Hello there. Before I start, I should make clear that this message isn't aimed at all unionists - far from it. I've been told before that I'm quite well-balanced (for a Nat, apparently), so in that spirit, it's time to repay a compliment which managed to be both back-handed and tongue in cheek at the same time. So with that said, level-headed, fair minded supporters of the UK, please exempt yourselves from what is to follow.
Now. I know that since I’m an SNP supporter, in the eyes of some very voluble commentators and commenters, everything I’m about to say will already be completely wrong before I’ve even said it. Don't worry - I'm used to it. I'm used to the silly jibes that everything I do as a supporter of independence is about fermenting ‘grudge and grievance’, propagating ‘myths’, or whatever the insult of the week happens to be. Unquestionably, what I’m about to say will also be ‘typical’ of some vice you imagine is held universally by those of my political persuasion. However, please, hang in there. It’ll do you good, I promise.
It’s no secret that for reasons best known to yourselves, some of you guys really dislike the SNP. I also know that some of you, in your desperation to try and do down the SNP and the cause of independence, will leap on any passing bandwagon, no matter how rickety or unsafe it may seem to those of us with cooler heads, be we pro-independence or pro-union.
In that spirit, I can understand how exciting it must have been to see yesterday’s Daily Mail, with its screaming front page headline about how Alex Salmond had been ‘slapped down’ by the Norwegian Foreign Minister. ‘Sent homewards to think again’… ‘whaur’s your arc of prosperity noo’… that sort of thing. ‘Bigger is better, so just shut up about how brilliant you think things are elsewhere’. All great knock-about stuff.
I hope I’m not being unduly critical. After all, if a Minister of the Crown like Jim Murphy can stand up in Parliament to accuse Norway and Ireland of being insolvent, then there’s little hope that the febrile, uni-loony attack dogs of cyberspace might adopt a more reasoned and intelligent stance. Frankly, therefore, my expectations were already exceptionally low in this regard.
However, a word from the wise. Before rushing to publish, it might have been advisable to read the comments made by the Norwegian Minister concerned, and to establish whether his words could lend support to the slant being placed on them by the politically interested. I’m sure that for the smarter folk amongst you to have done so, would have led to the realisation that the Daily Mail was indulging in a little bit of stirring.
That’s why the following letter below is now on its way to the Daily Mail, courtesy of the Norwegian Ambassador, which I hope they’ll have the decency to publish in full:
The article "Salmond Slapped down by Norway Minister" in the Daily Mail on 29 October contained several incorrect and misleading statements attributed to Norway's Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre.
Firstly, there is no "growing anger in Norway" over comparisons made between Scotland and Norway during the debate in the United Kingdom against the backdrop of the current global financial crisis.
Secondly, no accusations have been made by Mr Støre against Mr Salmond, as alleged in the article. In the interview, the Foreign Minister merely pointed out factual similarities and differences between the challenges presently faced by Scotland and Norway. Inferring from this that Mr Støre is of the view that Mr Salmond has in any way lied or mislead the public, is simply incorrect.
In short, the Norwegian Foreign Minister did not intend to criticise either side in this debate, which is a domestic political discussion. What he strongly emphasised in the interview with the Daily Mail and which, sadly, was simply omitted from the article, was his sincere appreciation of the warm ongoing relationship between Scotland and Norway.
Ambassador of Norway
Oh dear. Egg on face time for a few people, I fear. Is it time to speak of a unionist yolk which can be thrown off? ;-)