Tuesday, 6 March 2012


I love my work but it can be distressing.

Few arrive at my professional door without some assumed guilt as to their own self-perceived previous fault.  Becoming engaged in a business venture with someone about whom they always had reservations; keeping the wrong company; drinking too much; not looking out for their own safety.

Part of my job is to assure them that does not (necessarily) make them responsible for their misfortune. Indeed. personally, it often reflects to their own favour, as one-time optimists at least. But no group is worse in this, self-blaming, regard than the victims of domestic violence.

There is probably no worse stereotype than the “stereotypical” victim of domestic violence. Working (or at least potentially working) class; female; given to a drink themself and potentially as likely a perpetrator as a victim, if only physical strength allowed.

All wrong.

There is no stereotype. At a first divorce interview it is always a legitimate question as to whether there was ever in the violence in the relationship. And often you are strangely reassured as to human behaviour. The husband who never came straight home from his work, spending the evening in the pub with his mates, and otherwise dismissed as a worthless breadwinner, is nonetheless quizzically excused of any such accusation.

But, regrettably, on other occasion having been assured initially that all that has happened is that  “we have drifted apart” in the most apparently otherwise externally perfect of relationships, you hear accounts of the Police being called but no charges preferred; visits to Accident and Emergency Departments innocently explained at the time; even. at the meeting with the lawyer after it is all over, suggestions that this is not really why the relationship has ended or excuses offered or equal blame, quite wrongly, accepted.

Domestic violence  is not, ever, the fault of the victim. If it involves fault at all, on the part of anyone other than the perpetrator then it is with a society which refuses to accept that all victims are, genuinely, innocent in a way which prevents these victims from asserting that confidently themselves. A society which appears to suggest that having made your bed you should not be entitled to complain about having to lie in it.

This is a wholly inexcusable view of the world.

Domestic violence is a terrible thing, It scars the lives of the victims and it colours, for ever, the lives of the children caught up by it. It is always, unconditionally, unforgiveable.  It is most certainly not the stuff from which cheap political analogies should be drawn.

Now, I don’t like Alex Salmond. He is a charlatan; an opportunist; a right-wing wolf in centre left clothing. 

But, in the midst of his seductive appeal to the less informed among our citizenry I would never, ever, accuse him and his closest associates of being similar to a predatory paedophile ring offering sweets to a simple minded child in the hope of later taking sexual advantage of them. Why not? Because it would be a wholly inappropriate metaphor. Like comparing the Highland Clearances to the Holocaust or, dare  I say it, Alex Salmond himself to Robert Mugabe.

So, equally, do I feel about today’s excrescence by Salmond’s female mini-me. Domestic violence is not the stuff to be given up to commonplace political discourse. Full stop and without qualification. If action is not taken against the commentator who apparently thinks this not to be the case then while that will say little about Joan McAlpine, it will certainly say an awful lot about the SNP.

They have 69 seats in a 129 seat Parliament. They don’t need Joan McAlpine; her vote or her opinion. Unless of course she actually speaks for what they truly believe. 


  1. Since you didn't answer before, Ian - were Joan's comments more or less offensive than, say, comparing the SNP to Holocaust deniers? Just trying to gauge the benchmarks here.

  2. Mr Smart NO ONE MENTIONED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    And we don't really care whether you like Alex Salmond - the Scottish people like him more than any of your chums!

  3. I'm curious, why is the title of your piece "Nationalists"?

    Are you addressing the entire population of nationalists or just the two you've written about above? I personally don't see the problem with Joan using a human relationship as a metaphor for the UK, after all, it was the unionist camp that started using the terminology of divorce when they refereed to the SNP's aspirations for independence. I think you should tuck that soap box away until you get a firmer grasp of the concept of irony.

  4. "Domestic violence is a terrible thing"

    It certainly is, Ian. Unfortunately, Joan made absolutely NO reference to domestic violence. Unless you can quote the sentence where she did so?

  5. I respect your right to your opinion, what bothers me more is the undercurrent of hate I get from your piece and being labelled as something less for supporting AS and the SNP.
    Now I can give many examples where I don't agree with AS and the SNP and the purpose of voting for them is to gain Indy and be free of the politicians and continuity of less than stellar performance from our elected officials and more importantly a country proud to live in for many reasons for the remaining decades I have in this world.

    Real change and if that mean using the SNP to get that so be it, because I can't rely on Labour, Conservative or Liberal to do that. I have been encouraged to see many good people step up and show the way and break the never ending cycle of corrupt politics we have now, where most of us are too busy trying to live and have placed our trust in the system we have now. Well I am putting in the extra effort and my eyes are open to the great potential we can all gain from.

    Getting back to your VAW point and Joan's article, it does not read to me that way, but then I am a sub normal person for voting for the SNP so maybe I am not clever enough or worthy to have an opinion and we will be left to lefty -right bloggers and politico anoraks telling us what we should be thinking.

    simonp @charliemuppet

  6. Ah words,words Ian...
    Whilst I don't particularly care for Miss Mcalpines style of delivery,I think the public are a little more sophisticated than you give them credit for.You only have to look at Eastenders/Jeremy Kyle to realise how cynically 'domestic violence 'is used to increase viewing figures so I guess the unaffected can read Joans column with a certain detachment (as in, its not people ) but just an analogy.
    However someone really clever could use words such as predatory,paedophile and the reader is nudged in another direction altogether.
    Lets be honest,there are far bigger issues being printed day in ,day out, more offensive and damaging than J Mcs 1st column for a dwindling tabloid.
    You unfortunately have had dealings with men and women affected by domestic violence,while I fortunately only have to deal with a public terrified by the mention of MRSA/cross infection. Fortunately,someone seeing the impact misinformation could have, would'nt be stupid enough to even suggest somrthing as ridiculous as patients having to share blankets !
    If you really want to be offended try working for say the health service,there is no shortage of a shadow minister waiting to offend you.

  7. You have to wonder why a Labour supporting unionist newspaper has taken on the most outspokenly vitriolic nationalist MSP. They must think she helps their cause:-)

    1. Their cause of selling more papers? Aye, they must think that.

  8. Even the Record can see the tide turning. THe old safe ways of the Labour Establishment are no longer as safe and secure as they were. The ground is shifting under your feet and right up until your final demolition at the Referendum, your attacks will gro ever more shrill and incoherent. This article above is merely proof it is already happening. You are very afraid, you have every right to be afraid because all that you stood for is now about to crumble around you. Nationalists writing in the Record?!?!! Aww naw! Woe! Doom!
    Get used to it...

  9. Dear Ian,

    Do you just write your stuff and walk away from it? You have not answered questions about your 'piece' either here nor on 'Labour Hame'.

    Why is that?

    Are you perhaps just a polemicist too?

  10. Silence from Ian. Why would we expect otherwise? It is what he does. He has no ideas yet he has a lot of vitriol.

    Sad, really.

    How long will Mr Smart remain silent?