Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Last week a watershed for Salmond and the SNP?

Salmond's SNP has always had a touch of Blair's New Labour project about it. You know (I mean, see what I did there?), the policy triangulation attempting to appeal to the left and right at the same time, the cosying up to big business cronies and a glossy and glitzy image with just that touch of the showbusiness about it. And Holyrood has always looked like it has the makings of being a mere microcosm of Westminster rather than some kind of brave new democratic world.

Thus last week's revelations regarding Alex Salmond's proffered support for Rupert Murdoch's BSkyB takeover bid for the thinly-veiled quid pro quo of The Sun backing the SNP came as no great personal surprise. Just the kind of thing I'd suspected all along.

However, from other strands of opinion there does seem to be more than a hint that last week's revelations represent something of a watershed as regards their view of Alex Salmond.

For example, MacBlogosphere stalwarts and SNP members(?) Jeff Breslin and Lallands Peat Worrier both lay into Salmond, although admittedly neither have ever really been shrinking violets when it comes to an honest appraisal of their own side.

And pro-independence - but neither small nor big-N nationalists - MSM commentators like Gerry Hassan and Iain Macwhirter* fairly put the boot in.

Of course, the usual suspects have simply swallowed Alex Salmond's 'jobs and investment' defence whole, but there does seem to be a tone about the criticism from the less blinkered and more thinking supporters of an independent Scotland that suggests that Mr Salmond has just taken things a bit too far, particularly with such a toxic individual as Rupert Murdoch.

Equally instructive is perhaps the response from SNP guru Stephen Noon. Indeed, the fact that the whole imbroglio seemed to waken him from something of a blogging torpor maybe says something about the importance of the whole thing.

Naturally Mr Noon no more obviously criticises the first minister than his backbench 'sheeple' masquerading as MSPs at Holryood. But it's surely telling that Mr Noon doesn't even attempt to address the substance of the allegations, and instead focuses on public perception of the whole event, and in particular lambasts Johann Lamont's slightly shrill efforts to pin Mr Salmond down at last week's FMQs. Thus he rightly slams her use of the patronising and Cochersesque "Wee Eck" jibe, but in other ways his critique borders on the incredible.

I mean, in the context of FMQs he slams Johann Lamont for being "shouty and angry" and a "rude and angry woman" in taking on Alex Salmond? Oh, the irony! And a "day-tripper" was so outraged by the "tone and nature" of her questioning that they hotfooted it to SNP HQ to donate £50? Just some random visitor no doubt, or was it 'Braveheart1320'** from the Newsnet comments section?!?

(Actually, if someone did genuinely donate £50 in this way then perhaps it was just some random individual, because in view of the SNP's swollen coffers from the largesse of their zillionaire backers like Souter and the Weirs, is there really any point now in anyone who knows about this donating a measly £50? Or maybe it's just me!).

Anyway, as well as neatly sidetracking from the substance of the debate, Mr Noon's fixation with the presentational aspects of the whole imbroglio also perhaps underlines the preoccupation of 'New SNP' with marketing gimmicks rather than policy.

Well it worked for Tony Blair and New Labour, didn't it? Up to a point...

Of course, even if the whole thing does represent something of a defining moment for Alex Salmond and the SNP and indeed the whole independence project, of course the public are generally fairly tolerant of political parties and their leaders, and the inevitable decline is more of a culmination of a drip-drip effect rather than due to some kind of tipping point. Or perhaps a tipping point of sorts, but a very faint tremor rather than an earthquake, to mix a couple of metaphors.

Thus Cochers' allusion that the men in yellow suits might have to be having a word in Alex's ear some time soon seems well wide of the mark. In any case, even if Alex Salmond does represent damaged goods politically, the likelihood of anyone replacing him between now and the referendum and/or the next Holyrood election is remote indeed. That would simply make any bad situation for the SNP considerably worse.

Stephen Noon is also correct insofar as he says that to a large extent all this is just a political bubble thing. But again there's a drip-drip effect in operation, not just in terms of public perception per se, but also as regards how what happens within the political bubble permeates through to the great unwashed. It may not simply burst through the political bubble and make it pop, but the bubble isn't hermetically sealed either.

* Newsnet describes Iain Macwhirter as a "Unionist". I always had him down as pro-independence, if not nationalist or Nationalist, but perhaps it's a Newsnet 'them and us' thing.

** My made-up pseudonym may not be historically consistent!

14 comments:

Braveheart said...

MacWhirter's a nationalist fellow traveller, at least.

it's not just Murdoch. It's Nato and the Queen and the feeling that if you're not a nat you are anti-scottish and anti-Catholic rants and wife-beating and windarms and sucking up to rich men and falling out with Archbishop Keith and Johann Lamont quietly skewering Eck most weeks at FMQs and the feeing that they are a one-man-band and they haven't really delivered on schools, hospitals, education and they are fixated with "independence"....


And some others as well...

Key bored warrior. said...

Ah but, were we not all told that Megrahi, (spotted last week running round the park) was the SNPs defining moment? Or was it "The Pylons" or "Trumps golf course" or "The Macdonald resort Aviemore," or "the Glasgow airport link" or "The Trams," or one of the other 708,000 entries on Google under "SNP accused."

And yet despite the tsunami of demands and inquires from Labour in Holyrood, who vote in that place 75% of the time with the Toxic Tory's, the SNP vote just keeps on climbing. There is a subtle message there, far to subtle for the lemon sooking lackeys on the Labour benches.

The boy that cried wolf is an excellent parable and one that needs to be taught every day to Labour. I think it may be to late for them to learn anything, their visceral hatred has consumed them.

