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By a Newsnet reporter

Alistair Darling has been condemned for making "crass, insensitive and parochial" comments about Syria while addressing a small gathering of invitees at the secretive launch of the Glasgow branch of the Better Together campaign on Saturday.

Asked about the Commons vote last week against military action in Syria, Mr Darling said:


"Unfortunately and tragically, the atrocities that are being visited upon the people of Syria are going to continue.

"Ultimately, the long term solution is going to have to be diplomatic and the UK has got far more clout in the United Nations, in the G20 which is meeting in Russia next week, than a smaller country ever would.

"I've been to lots of these meetings throughout the time I was a minister and large countries, particularly one with a reputation like ours, have clout.

"I don't think there's anyone in this room who wouldn't want to see the clout of the UK, if possible, along with other countries, trying to bring an end to the bloodshed taking place in Syria."

The meeting was also addressed by Willie Rennie for the Lib Dems, Ruth Davidson for the Conservatives, and Labour's Scottish leader Johann Lamont, who has come under sustained criticism for being unavailable for public comment except during stage-managed events. Ms Lamont used her speech to attack First Minister Alex Salmond.

Ms Lamont said:

"Scotland deserves better than what we have at the moment. We deserve better living standards, better schools and hospitals, secure jobs and a vision of what Scotland can be.

"But at the moment we cannot address the pressing needs of you and me, of families throughout our country because Alex Salmond has the nation on pause as we await his referendum."

Ms Lamont made no attempt to sketch out what she thought a better vision of Scotland might be.

Although billed as a public meeting, details of the launch of Better Together Glasgow were kept secret until the last minute.  Those wishing to attend the launch had to apply in advance, and were notified of the venue at the last minute.  Many of those who did attend appeared to have affiliations with ant-independence parties.

It is believed that Better Together, which has struggled to translate its support in opinion polls into volunteers on the ground, took this measure in an attempt to avoid No supporters at the meeting being outnumbered by Yes supporters, as has occurred at the recent launches of a number of local Better Together groups.

However at least one Yes supporter made it through Better Together's prior vetting, and was ejected from the meeting after heckling Tory leader Ruth Davidson.  A small group of Yes supporters demonstrated outside the venue, the Mitchell Theatre in Glasgow.

Speaking to the Herald newspaper, a spokesperson for Yes Scotland said:

"We certainly agree with Johann Lamont that Scotland deserves better than we have at the moment.  But why would anybody believe that sticking with a failed Westminster system that is responsible for imposing policies such as the punitive bedroom tax is the way to achieve that?"

"One of the key advantages of becoming independent is to foster new, healthy and equal relationships with other countries in these isles. Independence for Scotland is also good for the rest of the UK.

"With a Yes vote, we will be taking control of our own future and making decisions that match our own priorities and aspirations. And, unlike now under the Westminster system, we will always get the government we vote for."

Yes Scotland also contrasted the secretive launch of Better Together's Glasgow campaign group with the launch 9 months ago of Yes Glasgow.  The Yes Glasgow event attracted over 700 supporters and has gone on to stage nearly 240 events and has enlisted more than 1000 volunteers and 500 "Yes ambassadors".

Commenting, Glasgow Kelvin SNP MSP Sandra White said:

"How incredibly sad that the first thing Alistair Darling seems to have thought of when he saw the dreadful humanitarian crisis unfolding in Syria was how to score political points from it.

"Most people would think that basing a political speech around such a serious situation - particularly one which is ongoing - is crass, insensitive and parochial.

"Regardless of people’s position on the independence debate in Scotland I have no doubt we all want to see a solution to the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

"Mr Darling would have been better saying nothing if this is all he has to offer on such a serious issue."

Comments  

 
# Breeks 2013-09-01 10:52
Clout. = A weapon of mass destruction.
 
 
# Alan 2013-09-01 10:55
Darling may be right that the long term solution is going to have to be diplomatic. however, that depends on the negotiating skills of a diplomat not the size of the country they are from.
 
 
# govanite 2013-09-01 11:13
Interesting stat on SoS poll is that labour can only rely on 50% of their voters to support the union.
Strange poll in the express for referendum on monarchy.
Seems to me royalists would want a ref before any abolition & republicans would want one in order to achieve that. So 60% for a referendum seems a mixed bag. Don't know full poll breakdown though.
 
 
# Virgil 2013-09-01 11:27
Quoting govanite:
Interesting stat on SoS poll is that labour can only rely on 50% of their voters to support the union.
Strange poll in the express for referendum on monarchy.
Seems to me royalists would want a ref before any abolition & republicans would want one in order to achieve that. So 60% for a referendum seems a mixed bag. Don't know full poll breakdown though.

I read it as 25%, not 50%.
Figure for SNP voters not yet committed to Yes is 18%
 
 
# FREEDOM1 2013-09-01 12:15
Virgil - Can anyone explain to me an SNP voter why they (18% SNP voters) are not committed to 'Yes'? I do not understand why this could be possible.
 
 
# govanite 2013-09-01 12:28
Guess we need to wait til the real poll as these figures are all a bit odd.
 
 
# tartanfever 2013-09-01 13:31
Freedom - Labour had a huge backlash for the financial meltdown they caused, so many Scots voted for the SNP in Holyrood because of that. Also seen as a tactical vote by many as the Tories had just come to power in Westminster and people wanted to preserve public spending north of the border.

