God wants your vote

 

(c) The Belfast Telegraph

 

The 2015 UK general election – voting takes place tomorrow and then it’s all over, thankfully – has, even by the usual standards of British general elections, been a depressing experience.  The current generation of mainstream party leaders, surely, are more blatant in their peddling of empty, meaningless platitudes, obfuscations and evasions than any generation of leaders that’ve gone before them.  And they’ve been aided and abetted in making this election campaign as disillusioning and unappetising to voters as is humanly possible by an idiotic national press.  Owned by half-a-dozen millionaire / billionaire tax-dodging Europhobic right-wing dingbats, the majority of Britain’s big newspapers have stuck unrelentingly to a simple formula – malign Ed Miliband and the Labour Party as far as you can go without ending up in the law-courts in England, and do the same to Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party in Scotland.

 

Actually, I thought that Ed Miliband wasn’t having that bad a campaign, despite everything – I even found myself warming to him during the leadership debates – but then he went and ruined everything.  As a publicity stunt, he unveiled an eight-foot-high limestone plinth with six Labour Party promises carved on it.  Carved in stone – get it?  Cue a million cruel jokes about Ed fashioning his own tombstone, about Ed sinking like a stone, about Ed’s plinth not having planning permission, etc.  It’s the sort of blunder you’d expect to see only in an episode of Armando Iannucci’s political sitcom The Thick of It.

 

At least, I thought, there’s one consolation amid all this.  Despite its ludicrousness and its sneaking underlying dishonesty, British politics at least doesn’t have the God factor to deal with.  It isn’t beset by the mentality that you get in the USA wherein certain politicians on the right have no compunctions about mixing their brand of cretinous hanging-and-shooting-and-nuking politics with God, Christianity and the Bible.

 

A good (or bad) example of this is former House of Representatives member and general all-round extreme-right Republican gob-shite Michele Bachmann, who has been recently predicting that the Rapture is about to happen, as a result of Barack Obama’s policies towards Iran and his espousal of same-sex marriage.  That’s the Rapture in the Biblical sense, i.e. the claim that prior to the Second Coming true Christian believers will be raised into the clouds whilst hell breaks out on earth below.  Not the Rapture who were a rather funky indie rock band from New York.

 

Yes, there seemed some consolation for me in the fact that you don’t get that bollocks in British politics.  However, I then stumbled across, in the online edition of the Belfast Telegraph, an article about Susan-Anne White.  Ms White is standing as an independent candidate in tomorrow’s election in the West Tyrone constituency of Northern Ireland and her campaign promises are ones you’d more expect to see carved in stone than Ed Miliband’s promises.  They’d be promises carved on two tablets of stone brought down by Moses, after he’d conferred with God on top of Mount Sinai.  That’s if God is really as much of a wrathful, blustering bigot as some people like to think He is.

 

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/general-election-2015/susan-anne-white-wants-gay-people-jailed-adultery-made-illegal-and-rock-bands-outlawed-now-she-wants-your-vote-31133489.html

 

Among the things in Ms White’s manifesto are opposition to the 1967 Abortion Act being extended to Northern Ireland; the banning of ‘amoral’ sex education from schools and the reintroduction of corporal punishment into them; the raising of the age of consent to 18; the banning of ‘gay pride parades’; opposition to ‘the LGBT agenda’ and the ‘redefinition of marriage’ and the upholding of ‘Biblical man / woman marriage’; the abolition of the Equality Commission Northern Ireland and the Human Rights Commission Northern Ireland; withdrawal from ‘money-wasting and decadent Europe’; opposition to the ‘Islamisation’ of Britain and the building of mosques; and restoration of the death penalty.

 

(c) The Huffington Post

 

Ms White is also an ardent opponent of ‘the global warming fanatics and their pseudo-science’.  I assume such objectionable pseudo-science also includes practices like zoology, geology, astronomy and palaeontology – or as they’re sometimes known, science – that dispute the fact that God created the universe and everything in it during six very busy days about 6000 years ago, which Ms White and all other good, sensible people know is true because it says so in Genesis.  That’s Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament.  Not Genesis, the rather boring progressive rock band from the 1970s.

