Has Alex Salmond lost it? The question becomes especially pertinent in the light of the SNP leader’s extraordinary reaction to his party’s decidedly underwhelming result in the Euro-elections.
It is one thing for party bosses to be disappointed when their charges perform less well than anticipated. However, it is entirely another when they refuse to accept responsibility for their crucial part in that under-performance and then blame broadcasters, in the most petulant of terms, for the success of one of their opponents.
The latter was very much Mr Salmond’s role in the Nats’ post mortem yesterday after they’d failed to clinch that third Euro-seat they’d set their sights on and allowed – horror of horrors, as far as their leader was concerned – the UK Independence Party to snatch it.
It was a remarkable result in many ways. Principle among them, and something that will echo long after the precise details of this election are forgotten, is that Mr Salmond blamed the BBC for talking up Ukip’s chances of winning their first-ever Scottish seat of any kind when the truth was that it was he who gave Nigel Farage’s party its biggest boost.
For reasons that are presumably connected to the SNP’s private polling, the party hoisted the alarm flags first of all three days and then again one day before the voters went to the polls to select the country’s MEPs – and announced loudly that there was a straight choice between the SNP and Ukip for the sixth of the Scottish Euro-seats.
Thus, all over Scotland voters were handed on a plate another reason for backing Ukip. As well as voicing their discontent with Britain’s current deal with the EU they could also say to themselves that backing the party that had done so well south of the Border would give the Nats a bloody nose.
And with the political atmosphere already so highly charged, thanks to the looming independence referendum, why wouldn’t No voters take their cue from Mr Salmond’s cack-handed appeal and decide to take him down a peg or two?
Needless to say, that’s not how the man who is lauded by many in the London and international media as some kind of miracle worker but whose frailties are daily becoming more obvious in his homeland, saw it.
In as childish a display as seasoned observers can remember, Mr Salmond used a Star Trek analogy to say that Ukip’s success was all because their successes in England had been “beamed into Scotland, courtesy of the BBC”.
That opened the Nat floodgates; Mike Russell, the education minister, agreed wholeheartedly with his boss (now there’s a change), as did Stewart Maxwell, the Holyrood culture committee convenor. Christina McKelvie, of the European committee, re-tweeted that the BBC were “twats”, which suggests that that’s what she thinks of the broadcasters, too.
And others even had the audacity to attack “St” John Curtice, questioning the psephologist’s neutrality and accusing him of “letting the mask slip” and all because he suggested that this election hadn’t been everything that Mr Salmond had said it would be.
It was pathetic, truly pathetic but entirely typical, behaviour from Scotland’s First Minister and absolutely no surprise to those who know him.
What has clearly infuriated Alex Salmond is that for years – decades – he’s been telling anyone who’d listen that the Scots were different from the English in all sorts of ways but especially in their attitude to Europe.
That has always been so much hogwash but now, thanks in large measure to his own stupidity, he’s given the party that most hates the EU a foothold in his own backyard.
No wonder the victorious Ukip candidate was sitting down last night to write a “thank you” letter to Wee Eck.
Interestingly and like other political leaders in these islands who’ve smelled the coffee, Nicola Sturgeon’s reaction to the Ukip vote was to insist that the SNP would take a hard-headed attitude towards the EU – sticking up for Scotland, especially on issues like the Common Fisheries Policy.
Of the other parties, the Liberal Democrats were slaughtered while Labour had a reasonable night, putting on something like six per cent. The Tories had most to cheer about for a change.
They had their highest Euro-vote for 25 years and on this showing stand a good chance of wresting seats like West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine as well as Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk from the Liberal Democrats at next year’s general election.
Although they won only one of the six Scottish seats Ukip’s breakthrough, with or without Mr Salmond’s undoubted assistance, has been remarkable.
Only a year after Nigel Farage was forced to cower before a nationalist mob in the Royal Mile, been subjected to a “beasting” from a BBC Scotland presenter and told by Mr Salmond he had no business even contesting elections in Scotland his party has an MEP.
It’s an amazing transformation.
This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service — if this is your content and you’re reading it on someone else’s site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.