Riddle Me This…
Michael Forsyth’s impact on the constitutional settlement – whatever that ends up being from the Stone of Destiny to the Euro Referendum – will be for historians to decide, but whisper it he’s doing a great job so far!
Michael must still be have been high from the vapors of St Margaret’s embalming when he decided to back the High Tory Right’s attempted putsch over Cameron that nudged the already desperate Cabinet to order a “clear choice” about the UK’s future in Europe and publish a draft bill outlining plans for a referendum by the end of 2017.
But riddle me this Lord of Drumlean – how can you bleat about Scottish ‘separatism’ and back Nigel Lawson ‘It’s time to leave’? How can you reconcile saying “The truth is the Nationalists are playing for time at the expense of business confidence and future investment” about the Scottish referendum – but demand Britain secedes from Europe?
The ermine clad Thatcherite (remember they were the outsiders who shook things up weren’t they?) has responded to UKIP’s dog whistle politics and they are busy committing what the Tory party has hedged around for thirty or forty years. Now, mired in economic incompetence, corruption and political disillusionment they can succumb to the racist dogma their feral media has carefully nurtured for a generation.
Good. As Hopi Sen puts it:
Never interrupt your enemy when he is the process of making a mistake.
Good advice. While the Conservative party is tearing itself apart with serial euro-idiocy, it’s probably best for the Labour party to join much of the rest of the nation in staring, mouth agape, at the strange sight of a great national party destroying their own government over the precise number of hypothetical referendums they can get on a scroll of vellum.
Over in Kirkcaldy a different sort of internal drama is being played out, also worthy of Mr Riddler. Here, we are led to believe that Commissioner Gordon’s United with Labour creation sits comfortably beside Alistair Darling’s Better Together creation.
It’s almost as if there’s some sort of emnity between these guys – but they were the ones that saved the economy, right?
If Forsyth, Gove and Philip Hammond’s Euro gamble was propelled in part by UKIP’s accolades, Gordon’s Untogether United Front was sparked by disillusioned trade unionists and Labourites appalled by the whole Ian Taylor Donorgate fiasco. It can be read as an attempt to shore up Labour support draining away from a, superficially successful, but morale-sapping campaign with the Tories.
If the Tories operate a bizarre sort of patronage that discounts or ignores Scottish sensibilities about trade, immigration and internationalism over the Shires latest xenophobic spasm, who should be surprised?
But this incredible parochialism could be game-changing.
Salmond was given a wide open goal today and dutifully tapped it in: “He has been bounced into this move by the rising tide of support south of the border for UKIP – who are almost a complete irrelevance in Scotland – and his actions now threaten to hole the No campaign in the Scottish independence referendum below the waterline. The EU referendum policy is the wrong move, and is taking us down the wrong path. It means that the real uncertainty on Scotland’s future in Europe is coming from Westminster.”
And there’s Gordon who operates a different sort of patronage system. Mr Brown (who has lived all his life in Scotland, and who’s kids even go to school here!!) urges us today to ‘ditch the Tories’ (he seems to have forgotten we already have, the problem is no-one was listening).
Together, apart, Michael and Gordon – with the launch of the confusing United with Labour campaign and the Conservative Party’s Euro has just thrown the NO campaign into massive disarray.
Listening to Gordon Brown on the day of the launch of United Together you were struck by the power of patronage, Here was the deep-seated sense of self-entitlement laid bare.
Speaking in the sort of language only Brown can create he exclaimed on Scotland Tonight: “Fiscal Equalisation’ is for the benefit of the poorer regions of the UK”. Translated into human what is that means is we’re poor, and will remain so, unless we keep with the Mother Ship. It’s an extraordinary prospect of fettered union of poverty and misaligned power which assumes a historic role for labour as saviour of the poor and their unresolvable plight. It takes us hurtling back to the idea of Labour as barrier to the Tories. It’s so deeply uninspiring, offensive and unconvincing as its palpably, historically, blatantly untrue.
Neal Ascherson is helpful:
To me, self-government and the Parliament And Even the possibility of independence have always been means to the end of a deeper ‘fredome’, a condition in which nobody accepts exclusion and ordinary people rebel every day in their ordinary lives. At his trial for sedition in 1918, the Clydeside revolutionary John Maclean said: “We are out for Life, and all that Life can give us!” And yet for three centuries Scotland has been governed on the principle of ‘involve as few people as possible’.
It’s not really a riddle at all, is it?