In the spirit of the Counter-reformation, The Knife would like to offer a few thoughts on the phenomenon that is Alex “Fat Eck” Salmond. The Knife has all sorts of links with Scotland, and a modest insight into the backslapping jobs for the boys fest that is Holyrood. In no particular order, here they are:
1. The English press are fascinated by Eck because he’s been a bit of an unknown quantity. Hence Peter Oborne “one has to acknowledge what a brilliant politician Alex Salmond has turned out to be“, or Jonathan Freedland “Salmond is probably the most accomplished political operator and performer in these islands”…
…..calm down lads, as the more in tune Iain Macwhirter acknowledged, no-one saw this scale of victory coming. You might argue that’s because everyone underestimated Eck’s hitherto hidden genius, but The Knife believes that it’s Eck Bin Laden’s Twin Towers moment. Even the late Al Qaeda First Minister never predicted the scale of his success. Sometimes you get lucky. Remember that Eck is the buffoon/statesman who freed Scotland’s most famous mass murderer on made up grounds, being completely led on by Blair et al to do it.
2. Eck’s rabble rousing oratory is good box office, like that of Neil Kinnock and Hitler. Accomplished demagoguery may win the election, but the electorate are restless cynical critics these days. Shouting the odds is a limited tactic.
3. Delighted though I am at any Labour disaster, one must admit that the Scottish party’s effort, “bolstered” by the triple malediction of Miliband, Balls and Brown was utterly, completely complacent and shambolic. Not unlike the Lib Dems in fact. This won’t happen again.
4. Eck is a renowned fantasist. Like Gordon Brown he is, technically speaking, intelligent. However, his massive unfunded wish list containing unnecessary items like abolishing all prescription charges doesn’t add up. Not even close in fact. And that’s before Dave revisits the pocket money issue of the Barnett formula, which famously has ‘no legal standing or democratic justification’
5. There are lots of arguments why an independence referendum has no legal validity. This is not an argument that an English politician would particularly want to get into, but it’s still true.
6. Eck is still a faintly mysterious figure. He married the reclusive Moira in 1981. He was 26, she was 43. This is unusual. There are no little Ecks. The Knife is genuinely not hinting at gossip here, but our man is going to be an even more public figure from now on.
7. He is not really an unsullied nationalist. In 2000 he abandoned the fledgling Scottish Parliament and the SNP leadership, but continued in Westminster, as all true nationalists would do. Not.
When lobbied to stand again in 2004, he quoted General Sherman: “If nominated I’ll decline. If drafted I’ll defer. And if elected I’ll resign.” Back he came with the original excuse that he’d…er…changed his mind. All a bit odd. Not quite Braveheart.
8. He doesn’t like to be properly challenged. He surrounds himself with insanely ambitious toadies like the limited Health Minister (and his deputy), Nicola Sturgeon – a woman so desperately vote grabbing that she sent the police into Vale of Leven Hospital to harass nurses after a diarrhoea outbreak – or ludicrous hypocritical has beens like Sean Connery. This one counts, because Sir Sean is so dedicated to Scotland that he gravely pontificates from his sunny tax exile status on all matters pertaining to a country that he left years ago, and he still can’t be arsed to even make a token gesture like spending a few weeks in the place. He makes Lord Ashcroft look like Vera Lynn.
9. The big one is independence. The country has never wanted this. They don’t get it. The dependency culture is deeply ingrained. There is no track record of financial independence. Whisky and tourism are it. Oil is never likely to be wholly ceded to Edinburgh. Eck knows this, and if he has a referendum and loses it, which he would right now, his whole raison d’etre is gone, kaput, smithereened. Five years is a long time, but can he turn it around by then, when even Labour will be back on their feet? I don’t think so.
10. Lastly, the entire Holyrood assembly is chock full of second rate councillors, madmen – and women – sexual predators, alcoholics, idiots, illiterates and so on. Really. It’s a LOT worse than Westminster. They’re all mates and all living it up. Plenty of cross party links. No-one really wants to rock the boat.
Unfortunately Eck and the SNP now have to act like grown ups, the buck stops with them. If/when Dave turns the screw they will have to make hard and unpopular decisions. This is not what they went into politics for.
Bullshit has taken Eck a long way, but it won’t take him any further, without the substance that has always been missing thus far.