault or not.  The article finishes with a flourish “Women are just as capable as men.  In fact, we could do a lot better.”  How?  And how does that premise stack up when made by an MSP in a party which cannot, does not elect as many female MSPs as male ones?  A little practising of what is being preached would go a long way.

Finally, the article does nothing to outline what it is that independence will change.  As usual, we are in the realms of independence for its own sake, with change and difference being a blind tenet of faith.  Yet, women’s current negativity towards the idea of independence suggests this really doesn’t wash.  By turns more cautious and conservative about the prospect of constitutional change on this scale, women really will have to be persuaded that independence is a means to an end.  And the article is silent on how independence will first of all, break down the oppressive structure inherent in how the UK goes about its business – financially and otherwise – and deliver a different approach for Scotland, and indeed, women in Scotland.

There’s still plenty of time for that yet, of course, and maybe this is only the start of a discourse.  If that is the case, it is welcome.  But some serious thought – in my opinion – needs to be given to the nature of that discourse, and the language and imagery to be used, to engage women in the debate.

Still, for the first time I can recall, at least we are having some kind of debate about women and independence.  That in itself is welcome.  And if that was Joan McAlpine’s purpose, she appears to have succeeded.

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  1. Morag Eyrie says:

    Nice response Kate. Not much in here I actually disagree with even though I was someone who pretty much agreed with the premise of the original article (the first bit anyway: the analogy with an abusive relationship). What’s chapping my hide immeasurably now are the people saying the relationship Joan McAlpine described wasn’t even abusive! Oh well.. feel sorry for their partners!

    So the place where I think we part company in our take on this is where you say: “I, for one, feel very uncomfortable that the very real and terrifying consequences of abusive behaviour can be used to demonstrate a political ideal in this way.”

    The consequences of the abusive relationship Scotland has been in for a very long time with the powers that be down south (note: I do not implicate all of England in this!) are just as real and terrifying. They are replicated in communities who have been through similar things around the world (in fact I went to see a film at the Glasgow Film Festival last weekend about the consequences of colonialism on a particular group of Native Americans: hmmm… suicide, drug and alcohol abuse, extreme violence, mental and physical illnesses, family breakdown… ).

    I’ve been in a number of abusive relationships (of various kinds, not just partner relationships) and I’ve been in healthy loving ones. I’ve lived in Scotland (and I was raised by a Scottish mother), and I’ve lived in New Zealand, an independent country of similar size. I could list at length where I see the dreadful consequences in the people and culture of Scotland. None of this is a joke to me.

    I know it’s not a joke to you either and that you care deeply about all of these things too. I am happy that you have teased out and explored the reasons why you didn’t like the article, and as I say above, most of what you’ve said resonates with me.

    I have some more posts to write, I can see that now! Thanks for your encouragement this week getting me out of my blog-writing doldrums!

    1. Indy says:

      Some of this is just nitpicking though about language.

      For example Ian Smart on twitter said that Joan should be “forced to apologise or be expelled”.

      If you are going to analyse everything to the nth degree suggesting that a woman should be “forced” to do something she doesn’t want to do or else ne punished severely is maybe not the best use of language especially when the discussion has turned into one of doestic abuse and he is accusing Joan of being insensitive about that!

      I have made an admittedly mischevious comment to that effect on the Labour Hame website where the article has been published. But I don’t really believe that Ian Smart thinks that way. To some extent however if you go looking for evidence that could be used to accuse someone of an inappropriate use of language you can find it and I feel there is a fair bit of that going on with this story.

      1. Castle Rock says:

        “For example Ian Smart on twitter said that Joan should be “forced to apologise or be expelled”.

        And that sums up the sheer hypocrisy of all those who have been bumping their gums.

        Indoctrination is a terrible thing especially when those that are fighting against it can no longer realise what it means or how it has infested their psyche.

        Joan McAlpine’s analogy was spot on.

  2. Alex Grant says:

    The assumption it has anything to do with women except as a metaphor is extremely tenuous IMHO! QED unnecessary analysis!

    1. Scott says:

      Be serious. The article is transparently an attempt to ‘feminise’ the emotional argument. (The hint is the opening line: ‘women understand independence instinctively’.)

