Sunday, February 25, 2007

Lazy Sunday - Part I

Some interesting stuff in this morning's Sundays. The Sunday Herald splashes with news that one of Jack McConnell's key election strategists has quit, supposedly after having clashed with senior Labour colleagues over tactics and presentation. Now, regular readers will know that I don't like to intrude into private grief (much), but surely eyebrows will be raised at the quote from the 'senior Labour insider' that “This is the worst campaign I have been involved in for over 20 years”.

Regardless as to whether it's the conflict story which is true or the official line that 'family reasons' are behind his departure, there's one thing of which we can be completely sure: no-one in their right mind would be happy about having such a senior aide quit just a matter of weeks before an election. And just how hacked off would you have to be in your job to walk out and leave your chosen party in the lurch like that?

Next up is the Sunday Times (when are they going to put their Scottish content back on line, BTW?), which carries a story about how Rory Bremner, posing as Gordon Brown, managed to trick Margaret Beckett into making some indiscreet comments over the phone about her cabinet colleagues. The usual disclaimers apply here – shameful intrusion of privacy, sneaky and underhand blah, blah, blah – but I still found it incredibly funny in spite of that. And I have to admit, Beckett's reported response of 'Oh f***' when she found out about the con, hasn't made it any easier for me to regain my composure...

Of more significance are the lead stories on page 2, where Scottish Power, HBOS and the Edrington Group are 'understood to be furious over the [CBI] decision to challenge the SNP over its economic plans'. This refers to a series of 11 questions posed by the CBI, an early draft of which was leaked to the SNP. The SNP responded direct to each CBI council member, but in spite of that, the leadership took the decision to publish the questions anyway, before screeching that the SNP weren't answering the questions and that Alex Salmond was somehow refusing to meet with them.

Leaving aside the sheer mendacity of the CBI leadership tactics and the remarkable similarity in language between the questions and many recent Labour press releases, a better theatrical strop you couldn't have found outside the pantomime season. But will the people be much wiser as a result? I doubt it, somehow.

Thank goodness, then, for Bill Samuel, former senior corporate adviser to the Bank of Scotland and property investor, who not content with rescinding his former anti-home rule views, has made a £25,000 donation to the SNP and written a powerful article on p17 of the ST, where he sets out why he feels independence is the only way to address a falling population and low growth rate. And for good measure, he accuses Labour of having delivered “mediocre, lacklustre management”, while describing Alex Salmond as “a leader of real vision”.

SoS has got hold of a US government memo in which senior political figures spoke prior to the 1999 election of their concerns that the Scots wanted to be independent in the long-term, and that doubts amongst the Scottish voters as to Labour's good intentions meant that the SNP was well placed to do a number on the party. The language is vivid, and all the more striking when you see the people quoted. Go take a read, and compare and contrast with what they said in public at the time!

And finally, Mungo Mackay's diary entry for Friday has a familiar ring to it. Should I ask them for royalties? Or maybe even a job? :-)

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