Braveheart said...

y'r right Megrahi was a cock up. Missed that.

Murdoch not fit to rum his own company but fit to eat caramel wafers while Eck sooks, not a lemon.

Braveheart said...

I also missed;

Keeping secrets from Parliament

Hospitals with no blankets

Barbarian of the North said...

You also forgot the attempt to ignore an FOI request, at a cost to the taxpayer.

Murdoch has damaged Salmond. How bad remains to be seen, but not enough to affect the Council Elections. Give things a few more months however......

And since I've posted this elsewhere, I might as well add it here:

I think Salmond's phone was hacked at some point a few years ago and he knows it, but is keeping things quiet.

Perhaps a wild conspiracy theory, but it could explain the surprisingly limp defence about the relationship with Murdoch at the moment.

(think I'll keep clear of the Temple of the Fundamentalist Wing of the Alex Salmond Appreciation Society for a while!)

Allan said...

Similar to whatr I said last week, if it is a watershed moment I think that it is only in the sense that we will not quite see the SNP Government in the same light. I suspect that something like this has been coming, not so much in some of the things mentioned by Key Bored Warrior, but more in the tone - it maybe seems all too easy at Holyrood.

I suspect as well that the SNP will not sweep all before them come Thursday. I have a sneaking suspicion that while they will make gains, the big prizes will elude the SNP (I don't think they will do enough to gain an overall majority in Glasgow & I think they will lose seats in Renfrewshire).

BTW on MacWhirter, it was interesting to hear him on GMS alongside the former SNP political strategist (who's name i've forgotten). He might be minded towards independence, but had clearly lost patience with the SNP's naievity regards to Murdoch.

Stuart Winton said...

Thanks for the comments.

I suppose it all comes down to the fact that it's difficult to quantify these things - if that's the right word - but it's surely fair to say at the very least that it hasn't done the SNP's image good at all; the big question mar is defining the amount of damage.

And as I see it Macwhirter is about as pro-independence as they come without being a Salmond/SNP acolyte, so if he's getting animated about it then clearly it's a defining moment of sorts.

And interesting that about the possibility of Salmond being hacked; if that came out then Alex would be in a very interesting position indeed.

With friends like these...

Stuart Winton said...

And KBW is certainly correct in that it's certainly been said often enough, but again it's that drip-drip thing, and it's surely little consolation for the referendum that the SNP is not suffering so much in the polls because of the state of Labour - the indy vote will be about a whole lot more than Salmond v Lamont at Holyrood.

And if Allan's correct about Glasgow then that would certainly represent The Forward March Of The SNP Halted.

Grahamski said...

I'm not sure this is a 'watershed' moment for the SNP. Over the last few days I have telephone canvassed more than 300 Labour voters. Not one of them mentioned this issue.

The damage has been done to Salmond and the SNP's support in the non-Murdoch press. It has pretty much disappeared.

The FM's ludicrous position - that the illegal hacking of a Scottish FM should be investiged in London not Edinburgh - makes this whole shambles an omni-freaking-shambles...

Braveheart said...

Grahamski makes a good observation on the melting away of SNP support in the press generally (ex-Murdoch).

on his other point, I have just a few minutes ago had a conversation with a neighbour of, probably, nationalist leanings. He said, unprompted that AS has "not covered himself in glory recently...".

So it is getting through. Probably not enough or soon enough for the local elections, but I sense a wee dip, if not a swing, in the public's unthinking support for the Nats.

JPJ2 said...

Havering nonsense as usual from Grahamski and Braveheart Gallagher, both of whom were confident that the SNP had peaked in 2007.

Under a PR system the chances of any party gaining an absolute majority in Glasgow this time are low-however the "Scottish" Labour Party have treated their opponents there with such contempt over decades that an SNP-led coalition is the likeliest outcome for the betterment of the people of Glasgow.

Stuart Winton said...

Well things will all be a bit clearer in 24 hours or so.

At least with regard to who'll be running our councils.

But as regards the wider SNP v Labour conflict and the independence question I doubt if tomorrow will tell us very much.

But no doubt many people will spend a lot of time trying to tell us otherwise ;0)

Longshanker said...

McWhirter's a keen observer, but I don't think you could rightly place him as any particular political supporter.

Salmond's willingness to support Murdoch for what would have been a media monopoly of horrendous power will probably prove to be his undoing.

By showing his tacit support he has succeeded in antagonising the majority of the non-Murdoch media and as such they will continually rag him whenever he does anything less than perfectly - which is often.

I'm glad his duplicity was revealed so publicly and so sensationally.

Alex Massie's piece some time ago splitting potential supporters of independence into a Hampden camp and a Murrayfield camp was an excellent analogy.

I don't think the Hampden camp cares about Murdoch - the jobs alibi is just fine for them.

A significant number of the Murrayfield camp will no doubt be horrified and thus treat anything Salmond has to say from now on with great suspicion.

At least, I know I will. (Though I do consider myself as in the Hampden camp)

I started blogging on the day the Sunday Sun came out.

I genuinely felt insulted by Salmond's contempt for the Scottish people by letting a Murdoch paper print the date of the referendum.

It made me wonder what the deal was. James Murdoch provided the requisite info and now I wouldn't trust anything the First Minister had to say.

If he offered me a caramel wafer I would check to see that it wasn't a caramel log.

Stuart Winton said...

Thanks Longshanker. To be honest I hadn't really thought about how the rest of the MSM would react to Alex and Rupe cosying up, but do you really think the revelations will change their view on things?

After all, the more recent stuff merely underlined what was effectively common knowledge already as regards Alex and Rupert up a tree etc etc.