Yesterday, my wonderful niece Laura and her boyfriend John celebrated her 20th birthday by heading into Glasgow to see Scottish Olympians and Paralympians parade through the city. They had a great time, and were bursting with pride to see the likes of Sir Chris Hoy, Neil Faichie and Katherine Grainger honoured for their amazing performances in London.
There was another side to the event, though. Someone found that they weren’t quite as popular as maybe they thought they were. Laura and John told me that Alex Salmond had been booed pretty heavily, both when introduced to the crowd and when he was making his speech.
If you believe the media, our First Minister enjoys unbridled, almost North Korean levels of popularity. Even after Friday’s booing, there was very little to indicate that such an event had even taken place. The BBC touched on it and there was a wee bit in the Scotsman and that’s about all I can see.
When I mentioned Friday’s booing on Facebook, my friend Clair, who was there with her 3 children, said she reckoned it was around half the crowd who were booing. She’s about as close to a neutral observer as you could find, as is my friend Morag, who added that Salmond had been booed at the Tattoo at Edinburgh Castle a few weeks ago.
Nationalists on the net were quick to dismiss the booing story. Ian MacQuarrie suggested it was no more than a “dozen Labour stooges” which would have worked with Clair’s assessment if there had been 24, rather than 20,000 people there. Newsnet Scotland put it down to “Unionist Shame.”
Quite why a gratuitous showing of disrespect by a section of a crowd towards Alex Salmond is worthy of reporting is not explained.
It’s important to note that they weren’t quite so quick to make the same conclusion of gratuitous disrespect when George Osborne and Tory ministers were booed at the Paralympics. Double standards, methinks.
The most bizarre comment to me came from Glasgow SNP Councillor Mhairi Hunter, who cited “inappropriate behaviour” by unionists.
My heart was in my mouth as I clicked on the link, fearful that I was going to find out that some unionist idiots had beaten up some nationalists. But there was no violence, or intimidation. Apparently it’s inappropriate to hand out Union Jacks for free to people. To claim such a thing as in appropriate is ridiculous. All campaigns hand out various items of tat to people and Yes Scotland is no exception, nor is the SNP itself. Handing out Union Jacks to celebrate the success of Team GB athletes is hardly sedition. It’s nowhere near the charming bunch of people Salmond was intending to share a platform with at an independence rally next week. The Scottish Republican Socialist Movement advocate violence to achieve their aims:
Because the ruling class will not relinquish power without their use of armed force, this revolution will be a time of violence as well as liberation. Unions by their very nature cannot become vehicles for the revolutionary transformation of society.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:
For months the SNP have been more than happy to receive support from these extreme groups with their menacing message. This just shows the ragtag company Alex Salmond is prepared to keep to split Scotland from the UK.
This group wanted to violently smash up society as we know it in order to achieve independence. What other unwanted groups have the SNP attracted to their campaign?
It just shows how sensitive the SNP is to any kind of criticism. They really don’t like it up ’em, as Corporal Jones would say.
Alex Salmond’s misjudging of the public mood on the Olympics, with constant complaints about the cost – and then spending the equivalent of a nurse’s salary every day needlessly hiring a venue to turn into Scotland House when it could have had Dover House for free. His talk of being proud of Scolympians seemed mean spirited. I mean, are we supposed to be proud of Katherine Grainger and not the other woman on her team, Anna Watkins, because she comes from Leek? Even this week he was blaming Scottish unemployment on the Olympics.
That’s before you even start on the referendum jiggery-pokery and spending even more of our hard earned taxes challenging the Information Commissioner’s ruling that the SNP Government should be open about the legal advice it’s getting on independence.
It was absolutely no surprise to see George Osborne booed at the Paralympics. Pictures and video of the event went viral in minutes. We didn’t see the same thing with Salmond on Friday in the mainstream media. That just doesn’t seem right, especially when social networking means that observers can tell what they see.
What’s clear is that the shine is certainly starting to come off Alex Salmond and the SNP. During their first term, they barely talked about independence and they only mentioned it when it was brought up in the 2011 Holyrood campaign. They’ve focused on little else since then, sadly, spending more time on that than on what they were actually elected to do, run Scotland’s public services like housing, children’s services and health. They’ve slashed funding for social housing, there are worrying signs of problems in the health service – I mean, how can it be right for 27 people to die of totally preventable bed sores, as Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes pointed out recently?
The more the SNP talk about independence like it’s the only thing on earth that matters, the less people like them, it seems.
Nicola Sturgeon has her work cut out for her over the next few years if she is to persuade us that independence is a safe option for Scotland. Her colleagues, with their assertions that handing out union jacks is somehow inappropriate, with their insistence on secrecy on issues that could give us clarity and on making life more difficult for ordinary Scots aren’t really helping.