Nicodemite No


So who’s having a good war?

Every campaign has got to have a hero, so who have we got for the defence of the Union?

Amongst the No campaign and their accompanying media there’s a desperate attempt to find some stars. John Reid seems to have gone completely awol, Anas Sarwar is having a bad time (he was booed off the podium at the Palestinian solidarity rally in Glasgow – watch it here – though the only quote BBC Scotland carry on their website is his). At least Jim Murphy, to his credit, is busy and in public.

Obviously David Cameron is missing. As leaders run for cover, there’s three candidates put forward. There’s Curious George. There’s wee Douglas Alexander, and there’s Gordon Brown. Let’s think this through.

Now George Galloway, even if the Spectator were brief fans, does have some problems. They need to cleanse the entire interweb of everything they’ve said about him in the past 30 years. They loath him more than anything they can express. So that’s tricky. His message is bumblingly incoherent and increasingly comical. He’s like Ronald Villiers with a media free-pass.

Douglas Alexander is dull at a molecular level, and even Ian Jack can’t quite resurrect him as a Scots’ Lech Walesa in this interview – even when Jack not so much puts words in his mouth as lip-synch’s for him, in a desperate hope that he means what Jack hopes he means: “The idea, not that Alexander says this, is to restore Scottish Labour as a force to the left of the SNP, and shore up its power base in the west of Scotland.”

“Kirk ministering was the profession of his father’s father as well as his father” cites Jack as they sit being ignored in Morrison’s – as if Alexander’s CoS ancestory absolves him of policy responsibility. Like every interview or article about Alexander we’re told: “We talk about his upbringing in a nearby village as a son of the manse – his father was a Kirk minister, like Brown’s”.

But the presence of Kirk DNA doesn’t act as magic fairy dust, neither for Brown nor Alexander, and the gap between the utterances and the reality of New Labour (past and present) means that Alexander’s statement that “Solidarity is the basis of my politics” seem like pious nothingness. Sweet words from the pulpit.

So we’re two down in the search for heroes, and, sorry to say we’re just skipping by Alistair Darling, Mutley and Johann Lamont for the purposes of brevity [and sanity].

So we’re left with Gordon Brown.

The Resurrection of Gordon

There’s been weeks of slightly dewy-eyed and ill-judged attempts to resurrect Gordon by English commentators like Severin Carrell, Martin Kettle and Jonathon Freedland reading the wrong script.

Kevin Maguire got in on the act at the New Statesman, writing breathlessly (‘Let’s stay together: Gordon Brown’s My Scotland, Our Britain‘): “His continued popularity north of Hadrian’s Wall is a powerful threat to the Yes lobby.”

Freedland made a valiant effort recently with the heroic if unconvincing ‘Gordon Brown is back, and may be the man to save the union’ pitch in which he stated that Brown, the Ghandi-esque UnBlair is, apparently, “packing out halls and addressing rallies day after day”.

Really? These are actual open public rallies? We’d be keen on some details for that.

This is just metropolitan delusion. Perhaps he’s getting bum information from his sidekick Severin  who he qoutes saying: “He’s now a key part of the conversation”.

If he’s ‘key’ he’d be on the telly, or in debates, or answering questions or debating Salmond, instead of locked away like an indyref Lon Chaney.

As far as I’m aware all of Gordon Brown’ s talks have been carefully choreographed and reduced to invite-only talks to the party faithful. If Severin or the Guardian can point us to big set piece open public debates, we’ll stand corrected.

This is just more of the ‘Son of the Manse’ stuff regurgitated and gleefully shuffled between the myths of the Alexander siblings, Gordon Brown and John Smith in hushed reverent and entirely ignorant tones by English journalists paying reverence to ‘the other’.

But in our search for a hero – or some narrative beyond Better Together’s failing campaign of smear, it’s Brown they’ve settled on.

It goes on.

I’m not sure if due to climate change the hallucinogenic mushrooms have kicked-in a bit early but reviewing Alasdair Gray and Gordon Brown (admittedly a difficult task a bit like reviewing a river and damp patch) Alexander Linklater writes of Brown’s work as:

“Brown’s vision is greater and his argument runs deeper…by far the most serious and important work about Scottish and British identity to have emerged as a result of the referendum debate”.

Which is a nice accolade – but he doesn’t actually quote any idea from Brown’s book.

