Sunday 24 August 2008

More in sorrow than in anger

I've been known to involve myself in a spot of politics from time to time. I've also been known to indulge a little in the less delicate side of political activity.

Good, strenuous political debate is vital for a healthy democracy - that's part of the reason why we need a strong opposition - and that debate should be fairly free-ranging, covering the qualities of the candidates and the policies of the parties as well as the actions, inactions and records of the parties and candidates.

Where it falls down is when a political party tells lies, peddles mistruths and half-truths and seeks to misrepresent the truth for party political gain. When that happens, democracy is ill-served, the very democratic process is damaged, and we are forced another step away from good politics. That's why I was disappointed by Labour's recent name-calling when they started referring to SNP activists as 'ghouls' for canvassing in Glenrothes before John MacDougall died.

SNP activists campaign all the time. We're currently campaigning in Edinburgh North and Leith, for example, as well as trying to make a contribution to the campaign in Glenrothes. I don't know what SNP campaigning has been done in the Glenrothes constituency since May 2007, but I do know that the SNP members in that constituency are thoroughly decent people and are in no way ghouls.

I imagine that this constituency got central party support in terms of telecanvassing - as other constituencies have received - but I can be absolutely certain that SNP activists, whether members on the ground or at a distance, would not have campaigned in that constituency between hearing that the sitting MP had entered hospital for the final time and the time he was buried.

Why is that important? Because Labour, the party which tossed the allegation so casually, was telecanvassing in Glenrothes before Mr MacDougall died, was canvassing on the day that Gordon Brown went to visit his old friend on his deathbed, and was canvassing between the MP's death and funeral. I like to think that there was at least enough dignity to ensure that Labour did not canvass on the day of Mr MacDougall's funeral. I know because Labour managed to canvass SNP members during that time.

This campaign, which Gordon Brown continues to shy away from, is likely to be a long and hard one and we could have done without the nastiness that Labour has decided to introduce.

It is with far more sorrow than anger that I note that Labour has gone ugly early.

No comments: