We’ll Never Know

This week former MP Tom Harris reassigned from the Labour Party after thirty-four years. He stood for election as Scottish party leader in 2011 and the following year was forced to resign as Labour’s “Social Media Tsar” after posting a spoof video that compared the then SNP leader Alex Salmond to Adolf Hitler. Here he is writing about Romanian and Bulgarian beggars. Here he is explaining why breaking electoral rules doesn’t matter. He led the Leave campaign in Scotland, yet here John Cawley reflects on the extraordinary lack of media scrutiny he receives.

Against my better judgment I listened to Shereen on Saturday, 4th August. Tom Harris, the gammon colossus of Scottish politics and media was on, talking about fake news, Vote Leave and the usual Scottish political malarkey. I listened, gobsmacked as Harris got away with murder on national radio. Imagine the law worked the way BBC coverage of Scottish politics does. Picture the scene…

Inspector Nanjiani of the Yard turns up at a crime scene. Democracy lies face down, multiple stab wounds in its back. A trail of bloody footprints, size ten, leads away from the body to the doorway of Message Matters. Fear not, Scotland’s top sleuth, Nanjiani is on the case. She follows the footprints into the PR company offices. Peter Duncan is wiping a large knife with old WW2 white fivers he has taken from a bag marked SUAT Dark Money. Andy Maciver is hastily polishing a pair of size ten brogues while Tom Harris stands awkwardly beside a desk in his socks. Shereen turns a desk lamp on Tom’s face and barks a question, ‘Have you got anything to do with that bloodbath outside?’

Tom hesitates, says , ‘Noooo?’ But it’s more a question than a denial. A drip of sweat courses down past Tom’s twitching right eyebrow.

Shereen says aloud, ‘Well, that’s it. We’ll never know.’

She turns on her heels, leaving Tom, Pete and Andy to exhale sharply and collapse with relief.

Too much? Well, you didn’t listen to Shereen on Saturday, August 4th.

Tom Harris was on talking about the report by Westminster’s Culture,Media and Sport Committee on fake news, alongside Alison Rowat and Marianne Taylor. Tom really didn’t want to talk about the personal matter of leaving the Labour Party after being a member for over thirty years. He didn’t want to talk about the reasons why he was leaving. It was so private and personal that he had come all the way to Pacific Quay not to talk about it. We all felt his pain.

Anyway, when the chat turned to fake news and specifically the conduct of the Vote Leave campaign, Tom had his story and, no matter how flimsy and unconvincing it was, he was sticking to it. It was a masterclass in bullshit and evasion. I will provide a précis, but you really should listen to Shereen. Shereen, one of the most influential,broadcasters in Scotland ended the discussion on lies, cheating and the breaking of electoral law by Vote Leave with the chairman of Vote Leave in Scotland by saying, ‘Well, we’ll never know.’ That was the line that sparked the impulse to write this piece.

In the same way that Trump told folk what they were seeing wasn’t happening. Harris was telling us what we knew wasn’t true. Tom wasn’t the chair of Vote Leave in Scotland, he was a ‘regional director’. To paraphrase Lee Harvey Oswald, Tom was just a patsy. Then, when Tom was taking about Dominic Cummings, Tom called him Cummings, but presumably Tom knows Dom! Otherwise, how did Tom get the Leave gig? A BBC reporter could ask Tom. Otherwise, we’ll never know!

Tom’s next trick was to say ‘they’ when talking about Vote Leave, not ‘we’. ‘They are accountable,’ said Tom in a subtle variation of ‘It wisnae me.’ But Tom need not have worried, because Nanjiani P.I was already positively disposed to this friendly witness. After all, he’s quoted at Pacific Quay.

Tom then used the classic Brexiter gambit – its not me, mammy, it’s them, by telling us that Damian Collins is a Remainer, the bastard. Tom sought sympathy for being a Leaver in the same way a guy who murdered his parents uses being an orphan as a means of getting the jury to feel sorry for him.

Anyway, Tom asserted, Remain weren’t polishing their halo while Leave were lying, stoking racism and breaking electoral law. Leave were just better at lying, stoking racism and breaking electoral law than Remain were. This is brilliant. It’s like we had just left democracy unattended. It was just lying there, so Tom stuck it up his jouk. I mean, come on, if Tom hadn’t swiped it, somebody else would have. It would have been rude not to.

Anyway, the cheating didn’t work, said Tom, breathlessly utilising a bullshit carpet-bombing strategy. ‘I reject this idea and I’ve written about it extensive.’ Those are Tom’s exact words. This is a tell, as gamblers call it when a card player gives their opponent an insight into their thinking. He meant extensively in the same way that Scottish teenagers say ‘actual’ when they mean actually. Aye we cheated, the suspect confessed. Did Nanjiani with her laser sharp, forensic wit, leap on this crack in the subject’s composure. Did she f¥#k!