  3. vronsky says:

    Joan’s piece was not sexist. You’re arguing your own sexist views into it. A partnership can be unfair, imbalanced and unwise without regard to the nature or gender of the participants. You must include the notion that ‘partners’ can be communities or groups rather than individuals. Not all partnerships are sexual. You have an axe to grind which would be best ground elsewhere.

  4. Màrtainn says:

    Joan never used an ‘abusive’ marriage, just one where the guy ran the finances, while also making the point that it is unacceptable for Scotland or a Woman to be treated like that. Basically it argued against this type of relationship between man and woman or Scotland and England. It’s not a new analogy, I have read it on numerous Blogs over the years. Unionist have gone away and looked at the definition of and ‘abusive marriage’ then said the relationship she described fits the bill- she didn’t use the analogy directly. Further they describe it as a ‘remark’ (in the Telegraph today) It’s not. It is an article that doesn’t read as anything other than a reasonably accurate portrayal of the constitutional arrangements in the UK. Given the literal abuse Ian Davidson got away with, the fake rape claims Lamont made IN PARLIAMENT and the two incidents of big Jackie Baillie fabricating stories about the NHS I’d say Joan should be safe enough.

  5. Kate – If all you can attack is the metaphor – it doesn’t say much about left winger’s views on what is best for a future Scotland currently trapped in a political relationship which is now beyond abusive in terms of the Treaty of Union and any form of partnership that is supposed to be between ‘equals’.

    I suggest your antipathy has more to do with Joan MacAlpine than the comparison she is drawing. You protest too much.

  6. orpheuslyre says:

    Did she say anything at all about domestic abuse or domestic violence? I thought she was talking about inequality and patriarchy. A lot of folk are claiming she said things that she never, and the press are reporting it faithfully (again). On the other hand, it looks to me like an effective retort to the never-questioned refrain from British nationalists that the UK is a marriage. She’s turned the terms of the argument against the folk who use it. That’s what stings and that’s why the only people who are worked up about this are the media and politics elites in Scotland. I suspect that most folk who read what she actually wrote probably shrugged their shoulders and went ‘fair enough’.

  7. Alex Buchan says:

    Kate can’t believe some of the reactions you’re getting here. Thanks for providing the best response yet to the article. Your comments about the need for independence to be demonstrated as making a difference in ways that women can relate to and not just being for its own sake is a point also made by Lesley Riddoch is a linked article to Kirsty’s piece on Joan’s article in Better Nation. It seems various people are drawing the same conclusions as to what would be necessary to increase support for independence amongst women. Let’s hope that someone in the SNP’s leadership is listening.

  8. George Mackin says:

    ‘Discomfiting and I considered inappropriate.’ I think also clumsy, Ill advised and not that helpful either.

    This article.coupled with her moronic articles on sectarianism in Scotland, seem to suggest to me that Joan is better at attracting controversy than persuading people of the obvious benefits of splitting up from the British State.

    .

  9. douglas clark says:

    Reverse it.

    It is the woman controlling the purse strings and it is the man who has to beg.

    What is the difference, metaphorically speaking?

    You do not break down Joan McAlpines point by trying to make it into a feminist rant.

    The abuse of the Scotland / England relationship is transparent. It has been expressed in marital breakdown, by both sides, as long as the cows come home.

    Get a grip!

  10. steven luby says:

    I have a feeling that the original article in the ‘Daily Record’ was a slap in the back of the head,maybe a simple poke in the ribs,perhaps even a kick up the backside to the mountainous pile of apathy within Scottish Politics and the Scottish public as a whole.
    An attempt to shake & wake the sleeping fools from their rut,to help ignite an original thought and blow the mists of decades of lies,deciept and complete misguidance from the eyes of a country that refuse to see the obvious.
    As for questioning Joan’s article,I will only say this,now that most of the knee jerk reactions have had their moment,perhaps they would care to look at the point that Joan’s article was about.
    As I have already said.”….from the eyes of a country that refuse to see the obvious”!!!!