 

Talking of which, the Belfast Telegraph article stated that Ms White wanted to ban rock music for being vulgar and promoting ‘sexual anarchy’, although she has since denied this in her blog (https://thetruthshallsetyoufreeblog.wordpress.com/).  Her main reason for disliking rock music, she claims, is because it’s bad for your ears.

 

As well as ‘global warming fanatics’, Ms White is also severely down on feminists.  She regards feminism, in fact, as being “responsible for many of the social ills we see all around us.”  This includes the dire state of the economy, because “they destroyed the whole concept of the family wage with the father as the bread-winner and the stay-at-home mother.  They make women feel they have to be out in the workforce.”

 

Well, it’s a free country and I believe people have the right to believe any old claptrap they want as long as they don’t try to force it down other people’s throats – although I suspect this is what Ms White would be doing if she ever became MP for West Tyrone.  (Even in Northern Ireland, the chances of this happening are thankfully very slim.)  However, if she’s so hell-bent on opposing women leaving their homes and venturing out into the workforce, what on earth is she doing trying to win employment as West Tyrone’s elected representative in Westminster?  Shouldn’t she be at home, vacuuming the carpets, washing the dishes, making the tea, etc., while her husband goes out and wins the bread?  Tsk, tsk, Ms White.  At least practise what you preach.

 

What I find particularly amusing / worrying is that Susan-Anne White comes from the County Tyrone village of Trillick, which is just three miles along the road from where I used to live in Northern Ireland.  (In fact, my home was in the same parish as Trillick.)  From what I remember of the area, there lived there a couple of gentlemen who, while they were very conscientious about showing their faces in church every Sunday, were also a little bit, shall we say, amorous with the ladies.  Maybe that’s why Ms White is also advocating making adultery ‘a punishable offence’.  Aye, good luck with that one.

 

The Belfast Telegraph article is followed by a thread full of comments poking fun at Ms White and her barmy views.  It’s sobering to think, though, that some of those views are not far removed from those of Northern Ireland’s Free Presbyterian Church and its political wing, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), both of which, once upon a time, were headed by the Reverend Ian Paisley – a pulpit-thumping demagogue, close exposure to whom would do more damage to your ears than any amount of rock music.

 

For example, Iris Robinson, the former DUP Member of Parliament and former DUP Northern Irish Health Minister, famously described homosexuality as an ‘abomination’ that was worse than abusing children and called for gay people to receive psychiatric counselling.  (However, Iris parted company from Susan-Anne White’s opinions when it came to committing adultery; because in the late noughties, very famously indeed, she had an extra-marital affair with a lad of 19, who was about a third of her age.  This was much to the embarrassment of her husband, Northern Irish First Minister Peter Robinson, and much to the amusement of nearly everyone else in Northern Ireland.)

 

Mind you, though she shares some opinions with them, Ms White is not above offering the DUP criticism.  On her blog, for example, I saw her having a go at Fiona Paisley, daughter-in-law of the late Reverend Ian Paisley and wife of his imaginatively-named son, Ian Paisley Junior.  She’d been dismayed to see Fiona tweeting photographs taken of herself while she worked out in her local Crossfit gym.  “However, as women are 40-50% weaker than men (generally speaking) women should not be lifting weights at all,” said a disapproving Ms White, “and Fiona Paisley is at risk of serious injury if she continues to place such unnatural and unnecessary strain on her body.”

 

Anyway, in the event of a hung parliament, which on Friday morning seems a likely outcome of this general election, David Cameron will no doubt go scuttling off to see Susan-Ann White’s fellow religious nut-jobs in the DUP about securing their support in a new right-wing coalition.  Yes, having such people in positions of power in an administration of the United Kingdom as a whole – now that’s a prospect far more depressing than the election itself.

