When someone at the top of their game comes a cropper it has all the fascination of a motorway smash. People are asking how the most adroit political operator in Britain today came to lose the plot. Alex Salmond let rip a moan last week about a cover on the The Economist which lampooned Scotland as Skintland. Alex, his minions, clones, acolytes, hangers on and drones, with the odd succubus thrown in, took umbrage and protested… racism.
Wee Eck borrowed a stepladder and mounted his high horse to denounce the ‘sneering’ magazine and foretold it ‘would rue the day’ it insulted the people of Scotland. If he had either ignored it or laughed at it the whole incident would have been forgotten next day. As it is Mr Toad of Toad Hall has succeeded in making himself look a humourless whinger looking for an excuse to be offended.
The reason for this public relations fiasco is that Salmond forgot Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway’s approach to writing was, as much else in his life, competitive. Don’t do it unless you can beat the other guy was his approach. Give him his due Hemingway usually did beat the other guy. True some parts of his novels verge on parody but his short stories are simply brilliant, unbeatable.
Desperately looking for something to be offended about, Salmond played the victim card, and succeeded in making himself look a prat. Alex, we’re no good at it. We Scots have to learn our limitations.
Usually unacknowledged, it only emerges after drink has been consumed, but deep in our palsied hearts we Scots secretly think that there is a world encompassing conspiracy to deny us our true greatness. From raincoats to radar and any other thing of even remote utility, like golf and television, we think they were invented, made or developed in Scotland. It is not just inventions. It is possible to witness men in a Glasgow bar arguing over how many Scottish battalions it would take to stop the Chinese People’s Liberation Army dead in its tracks. Nevertheless, we have to learn our limitations.
There are some things which just don’t work in Scotland; salads, man bags and whinging amongst them. They do occasionally occur, but always seem out of place somehow, as though they were looking for their real home, probably down south where men wear make up and still have their own teeth.
Liverpool is the world capital of whinge and we just can’t compete. Scotland may lead the developed world in heart attacks, MS and alcoholism but Liverpool has cornered the market in being offended. Last week Alan Davies, a middle aged London comedian and Arsenal supporter, asked why Liverpool should be upset by being asked to play a football match on the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster on 15 April, 1989 in which 96 Liverpool supporters died.
Predictably there was a torrent of abuse poured out upon him, including the now obligatory death threats on Twitter. Some Liverpool aficionados expressed the desire that Davies would contract cancer so that his children would know what Christmas was like without a father. It was also suggested to Davies by some tender soul whose sensibilites had been bruised that his wife should be raped because of what he had said.
Foolishly Davies originally apologised for what he said and offered £1,000 to the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. The offer was refused. That reaction raised professional victimhood to the level of an art form and Liverpool are undoubtedly outright winners of this year’s Nobel Prize for Being Offended. So you see Alex, we Scots just can’t compete in the whinge business, we should leave it to the professionals on Merseyside.
It might have been possible to feel some sympathy for Liverpool if, perhaps out of shame, they ever refuse to play a football match on 29 May in memory of the 39 Juventus fans killed at the Hysel Stadium in Brussels after Liverpool fans rioted in 1985. Fourteen Liverpool fans were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and the football club were marked as footballing pariahs and excluded from European competition for six years.
The official UEFA observer Gunter Schneider reported, “Only the English fans were responsible. Of that there is no doubt.” The report of top Belgian judge Marina Coppieters was finally published after an 18 month exhaustive investigation. It concluded that blame should rest solely with the Liverpool fans. Unfortunately Liverpool only ever sees itself as the victim.
Compare Liverpool to its nearest Scottish equivalent, Glasgow. If someone so much as dare to look askance at Liverpool we find Liverpudlians rolling on the ground in agony like an Argentinean forward looking for a penalty. If Glasgow is dumped on what do Glaswegians do? They just stick two fingers up at the world and carry on secure that unhealthy, boozy, violent, sectarian and poverty stricken it might be, but in their minds there is still no place which quite measures up to Glasgow.
Alex, that’s where you got it so badly wrong. Don’t do it unless you can beat the other guy. No matter how hard we try Scots are just not in the same league for whinging as others who can do it far better than we can.
What should Salmond’s reaction have been? When Muslim terrorists tried to bomb Glasgow Airport what happened? Airport workers, baggage handlers etc., rushed to the spot and gave them a good kicking. What Scots are good at is combatitiveness. Remember, when Groundskeeper Willie had to emigrate to the USA there was a reason for it, it was because he was such a wimp everyone in Scotland thought him a sissy.