2007 - 2021

Wake Up! The Nation is in Peril! Man the Soapbox!

The Daily Telegraph is like a Treasure Island of Stupidity. It’s the citadel of the British elite and the glorious mouthpiece of their sublime ignorance of what’s actually going on. Each read is a pleasure, after which you can have a long afternoon nap, safe in the knowledge that these are the key influencers.

Take Benedict Brogan – the papers highly respected political commentator with 33,000 followers on twitter and author of ‘Brogan’s Briefing, Westminster’s must-read morning email’.

Benedict Brogan is the former political editor of the Daily Mail and ‘The Daily Telegraph’s Deputy Editor and one of Westminster’s keenest observers’, we’re told.

So what’s his keen diagnosis of what the No campaign should do to steady the ship? Yay – it’s more lovebombing (‘It’s time David Cameron showed Scots that England does care).

Majors_soapboxApparently, the answer is to do like John Major did in 1992 and travel the country in a bus, stopping at Little Chefs, talking from on top of a little wooden box.

Okay, maybe the Little Chef bit’s not vital to be honest.

Benedict writes: “John Major made the Union his personal cause, touring Scotland to urge his countrymen to “wake up” because the nation was in peril.”

Whilst this not seem *immediately* as the shrewdest of moves, it seems that Benedict’s analysis get’s even more piercing:

“The state of the Better Together campaign has revealed that Labour is far from together at all. Accusations fly that its senior figures are absent from the debate, happy to leave the heavy lifting to Mr Darling and then blame him in whispered briefings. Douglas Alexander and Jim Murphy are said to not be doing enough, while John Reid, once the hammer of the Nats, is sulking in his tent like Achilles, peeved that he hasn’t been asked to lead the fight.

Hanging over this is the long shadow of Gordon Brown, who for a quarter-century ran Scottish Labour as a personal fiefdom – and so must take responsibility for its precipitous decline. He has so far made occasional interventions, and will resurface in June with the publication of a memoir about his relationship with Scotland and his belief in the Union. Better one sinner that repenteth and all that – but there will be plenty who will say that it was Mr Brown’s flirtation with nationalism and the demonising of Margaret Thatcher, the Tories and, by implication, England that got Labour into this mess in the first place.”

Where to begin?

Whilst we hadn’t always thought of John Reid and Achilles in the same breath, maybe he is the Star in the Wings that Severin Carrell alluded to? But surely it’s harsh of Benedict on Douglas and Jim. Not doing enough our Douglas Alexander? He makes the same speech regularly.

And what’s with everyone and the shadows and Gordon Brown? You can’t mention the fellow without someone mentioning the shadows. He’s always creeping on our out of them.

Anyway its reassuring that the much trailed ‘significant intervention’ Brown is going to make takes the form of a ‘a memoir about his relationship with Scotland and his belief in the Union’.

That sounds fascinating. And DEFINITELY a game changer.



The trouble with these commentators is they are so remote, so out of their depth it’s just like a string of sentences cobbled together by a monkey. You might feel that’s harsh on the highly regarded Benedict. But what else are you to make of the notion that “it was Mr Brown’s flirtation with nationalism and the demonising of Margaret Thatcher, the Tories and, by implication, England that got Labour into this mess in the first place.”

You may have missed Brown’s flirtation with nationalism (or even his demonising of Thatcher) “The No campaign is also rife with mutterings that far from being a powerhouse, Scottish Labour is a busted flush, with little organisation on the ground, few resources, and no personnel to boast about.”

But you can’t argue with the fact that the answer has got to be David Cameron on a soap box touring the country.

While this is all entertaining some of the English press is far better than ours. John Harris excellent in his drawing on Peter Oborne’s The Triumph of the Political Class (2007), arguing:

London’s mixture of economic isolation and huge political power are integral to the two biggest domestic stories of the year.

First, Scotland. At the core of the momentous debate that has seized that country is a justified resentment of how much power has been amassed by the distant UK capital. Alex Salmond recently spoke of London as the “dark star of the economy, inexorably sucking in resources, people and energy”; the influential Jimmy Reid Foundation’s Common Weal project contrasts many Scots’ ingrained belief in an essentially social-democratic society with what it calls “London orthodoxy”.


Still, there’s one thing poor Benedict get’s right: “David Cameron will resign if he loses Scotland. A Prime Minister who allows the break-up of the United Kingdom cannot suffer such a statement of no confidence and continue in office.

That much is understood in Downing Street, where a gnawing doubt about the referendum gets worse by the day.”

Is that enough to put a spring in your step this fine Spring day?

Comments (0)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. benmadigan says:

    Are they doing it on purpose? The UK also seems to want to dump the Unionists in NI. Scots might be a little worried about the proposal from Spiked that Scotland annex NI which was used to eliminate the “Ulster is British” argument . Have a look at http://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/post-unionist-ireland/

  2. Will McEwan says:

    And Brogan is from a Glasgow family and should know better but he has obviously lost all touch with his roots

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Is he?

  3. Jnr says:

    Brogan was born to an English father and a French mother, and was brought up in Washington, D.C – About as Glaswegian as Garlic fries are.

  4. Dennis Smith says:

    I agree most of Brogan’s article is mince. But he does makes one important point about why the Better Together message is struggling in England. Most of the core BT arguments for keeping Scotland in the UK – large free trade area, safety in numbers, unity is strength and all that jazz – work equally well as arguments for keeping the UK in the EU. It’s hard for all those Europhobes among the Tories and UKIPPERS to sign up to BT when their attitudes towards Scotland and Europe are in open contradiction.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      I understand the logic but it doesn’t make any sense. I’m not sure there are loads of Tories and UKIPPERS in Scotland being prevented from gaetting involved in a grassroots movement because of this internal contradiction, Really.

      The problem with the No campaign is that it has nothing to campaign FOR. If they will win it will be out of a mix of fear and deference.

      1. Dennis Smith says:

        I agree about the situation in Scotland. There are not that many convinced Tories and UKIPPERS here, and most of those that exist are hardline Nos, often impervious to rational argument. But Brogan’s argument is important for understanding the catch-22 that much of the UK media are caught in. Most of the mainstream media target their messages primarily at an English audience for whom this conflict is important. Scottish editionising is fairly small-scale, so lots of this English-targeted material carries over into Scotland and limits BT’s ability to focus its Scottish message.

  5. ferdinand francino says:

    It was actually Tony Travers, a professor at the London School of Economics, who (I believe) first said “London is the dark star of the economy, inexorably sucking in resources, people and energy. Nobody quite knows how to control it.” in an article in the Financial Times titled “Recovery likely to widen wealth gap between London and regions”, dated 2014/01/19. Link below but requires subscription. If you want the entire thing but can’t reach it I’ll be happy to steal it for you 😀

  6. I hate to be a pedant, but could you please do something about all the misplaced apostrophes in this piece. I found it quite jarring.

    Beyond that, this is an interesting analysis of the type of broadsheet fare we have become used to since the SNP won a majority – patronising, metroparochial, and completely missing the point.

    By the way, I too missed Gordon Brown’s flirtation with nationalism. Though in the case of The Telegraph, that might just involve speaking with a Scottish accent.

  7. JBS says:

    David Cameron, travelling around Scotland on a BattleBus, telling us that we mustn’t think of voting for independence, that the Scots should know their place and not be uppity. Yes, I want to see that. I very much want that to happen.

  8. JimW says:

    Douglas Alexander, Jim Murphy and John Reid, the big guns of Scottish Labour, have been so quiet as to be almost invisible. It leads me to suspect that they have begun to see the writing on the wall, and, sensible politicians that they almost are, they have decided that it might be wiser to keep their options open.

  9. florian albert says:

    If, as Bella Caledonia suggests, comments made in the Telegraph and elsewhere are ‘like a string of sentences cobbled together by a monkey’, why bother denouncing them ? Presumably, the said string of sentences will be ignored by one and all.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.