Just as you think you might need to create a whole sub genre called ‘Delusional Unionist Hagiography’, Linklater explains:

“At the heart of his (Brown’s) understanding of British values there lies an unexpectedly lovely notion of fusion: that Scottish principles of solidarity, civil society and “the democratic intellect” have, through the union, entwined themselves with English values of liberty, tolerance and pragmatism. He calls Britain a covenant, rather than a contract.”

It’s a lovely (if slightly weird unsubstantiated and reductionist) view of Britains constituent parts.  We are left with the Nicodemite No and their absurdist plodding commentators scrabbling around for meaning in their pact with the Tories to defend the austerity union.

It’s not working.

As Ian Bell lays out:

“The latest TNS survey suggests that 28 per cent of those who supported the (Labour) party in the elections of 2011 have decided to vote Yes in September. Labour lost those elections, you’ll remember, and lost them badly. Seven seats were forfeited as a big chunk of the party’s vote migrated to the SNP. Now TNS says that still more voters – up from 21 per cent on previous polls – are choosing to reject Labour’s advice and its campaign for the Union.”

No, we’ve had a lot of crawing from Labour stalwarts recently and they might want to reflect on that reality.

Manufacturing Brown as some wise saviour, or trying to dress up Wendy’s brother as a socialist is tragi-comic stuff ahead of the Fringe. Whatever the result in September this dismal campaign is the end for Scottish Labour, who will be fatally wounded by their own political timidity and no amount of media support will save them.


Comments (27)

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  1. Tom Platt says:

    “Manufacturing Brown as some wise saviour, or trying to dress up Wendy’s brother as a socialist is tragi-comic stuff ahead of the Fringe!

    This is spot on IMO. Westminster is in trouble with the electorate just as Westminster Labour is in trouble. Holyrood Labour are at sea and directionless. Labour for Independence is the obvious home for traditional Labour voters.

  2. goldenayr says:

    OT now.

    It wasn’t MacAvity going for divorce…Mibbee.?!

  3. Political Tourist says:

    After a YES vote i wouldn’t be surprised that a section of the Scottish Labour Party walk away from politics altogether.
    They might not say and don’t want to believe it but at heart many of them are British Nationalist.
    Do you really see ” wee Douglas” hanging around Edinburgh.

    1. goldenayr says:

      Is he looking for a “quickie” divorce?

    2. Dean Richardson says:

      Walk away from politics? How many of today’s political class have the willingness and ability to do anything outside politics? It’s all they’ve ever known, from the day they’ve left uni with their mediocre PPE degrees tucked away (which is a big part of the reason why they do politics so badly). They wouldn’t last five minutes in the real world, so they’d be looking for a place back on the gravy train a bit lively.

      1. An Duine Gruamach says:

        Oh, these types always manage to look after themselves one way or another. Consultancy work (whatever *that* is), media, director of this or that third sector group.

    3. yerkitbreeks says:

      That might be true but with their talent for spin and untrained for anything else, who would employ them ?

  4. Big Jock says:

    Anas deserves everything he gets.He didnae bother his Erse about the bedroom tax.He is part of the Blair London labour party who went to war in Iraq.London stands by while Israel the biggest rogue state bombs the crap out of Palestine cause its the US lapdog.He wants Scotland to stay part of and under the control of corrupt Westminster.He would deny Scotland a voice and then has the cheek to speak at an anti Israel demo.The guy is a political ignoramous!

    1. yerkitbreeks says:

      Yep – you would have thought he could at least come out about this. I think it was Isabel Fraser who described their military might as ” kitchen rockets “, none of which have in fact done any serious damage except to the self esteem of the never-contrite Israelis, and are really a cry for help from a population totally isolated for the last thirty years.

  5. bringiton says:

    When I saw this title,I wondered if nicodemite was in the same chemical family as kryptonite,you know that substance which turns super beings into incoherent weaklings and there does appear to be a passing resemblance (at least the effects of being exposed to it).
    Perhaps it is more exposure to Westminsterite which causes people of principles to abandon all of them when offered power and influence (of course it helps if you don’t have any in the first place).
    It will be interesting to see how “open” the STV debate between Salmond and Darling is as to date,the format for Westminster politicians has been either staged events or media statements where they can narrow and control the message.
    Debate for many of them seems to be something that they did a long time ago as students and is no longer required in their political careers.
    Thanks Mike,excellent.

