Good for the Hootsmon. Though too often it reveals Wizards of Oz furiously pulling unionist strings behind its editorial curtains, it gave a three-part, 6,000-word platform to ex-Lib-Dem Leader Tavish Scott to harangue us soothmoothers in stereo with the Lib-Dem jamboree in Birmingham. Shame he blew it.
Leaving aside his to-be-expected defence of the coalition, his warm words for Willie Rennie, and his saying-the-bleeding-obvious—that the SNP “will define the next five years in Scotland by the decisions announced this Wednesday”, he used this golden opportunity to pour fire, scorn and assorted brimstone on the SNP and all its works.
Such ire might be politically expected and even personally understandable. And I take nothing away from his right to such a view and, indeed, the platform from which to declare it. Given that his chosen text was clearly to rubbish the nasty nats, for a basically decent fellah such as Tavish can’t help himself being, he made a fair fist of snarling derision at the devious heresies that Beelzebub Salmond and his Ministerial malcontents are plotting to visit on the defenceless damsel that is our nation.
Also, given what “Desperate” Dan Alexander was, in parallel, fulminating about from the podium in Birmingham, it’s obvious all this is part of the ‘orchestrated’ collusion among unionist parties that Joan MacAlpine warned us about a couple of weeks ago. But if this does represent a ‘big push’ by the forces of Unionism that is to decisively derail the SNP bandwagon and divert any thought of a successful independence referendum into oblivion, the approach shows serious misjudgment.
Because, it’s not like that, see. Tavish’s misreading of the SNP threat prior to May cost him his job, And any party leader who had recently had his head handed to him so comprehensively might think twice before rejoining the fray using weaponry that had proved so woefully inadequate less than six months prior. This shows not just poor judgment but a reluctance to learn from mistakes.
Perhaps Tavish spent too long cosying up to Labour over the Parliament’s first eight years. Because he makes the same fundamental mistake they made then—and are still apparently making—that stuffing more straw into the bogeyman of separation and waving it about as if it could come and devour everyone’s first-born child is a bankrupt strategy that barely had currency even before the SNP called the shots.
But his 6,000-word arguments reveal nothing new. All of them are variants on the old scaremongering that Labour was still peddling when they got hit by a train right around the time that Tavish got his jotters. What’s the point of claiming that Salmond has a master plan when everyone not only knows that but voted for it in droves?
Tavish misses the point entirely. What he, Desperate Danny, Willie Rennie and, indeed, every other unionist politician in Scotland don’t seem to get is that they have a handful of years left to get their act together—building a strategy on positive reasons why Scotland should stay in the union and finding a common, credible, charismatic leader that can, in the punters’ eyes, hold their own with the bold Eck.
For reasons given above, it ain’t Tavish—or any other Lib-Dem.
But, if they don’t twig soon, the hale clamjamfrie will need to follow Sir Malcolm Rifkind, MP for Kensington Chelsea’s pragmatic lead: find a nice cosy corner that is forever Englandshire so their egregious contempt for Scotland’s capabilities will not lead them into the political wilderness. Again.