Alex Salmond has confirmed that he is going to stand for the Westminster seat of Gordon in 2015. While hardly a surprise, this widely trailed announcement is nonetheless a welcome early Christmas gift. Not one to have shied away from the less obvious path in his political career, Alex Salmond and the SNP will be working tirelessly between now and the election to convince Yes and No voters alike that their best interests are served by returning a large contingent of capable SNP MP’s to Westminster. On making his announcement to stand Alex said;
“Three things are now self-evident.
“Firstly, the Smith Commission has not measured up to what was promised. It is not proposing “home rule”, “devo max” and still less “near federalism”. It is real control of one more tax and a small proportion of welfare spending; it would leave Scotland still in the clutches of Westminster austerity. That is not Robert Smith’s fault. It rather reflects the reality that the Westminster parties will concede to Scotland as little as they can get away with. It is up to us to ensure that they get away with nothing.
“Secondly, the man who said he would stand guarantor of the vow has retired from politics, after describing the central proposal of the Smith Commission on income tax as a “Tory trap”. Whatever Gordon Brown had in mind when he underwrote the Vow it cannot be, by definition, what has been offered and there is certainly no way now he can guarantee any delivery.
“Thirdly, the SNP and progressive allies can emerge as a powerful force in the next Westminster Parliament. Under our brilliant new leader, Nicola Sturgeon the SNP is now the only true mass membership party in these islands. No overall majority seems the most likely outcome of the Westminster elections and therefore the opportunity exists for Scotland to emerge from next year’s election in a commanding position.”
I am delighted at Alex’s decision. I am also dismayed at the spiteful and disrespectful comments that have emerged since. On the Daily Politics show The Telegraph’s James Kirkup said of the news: “Everyone on the unionist side is thinking, why won’t this man die”. I don’t think that I have ever been so angry or disgusted at a comment about a politician before. And can I say, I would be equally as appalled had it been said of Jack McConnell or Henry McLeish! This is partly because respect is due to the office of First Minister as well as to whoever occupies the office; but this use of language about a person is utterly unacceptable and despicable in any context. I think that, following the media coverage of the Lewes bonfire celebration, that this might now have been understood by the media. And there are other examples; the BBC Newspaper review of the Sunday Herald saw pundits Petrie Hosken and and the Telegraph’s Tim Stanley embark on a sustained personal attack on the both Alex Salmond and the Independence movement while displaying complete ignorance of the principled stand of SNP Parliamentarians ( at Westminster?) who abstain on “English only” matters. Amidst a storm of protest on social media, a senior national investigative journalist described the commentary on the BBC Newspaper Review as “nasty and ill-informed.”
What seems to perturb the establishment, unionist commentators is that the SNP and the Independence Movement have grown stronger in defeat and now seem like victors in the process. I have no doubt that history will view Alex Salmond as one of most important, influential and successful politicians in Britain’s history. That is fact. But we know from the quote “history is written by the victors”, attributed to Churchill and Napoleon, that sometimes the facts are blurred.
In the Tribune, 4 February 1944 George Orwell wrote a column entitled “History is Written By the Winners”.
“ In the last analysis our only claim to victory is that if we win the war we shall tell fewer lies about it than our adversaries….
There is some hope, therefore, that the liberal habit of mind, which thinks of truth as something outside yourself, something to be discovered, and not as something you can make up as you go along, will survive. But I still don’t envy the future historian’s job. “
It remains to be seen who are winners post September 18th. For now I shall sit back with a wee dram and toast my early Christmas present.