  11. Indy says:

    I acccept that people might have thought the article inappropriate or insensitive. I don’t agree with that interpretation and I don’t understand that but since some non-aligned people have said that then obviously that is the case. There are of course some people faking outrage for party political reasons but clearly Kate is not, so that is not an issue.

    I do find Ian Smart’s attitude somewhat ironic – that at the same time as lecturing Joan about what it means for a woman to be controlled and dominated by a man he is also demanding that her male boss sacks her for having said something he disagrees with but let’s also leave that to one side and accept that he is genuinely offended as well, however unfortunately he has expressed that.

    But what I totally don’t accept is that Joan or any other woman in the SNP is somehow not allowed to use an analogy of domineering men trying to control women because of the Bill Walker situation.

    What possible responsibility could she have for that? It’s likely that she never laid eyes on him before she was elected to the Scottish Parliament. She was Glasgow-based after all before becoming an MSP for the south of Scotland. Maybe there are questions for people in Bill Walker’s neck of the wooods to answer about what they knew of his attitudes towards gay people for example, if not his behaviour towards his ex-wives. But i don’t think Joan has any questions to answer at all and it’s ridiculous to associate her with his behaviour.

    The chances are she wrote her article before the Sunday paper revelations about Bill Walker were published. Why on earth should she have changed her piece unless it is considered that she has somehow become guilty by association because they are both MSPs in the same party? That is almost Stalinist in its logic.

    1. Scott says:

      Yeesh — it’s not a question of ‘guilt by association’. It’s the contradiction in party rhetoric, like the Tories talking tough about mansion-tax loopholes many of their own MPs are probably exploiting, or individual Guardian journalists railing about tax havens despite their bosses’ use of them.

      Characterising X as immoral and in need of reform when your own members/employees are (allegedly) engaged in X undermines your position and sounds hypocritical. Did you expect the SNP leadership to say ‘well Bill’s private life is his private life, and nothing to do with our policies’?

      1. Indy says:

        You are talking about guilt by association. And you also have your facts wrong.
        Maybe you genuinely don’t know what the situation is with Bill Walker but let me set it out.
        He is not a member of the SNP.
        He was suspended from membership of the party as soon as the SNP was given the information that was provided by the Sunday Herald.
        So he is neither an employee nor a member of the SNP.
        But you are totally talking about guilt by association. By that logic nobody in the Labour Party would ever be able to say anything again about inappropriate comments to do with domestic abuse given that a Labour MP admitted talking to a woman MP about giving her a doing – no apology ever made, though he later clarified that he didn’t mean its sexually (!). He was never disciplined for that.

      2. Scott says:

        [Replying to Indy, March 8 10.26am – below]

        Ah, so the SNP is now completely untainted by Walker because his membership is suspended. If you say so…

        Here’s hoping nobody tells Johann Lamont, or she’ll just suspend Blair and Brown and the last 15 years will be wiped clean.

  12. pragmatron says:

    So where do we find the list of ‘subjects deemed acceptable for analogy and metaphor’?
    Does Kate have it, or do we get it from somewhere else? What else is on the list? Id hate to fall foul of some ‘ism or other myself.

    1. JBS says:

      It’s a minefield, isn’t it?

      Whoops, maybe saying that makes me guilty of minefieldism, ie prejudice against minefields.

  13. Ben Power says:

    Both the Joan McAlpine article and this Kate Higgins article highlight the glaring point that women are not being considered enough in the independence information and some are feeling that their need to be informed on independence matters that concern them particularly from their perspective is being ignored.
    Scots women are half the electorate and they are also the core of Scots family life. How Scots women feel about independence, how they feel about the culture we live in, how they feel about their hopes and dreams are of vital importance to the successful future of an independent Scotland.
    Most often in the past the needs and hopes of Scots women have been ignored. Independence is the ideal opportunity to include those comprehensively in a future that is more balanced for all Scots. We will never get that as part of a misogynistic UK with all its little boy elite networks hell bent on excluding women in any real influence or control.

  14. MajorBloodnok says:

    The basis of all this outrage is of course that an SNP MSP has been allowed a platform in what was previously a bastion of Labour and Unionism – and the writing is now on the wall for both of these constructs (or at least the writing’s in the tabloids).

    The main point I think that Joan is making is actually a plea that we now have the opportunity to take control of our own destiny and to at last make a better nation. This is the positive message; and by better nation I mean a more equitable and civilised society, where we do not have to put up with coercion (overt or otherwise).

    The British idealist RG Collingwood thought that a civilised society cannot simultaneously be a coercive one. Joan has merely pointed out the existing coercive nature of the relationship between the UK and Scotland and right on cue, the coercive mindset is amply displayed by those telling her to shut up and to resign for expressing an opinion they know is dangerous to them. In fact that’s exactly what all of the unionist scaremongering is: coercion.

    If the UK was a ‘civilised’ state then the facts would be laid out truthfully and we would be able to make our decisions based on those facts so that we would do the ‘right’ thing without the need for coercion. But that’s cannot happen in the UK as it stands because the default approach of the unionists and vested interests is to continue with their attempts at scaremongering and coercion. Contrast this with the Scottish Government’s positive, inclusive and consultative approach to our future and ask yourself, which is the more likely to create the civilised and fair society that most Scots want?

  15. Tom³ says:

    Parties don’t elect anyone Kate, male or female, the electorate – voters – surprisingly to you should do that as far as I’m aware, in the best democracies; part of Labour’s implosion problem is rooted in that contempt for those who put them where they have been, and failed utterly, an embarassment, the dizzy and dizzying heights and now will put them out pasture and cheerfully out of mind. Typical top-down Labour/Tory/Con we know what’s best, like it or lump it, party, party party, never once people, shush! The original article that caused this holier than thou mock outrage – the whines from self-serving unionist politicians who’d stamp over any man, women, dog or basket of kittens for a chance to wield and misuse power – would be read by a fair many men too I would imagine, and they might learn something of the position of grossly and more subtly but likewise insidiously abused women and empathise fully with them: the women or the cowed inferior ‘junior partner’ dominion, recognise the condition as the status-quo and not like the sound of it one bit.

  16. Craig P says:

    Kate makes a very good point in this article, regardless of what people may think of Joan’s article, that the independence message has to be a positive one.

    1. douglas clark says:

      MajorBloodnok makes a rather better one (post above yours). Joan’s article wasn’t actually negative at all. Kate has, IMHO, attempted to take her personal experiences of counselling abused people and apply it to an article that said nothing of the sort.

      It is the rather desperate tone that I object to. Who, amongst us right minded folk, would stand up for domestic abuse? Not a onel.

  17. Indy says:

    Scott you have completely undermined your own argument that you are not talking about guilt by association when you suggest that the SNP is tainted by association with Bill Walker.

    You do realise that?

    1. Scott says:

      No serious person would deny that the SNP have been embarrassed and tainted by the Walker story. Why else did they suspend him?

      1. Indy says:

        Are we even speaking the same language here?

        It is incredibly obvious why the SNP suspended Bill Walker.

        It is also obvious that you believe that Joan should not have allowed an article she wrote which used an analogy of a domineering man and woman lacking in self-confidence(however people choose to describe that be it domestic abuse or domestic violence or simply old fashioned male chauvanist piggery) becaise she is a member of the same party as someone suspended because of allegations of domestic violence and therefore she is tainted by his behaviour.

        That is guilt by association.

      2. Scott says:

        You’re making a fetish of ‘guilt by association’, and it’s boring.

        Not sure why you see that as some kind of trump card, but I trust you’ll be just as vigilant in rooting it out when pro-independence people link disgraced Labour councillors to the unionist cause, etc.

        Until next time…

  18. Galen10 says:

    II have to concur that much of the faux outrage expressed about this is ridiculously overblown, and as others have already noted imputes words and/or motives in the McAlpine piece which are either absent, or have been (wilfully?) misconstrued. I don’t actually think the original piece was all that great, but come on people… we’re talking about the Daily Record here!

    Kate, your riposte is ill-judged and hyperbolic. Your attempted linkage to the Walker case is wholly spurious, and probably more offensive than McAlpines’ alleged offence in my view. Your second point seems comes across as an atavistic attempt to impute motives into the original analogy that no sane person would infer or accept, and says more about your ideological blinkers and lack of perspective than it does about the purported offensive nature of the use of the analogy.

