Following our return from a visit to Scotland, I’ve had the opportunity to take another look at contemporary Scottish politics.

I have long observed and appreciated the cunning and long sighted strategy of Alex Salmond, First Minister for Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party.   Apart from all his other qualities, he has a deadly wit, and I really enjoyed his dismissal of George Osborne after the latter’s ill-advised holiday on some oligarch’s yacht in the company of Peter Mandelson.    “If George wishes” he began with deceptive amiability, “to be mistaken for a man of the people, then it might be preferable not to accept hospitality from a Russian oligarch – but certainly he should avoid doing so in the company of Peter Mandelson, who greatly outclasses him in his mastery of the black art of politics’.      We all laughed and Osborne for once could not come up with a smart reply, but I thought Salmond himself was no mean practitioner of the black art.

Salmond is what my brother would refer to as a ‘gradualist’ inching the Scottish people along by gentle degree to whatever his eventual goal happens to be.     With Salmond being so clever and so devious, you can never be entirely sure.

He has a well thought out approach to the monarchy and professes to wish to retain the Queen as Head of State.    But when you see him in her presence and you watch his body language – though I am quite sure he is scrupulously polite and correct –   I’m not so sure she can rely on him.   He describes the Queen as ‘a very astute lady’, so no doubt she has the measure of him.

I had not realised until recently that IF Salmond’s goal is genuinely independence, then not only does he need a Scottish majority vote in favour; the English would also have to vote.    I suspect he’s pursuing a two pronged strategy – giving the Scots things they – indeed everybody – would want – free prescriptions, free care for the elderly, no tolls on bridges, free education for everybody but the English, to please the Scottish voter; and using these same policies to annoy the English so that when it comes to the vote, the English say, Go then; we’re better off without you.   I do find it very funny when he says, England should not worry about having to go it alone;  they’ll manage fine;    but he is being deliberately insulting, though he can’t be charged with this intent.

I saw him on a recent Question Time, surrounded by Secretaries of State for Scotland past and present.    In comparison with him all the Secretaries of State  look like school boys in short trousers and cap, apart from Malcolm Rifkind, who however looks extremely cautious.     They were urging him to hold a referendum now (believing he would lose.)    He doesn’t intend to hold it now because he similarly isn’t confident of victory (yet).     But they should be careful what they ask for.    There is a perverse quality about the Scottish voters, who might just say Yes out of spite and malice and because they are expected to say No.

I would guess – but it is many years since I lived in Scotland – that the majority of Scots – provided they would suffer no personal loss – would prefer greater independence from England, even if that falls short of a complete secession from the Union.    But one wonders whether Salmond’s silvery eloquence and guile are not enticing them along a path whose ultimate destination is undisclosed;  or if not undisclosed, whose potential gains and losses are difficult to calculate.     When the Labour party brought forward devolved government for ‘the provinces’ it did not foresee that this would help, rather than reverse, the cause of nationalism.

The Scots are a shrewd and canny people.   The Queen herself said, at the re-opening of the Scottish Parliament that she had confidence in the judgement of the Scottish people, and who would be so bold as to disagree with her?   However, the Scots should make quite sure that they are not like the children of Hamlyn, blindly following the Pied Piper through that briefly opened door in the hill, from which no-one could ever return.


About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

One Response to THE PIED PIPER?

  1. Sheena Murphy says:

    Good analogy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: