Attention seeking is the least of our problems when millions are beset with worries - Brian Wilson
Two weeks ago, Nicola Sturgeon called Liz Truss a “hypocrite” on the basis of something she said about referendums in 1996. This week, Miss Truss called Ms Sturgeon an “attention- seeker” to be ignored.
So far, so bad. Doubtless, they will both rehearse their frosty, socially-distanced body language for when they must encounter one another. “I have to meet you but I don’t really want to” will be the mutual message. Poor old Scotland, caught in the cross-fire.
These theatrics reflect the current state of politics but have nothing to do with challenges people face. The vast majority might prefer political differences to be minimised rather than set in stone as obstacles to constructive relations on anything.
Whether they like it or not, Scottish and UK Governments must work together over huge policy areas. Where powers are reserved, there is potential to influence. Where devolved, there is the potential to learn from elsewhere. Always, there is money at stake. Goodwill matters so make the best of it and not the worst.
This is clearly not an option that has impinged upon the calculations of either Ms Truss or Ms Sturgeon. The charge against both should be self-indulgence and lack of respect for the offices the other holds or aspires to, regardless of personalities.
By pandering to a Tory audience, Ms Truss threw away the opportunity to embark upon the relationship with a clean sheet or appear reasonable, even if the end message is the same.
That’s not clever politics, particularly when Ms Sturgeon’s referendum stunt is heading straight for a cul-de-sac without assistance from anyone.
I doubt if the claimed “backlash” will come to much and efforts to stir up righteous indignation are comical. A clip was soon doing the rounds of Ms Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions sneering at the ever courteous Willie Rennie as “a pathetic attention-seeker”.
Disappointingly, there is no record of John Swinney taking to the airwaves to disapprove.
Hopefully, Ms Truss will learn from this week’s experience. Courtesy costs nothing and there is plenty territory, starting with Northern Ireland, where the patronising dismissiveness she demonstrated in the safe haven of Exeter will be dangerous as well as inept.
It is of course nonsensical that demands for a second independence referendum should dominate Scotland’s current political landscape, or even be visible in its foothills. Millions are beset with worries about energy bills, soaring mortgage costs and so much else that creates obligations for governments and political parties to offer credible mitigation measures.
Instead, we are lumbered with the same old argument in the same old economic vacuum.
Anyone who heard an interview yesterday with a Scottish Government Minister, Ivan McKee, will appreciate the extent to which Ms Sturgeon and her colleagues have failed in that basic prerequisite to seriously address the unanswered questions that beset them in 2014.
Mr McKee has responsibility for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, which is a little alarming. He informed us that post-independence Scotland would continue to use sterling while moving “as quickly as possible to set up a Scottish currency”. Questions about a promised Scottish Central Bank flummoxed him completely. It’s worth a listen for its incoherence.
This prompted me to google Mr McKee and the first thing that came up was a clip of him addressing an SNP training school on this very subject. (Good Morning Scotland should try it). Then, he was perfectly coherent – about how to dupe Scottish voters. Polling showed they wanted to keep the pound in the event of independence so, said Ivan, that was what they must be told.
“The conversation on the doorsteps should be: ‘We’re going to keep the pound’. Are you allowed to do that: ‘Yes”. End of conversation. It’s not a conversation about what the deficit will be, what the exchange rates will be , my pension’s in pounds, my mortgage is in pounds. It’s yes – we’re going to keep the pound. End of conversation”.
If ever put to the test, Scottish voters may beg to disagree – as indeed Ivan the Terrible now seems to disagree with himself. Attention-seeking is the least of our problems.