    Your third point doesn’t fly either as far as I can see, since the positive policies which differentiate the SNP government ARE referred to, and you can hardly argue these don’t help women?

    Your fourth point seems rather muddled to me; surely the whole point of the SNP argument is that a fairer, more equal, more socially just Scotland is not only more likely, but only possible if we have independence. It is of course a laudable aim to promote more female MSP’s, SNP or otherwise… but I’m not sure it’s fair to castigate the SNP uniquely for it, and the evidence doesn’t really support your assertion that the party aren’t practising what they preach.

    Finally, you are expecting a tad (well, in fact a bucket load) too much from a short piece in the DR to come up with the detailed plan of how the SNP plans to lead us to the bright, shining uplands of prosperity, equality and social justice.

    Your tuppence worth on this issue might be less offensive than Ian Smart’s vitriolic hatchet job on Labour (Nae) Hame, but it is in its own way just as misguided.

  19. baffiebox says:

    An excellent response, that covers most of the criticism I had of the original article. However, the article itself was quickly buried under a whole pile of hysteria and hypocrisy that long made it irrelevant. Instead, the discussion became a frenzied witch hunt and debate about metaphors.

    Do I think the respect and role of women was tarnished by Joan’s article? Not likely. If anything, an opportunity was there, albeit probably not how Joan intended it, to really debate abusive relationships and the complex cross-border relationship. As usual, Kate has risen above most others, seized the day and exemplified why women are at least the equal of all others.

    However, this contribution is a rare exception rather than the rule. I dont really see how the hysteria that followed the article, pulling the entire debate crashing off the road and about metaphors and apologies, genuinely furthered the cause of women’s rights or victims of abuse. Im genuinely stunned and depressed about the lengths some have gone to, to be offended by it and seemingly, utterly outraged. I’m a fan of Kirsty over on Better Nation but the translation of Joan’s article to “domestic violence” left me utterly bewildered. She then followed this up by accusing commentators to her article as exemplifying why the SNP have a problem attracting female support. Further, Ian Smart hypothesising a metaphor of Alex Salmond as a paedophile was a comparable metaphor, was another remarkable low point in how the article and the debate that followed were utterly disconnected.

    At this point, I tried to withdraw from the debate. It felt as if you had to agree with the critics on your were in danger of being labelled a sexist dinosaur or potential abuser. And you obviously had to be a nat, sorry, cybernat, and a representative of the worst of the SNP. This is what politics has become and it is no wonder that people are withdrawing from it. It’s utterly pathetic. I am no fan of Joan’s article for all of the reasons that Kate has described, but it soon became apparent that the twitter-storm wasn’t even remotely about principle, and the opportunity to criticise Joan’s article openly was lost as wolves attacked. Instead, I withdrew. Partly from fear Im genuinely out of touch but partly that I may be labelled something Im genuinely not and have no intention of wasting time defending myself online to people who dont know me.

    The storm that followed did nothing to uphold the respect and rights of women: it let them down by wasting an opportunity to debate the issues for the benefit of political gain. Absolutely pathetic IMO and turns people like myself away from politics and discussing these issues that matter.

    1. Alex Buchan says:

      It’s part of a wider Labour political strategy to tarnish the SNP and Kirsty seems to be signed up from what I could see from her article. The Labour party now has more to be ashamed off than anyone because this is gutter politics. I hope that Alex Salmond comes out strongly on this and denounces the Labour party for their cynicism. Smart has just dropped massively in my estimation. Joan MacAlpine has a rare gift of getting things across. To question the way she raised the issue of women and independence should not be confused with questioning her integrity it is Labour who are the arch cynicists and we need to hone in on their cynicism and expose it relentlessly and I notice the person who has been trying on this tread to run down Joan seems to be from the same school of arch unionist cynicism. It is cynicism that characterises the union and has been from the start when those Scottish Parliamentarians had to hide from the crowds in backwards to finish off the process of passing the treaty of union.

  20. R Louis says:

    I think what has been most important in all of this, is that Joan’s article has now been read by many, many more people than might otherwise have been the case.