  6. lochside says:

    Brilliant deconstruction of the Brit Media’s attempt to deify a couple of prize numpties. Gordon Brown is another in a long line of fabricated ‘political giants’. His supposed intellectual genius unchallenged until he presided over the financial crash.

    This allowed the English press to launch justified assaults on his reputation, but sullied it by adding in racist epithets to boot.
    This allowed him off the hook somewhat in Scotland.

    However, as you point out Mike, he is now being resurrected like the political Lazarus that he is, as a Saviour for the Union. Unfortunately, its Lazarus as Tommy Cooper, grinning maniacally with shark teeth, stumbling and bumbling about the stage managed appearances, trying to pull sound bites out of a hat. And failing miserably.

    Revealed for the intellectual pygmy and power mad glutton that he really is, Broon looks a comical but sad figure chasing after a mirage of political status as sage former statesman. Instead opprobrium awaits.

    And as for Alexander, the Rev. I. am. Jolly, an incompetent, back stabber who is intellectually a pygmy without sense or soul.

    1. JBS says:

      Gordon Brown…the man who funked calling a General Election which he would most certainly have won…the man who forgot to check whether his microphone was switched on or off and was forced into a humiliating public apology…the man who, almost single-handedly, destroyed the Labour Party’s majority at Westminster and let the Tories back in.

      Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling: a pair of grisly has-beens. Vote Yes to independence on 18 September and put the colour back in Scotland’s cheeks.

      1. tommythecommy says:

        The man who done away with the 10p rate of income tax telling us the poor wouldn’t be worse off.

    2. dennis mclaughlin says:

      Brown and his great clunking fist will always be remembered for the open miked “that bigoted woman”…this is how professional politicians in Westminster see and treat their voting public.

      Labour in Scotland will be fighting like rats in a sack after the 18th of September…ah cannae wait 🙂

  7. David Agnew says:

    What this scrambling for a public “face” to represent their case, highlights the problems for BT and its campaign for a NO vote. From the very get go, the whole thrust of their campaign strategy was to make a strong and convincing argument for their nation and its citizens powerlessness. You know its false but you need to promote this to engender political disengagement from the debate. The whole idea then is to avoid debate at all costs. In a debate you would have to defend that position, a situation that won’t really pass much close scrutiny. You have to muddy the waters as much as possible by attacking in the most personal and vehement way, the various individuals who are opposed to your viewpoint. You need to distract people from the talking points by forcing the opposing side to counter foolish and childish arguments. The YES campaign has been forced to constantly remind voters that that independence is not about the SNP, and more recently counter a much more insidious argument that they are blood and soil nationalists.

    The media froth and churn over imagined “monstering” over people “expressing” an opinion, without putting a shred of evidence up in its defence and so the YES campaign wastes time and energy countering that as well. Here the attempt is to produce a form of political evaporation. To induce sheer political apathy with the support of a complaint media to ensure no awkward questions are asked, through creating the impression the whole debate is a unsightly and trivial nonsense.

    But for all their cleverness (I use that term in its most ironic sense) the NO camp are losing the argument. The very best they can hope for now, is a very narrow win or close draw. This is the very worst position they can find themselves in. How is this happening? Because despite the support of the media, people are engaging with the debate. Denied the most obvious platforms they are turning to the internet. Political blogs like this one and others. Yes or No – people are fighting this out on forums, twitter and facebook.

    The search for a hero is a realisation on their part that it is failing. The lack of a hero is largely down to the fact they don’t have one. They are left scraping the barrel for yesterdays men. Brown is the man who was in charge the day the banks flushed our economy down the crapper. John Reid was a bully boy with all the charm of a punch in the face. Ian Davidson who is effective Reid’s mini-me is just as tasteless. These people are not just yesterdays men, they are political poison. When Brown went on his whistle stop tour of pensioners clubs to scare the old folk silly, most would remember that he was the man who had been raiding their pensions. Darling is a walking disaster, the serial flipper who boasts of how he used tax payer money to bail out banks and trigger a recession, claiming this is why the UK is OK. Reid is too closely linked to various failures including Iraq and Afghanistan. They are all hot button topics than when reminded of them, tend to make voters very angry. These men are the very worst examples of defending the Union. They are however the best arguments for getting rid of it.

    1. John Page says:

      This is a very timely endorsement of the fantastic efforts of Bella, Aye! Talks, Wee Ginger Dug et al……..the video clips and articles are great to post to undecideds who say they don’t trust the politicians, the papers and the BBC but don’t know where to get the answers they want

  8. ronald alexander mcdonald says:

    If Labour MSP’s had anything about them they would break rank and promote Scottish Independence. The alternative is political suicide.

  9. Excellent analysis gives more hope for democracy and independence.One and the same in my mind.

  10. Iain Hill says:

    We should try not to be unfair to SLAB. Lamont for instance. What lies behind that granite face? What is her personal credo? I can recall only that she despises many of her party’s supporters , for thinking they can get something for nothing. Could we see her please debate openly with Yes supporters in a public forum? What deeply cherished personal vision of Scotland could she put forward to charm us into voting No with her and her Tory allies? What would it be like actually to live in Lamont’s Scotland?

    1. JBS says:

      She would create a desolation and call it Better Together.

  11. dennis mclaughlin says:

    a scorched earth policy is all Labour in Scotland has to offer,they’d be happy to see Scotland destroyed to spite the SNP.

  12. David McCann says:

    RB Cunninghame Graham certainly got it right when he opined,
    ’The enemies of Scottish Nationalism are not the English, for they were ever a great and generous folk, quick to respond when justice calls. Our real enemies are among us, born without imagination”
    I would be interested to know what others make of this article, which if true would blow a hole below the waterline of the No campaign.

    1. Dean Richardson says:

      As far as I can tell, the only enemies of Scottish nationalism, and Scotland in general, are the British ruling classes, who are also the biggest enemies of England. If we can get rid of all this soul-destroying Britishness, relations between all the peoples on these islands will improve drastically.

    2. bringiton says:

      If this is not true,why hasn’t the author been prosecuted or disappeared?

      1. David McCann says:

        My thoughts exactly. Its pure dynamite.

      2. bringiton says:

        Should also have mentioned that it would partially explain the desire for the people involved trying to prevent independence.
        Would the 100 year rule apply to people who are no longer “British” citizens?

  13. Jim I'm McLean says:

    Lyrics Jim McLean, tune The Beef Can Close

    Oh Darling’s got a brand new job,
    He’s Cameron’s latest clown.
    His hair is white, his eyebrows black,
    And his nose is a dirty brown.
    Ricky doo dum day, ricky doo dum day,
    Ricky dicky doo dum day.

    Ed Miliband is Cameron’s man,
    He hates the SNP.
    He’d rather see a Tory win,
    Than Scotland standing free.
    Ricky doo dum day, ricky doo dum day,
    Ricky dicky doo dum day.

    There’s Danny Alexander
    With Osborn, Clegg and Balls.
    For Dave’s the puppet master
    And they’re all his dancing dolls.
    Ricky doo dum day, ricky doo dum day,
    Ricky dicky doo dum day.

    Gordon Brown wi the great big frown
    Has joined the Tory crew.
    Dave brought him from retirement
    Saying “I have need of you!”
    Ricky doo dum day, ricky doo dum day,
    Ricky dicky doo dum day.

    Dave said “Go spread the message,
    Just promise them years of pain.
    You let me in the last time
    And I know you’ll do it again”.
    Ricky doo dum day, ricky doo dum day,
    Ricky dicky doo dum day.

    Jo Lamont thinks we’re stupid,
    Ruth Davison thinks we’re poor
    Wee Wullie Rennie agrees with them
    But he isnae really sure!
    Ricky doo dum day, ricky doo dum day,
    Ricky dicky doo dum day.

    Dave’s even roped in Gallaway
    Whose war cry is “say naw”
    But if you vote for that lot,
    Ye’ll end up wi Hee Haw!
    Ricky doo dum day, ricky doo dum day,
    Ricky dicky doo dum day.

    There’s bankers down in London Town
    Telling us what to do.
    “You’ll lose your pension if you don’t vote no,
    And we’ll keep the Lotto too”.
    Ricky do dum day, do dum day
    Ricky dicky do dum day.

    Ed Milliband and his right hand man,
    Are fighting for the Tory class.
    They a’ agree that we’re far too wee
    Goodbye to your free bus pass.
    Ricky do dum day, do dum day
    Ricky dicky do dum day.

    Those Eton boys wi their Trident toys
    Drinking through the midnight ‘oor.
    Sitting on their arse wi a brandy glass,
    Tellin us that we’re too poor.
    Ricky do dum day, do dum day
    Ricky dicky do dum day.

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