 

Ed’s dead, baby, Ed’s dead

 

From socialregister.co.uk

 

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband is the sort of gawky, uncomfortable-in-his-own-skin human being to whom looking happy does not come easily.  Indeed, when Ed tries to affect a smile, the resulting rictus looks like something on the face of an ultra-posh cocktail-party hostess (who in a 1970s TV sitcom would have been played by Penelope Keith) who’s just witnessed her most pissed guest barf up 50 shades of vomitus onto her most expensive hand-woven Persian rug but is determined to grin, bear it and keep up those oh-so-important appearances.  So perhaps it’s just as well that in the past fortnight Ed has had absolutely no reason to look happy.

 

With the Conservatives now in power for four years – four years during which they’ve done little or nothing to alter the common perception of them as being a bunch of filthy-rich ex-public-schoolboy bastards who’re perfectly willing to suck up to big business and the banks whilst making sure that those who bear the brunt of their much-vaunted austerity cuts are the poorest, weakest and most disenfranchised members of British society – Labour, with Ed at the helm, should be cruising far ahead in the polls.  But this hasn’t happened.  According to a recent opinion poll commissioned by the Evening Standard, Labour’s support is now three percent behind that of the Conservatives (though at 29 and 32 percent respectively, the support-levels for both parties are nothing to write home about).  Meanwhile only 13 percent of the people surveyed believed Miliband was up to the job of being Britain’s next prime minister.  Indeed, nearly 60 percent of Labour supporters were unhappy with his performance as party leader.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/12/conservatives-three-point-lead-labour-poll

 

Admittedly, other polls have put Labour ahead by a whisker, but that whisker can’t be much comfort to the party and its supporters.   There’s still nearly a half-year to go before the next UK election on May 7th, 2015, and – as usually happens – the party in power can expect to see its support-level rise as the election campaign gets underway.  And with the Conservative Party, having big business behind you to fill your campaign coffers and most of the British newspapers on your side to trumpet your message doesn’t hurt, either.

 

Meanwhile, Ed’s woes have intensified further thanks to rumours that about 20 Labour frontbenchers are so disenchanted with him that they’d be willing to back Alan Johnson if he announced himself as a leadership contender.  The affable Johnson who, as a one-time Tesco shelf-stacker, one-time postman, one-time amateur rock musician, one-time Marxist, one-time trade union official and one-time Home Secretary, has had everything that Ed hasn’t had – i.e. a life – has, luckily for Ed, ruled himself out of such a leadership challenge.  Johnson realises that being Labour Party leader entails a risk of ending up Prime Minister, a position that he once candidly admitted on Desert Island Discs he didn’t think he had the qualities for.

 

And just when it seemed that things couldn’t get any worse, Tony Blair declared the other day that Ed Miliband had his ‘full support’.  The kiss of death, in other words.

 

I can’t say that any of this surprises me.  Even back in September 2010, when he won the contest for Labour Party leader, the Great British public were already cheesed off with having as their ruling class a bunch of bland, privileged, autocratic, out-of-touch, never-done-a-proper-day’s-work-in-their-lives career politicians.  I thought the party was insane to adopt as its skipper the upper-middle-class, Oxford University-educated and stiff-as-could-be Ed Miliband, whose CV consisted of the following job items: student politician, media researcher, policy researcher, speechwriter, special advisor, MP for a safe Labour seat and cabinet minister.  This cosy, politically-incestuous career trajectory seemed to represent everything that ordinary people despised about modern politicians.  (Although along the way Ed did take a year’s sabbatical at Harvard University, presumably to keep him in touch with, you know, the real world.)

 

To be fair, Ed becoming leader wasn’t simply a case of the cosseted upper echelons of the party choosing one of their own for the top job.  His leadership bid was actually supported by the big trade unions like Unite and UNISON.  Mind you, there wasn’t much choice on offer.  All the main candidates for the party leadership seemed to be cut from the same cloth — including Ed’s own brother, the only slightly-less-gawky David.  So whoever ended up in charge was going to be as bland as the Ed-Miliband brand.

 

I admit Ed has come out with the odd opinion or policy I approve of.  Apologising for how the Labour Party had, while in government, propelled Britain into the second Gulf War was a good start to his leadership.  (It would’ve been nice if he’d also promised that, when in power, he’d ship the smirking, lying Tony Blair off to The Hague to stand trial for war crimes, but I suppose that was too much to hope for.)  And I liked his promise to do something about the Great British utilities rip-off, i.e. to freeze gas and electricity bills for 20 months after coming to power.

 

But most of the time he’s done nothing to convince me that a future Labour government with him in Number 10 would be anything other than Conservative government-lite.  Having the calculating and conniving Ed Balls as his Shadow Chancellor probably hasn’t helped in that regard.

 

For me, the proverbial writing on the wall came three years ago when Ed was interviewed about the public-service-worker strikes happening at the time.  Determined to sit on the fence, he managed, eerily, to give the same answer, with a few words and phrases shuffled around, five times within two minutes: “These strikes are wrong, at a time when negotiations are still going on, but parents and the public have been let down by both sides, because the government has acted in a reckless and provocative manner…  After today’s disruption, I urge both sides to put aside the rhetoric, get around the negotiating table and stop it happening again.”  The interview, with Ed behaving like a malfunctioning android, can be watched in all its toe-curling glory on youtube, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnbNGCq6TjU.

 

What I find amusing is that the opinion-threads on the websites for left-leaning newspapers like the Guardian and Independent are currently full of posters blaming Ed’s woes on the mainly right-leaning British media, which they say is determined to give him non-stop bad publicity between now and election day.  And I have no doubts that the Daily Mail, Daily Express and Daily Telegraph, to say nothing of the coven of titles owned by Rupert Murdoch, will do their utmost to rubbish the Labour Party leader as May 7th draws ever closer.  They have past form in that, as the hapless Neil Kinnock will testify from his experiences in 1992.

 

However, I can’t say I heard any complaints from Labour-ites about media bias during the two years before the referendum on Scottish independence on September 18th, 2014, when the Mail, Express, Telegraph and co. poured scorn relentlessly on pro-independence politicians like Alex Salmond and on their supporters.  When it came to the prospect of the Scots having full say over their own affairs, Labour was only too happy to climb into bed with the right-wing scandal sheets of Fleet Street.  By the way, despite the media’s torrent of anti-independence propaganda, I’m heartened by and proud of the fact that 45 percent of Scottish voters still told them to go and stuff it and voted ‘yes’.

 

At the time of the referendum, I made the following prediction on this blog: “as Scotland disappears off Westminster’s radar again… the press hunkers down for the next big story – the 2015 General Election.  The Mail, Express, Telegraph and Sun re-align their artillery, away from Salmond and towards Ed Miliband, whom they spend the next months portraying as a weak, out-of-touch socialist bumbler who’ll run Britain into the ground if he gets the keys to Number 10.  Labour Party politicians start complaining about ‘bias’ in the media.  This provokes great Schadenfreude from certain people north of the border.”

 

Aye, Schadenfreude.  Believe me, the feeling you get from that is better than the high of any drug.

 

That didn’t take long

 

(c) Daily Record

 

I hadn’t expected the promises made by David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg to amount to the proverbial hill of beans.  I’m talking, of course, about the promises of new powers being devolved to Scotland in the event of a ‘no’ vote in the Scottish-independence referendum on September 18th; which the three Unionist party leaders made a few days before the referendum in a fit of panic when opinion polls suggested the ‘yes’ vote was nudging past the ‘no’ one.  What does surprise me is the speed with which, after the referendum returned a result of 45% in favour of independence and 55% against it, the promises of the Three Stooges, or the Three Unwise Men, or whatever you want to call them, have started to be reneged on.