The other panellists did interject with the odd unarguable statement, but Tom just kept going. In any reasonable discussion, the points made might even have been dealt with. Alison Rowat mentioned how narrow the margin of victory was and Marianne Taylor explicitly stated that Leave ‘behaved despicably’ and exploited racism. Tom, like a Duracell bunny of specious lies and bullshit, just kept going.

If Tom Harris treats the BBC the way he treated democracy during the Brexit campaign, BBC Security want to shake him as he leaves Pacific Quay and see the cutlery he’s swiped, the three-packs of bourbon creams and rich tea he’s blagged and the wee UHT milk cartons cascade from his sleeves.

How did the DUP money originating in Glasgow end up in Northern Ireland? Somebody could ask a former Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, somebody like Tom Harris. Otherwise, we’ll never know.

How can we link former Conservative candidate, Richard Cook to his former opponent in Glasgow South, Tom Harris? Maybe we could ask Tom’s Message Matters colleague, Peter Duncan?

How did we manage to end up in a situation in which we are going to end up poorer as a result of lies punted by charlatans to the detriment of our children’s futures. We could look to our national broadcaster and the privileged platform they’ve given to charlatans like Tom Harris at Pacific Quay and Rees-Mogg and Daniel Hannan on Radio 4

Otherwise, we’ll never know.

Comments (29)

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  1. bringiton says:

    Flying under a false flag for 34 years,perhaps he is now going to firmly nail his colours to the mast.
    He and his fellow privateers are the reason Labour in Scotland are so despised by many.
    Priniciples always take a back seat to personal ambition with many of this sort.
    His new shipmates share many of his “values” so he should find it plain sailing from now on.

  2. Graeme Purves says:

    Tom Harris featured on BBC Radio Scotland morning programmes on Sunday 1 July (Weekend GMS), Sunday 8 July (Weekend GMS), Wednesday 11 July (GMS), Sunday 22 July (Weekend GMS) and Saturday 4 August (Shereen). He appears to be a particular Favourite at Pacific Quay.

    1. Jo says:

      He turns up quite often on STV Scotland Tonight too, sadly.

  3. John Mooney says:

    Harris and BBC Scotland,both are cheeks of the same Arse!

  4. Kenny Smith says:

    Where is sir Jamsie of shettleston? Why no comment on dark money and breaking electoral law? Maybe they have finally found a bib big enough!! I know your watching foamy where are you?

    1. Kenny Smith says:

      I’ve cracked it he,s been too busy appearing on the BBC

      1. Jamsie says:

        What was your point?
        I know you didn’t have one, you just let your big mouth open before what passes for grey matter could become engaged.
        A bit like this rant from whatever his name is.
        Why is naebody talking about wee Nicola sneaking out last night that she probably any hold a referendum this year because of Brexit?
        The whole raison detre for the referendum after all was Brexit.
        And experts are now saying that it is unlikely that a referendum will take place in the next five years.
        She offered offered no resistance to that!
        By the way I have been away on business then on holiday hence why I have not been on.
        Europe is wonderful don’t you think?
        As long as you don’t have to pay to be part of it that is!

        1. Kenny Smith says:

          There you are I’d say your foaming was missed but I’d be lying. You never said anything at all about dark money or the fact several vote leave organisations are in the frame for telling porkies and breaking electoral rules. Any comment foamy? I’m sure you would say the same about the union of all unions, nice place to visit if you don’t have to pay to be in it!! The referendum is coming and you know it Jim, give them enough rope n all that. Were you in Europe to source good quality bibs?

          1. Jamsie says:

            You do seem to be a wee bit off message again.
            It’s as if you didnae ken what your talkin about!
            Wee Nicola blessings and peace be upon her has pronounced!
            She isnae sure whether she will call a referendum before Brexit, after Brexit or ever by the sounds of it.
            My bet is it won’t happen in the next five years and probably longer if ever.
            She and her party will suffer badly at the next elections and quite simply she will not be able to muster a mandate to call one.
            But everyone knows that already eh?
            That’s why no one seems to mention it on here anymore.

          2. Kenny Smith says:

            Carpe Diem, Google that foamy. YSC young shettleston conservatives ya bass!!

        2. Kenny Smith says:

          Jimbo that was Ruth Davidson esque you have managed to avoid the question totally twice and foam and dribble about SNP, things that are totally irrelevant to the article we are commenting on. C,Mon Jimbo just answer the question, what is your opinion of the dark money and the shenanigans of Leave? Give an answer not blah blah foam, blah blah more foam!

