Tom Peterkin: The First Minister has made his position absolutely clear, so long as you are fluent in Salmond-speak
THERE is a super new game being played by some of the more juvenile inhabitants in the corridors of Holyrood.
The rules of this verbal parlour game, which might liven up a third-rate Christmas Day, are dead simple but require some explanation.
They are based on Salmond-speak – the tortured form of words used by the First Minister when you think you hear him say one thing and later he tells you in all seriousness that, in fact, he meant the complete opposite.
It is, of course, based on the First Minister’s now infamous appearance on Andrew Neil’s Sunday Politics show.
Students of semantics will be familiar with the exchange when Neil asked Salmond if he had sought advice from law officers on EU membership.
“We have, yes,” said Salmond. By way of “clarification” he then added: “In terms of the debate. You can read that in the documents that we have put forward, which argues the position that we would be a successor state.”
Neil interrupted: “And what do they say?” Salmond continued: “You know I can’t give you the legal advice or reveal the legal advice of law officers. You know that Andrew. But what I can say is that everything we have published is consistent with the legal advice we have received.”
Later Salmond summoned an army of fairies to dance on the head of the pin, as he defiantly tried to argue that he had been selectively quoted and that the words above were somehow consistent with the true position – that no specific legal advice had been sought.
Those who play the Salmond-speak game amuse themselves by borrowing the First Minister’s phraseology when they state as fact something that appears completely untrue.
So someone emerging from the parliament’s excellent canteen with a tray laden with pies and chips might be greeted with the following remark: “Ah, I see you’ve gone for the healthy option (pause)... in terms of the debate... you can read that in the documents that we have put forward… etc… etc.”
Similarly, an exchange between one journalist and a shabby, bespectacled colleague wearing a dog-eared tweed jacket might begin: “I see you are looking smart and handsome as usual (pause)... in terms of the debate. You can read that in the documents that we have put forward… blah… blah.”
Someone else was overheard walking into Holyrood’s garden lobby saying: “Good gracious what astonishingly good value for the taxpayer it was to build this parliament for just £414 million (pause)… in terms of the debate... etc... etc.”
So in the spirit of this new game, it seems an appropriate time for this column to make the following comment. The last couple of days that have seen Salmond in all sorts of bother over an independent Scotland’s place in the European Union have have done wonders for the First Minister’s credibility (pause)… in terms of the debate. You can read that in the documents... blah... blah.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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