Saturday, 10 May 2008

Where be your gibes now, your gambols, your songs, your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar?

As I sat perusing the Official Report of First Minister's Questions from this week, I was struck by a sudden image of John Knott:
Ms Alexander: I have no doubt that the judgment of history will be between those, such as me and my colleagues
Ah, get over yourself, Wendibles, you're just a politician, you'll be forgotten in a few years.
Since we're here today, though, let's have a wee look back over the week that was. For those with a penchant for bizarre stories, the BBC has a special page tracking the tale in video from the Brian Taylor interview at Labour conference right up to the present day (well, near enough).

Here's the thing - the u-turn story of this week began in the Sunday Mail with a story headlined "Brown to call SNP bluff over independence vote". An interesting point, considering later events.
I see that at the end of that article there's a quote from Professor James Mitchell of Strathclyde University positing that support for no change may exceed support for independence - he must have made that reckoning without taking into account how motivated SNP members will be in a referendum or what canvassing questions we ask.
Back to the story, though, the spin was on and Labour 'insiders' were briefing that Brown was on board - that would seem to be a bizarre move for any member of the Labour party if he hadn't approved (briefing in an attempt to bounce him). Giving a line from the Prime Minister when no such line was authorised would be damaging to the Labour party, damaging to Gordon Brown and to Wendy Alexander, and completely out of character for anyone in Labour post 1994.
It suggests to me that they were at least tipped the wink from Brown's Bunker - which makes the later nonsense even worse. If Brown had some knowledge of what Wendy was up to then his denials in Westminster on Wednesday could have been cold feet or the sudden realisation that the cunning plan was not so good after all - or just it had gone too far and too fast for the plodder that Brown is.
There's a terrible private hell for Labour to live through just now - and all their own doing - which has led this weekend to the two sides, formerly so close too, lobbing grenades at each other from entrenched positions - if you'd written this as fiction a year ago you would have been accused of a vivid imagination at least ...
The upshot is that it leaves the Conservatives as the only credible party of the union - and traditional Labour voters unsure about what Labour's position on the constitution currently is.

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