Todays Sunday Times article by the BBC’s Neil Oliver is so stunning in it’s inaccuracy, it’s difficult to know where to begin. It oozes personal hate towards Salmond and Sturgeon, disdain towards the SNP and bitterness towards his fellow Scots who aspire towards a better vision for Scotland. Neil talks of ‘schoolboy logic’ but your average 12 year old could have written a more succinct article than this petulant whine.
The union in Neil’s world is not the reality of the one people actually live in and experience. He has also clearly chosen not to listen to the messaging from the SNP or read the manifesto or he would understand the sea change that is being proposed. If he sees independence as no different to the union I would go as far as to say this is a wholly fraudulent premise. Not renewing Trident and its huge expense alone is a sea change. Not paying your taxes to another country to be lied to from consecutive unionist governments about the great deal we get is a sea change. Not killing Syrian, Iraqi and Afghanistan children is a sea change.
The ‘centuries’ old union he refers to (in actual fact just 3 centuries) is portrayed here as a defacto wonderful thing without reference to the unions huge failings such as aggressive foreign policy, illegal wars, sickening debt, children in poverty, working people forced to food banks. I could go on. The irony of the article referring to a nationalist ‘hate fest’ (was this the George Square unionists?) and dead dog politics (sounds more like the union again) show a different side of the normally smug unionist. Perhaps this is because the union is teetering in the edge of a cliff like those featured in Neil’s ‘BBC ‘Coast’ programme.
Neil’s provocative language saying “He [Salmond] and his sort” and “Sturgeon and the rest… fail even to comprehend what it is they behold and despise” is a complete and total insult to half of the country. He says the SNP are “lacking in imagination” yet Scotland has never witnessed a party and leader so popular and it’s clear that it is Neil that is failing to behold this fact as it is something he personally despises.
The parochial view on the SNP being historically as insignificant as the monster raving loony party speaks volumes. There is no doubting the SNP are now at record strength but there has always been a reasonably significant post war support. That’s not to say the party have not been without their own previous factions and problems but the SNP are a party who have very much grown up and proven themselves capable of good governance and importantly are considered a party that genuinely want the best nation for all Scots.
What’s clear is that Neil is a ‘TV historian’ is stuck in the past. He is actually an archaeologist and chooses to dig up a unionist past that none of us recognise and the fact he is also an author, makes the quality of this polemic all the more surprising. Neil refuses to acknowledge or understand that people are striving for something far better than they have now and therefore offers no alternative or positive vision for change. As far as Neil is concerned the union is not broke and does not need fixed. He sounds exactly like the decades of red and blue Tories that have fed us similar debunked falsities.
The article carries no weight, does not give a single example of the benefits of union or disadvantages of independence. Instead of basing his argument around political facts, the hairy TV historian accuses SNP candidates of wearing hairy jackets. I have no idea what this is actually meant to signify. It reeks of a scared unionist trapped in a corner spouting a vitriolic rant. On the other hand, he may just be after the ermine, inspired by the Michelle Mone treatment, a free ride in the House of Lords for becoming a unionist lapdog.
“To my way of thinking, you can only have one referendum on any given topic — and we’ve already had it. The idea of keeping on — demanding one after another until eventually the planets align in your favour and you get what you want — is to utterly compromise the integrity of the very notion of the plebiscite. You cannot ignore a clear result just because it’s not the answer you wanted to hear.”
What Neil says here is the opposite of democracy. By his ‘way of thinking’ we would not be having another in/out EU referendum (we had one in 1975), there would not be a Scottish Parliament (as we ‘lost’ that vote in 1979), the peace bringing referendum on the Good Friday agreement would never have happened in 1998 (as there was a 1973 constitutional referendum). Wales would not have the assembly that resulted from th 1997 referendum (as they lost a similar referendum in 1979). These things all happened because political change is an iterative and pervasive cycle.
Just think for one minute if the above democratic evolution had not been allowed to happen because of ‘Neil’s way of thinking’. The alternative to peaceful democratic change is one that we do not wish to contemplate; we will stick with our peaceful and democratic process thanks.
I don’t know if he has hit the bottle or having a mid-union crisis but I think he will regret this #SNPBad article. It is however now in the public domain and perhaps gives an insight to just how scared people like the BBC’s Neil Oliver are about Scotland’s place in the union.
Neil is a unionist. Neil is in a panic that independence is inevitable. Neil is part of the problem. He will however be just as welcome in our successful independent Scotland as those who had the vision to aspire to it and enjoy the benefits of Stirling, Scotland.
Thankfully people like Neil are becoming more of a minority in Scotland, so perhaps it is time for him to put on a hairy jacket and slacks and come and join the future before he finds himself on the wrong side of history.