          1. Jamsie says:

            The question?
            What is the dark money you refer to?
            Send me a link as I cannot fathom from Mr Cawley’s piece what this is about.
            So I don’t have an opinion on this.
            On the leave shenanigans you refer to can you advise whether there is as yet any proof of said shenanigans or are they currently only allegations?
            Whoever was involved surely has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
            If anyone is proved to be guilty of breaking the law I would hope the courts would deliver the appropriate sentence of punishment without hesitation.
            Assuming of course those who are in line to be charged don’t simply abscond to Catalunya, Belgium or Germany before they can be brought to face trial and any justice their peers deem appropriate.
            But the most engaging thought I have here is that as wee Nicola was trying to assert a mandate for another indy referendum based on being dragged out of the EU against her will then most indy supporters would be supportive of leave being the chosen route regardless of their morality or otherwise.
            The legitimacy of the proposed mandate is clearly in some doubt as she has not attempted to act on it.
            So what was your point again?
            You really are sounding a bit more of a Barbie than a Ken.

          2. Jamsie for someone so well informed do you really need the Dark Money issues laid out.

            Google is your friend brave keyboard warrior.

          3. Jamsie says:

            Sorry Mr Ed I really don’t know anything about this.
            Google and wiki are not my chosen sources and I can assure you brave warrior does not resemble me.
            I bare my behookie to no man.
            Braveheart and bare arse is for others.
            Congrats on your new site!
            I might not agree with what you publish and you might not on what I respond but your right to say what you think and mine to respond should never be questioned provided it is not insulting.

        3. Kenny Smith says:

          Blah blah foam, blah blah more foam

        4. Kenny Smith says:

          Carpe Diem Google that, YSC young shettleston conservatives ya bass!!

  5. Kevin McKenny says:

    This has all the integrity of a bald man fuming about combs. Tom Harris is overused for sure. So is Lesley Riddoch, Queen of Nordic freebies and lobbying

    1. Kenny Smith says:

      I totally agree there are so many overused political commentators, what we need is more Mundell. The man is an inspiration, such an intellectual deserves much more air time. In fact what’s Paul Nuttal up to these days that’s one guy that is sorely missed

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      Lesley Riddoch is an experienced and talented journalist. She features in BBC Scotland programmes much less frequently than Tom Harris.

      Tom Harris is employed by the political lobbying firm, Message Matters. Viewers and listeners have no means of knowing whose interests he may be representing in that capacity.

  6. Jack Collatin says:

    By October we shall know what most of us have predicted since JUne 2016.
    England and Wales willc rash out of Europe on a No Deal ticket and D I Y stores wil be flooded with US junk, including self assembly garden sheds, heavily subsidised by Trump’s Cabal, with fire resistant corrugate roofs laced with asbestos.
    There will be a call to arms at that point and Indyref to will be held before Scotland is dragged against the will of the citizens of Scotland, including 400,000 English born who have done us the great honour, and shown impeccable taste, in moving here, laying down roots, contributing to the Scottish economy, and rearing their children in a country which still considers Education, Health, and Law, to be for the people, by the people, and accountable to the people, who publicly finance a service in a civic society, not a dog eat dog capitl;aisy jungle where unless you’ve got cash, you starve, die prematurely, or spend your life as a serf, while an elite, and I include all of Tony Blair’s and Gordon Brown’s New Labour Old Tory Team in this group, scoop up public money carpetbagging their way across the rubble that was once old Scotland.
    Harris, Reid, Wilson, Curran, Murphy, the list unfortunately is endless raped Scotland.
    They are beneath contempt.
    Doubtless they will try to mount Project Fear II. ‘Bring it on’, I say.
    No more Mr and MRs Nice Guy.
    Campbell Brewer Taylor McNaughtie Smith Wark and the rest of that little Anglo Scot Brit Nat bulwark, and the hacks from our Dead Tree Scrolls who still trouser a grubby second income appearing on the English Broadcaster’s Stockade at Pacific Quay SNP BADding on cue, will not get away with it this time.
    There are too many of us now with access to social media.

    The farce of Jenny Marra having free untrammelled access to BBC Distorting Scotland to ‘misspeak’, about the former CEO getting a £300 k Golden Cheerio was the watershed.
    I have no doubt that Leonard has put her under house arrest, with guards on the door to repel any hack wanting to grill her about her ‘understanding’ of the pay and conditions of Scottish Health Service staff.
    No more Nicey Nicey.

    1. Jack Collatin says:

      For those who know me, the level of my rage can be measured by the Ypographical Errors in my posts.

      This time ….

      1. Jamsie says:

        Have you tried talking to someone?
        Or trying to find a support group?
        Anger and rage can overtake lives and cause so much angst!
        I’m afraid you haven’t been paying attention with regards to whether Scotland can remain as part of it whether independent or not.
        Our European “friends” have made it quite clear.
        When the U.K. is oot, Scotland is oot!
        Mibees they are only respecting the will of the Scottish electorate and the UK electorate as delivered in respective referenda eh?
        Some other EU members have gone even further and stated there is no way back in for Scotland unless we can meet all of the EU conditions for membership.
        Now where did I put my copy of the GCR?

