Iain Gray attacks ‘vile poison’ of SNP politics
THE outgoing Labour leader Iain Gray has delivered a stinging attack on the “ugly” side of Nationalism, claiming that Alex Salmond’s party have brought “vile poison” into politics.
In a withering critique of the tactics employed by Salmond and his followers, Gray suggested the SNP would stoop to anything to “avoid the straight question” in the independence referendum.
In an outspoken attack made at special Labour conference in Glasgow, Gray went on to question the behaviour of Salmond himself at the end of a week that saw the First Minister apologise for misleading parliament.
He also condemned the army of pro-independence bloggers and so-called “cybernats” who go online in an attempt to trash the reputations of those whom they think do not support the SNP’s cause.
Gray warned Labour candidates that cybernats and bloggers would question their sexuality and drag their families into the “vitriol”.
“I say to the candidates. Don’t kid yourself. You will be attacked. You will be smeared. You will be lied about. You will be threatened,” Gray said.
“The cybernats and the bedsit bloggers will call you traitor, quisling, lapdog and worse. They will question your appearance, your integrity and your sexuality. They will drag your family and your faith into the lies and the vitriol. It will be worse if you are a woman.
“This is the poison some have brought into our politics and it is vile.”
Gray added: “It is time we started talking openly about it and it is time the SNP did something about it. They know who some of these people are.”
His claim that the SNP powers-that-be are aware of the identity of some of the offenders was one of the few times that cybernat activity has been mentioned in mainstream politics since Mark MacLachlan, an aide to the SNP minister Mike Russell, was forced to resign after it emerged that he was the author of a blog that printed scurrilous and deeply unpleasant allegations about the SNP’s rivals.
Gray was addressing a conference that saw Labour approve reforms drawn up after the party’s disastrous defeat by the SNP in May. The reforms will beef up the powers of his successor as leader and will cut the Scottish party’s ties with London.
After Gray spoke, the three leadership contenders Tom Harris MP, Ken Macintosh MSP and Johann Lamont MSP took part in a hustings in front of delegates.
Gray’s attack was also focused on Salmond after the First Minister was forced to say sorry for misleading parliament when he read out a statement that he said was from one of the world’s foremost experts in referendums, Professor Matt Qvortrup.
In fact, the statement, which purported to support Salmond’s plan for a two-question referendum, had been cobbled together by the First Minister’s spin doctor Kevin Pringle without the approval of Qvortrup.
“This week an academic who dared to dissent had a letter of confession and recant drafted for him and his signature on it demanded. Nobody expected the Scottish Inquisition. But it is not funny. It is not democratic and it should not be accepted,” Gray said.
The First Minister’s attempts to influence the media so that city riots were reported as English rather than British were also criticised by Gray.
“I would want a leader of my country, who when he sees communities under siege and families being burned out of their homes to first feel solidarity and schadenfreude not at all.
“Courts and judges who deliver justice which does not suit him are denounced in the crudest terms and their independence and even their budgets threatened,” Gray said.
“Economists and anti-sectarian campaigners who cross him are publicly denounced and their integrity questioned. Bodies like the CBI when their message does not suit are told not to blunder into politics.”
Gray also claimed that the Union of 1707 was “long gone” and it was now “devolution” that the SNP was intent on dismantling.
A spokeswoman for the SNP wished Gray well in the next stage of his career. Sandra White, the SNP MSP for Kelvin, described the speech as “empty rhetoric”, saying: “This is a bizarre speech from Iain Gray and a return to the type of politics Labour are supposed to be leaving behind.”
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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