Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The mother of all scandals?

Anas Sarwar - cack-handed hatchet-man

Or the distant cousin of a damp squib!

I refer, of course, to the British Labour & Unionist Party's latest desperate effort to smear the SNP/Scottish Government and, by no means incidentally, to kill the referendum consultation process - by which I mean the real consultation and not Micky Moore's rather pathetic effort on behalf of his Tory masters.

As you will know by now - so long as you don't rely on the mainstream media for information - the whole thing ended in farce with "Scottish" Labour's cack-handed hatchet-man, Anas Sarwar, left standing with his trousers around his ankles and his union jack boxer shorts flapping in the breeze.

Johann Lamont's deputy had spent a couple of days lashing the Angry Villagers of Britnatland into a frenzy of dutiful, pitchfork-waving outrage which, with the eager encouragement of the press, quickly had a minor procedural matter blown up into a massive conspiracy involving an army of SNP activists all feverishly flogging their computer keyboards as they submitted thousands of anonymous responses to Your Scotland – Your Referendum.

Tavish Scott - offensive teet
Failed Scottish LibDem leader, Tavish Scottt, went right over the top and accused civil servants of being part of this "conspiracy". In a quite appalling outburst Scott impugned the integrity of all Scotland's civil servants when he tweeted,
So Nats are rigging inde ref consultation - multiple responses from civil servants and FM special advisors for sure
Quite what this alleged onslaught was supposed to achieve was never very clear. Nor was Mr Sarwar ever able to explain why a party with over 20,000 members would need to resort to such tactics. Or why it was only nationalists who were, supposedly, taking advantage of the fact that submissions could be made anonymously in precisely the same way as in previous consultations under a "Scottish" Labour administration.

But explanations, like facts, are not known to feature prominently in British nationalist smear campaigns.

Sarwar's slap-down came in the form of the Scottish Government's calm, measured response to the over-hyped hoo-ha he had generated. Information released on Monday 2 April showed that, far from the tsunami of submissions imagined by the more rabid elements of the anti-independence campaign, only 414 responses had been submitted anonymously. A mere 3.5% of the total.

Cabinet Secretary for Parliamentary Business Bruce Crawford said:
As the figures we have published demonstrate, there is absolutely no evidence of anonymous responses skewing the process – quite the reverse – but we can and will make the process stronger still by requiring all submissions to have personal identification details before they are taken into account.  While anonymous contributions would always have been separately identified, we will now ensure that no anonymous submissions are included in the analysis at all.  And while there is no evidence of duplicate identical responses from the same person, we can and will ensure that any received are also excluded from the independent analysis so that their view is only represented once.
And that is all there was to it. Another Labour smear evaporates in the mild warmth of cursory scrutiny and, incidentally, another small part of the toxic legacy of Labour rule is rectified.

Doubtless there will be some unionist spokesdrone somewhere who will insist that, despite the Scottish Government's prompt and effective action, there are still questions to be asked. There are! But the questions are being asked, not of the SNP, but of the British Labour & Unionist Party and their Tory and LibDem partners in the anti-independence coalition. Questions such as,

Why did none of Mr Sarwar's predecessors highlight the "anonymity" issue during their own consultations?

Why did "Scottish" Labour wait until now to start making a fuss when the referendum consultation has been running for many weeks?

Why was Johann Lamont so frantically desperate to kill the consultation process?

And, of course, there is a whole slew of questions hanging over the UK Government's own wee consultation. Neither Mr Sarwar's London bosses nor their Tory and LibDem allies are going to be well pleased with him opening that can of smelly old worms.

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