        1. Jack collatin says:

          What’s the weather like on Planet Zircon today, Jamsie?
          Is your species carbon based oxygen breathers, or are You Rees Moggian lizards?
          Not an Ypographical Terror in sight.
          I come from Earth; take me to the Grand Lizard. We come in peace bearing glass beads, small mirrors, and copper bottom pots, to trade for your delicious chlorinated steroid bloated meats cultivated in the furthest reaches of the known Universe, or the United States of Trump as we say in our Earth language.
          I too can write shite.
          You kill me, oh flaky skinned one, but not in a good way.

          1. Jamsie says:

            I think everyone already knew your capability for writing and your description fits aptly.
            Don’t you think wee Nicola should just be honest with everyone and say now she won’t be able to hold a further referendum legally and even if she could she would not win it.
            People might be more forgiving of her if she actually got on with the day job and put all this nonsense behind her.
            Instead she is increasingly seen as a politician who cannot deal with the electorate disagreeing with her.
            It will all end in tears you mark my words!

          2. John Collatin says:

            Jamsie, a wee debating tip:
            When you employ the ‘don’t you think’ gambit, your interlocutor knows that you have nothing but bluster and girn to say.
            Don’t you think that the ProudScotsBut Brit Nats are only in it for the money, and not only hate Scotland, will deny its very existence as their policies kill tens of thousands?
            I knew that you’d see it our way eventually.
            Don’t you think that it’s time you gave it a rest?

          3. Jamsie says:

            Don’t you think you are deluding yourself that a referendum will be called or won?
            Where is the evidence supporting this?
            It seems to me that the Indy movement has become so desperate because of wee Nicola’s total failure to convince the electorate either that a referendum could be called or if it was that it could be won.
            There is reason that despite her bluster on being dragged out of the EU which supposedly gave her a mandate to call a further referendum that she has not called one.
            What could that be I wonder?
            There is also a reason she is now saying that she does not know if a referendum will be called and it will be October before she can decide.
            What do you suppose that could be?
            Some “experts” as you will have read in the media are saying probably not in the next five years as she cannot undertake to commit legally to one without Westminster’s consent.
            Others are saying that she is paralysed by the failure to convince people she actually has a mandate as a result of Brexit.
            But most agree that she has not been able to convince people of the merits of Indy and the polls support that.
            So the overwhelming sense is that she won’t call one as she knows she will not win.
            But say she was allowed to hold one and did win it, she also fears that once that happened the electorate would demand a further referendum to be held to allow us to remain in the U.K. and I suspect she knows that Westminster will bring a qualification into the debate to allow this to happen.
            And it is clear that if she did win a referendum then the Indy movement would split with the large left leaning portion returning to its roots which would probably put her and her party into the political wilderness for years to come.
            Her fears about that are well founded as it is clear that the left who have joined her in the Indy cause are already restless.
            So she is paralysed.
            She knows if she tries to call one she has a legal test to overcome, and if she does overcome that she needs to know she can actually win otherwise Indy dies for a long time.
            But worse she needs to know that if she wins she can keep her party in government and that looks a much bigger task:
            So as you can see this is not bluster as you propose but rather is my analysis of the situation.
            Don’t you think you might try that?
            It might help you get over your anger and frustration cos wee Nicola won’t!

          4. Jack Collatin says:

            I hope that you had a box of tissues to hand before you clacked this one off, Jamsie. Is ‘Jamsie’ merely that born again Blue Tory Tom Harris’, or Mum 2B Ruth’s, nom de guerre?
            You end your rambling version of ‘Westminster won’t allow you’, ‘the Scottish people don’t want another Referendum’, ‘Nicola Sturgeon is feart’, ejaculation with an exclamation mark, the hall mark of tired old ‘disgusted’ Letters to the Editor contributors of The ……… (insert the title of your local wee Tory Dead Tree Scroll).
            Done with this, now, Jamie, or is it Tom, or Ruth?
            Hedges to trim, lawn to cut, before the rains sweep in from the West.
            How very allegorical of me.

        2. Kenny Smith says:

          Ah luv muh yoonyun blah blah foam

  7. Jamie McKail says:

    I have on ocassion listened to Shereen‘s show and it is Scotland, uk and the world, viewed through british nationalistic eyes. It’s on before Tam & Stu.

    Let’s be plain Harris is a much a labour man as Blair and Murphy!

    This morning I endured similar bull as I listened to I McW explain why bbc are not biased?

    bbc if you are reading, we are not idjets, we know how what you are at and about!

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