Wednesday, 8 April 2015


The General Election campaign is now in full swing, with actual policies coming from all the parties and arguments being made and derided.  However, both Labour and the Tories seem to have developed a weird fascination for the SNP, somewhat similar to finding a strange-looking insect in your drink - both interested and disgusted at the same time.  Or, to put it another way, the SNP are regarded as similar to head lice, and both the major parties can't wait to deny they have them.

From the weekend we have seen attempts by one or more major parties and the mainstream media to smear the reputation of the SNP in general and Nicola Sturgeon in particular.  It started off with Frenchgate, where the Daily Telegraph got hold of a memo which said that Nicola Sturgeon had told the French Ambassador at a meeting in February that she hoped David Cameron would stay in office and that she didn't think that Ed Miliband was Prime Minister material. The claim was swiftly denied by Ms Sturgeon herself, the French Consul General and the French Ambassador herself, all of whom were actually present at the meeting.  The story fell apart within hours and left the Daily Telegraph and the rest of the mainstream media with egg on their faces, as well as the Labour party in Scotland, who leapt upon it with all the alacrity of a starving pride of lions in a gazelle herd.  The surprising thing about the whole affair was not that it had been done, but that it had been done so crudely.

So, memo having been debunked, another go was had by the Daily Record, this time trumpeting the defection of what they termed an 'SNP Boss' to Labour.  After some confusion it was established that Muhammad Shoaib (a) had defected from Labour to the SNP previously (b) had been a Labour councillor for some years (c) had not been selected as a Westminster candidate by the SNP, to his great disappointment and (d) had a somewhat 'colourful' past, thus making his credibility as a source for the story somewhat suspect.  The interesting part about the story was, however, his claim that
he was “shocked” at the way senior SNP members in Sturgeon’s Glasgow constituency are secretly backing another five years of David Cameron.
So here we have another go at the same smear as Frenchgate, this time implicating Nicola Sturgeon indirectly.  Clearly the Unionist parties have been studying Scottish history and have taken their inspiration from Robert the Bruce and the spider.

Most recently we have a couple of different tacks.  First that the SNP and the Tories were in partnership in the Scottish government from 2007 - 2011 and secondly that Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to admit that there may be another referendum on independence in the next Scottish parliament term.  Both are misrepresentations of the fact.  In the first case, the SNP were in a minority government, so made deals with the Tories and all the other parties (except Labour, exercising the Bain principle) in order to get legislation enacted.  You'd think that this experience would have made them an ideal alliance for Labour in a minority government in Westminster, but see the Bain principle above.  In the second case Ms Surgeon makes no secret of the fact that she wants to see Scottish independence and has made it clear that there will only be another referendum IF she includes such a thing in the next SNP manifesto in 2016 and IF her party is then returned with a majority.  Nonetheless both matters are being reported in the press as if they are some huge secrets which have been wrung from Ms Sturgeon and which she would rather hide, which is patently untrue.

I think we can only expect this line of attack on the SNP to get worse.  Clearly there is a great deal of fear of the SNP in Westminster.  Like nits, they must be attacked by any means possible for fear of them spreading.

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