Here Comes Boo Radley


Here comes the Boo Radley of Scottish politics again. If Gordon Brown did a tour like Gorgeous George it would be called ‘Stepping Out of the Shadows’.

Last night GB stood on the Better Together platform for the first time. This was (maybe) the first of Gordon’s much promised ‘big interventions’ as the faith in Alistair Darling leadership of Better Together drains away like drain water down a sump.

Now, with Tories calling Darling: “a middlingly competent accountant with zero charisma” – surely an insult to moderately dull bean counters everywhere – the No campaign is perhaps experiencing it’s own Davie Moyes moment.

‘Who?’ the plaintive plea goes out, ‘Who?’ can step up in the face of confusion and faltering polls? “You never see him. Where is the big figure to lead the campaign and take the fight to Salmond? It’s just dismal’ the brave anonymous Tory says, according to the Herald.

Who’s the who? It’s big Gordon. And, to his credit he tried to articulate 5 ideas about what the Union benefit is to Scotland. It’s rarely done and often called for, so good for him.

What were they?

Lower interest rates
“Social and Cultural Connections”

Now pensions is a firm favourite of the No brigade (older people feel vulnerable and turn out to vote – so they are ideal to frighten). But it has some real problems. Firstly the idea that your state pension would be under threat isn’t true. At all. Says who? Well the problem for Boo and buddies is that the body stating this is that we known centre for Cyber Nats the UK Department for Work & Pensions (download their redacted letter and share from here).

71487_10152391041122288_7726864505907220161_nNow this is a shame that putting pensions up front and centre also coincided with the biggest share of a single image on social media in a long time as the Daily Express pensions propaganda got found-out big time. The trouble with the new fresh air of social media is that the old efforts to manipulate and distort get rumbled pretty quickly.

That well known Cyber Nat Billy Bragg said:

“These two front pages are from the Daily Express – one from the English edition, the other from the Scottish. Whatever your views on Scottish independence, you have to ask yourself if the people of Scotland are really getting the facts about what would happen if they vote Yes. Coming on the back of the Daily Mail’s shameful behaviour, I’m seeing a positive role for social media in challenging the press. In the old days they would have got away with their distortions – now their are thousands of people holding them to account.”

Next came NHS funding –  which Mr Brown claims keeps healthcare free at the point of use. The problem here is that of all the things that Labour have failed at, and that the whole Westminster political class are culpable for, failure to protect the NHS is probably the top. In fact 85,000 public sector jobs have been lost in Health & Social Care in just  two years, and £15,997, 200,000.00 – that is the amount of your NHS Cameron has offered to Private Health.

That doesn’t make me feel very Better Together.

So it’s odd ground to pick, but it fits the mould. Look backwards, draw on peoples sense of what Britain meant, not the reality of what Britain means. Better Yesterday.

Next up Mr Brown pointed to the 600,000 Scottish jobs dependent on companies that are British or linked to Scottish exports to Britain as proof of the importance of the Union.

This is just scatter-gun scare tactics, quite indiscriminate. There is no reason in the world why the centre of political decision-making should affect trade and the commercial opportunities of these companies. In fact, there’s every reason to imagine they’d benefit.

A vague but 100% good thing called “social and cultural connections” was last of Brown’s positives, with, he claimed ’50 per cent of Scots now having close relatives in the rest of the UK’ according to the former prime minister.

But what’s to happen to these connections? What’s to happen to these relatives? Will they be rounded up? Will the phone lines go down? It’s such a dire message and such a flogged horse and Better Together has failed and failed again with this stuff.

Is this the best they can do? Is Gordon the Great White Hope?

The problem for Gordon isn’t so much his 5 Great Things About the Union speech being based on some very unsound ground, it is, sadly, him. The man who’s main virtue was for years that he Wasn’t Tony Blair stepped into No 10 and was an unmitigated disaster for this country. People remember this. The Better Together’s patronising idea that he’s a ‘big gun’ and ‘a Scot’ doesn’t really cut it any more. They are, as in so much, behind the curve.

Who else have they got on the bench? I hear John Reid’s limbering up. Now then, talk about warmth and charisma. If you think Darling’s a politician with a charisma bypass and Gordon’s a communication disaste-zone, just wait for Lord Reid.


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  1. bearinorkney says:

    If you’re talking about the character from “Too kill a Mockingbird” he was the a good guy.

    The Brown one isn’t.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Well it wasn’t another Boo Radley I was talking about! I just like the way Gordon keeps disappearing and then reappearing, like Boo.

  2. Doug Daniel says:

    I don’t see how we can thank the UK for lower interest rates either. Even ignoring the fact that low interest rates are bad for people like me who are trying to save (and of course, as a saver I am essentially evil, as I refuse to spend my way into debt to help “the recovery”), we all know that the reason they’re low is because the economy tanked, not because of something innate about the UK (well, except the structural flaws of the economy).

    And of course, the UK interest rate isn’t even the lowest. The Eurozone’s interest rate is 0.25%, as is the USA’s; Japan’s is 0.1%; tiny wee Scotland-sized Denmark’s is 0.2%; and there’s the Czech Republic with a mere 0.05% interest rate.

    Anyway, sticking with the pound totally negates this point as an argument either for or against independence. It becomes merely a statistic.

  3. In yet another talk, Gordon Brown is promoting his book at the Borders Book Festival on Saturday 14th June. The event is described as Brown’s – “vision of Scottishness, Britishness, the unique nature of the union, how it might change and how Scotland might lead Britain, not leave it. This will be a landmark moment in the independence debate.’

    Landmark moment? Huh!

  4. thisgreenworld says:

    If you tell a lie enough times, and if you tell big enough lies, they become the truth…

    The folk I know who read the Daily Express will not know about the two versions and will tend to believe what they read (which is why they read the Daily Express of course…).
    Gleeful posturing about catching out the media will not convince the undecideds. We cannot win by forcing people to confront the falseness of their core beliefs.

    We will win when we convince enough people when they believe their core beliefs are better served in an independent country. Many of the undecideds may have core beliefs that many in the Yes campaign may disagree with.
    Doesn’t make them wrong, but our messages must reach out to meet the people whose dreams we may instinctively prefer to shatter.

  5. Andy Nimmo says:

    This reminds me of the time when Fox News ran this story.

    Total mince of course . Chavez remained as President until his death in March last year.

    However this story so incensed the Venezuelan people that some US citizens and businesses were attacked, which then allowed Fox News to run subsequent stories about the Anti American Commies in Venezuela.
    This brought about Chavez declaring his deep love for 99% of Americans and deep loathing for the other 1%.

  6. Will McEwan says:

    Gordon Blackhole Brown is a TV journalist to training and is economically illiterate; understands (sort of) soundbites but not finance. He inherited economic stability and slight surplus and left a total shambles. He did big hits on pension schemes, gold reserves and mobile phone licences which gave him short term funds to throw about and take on about 200,000 extra non productive civil servants which artificially held down unemployment figures but at the same time undermined the productive economy.
    He also routinely treats ordinary people as if they are all idiots. Tom Bowyer’s biography of Brown should be required reading for anybody with serious political interest.

    Everybody in Scotland should be made to read Ian Bell in the Herald and Joan McAlpine in the Record today

  7. setondene says:

    As to the 600,000 Scottish jobs dependent on British (i.e. English) employers. First off, they’re here to make money not to provide charity to Scots. Secondly, if they went, we might have an extra 600,000 Scots employed by Scottish companies. Nature abhors a vacuum.

  8. Padaruski says:

    Quality piece as usual MIke. Big Beast Brown, as Ameer Anwar remarked at the Yes Rally in Edinburgh last year, ‘out-Thatchered Thatcher’ with his checquebook signature on illegal wars in Iraq etc. He, like many Labour MP’s, were and are lost in a Westminster bubble, drowning in their own sea of jobtitle importance, floating on the clouds of their high and mighty power, status etc: ergo, detached from the real world of working class people, they blab like an escapee from a mental hospital and require medication to calm their delusion of yesteryear power. I mean, Gordon saved the world, or so he said, after the engineered market crash of 2008. It was wheel out the dinosaur time and see what stomach rumbling might ensue. I weel remember lang syne that Gordon once said in a Red Book that if the Union of 1707 ceased to serve the Scottish people, it should be discarded. So deep down. the Big Beast Brown is a Yes supporter waiting to escape the walled prison his ambition made. He and Robin Cook would have made superb Scottish Prime Ministers of SCOTLAND. That is the tragedy of Brown’s career.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      I think you might be right. I think its a tragedy for Scotland that Labour is left with Lamont in charge. I can imagine Donald Dewar or Robin Cook bringing some quality to their side of the debate or even having the insight to take a longer view for Labour and make the leap …

      1. Not Dewar for me Mike. I will never forgive his connivance with Blair in his “theft” of the 6,000sq mls of Scottish North Sea, with it’s attendent oil fields.

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          The point is – disagree with him or not – he’s an example of a qualitatively higher level of politician than Lamont. No?

  9. JBS says:

    The blue bird of happiness has told me that if the Scots vote no to independence then Scotland will get a new name and Gordon Brown will be installed as Toom Tabard the Second, King of Cringeland. Who wouldn’t want that?

  10. Will McEwan says:

    I am surprised that anyone would think that Blackhole Brown or Donald Doom Dewar would make a decent prime ministers of anything. Are folk here beginning to swallow the “Father of the Nation ” stuff. Clever Dewar replaced the unclever Lord Naw Naw Robertson as S S to construct a Scottish Parliament in which the SNP could never gain a majority. He was a mean spirited anti nationalist anti Scot masquerading as a “socialist”who died and left millions of pounds in shares of privitised public utilities which the Labour Party had pretended to oppose. I ‘m sure some readers here can remember him walking through the “No Parliament” door at a performance of the “The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil “

  11. David Agnew says:

    why are unionists so thoroughly miserable? Does nothing ever make them smile. Not even the Union? Not even a little bit.. Is it perhaps the realisation, that they have adopted a campaign style that has ensured that the only thing the Scottish Tories can do in Scotland is pass wind? Are they beginning to boak at the prospect of dining on Austerity mince?

  12. Jim says:

    I can’t see Lord Reid stepping up to the plate and supporting the Union. Practically all of my Celtic-supporting family will be voting Yes and actually most Celtic supporters that I know personally. Indeed, he isn’t a daft guy and should be thinking of the attacks on the vulverable.

    Michael “biscuit tin” Kelly is of course another matter..

    I’m missing my good lady. She’s away to Spain for a week with two of my sisters, flying from Glasgow. My other sister is meeting them there flying from Exeter.

    The indignity of being a non-EU national after a No vote!

  13. Here’s a hopefully faster download link to the DWP letter.

  14. With the quality of articles like this , and the readers replies I cannot see the yes voters losing

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