    Joan made a very good point, which is that the relationship between Scotland and London, is an abusive one. That much has been clear for over three hundred years.

    In my opinion, Joan has nothing to apologise for, indeed she should be thanked for finally calling things as they are. A little bit more plain talking would be a good thing. The unionists will just have to hold their noses.

    More, please Joan. More.

  21. Indy says:

    Final point. I think there has actually been as much condemnation and more attacks on Joan McAlpine for writing an article which some people consider used an inappropriate analogy with domestic abuse or violence than there has been regarding both Eric Joyce and Bill Walker.

    Someone – a woman – writes an article some people find offensive and may disagree with.

    But no rational person could actually think the resultant hysteria was warranted by one wee column in the Daily Record.

    Yet this is what Johann Lamont chose to lead on at FMQs.

    What does that tell us about Scottish politics and the place of Scottish women I wonder? Genuine question because I don’t know the answer and it puzzles me. But it seems fairly obvious to me that the body politic is less forgiving of women than of men – and that includes many of the women who make up the body politic.

    It is interesting.

    1. Alex Buchan says:

      Didn’t see Lamont but the fact that she led with that provides the final piece of the jigsaw. Labour especially has been gunning for Joan ever since she made the comment about un-Scottish parties. There was massive faux outrage from Labour at the time and it’s clear now that the on-going attacks on Joan MacAlpine are part of a deliberate strategy. This makes Labour and Lamont in a much more morally compromised position than Joan MacAlpine because they are using the issue of the domestic abuse of women as cover for an attack on the SNP through attacking MacAlpine. Disgusting.

      However, I feel what is just as pathetic and dispiriting is the inability of most of the commentators on this blog to even start to take up Kate’s wider points on the issue of how women’s issues are related to in political discourse and in the independence debate. Though it may not be my place as a man to say so, it makes me wonder whether there isn’t need for women only events or a women’s caucus in order for some of these ideas to be developed away from the prevalent lumpen male attitudes which seem to predominate in the nationalist movement (if this blog is anything to go by) just as much as on the unionist side.

      1. Indy says:

        But we don’t actually know what most women thought of Joan’s article or if they even read it. We only know about individual reactions from people who tweeted and commented. The problem is that it all became so OTT and the reaction do disproportionate to what was actually written that it would be impossible at this stage for people to form any kind of judgement.

        I agree that there may be a fundamental problem of how women’s issues are related to in political discourse and debate and it has been highlighted here and it is really that even if someone says something you don’t agree with there is no need to go for the jugular. Even if you think a woman has made a mistake that’s all it is, it doesn’t make her a disgrace or mean that she has let down every other woman. You can just say I don’t really agree with that. But if others start shouting resign! resign! maybe we should all jiust say away and don’t be so daft.

  22. Alex Buchan says:

    Indy, I didn’t refer at point to women’s reactions to Joan’s article, so I’m not sure what prompted that response. If you’re referring to my point about the need for a space where woman can have a serious debate, then that was a reference to Kate’s wider issues rather than Joan’s article. My other point was that the reaction of the majority on this thread to Kate’s balanced argument, which went wider than just referring to Joan’s article, suggests that nationalists are just as obsessed by the Punch and Judy politics around Joan’s article as unionists are. Ultimately, in the wider scheme of things the article itself is small fry, as you yourself have pointed out.

    However, my main point was that the blowing up of this issue was anything but accidental and was not just ‘over the top’, To say it was over the top suggests people getting carried away and deflects from the seriousness of this moment in the independence debate. This is clearly part of a coherent Labour strategy to discredit not just Joan McAlpine but also the morality of the independence message. This strategy has been clear for some time. Labour wants to distance independence from issues of social and economic concern. It wants, and has been trying hard, to suggest that it is concerned with the later while the SNP are only concerned with the former; independence, they will be slogging away at this now for the next two years.