 

(One reason for not believing any of this – which the Labour-supporting Scottish tabloid the Daily Record rather desperately splashed on its front page as THE VOW – was the involvement of Nick Clegg.  Anyone who, over the past few years, has followed the behaviour of the Liberal Party leader / facilitator-of-the-current-Conservative-government-in-London will know that any pledge with his signature on it is not worth the paper it’s written upon.  Check the following link for details:

 

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2012/sep/19/nick-clegg-apologies-tuition-fees-pledge)

 

However, barely had the last vote been counted in the referendum and it became clear that the United Kingdom was safe for a little while longer, David Cameron announced that any new powers for Scotland would have to be linked to some new powers for England: namely, an end to the anomaly whereby Scottish MPs are able to vote in the House of Commons on matters pertaining only to England, while English MPs are unable to vote on ones pertaining to Scotland – because most of those decisions are now made 400 miles north in the devolved Scottish parliament in Edinburgh.

 

Ed Miliband must’ve popped a few blood vessels when he heard Cameron come out with that.  If Labour win the 2015 general election, it may well be by only a slim majority, leaving Ed dependent on the 40-odd Labour MPs that are usually returned by Scotland to get his legislation passed in the House of Commons.  If those MPs are barred from voting on English matters, Ed could be in the embarrassing position of being a British Prime Minister who’s unable to legislate for 85% of the British population – i.e. the English.  (He won’t be able to legislate for Scotland either, because its parliament is currently in the hands of the Scottish National Party and will be at least until 2016.)

 

Now it looks like those promises are likely to disappear down a hole while the Westminster-based representatives of the Conservative and Labour Parties engage in a kerfuffle about who said what and who promised what.  It certainly wasn’t the case – as stated clearly in THE VOW on the Daily Record’s front page – that the Scottish parliament would be “strengthened with extensive new powers, on a timetable beginning September 19th.”  The 19th had come and gone and all we’ve seen is Tory-Labour squabbling.  Hardly seemly for two parties who, until a few days ago, were assuring us that we were all ‘better together’.

 

Actually, I expect the issue will finally be kicked into the long grass and forgotten about while the Westminster political and media establishments find other, more reassuringly-familiar things to obsess about, like the upcoming Clacton by-election and the possibility of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) winning its first seat in the House of Commons, and then next year’s general election.

 

By the way, I can understand English people’s annoyance at the current conundrum.  If I were English, I’d be pissed off that Scottish MPs can enjoy a say over my country’s affairs, when my own MPs have no say over theirs.  This is the old ‘West Lothian Question’, which was first raised in 1977 by the distinguished Labour Party politician Tam Dalyell and which seems more pertinent than ever today.  Old Tam is not just a rare example of a fine Labour mind, he’s also an even rarer example of a fine Scottish Labour mind.  Just yesterday, Tam told the BBC’s Kirsty Wark: “I think it would be wrong in principle for a Labour government to impose – because that’s the correct word – legislation in England using a Scottish majority, where those Scottish MPs had absolutely no say in their own place…  I think he’s (Miliband’s) got to face up to it that it is deeply wrong to try to pretend that Scottish MPs should vote decisively on English affairs.”

 

However, the fact remains that Cameron, Miliband and Clegg promised the Scots those powers at a time when there seemed a possibility of the ‘yes’ side winning narrowly.  It didn’t in the end, but it would’ve done with a six-percent swing of the vote.  Now I’m sure that among the 55% of Scottish voters who ultimately voted ‘no’, there were a lot, probably a majority, who felt British, wanted to stay in the United Kingdom, hated the concept of Scotland becoming independent, didn’t care about extra powers being handed over to Edinburgh and maybe didn’t want a parliament, even a devolved one, in Edinburgh in the first place.  But I’m also sure there were a number of folk swithering between voting ‘yes’ and voting ‘no’, who were ultimately swayed to the ‘no’ side by THE VOW.  As many as six percent?  Quite possibly.  Which makes the prevarications happening now in Westminster deeply wrong from a Scottish point of view.

 

Mind you, a lot of people voted ‘yes’ precisely because they regarded the political hacks of Westminster as a shower of corrupt, untrustworthy sleazebags whom Scotland was better off shot of.  What has happened since September 18th has probably not done anything to change that opinion.

 

Politicians, study your history!

 

(c) Daily Telegraph

 

My apologies for posting yet another item about Scottish politics.  It’s not as if I want to, especially at the moment when I’ve just moved from one country to another country and am trying to settle into a new environment and culture.  (More about that in blog-posts to come.)

 

However, just when I think I’ve got the subject out of my system for a while, something else Scottish-politics-related comes along and bites me on the bum, and I have no option to give that bite a long blog-posting scratch.  But this will be my last post on the issue for a while.

 

Four days ago, Johann Lamont, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie, respective leaders of the Scottish branches of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, who are all campaigning for a ‘no’ vote in the Scottish referendum on independence this September, made a joint declaration promising that their parties would devolve more powers to the Scottish parliament in the event of the referendum result indeed being ‘no’.  In other words, if you want Scotland to have more powers, you don’t have to vote ‘yes’.  Reject independence and something will still come Scotland’s way.  Just what exactly that something is, though, is unclear.  The three unionist parties are offering different packages, under the vague heading of ‘more fiscal responsibility’, and it’s uncertain who’ll be in a position to offer what if the Scots choose to remain in the UK.

 

(http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/anti-independence-parties-pledge-more-devolution-1-3445863.)

 

Anyone who reads this blog regularly and is familiar with my political views won’t be surprised to hear that I’m sceptical about all this.  I find it hard to believe that if people vote not to assume more powers themselves, Westminster will give them extra powers on top of what they have anyway.  And there’s a precedent for my scepticism.  In 1979, Scotland missed an opportunity to get its own devolved parliament, but Margaret Thatcher had promised people beforehand that if they rejected what was on offer, her party, once it was in power, would deliver a ‘better’ devolution package.  Of course, when Auld Maggie was ensconced in Number 10 Downing Street later on, no such enhanced devolution package materialised – though I suppose over the subsequent years she did devolve certain things to Scotland, such as the right to have your shipbuilding, steel, coal and textile industries crucified and the right to be used as guinea pigs for the Poll Tax.

 

Incidentally, in the 1979 referendum on the proposed devolved parliament, a narrow majority – 51.6% of votes cast – was in favour of it.  However, thanks to an amendment added to the 1978 Scotland Act by Labour MP George Cunningham, this majority was deemed not enough to have the parliament established.  The ‘yes’ vote had to represent at least 40% of the entire electorate of Scotland, irrespective of whether or not that electorate had voted.  And this blatant bit of result-rigging seems to me a good reason not to trust the Labour Party on constitutional promises either.

 

However, what I find astonishing is the venue that Lamont, Davidson and Rennie chose for their declaration on Sunday.  They marched a bunch of young people up to the top of Calton Hill in central Edinburgh and got them to pose on the steps of the National Monument, holding up some big, blobby, blue letters that spelt out MORE POWERS FOR SCOTLAND GUARANTEED.

 

Now I have written before about the National Monument and what it represents in Scotland’s national psyche:

 

“It is monstrous in size, is fixed permanently in stone, has survived for nearly two hundred years and stands in plain view of many parts of the Scottish capital.  I’m talking about the National Monument, which occupies a prime position on Calton Hill in central Edinburgh.  Ostensibly built to honour the Scottish soldiers and sailors who’d died in the Napoleonic Wars from 1803 to 1815, this was clearly also a vanity project for Scotland generally and for Edinburgh in particular.  The fact that it was modelled on the Parthenon in Athens suggests that the capital was in the middle of an early rebranding exercise.  No longer was it content to be seen as the crowded, smoky, sewage-splattered and stinky ‘Auld Reekie’ of yore.  Rather, it was going for the more cosmopolitan title of ‘the Athens of the North’.

 

“To be fair, Scotland and Edinburgh had reason to feel good about themselves at the time…  (T)he later 18th century saw an unexpected Scottish renaissance.  Suddenly many areas of science, art, economics and philosophy were being heavily influenced by brainy Scots, such as Robert Adam, Thomas Carlyle, Adam Ferguson, David Hume, Lord Monboddo, Henry Raeburn, Thomas Reid, Sir Walter Scott and Adam Smith.  Meanwhile, Edinburgh had seen the development of its New Town, which today surely ranks as the most gorgeous and extensive district of Georgian architecture in Britain.

 

“When you approach the National Monument on Calton Hill, you see eight Grecian columns standing along its front, two more columns standing at either side… and that’s it.  The structure doesn’t have a back.  It’s truncated, incomplete, unfinished.  Yes, work on the National Monument came to a halt in 1829 because the project ran out of money – and the part of it that was left standing was soon dubbed ‘Scotland’s disgrace’.  To me, it has the effect of symbolising a nation’s neurosis.  Scotland, this laughably half-built, faux-Greek monument seems to warn, don’t get ideas above your station.  Don’t get too big for your britches.  Ken your place.  Don’t think you’re good because, in truth, you’re a bit rubbish.  Someone – possibly Tom Stoppard – made a famous jibe about Edinburgh not being so much ‘the Athens of the North’ as it is ‘the Reykjavik of the South’, but as far as I know Reykjavik doesn’t have an architectural symbol of incompetence on the same, hulking scale as this on display in its town centre.”

 

Yes, as the setting for their declaration that people can be confident of a bold new Scotland in the event of a ‘no’ vote, Lamont, Davidson and Rennie picked the landmark that above all other things in Scotland conveys the notion that the country is, actually, a bit shite – the great, grotesque hulk on Calton Hill whose function seems to be to deter Scottish people from feeling confident about themselves.

 

Even if you strip the thing of its symbolism, nobody can deny the fact that the National Monument is incomplete.  It’s an unfinished journey.  It’s in limbo.  So using it as a backdrop for these new promises, which are supposed to wrap up the constitutional question in Scotland for good, is rather stupid.  By association, the monument suggests that the constitutional question isn’t finished.  It needs more work.  It has further to go.  (Of course, Alex Salmond and co. would argue that the only way the journey can end is at full-blown independence.)

 

However, I don’t think the unfortunate choice of the National Monument, Scotland’s disgrace, for this particular photo op was deliberate.  I think it just shows that the people working in the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties are clueless when it comes to Scottish history.  So in future, people, do some research!

 

From digital-spy.co.uk 

 

Mind you, an event last Thursday suggests that the Labour Party is particularly weak when it comes to history – modern history as well as the 19th-century stuff.  UK Labour leader Ed Miliband posed for a photo with a free issue of the Sun newspaper, 22,000,000 copies of which were distributed around England to mark the start of the World Cup.  The Sun was keen to get some publicity and Ed was keen to show his support for the England team in the World Cup, and possibly, just possibly, to get the influential Rupert-Murdoch-owned tabloid to view his political party a little more favourably.  However, the moment the picture was snapped, Labour Party MPs and councillors and the Labour Party mayor in Liverpool exploded in anger.

 

The Sun is about as popular in Liverpool as leprosy and it’s been subject to a boycott there since its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.  The Sun blamed the deadly crush at Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield, in which 96 Liverpool fans died, on other, supposedly-drunken, supposedly-violent Liverpool fans.  It also alleged that Liverpudlians had looted and urinated on corpses and attacked police officers, including one who was trying to give a victim the kiss of life.  It has since emerged that then-Sun-editor Kelvin Mackenzie got these false claims from a local Tory MP (who wasn’t even at the match) and from senior South Yorkshire police officers, who had a compelling reason to slander the supporters – it shifted blame away from their own, criminally inadequate handling of the situation.  The Hillsborough Independent Panel concluded at the end of 2012 that the disaster was caused by a ‘lack of police control’ where safety was ‘compromised at every level’.

 

So what on earth was Ed Miliband thinking when he posed for that photo?  I can only conclude that he wasn’t thinking.  He and his team were genuinely ignorant of the Sun’s history with Liverpool.  And I’m sure it had nothing to do with a calculation that the sensibilities of loyal Labour-supporting Liverpudlians were worth sacrificing in order to curry favour with a powerful international newspaper magnate whose main British newspaper once accused them of being drunken, homicidal, corpse-robbing scumbags.