Monday, 26 January 2009

Per Mare Per Terras?

Watching A History of Scotland on Saturday was very rewarding, as the whole series has been. It was of course none other than the Stewarts, before they Frenchified their surname, who first "othered" (as people used to say back in Postmodernity) Gaelic Scotland, and of course the historically Norse, and therefore English-speaking, far North.

And "other" it remains. I still don't know whom Labour will be putting up on Question Time from Fort William, which I shall miss anyway due to a college function. But what with the Highland Lib Dems at Westminster rapidly making the Lowland Labourites look almost devolution-friendly (and that is quite a feat), it is no surprise that that party has drafted in Jo Swinson instead. The SNP clearly cannot see the point of the Highlands and Islands, either. The Tories can no longer be expected to, I suppose. And who else will be gracing the panel? Why, Hardeep Singh Kohli, a London-based Glaswegian comedian.

Fort William may not be Wick, but it is quite some way from Glasgow, really quite some way from Edinburgh, and an extremely long way from London. With such an attitude to its inhabitants or anything like their neighbours, why is the BBC bothering to send Question Time there at all?


  1. I was not aware that Charles Kennedy had turned on devolution. When was this?

    John Thurso was at the Oxford union debating for devolution recently

    Carmichael and Reid anti-devolution. That is not what they are saying on the TV. How come you think otherwise?

    Or is it a case of you want it to be?

    The SNP will be represented by Sturgeon. Wherever Question Time appears in Scotland she goes there.

    Tories - might be fluffy Mundell or even Mary Scanlon. Jamie McGrigor is an Argyllshire farmer but he tends to be media-shy.

  2. At best, they believe in the principle but not in the thing itself. You would normally be the first to point out that Scottish Labour MPs hate the thing really. As, of course, they do. Or, at least, they used to. Now, they just don't see the point of it.

    I remain baffled that this ever actually happened under Tony Blair. It wouldn't have done under John Smith, whose "legacy" it allegedly is. He would either have said that the question was answered by the election of a Labour Government, or that, oh well, all grand schemes from Opposition days have to tempered a bit in office, so here's a re-hash of the Assembly proposal from the Seventies, provided that it gets fifty per ecnt of the eligible vote in a referendum.

    And he would have got on with real "legacies" in social justice, while refraining from the wilder New Labour abandonments of traditional morality. Which, especially when taken together, would have more than kept Scotland, and plenty of other places, happy. Perhaps that is the answer? The Scots got this as a consolation prize for Blair's economic and social liberalism.

    The Lib Dems are strongest in the parts of Scotland where suspicion of rule from the Central Belt (and the North East at a push if the SNP are in) is also, and understandably, strongest. Again, they are rather more in favour of the principle of devolution than of the practice. A high proportion of No voters would have been their voters. And they, too, cannot really see what the thing is for in the very changed world in which we now find ourselves.

    Those Lib Dem areas are, of course, in no small measure the old territories of MacDonald of the Isles and of the Black Douglas, in alliance with each other and with the English against rule from Edinburgh. And the Lib Dems are even harder hit than Labour by any questioning of the role of Scottish MPs at Westminster.

    They are, all in all, in much the same position as over fisheries, where their Eurofederalist views are wildly out of step with the interests and opinions of their voters. And they know it.

    I don't know why Alex Salmond allows Nicola Sturgeon on television, I really don't.

    And the Tories are putting up Michael Gove.