    Joan’s article was a gift to Labour in this regard because they could twist it to their narrative by saying that Joan McAlpine was showing a complete disregard for, and little interest in, the real plight of women in abusive relationships. It was interesting that Kirsty at Better Nation was bang ‘on message’ in this respect; using Joan’s article as an excuse to accuse the SNP of being obsessed with independence while having no real interest in wider social issues. This shows that Labour’s message is percolating through, but the vilification of Joan is also part of their strategy which is to try to character assassinate any prominent and successful nationalist politician that dare to push the nationalist argument forcefully. They have judged that McAlpine is one of the SNPs most effective communicators so it is crucial for them that she is discredited in the public’s eye, little by little, expect more of this every time Joan writes or speaks. I for one feel that we should defend Joan McAlpine to the hilt, but to attack a reasoned article like this one by Kate as many on here have done is not just crass, it shows that nationalist males (as represented on this site) are for the most part sexist in their outlook, pure and simple.

    1. Indy says:

      Sure, t what I saw in the reaction was a lot of people saying things like Joan is way out of line here, Joan should be reigned in, Alex Salmond should control her better etc.

      That is hugely ironic given the subject matter.

      And I rather think that is the underlying problem, more than anything else.

      And I do find the argument that somehow it was wrong for Joan to use that analogy because of the Bill Walker scenario seriously quite Stalinist. Whatever Scott says that is guilt by association and again it is hugely ironic. Associating a woman with domestic abuse simply because she belongs to the same party as a man who appears to be guilty of it seems quite appalling to me.

      And it’s completely inconsistemt. Johann Lamont doesn’t just know Ian Davidson, she shares a constituency with him. She has never said a single word about his comments to Eilidh Whiteford. Neither has she said a single word about Gilbert Davidson. People may not know who he is – he is a Glasgow councillor who allegedly threatened Anne Marie Millar, a former Labour councillor, that if she voted against the Labour budget her disabled son’s place as an apprentice could be at stake.

      Serious allegations but Mr davidson has not been suspended while they are investigated – indeed he kept his place as chair of one of the committees that Anne Marie Millar sits on and Labour refused to appoint anoter chair until such time as they allegations had been investigated. So SHE had to resign from the committee.

      It is universally believed in Glasgow that the sole reason Mr Davidson has not been suspended pending an investigation is that they only have a majority of one. So they can’t afford to suspend him.

      So i for one do find it quite sickening to see Johann Lamont joining in the frenzy about a newspaper column – something that is literally tomorrow’s chip paper. She should sort out the mess in her own back yard first in my opinion. Note I do not say that she bears any personal responsibility for either of the Mr Davidsons. Because she is in the same party as them does not taint her or make her guilty by association. Her responsibility to do something about their behaviour is not because she is simply a member of the Labour Party. It is because she is the Leader.

      1. Alex Buchan says:

        Thanks. You just done us all a great service by providing the evidence we all need to use to expose the hypocrisy and cynicism of Labour. I’ll copy and paste this so I have it as reference. Labour’s cynicism needs to be brought up in every single exchange on virtually every topic. They have decided to play dirty so they need to be exposed.

      2. Scott says:

        ‘Seriously quite Stalinist’ — thank heavens we have Indy to prevent this from getting OTT. Much closer to actual Stalinism is refusing to countenance the slightest element of rhetorical dodginess or political misjudgement on the part of Joan, because she’s on our side.

        Depressing how every reasoned response to this on BC (including Kate and Alex’s) which hasn’t rushed to conclude ‘it’s all fake outrage confected by a unionist conspiracy’ is dismissed by folk hyperventilating about something else.

  23. Siôn Jones says:

    Ms Higgins – why do you assume that the analogy of an unequal relationship is aimed at women only? All fair minded men (yes – that includes most of us, whatever the sisterhood tell you!) will recognise that such relationships exist ( You only have to watch the Labour supporting Rab C Nesbitt’s relationship with his SNP supporting wife for an example). And we will condemn the abuse as much as you do.

    While a Labour MP (who is a trained killer) abusing the tax-payers’ hospitality at the HoC , committing dangerous assaults on others, including a policeman, then I would have thought that you and Lamont had more pressing things to worry about than a harmless newspaper article. Especially when he got away with a slap on the wrist while the chap who took a bottle of water in the riots got 6 months. So why not obsess about Law and order in London instead of trying to score cheap political points against the SNP? – Oh, I know, it would interfere with your unionist agenda!

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