Andrew Neil was joined on this week’s This Week by Michael Portillo to shoot a series of spectacular own goals, further exacerbating the implosion of all Unionist parties north of the border. Self-inflicted goals reminding us just how out of touch with Scotland they both are.
I want to put on record, yet again, that Andrew Neil was not merely one of a handful of BBC broadcasters on television or radio either side of the border that covered Scotland’s independence referendum with genuine impartiality; he demonstrated an impartiality that was rare on any of the UK’s television coverage. Eddie Mair was one other. Other than those two and one or two less well-known broadcasters, the BBC lived down to its notorious reputation as nothing more than a poodle of the CBI’s Better Together organization, albeit in an unofficial capacity.
Andrew Neil has done an about face in recent months, effectively since the polls closed. He’s not the only decent broadcaster, at least on the referendum, whose credentials now look pretty shady, even if by the standards of their colleagues, they remain value for money. At least with comrade Neil, we get the odd fact tossed into the mix, and he’s an unrepentant equal opportunities trouble-maker.
Nevertheless, what we saw in his interview with Alex Salmond was not Andrew Neil at his best. Constant interruptions only work if the interviewee is deliberately obfuscating. That’s not what happened here. Scotland’s ex-First Minister was merely prevented from developing any point. This never looks good for the interrogator. Even when it’s a relatively good interviewer. Alex Salmond has other means of communicating directly with the voters these day. The National. Live-streamed press conferences where Nick Robinson and Glenn Campbell are reduced to hecklers. There’s other chances for the SNP to reach the parts of Scotland that the BBC cannot reach. Mass meetings. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Scotland is on the march, and there is nothing Andrew Neil can do to stop us.
What about Michael Portillo? After Andrew’s opening, I assumed he must be the bad cop. Apparently not. Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax heavyweight, the SAS daredevil who forgot how to launch a leadership bid without getting caught… Michael Portillo descended into the most ridiculous insults. If he thinks what he is doing impresses anyone in Scotland, then senility has finally taken hold.
Has David Cameron’s Vow been delivered? Michael Portillo knows that is a lie. Scotland has been offered nothing from the Smith Commission but a so-called joint general election manifesto by Pledge-breaking bastards like Nick Clegg, the toxic Ed Miliband and David Cameron whose commitment to the Vow had a sell-by-date that expired the minute the polls closed on Scotland’s referendum.
David Cameron told voters after the polls closed that there was a tandem veto on more powers delivered to Scotland and reciprocity. The other signatories to the vow, and their backers including the Chief Secretary to the Treasury had to tell him to shut the **** up. So he did. For a short period. However, it’s started all over again.
Lord Smith’s Smith Commission, according to the Labour reps and the Scotland Labour leadership candidate they support – Jim Murphy – all insist Tories have signed up on 100% of income tax going to Scotland but no reciprocity. Tory MPs have already said they’ll not accept. Labour is telling them they have to. But their English constituents would vote UKIP if they pretend they would vote for this after the general election. In other worlds, Ruth Davidson has sold Lord Smith a pack of meaningless Lib Dem pledges. David Cameron’s Vow is going nowhere, and Michael Portillo knows it.
On the day of the referendum, Andrew Neil allowed the BBC’s Deputy editor Norman Smith to lie to Scotland’s voters, in breach of broadcasting rules, that a NO vote guarantees massive extra powers. No supporter of the YES Campaign was allowed to expose him. Why exactly is that? Alex Salmond always insisted there would be no more powers if we lost. And still there are no new powers. And we are told we will get no new powers until after the next election! How do Scotland’s voters ensure Tory AND Labour MPs implement these constitutional changes, inadequate though they are by the standards of what was implied by the broadcaster-cum-spin-doctors for the three Unionist Parties? Scotland’s voters will have no power to do this! Scotland’s electorate will be reduced to praying that Lib Dem MPs have grown tired of braking their election pledges? You know where you can shove that proposal.
You can fools some of the voters some of the time. But the three Unionist Parties (four if we include Nigel Farage’s UKIP) have exhausted the good will of the people of Scotland. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are busted flushes. No amount of their groveling to Gordon Brown to help them con voters will work. Not anymore.
Diane Abbott, by the way, is ill-served by the mainstream media in Scotland if she wants to know if these comrades can toss into the pot of the next Labour Party parliamentary group much more than more than ten percent of Labour’s 40 seats up north. Diane Abbot relies on feedback from the CBI and Special Branch stooges at BBC Scotland or Labour MPs and MSPs north of the border at her peril. Goodbye to all but a handful of Labour MPs here. And good riddance.