Saturday, 19 October 2013

Eck's Speech

I've read Eck's speech and it's a good speech.

Salmond is a good platform speaker but even his closest friends and allies would concede privately that, before today, his most recent efforts had given concern as to whether he was losing his mojo. Today he was back to top form. Credit where it is due.

It is worthy of more wider consideration however as to whether platform speeches, although regarded universally among the political class as an essential part of "the leader's" tool kit are really as important as we (all) think. The best two major Party leaders of recent times in delivering a platform speech (Kinnock and Hague) never won an election between them whereas the most electorally successful, Thatcher and Blair, never really spoke from the platform to the nation (as opposed to their Parties) in a way that was truly memorable.

I followed Eck's speech on twitter from the terraces at New Greenhill Road, where I suspect that I was the only person present more interested in that than in whether Rangers could really be losing at Brechin. Tomorrow, the 2% of the population really engaged day to day with political debate will pour over the analysis of the speech in the Sunday Herald and Scotland and Sunday but when the "don't knows" finally make up their mind ten months from now I doubt if a single person, for or against, will attribute their final choice to what Eck said today. It would have been an astonishing achievement for today's speech to have been a game changer and, good though it was, today's speech changed nothing . It simply confirmed the best argument that can be made for freedom/separation (delete to taste). And it confirmed, in a different way, that this argument is not enough.

The real reason that we are waiting three and a half years from the 2011 Scottish General Election until the referendum is that in their heart of hearts the Nationalists knew that they couldn't win without "something turning up". And, logically, the longer they waited, the more chance there was that this "something" might turn up. But, increasingly time is running out on that. The remaining hope is that the Tories might look like winning in May 2015, but I suspect that will be no more a possibility in September 2014 than it is today. Even then, I suspect that this has already been factored in by those who might vote Yes or No based on that potential outcome.

To be fair, I have met one solitary person who said that they might vote Yes if they were certain that the Tories would win the 2015 General Election but in September 2014 even the most optimistic Tory will not be certain of that. And even the one person who did express that opinion in Lefty/liberal company was more than outweighed by others weighing in to argue that they would rather have Thatcher, never mind Cameron, than Salmond. Sorry to disappoint any Nationalist readers but a very large number of people on the left really don't like your leader at all.

Yet the prospect of a Tory Government in 2015 remains the straw to which the Nationalists cling. For it is increasingly clear that they are incapable of changing the game by their own efforts. That was the real message from Eck today. "This is as good an argument as we can make". And yet, outwith the ranks of the faithful, it is patently not an argument that is sufficiently strong to convince.

My money remains on 28%.


  1. I doubt very much that anyone 'on the Left' would rather have Thatcher, than Salmond.
    Maybe Red Tories of the Labour party would, as they fully support the attacks on 'the something for nothing' culture.

  2. Your money may be on 28%, but your judgment is hardly something most reasonable, progressive Scots would rely on is it Ian? Given your recent run of comments which wouldn't have looked out of place from the nuttier fringes of UKIP.

    Also, weren't you the one who confidently predicted there would be no referendum anyway? How did that one work out for you again? Given that the recent IPSOS/Mori poll showed that more than 50% of Labour voters thought the SNP government was doing a good job, a period of quiet reflection from you would be most welcome - with luck until just after the Yes vote! Andy Ellis

  3. There you have it, folks! The man who got all the smart he was ever going to have when he won his name in the lottery of birth has been revealing the true face of British Labour in Scotland yet again. The pretendy wee socialist who previously informed us of his personal preference for "100 years of Tory rule" from Westminster over even a Labour government in an independent Scotland now assures us that his preference is shared by the majority of those who are prepared to associate with him.

    Most people will, I'm sure, find it at the very least counter-intuitive that anybody at all identifying themselves as "Lefty/liberal" would use the name of Thatcher in a way that didn't involve a profusion of profanities. Could it be that Mr Smart's imagination has been working extra hard at bending reality to fit his prejudices?

    But it was true that his preference for Tory British governments that the people of Scotland rejected at the polls rather than demonstrably social democratic governments that we did elect was shared by significant numbers of the people who don't cross the street when they see him coming, what would that tell us? Only that the British Labour types for whom he presumes to speak are seriously out of touch with those outside his little clique.

    Poor Ian has the misfortune to regale us with his world-view at almost the same time as Ipos MORI provides us with a perspective that is informed by scientific observation and measurement rather than blinkered bias and mindless hatred. The most recent Scottish Public Opinion Monitor shows the approval rating for the Scottish Government leap by a massive ten points to +23. This compares to a UK-wide approval rating for Ian Smart's preferred Westminster Tory government of -28.

    More tellingly, among Labour voters in Scotland the approval rating for the Scottish Government is a very respectable +15. And among those declaring the intention to vote No in next year's referendum - which presumably includes those Mr Smart would regard as British Labour Party loyalists - the rating just barely slips into negative territory.

    Ian Smart might object on the grounds that these figure refer to the Scottish Government and not Alex Salmond himself. To which I would respond by pointing out that it is British Labour who insist on portraying the administration as a "one-man band" - even to the extent of at least one among them referring to it as a "one-man dictatorship". So it would be euphemistically disingenuous for Ian smart to pretend that he doesn't associate the Scottish Government almost entirely with Alex Salmond. Besides, Salmond's personal approval ratings tend to contradict Ian Smart's illusions of widespread hatred for the First Minister every bit as clearly as the data mentioned above.

    This is not the only idiocy that Smart peddles, of course. His greatest claim to fame, other than his fondness for Thatcher and calling the people of Scotland racists, is his totally confident and oft-repeated prediction, now abandoned, that the referendum would never happen. Only slightly lower down the scale of inanity is his insistence that the referendum has been delayed by the Scottish Government for political advantage. He's still banging that daft drum.

    So I think we know how much credence to afford his forecast that the Yes vote will end up being lower than is being predicted by most polls. And we certainly know how to treat the assertion that substantial numbers of traditional Labour supporters in Scotland would choose a London government under some Margaret Thatcher clone, with austerity, WMD, privatisation of the NHS and all the rest, rather than a Scottish Government committed to universalism, public ownership of essential services, a fair wage and all the other things that used to be fundamental Labour principles before Smart and his ilk stole the party from the people.

    If you want a safe bet on the referendum or pretty much anything else, bet against Ian Smart.

  4. You seem unable to distinguish between voting for independence and voting for Salmond. Do you really think they are one and the same?

  5. Well there you are anybody who speaks like a Tory,is usually a Tory,so my thoughts here is that we have a Tory telling us that he would prefer a 1,000 years of Tory rule to a labour one in Holyrood,we all knew that already.I have never felt so confident since '67 at the Hamilton by-election (after I knew the result).

  6. Smart is so full of hatred, thats not healthy,Thats all,

  7. Two things. Firstly, my Money would be on no more than the low forties (around about the 42-43% mark). The reason for that is entirely down to the tactical blunder over the EU & currency.

    Secondly, clearly you sit in the pound seats in the main stand. Where I sit (the West bank) is full of Yes supporters. Mind you there are a couple of Labour Councillors where i sit too...

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