Those voters may not want full independence, hence why we get devo max supporters who would vote for the SNP in Holyrood but would say no to full independence.
 
 
# Radge 2013-09-01 14:37
Many people voted for the SNP at the last Scottish General Election purely because the SNP was the only remotely competent party of government on offer. They were not necessarily dyed in the wool supporters of independence.
 
 
# Jamie Black 2013-09-01 15:08
Quoting Radge:
Many people voted for the SNP at the last Scottish General Election purely because the SNP was the only remotely competent party of government on offer. They were not necessarily dyed in the wool supporters of independence.


Probably the truet statement ever posted on here. The sooner the SNP and Yes people realise it, the better for everyone. If the SNP do NOT acknowlege this, they will never ever get voted in. Their arrogance in assuming their majority meant a vote for Indy has alienated a huge number of people - the SNP are doing a good job to ensure that with No vote, no-one will see them fit to govern. They have made such a tremendous job (supported by this site amongst others) of telling us how bad the UK is, that they have given themselves no mandate to govern Scotland as part o the UK.
 
 
# snowthistle 2013-09-01 18:25
Just curious Jamie, who do you think will win the next Holyrood election if not the SNP?
 
 
# Jamie Black 2013-09-01 19:27
it's a good question snowthistle. I would say that very much will depend on Labour appointing a leader capable of matching Alex Salmond. I might not like him, but he runs rings round virtually every politician in Scotland .

If it's a No vote, and Labour has a semi decent leader in Scotland, then I reckon the SNP will suffer massively and most likely to be ousted. They've put too much on a Yes vote, hence the constant 'reminders' that a vote Yes is not a vote for the SNP.

Labour have 12months to make it or break it in Scotland.
 
 
# bringiton 2013-09-01 21:21
Labour have had decades to "make it" in Scotland and appart from looking after their own interests have done little for their constituents.
People are beginning to realise this despite the efforts of the unionist press so I agree that probably their political fortunes in Scotland are not looking too good.
We are going to need new political parties in Scotland following independence.
 
 
# Sulzer27 2013-09-01 11:34
Even when making a meaningless comment he cannot resist the reference to physical violence. I would rather not have "clout" than carry the weight of the UK reputation on our shoulders. Too many graveyards in too many countries.
 
 
# Virgil 2013-09-01 11:48
Quoting Sulzer27:
Even when making a meaningless comment he cannot resist the reference to physical violence. I would rather not have "clout" than carry the weight of the UK reputation on our shoulders. Too many graveyards in too many countries.


"Fisheries Policy Progress Shows How Scotland Would Have Greater Clout With Independence" Ian Hudghton MEP
President, Scottish National Party July 2012.
 
 
# Massan_Gow 2013-09-01 13:01
Different meaning of the word 'clout' I would suggest...
 
 
# Sandy Miller 2013-09-01 12:32
I was always of the opinion that the Iraq wars could have been avoided if they had let hans Blix complete his work on WMDs
He was a Swedish diplomat (Swedish pop. just over 9 million)
So much for having the clout of the UK
 
 
# Abulhaq 2013-09-01 11:53
Darling seems oblivious to the glaring fact that the BritState has dirty hands where ME is concerned. Neutral it is not. So many Brit nats appear to regard the predations of the old empire as the most noble event in world history. Altruistically bringing buckets of civilized values to the barbarians, who were so eager to be subjects of the Great White Queen. Darling is a relic. If this is the best BT can offer with all their resources we have nothing to fear. Norway, a small nation, was involved in attempting to bring Israel and Palestinians together was it not? so bang goes your argument!
 
 
# hiorta 2013-09-01 12:43
Identifying and addressing Causes might go some way to achieving a just peace, but 'clout' seems to be about prestige - and likely to be yet another 'Cause'.
 
 
# Leader of the Pack 2013-09-01 12:44
The country with the biggest clout in the Middle East is even smaller than Scotland! ISRAEL! So once again Darling shows why he is becoming one of the most ridiculed politicians in UK history.
 
 
# proudscot 2013-09-01 13:01
Politicians like Darling, with their speeches carefully crafted for them by their teams of advisors and speechwriters, are usually careful and selective in their choice of language. In this case, his use of the term "clout" three times, rather than "influence", says it all with regard to the imperialist mindset of the Unionist politicians of all stripes.
 
 
# call me dave 2013-09-01 15:27
U Gov Poll not anything to worry about.
------------------------------------
Curiously, this YouGov poll was commissioned by the Devoplus campaign, with the apparent intention of producing results that would demonstrate to the No camp that they would have a better chance of victory if they committed to increased powers for the Scottish Parliament. That doesn't seem to have really come off - the Devoplus crowd would probably have been better advised to use a pollster that doesn't routinely produce inflated No leads in the headline figures.

scotgoespop.blogspot.co.uk/.../...
 
 
# dunnichen 2013-09-01 15:34
Off topic but I can't resist sharing this T shirt offer. It's an absolute cracker......http://www.owlbarn.co.uk/we-re-doomed-dads-army.html
 
 
# ds12 2013-09-01 16:05
Its not that long since Labour were in power.Now wouldn't it be interesting if they were also granting licences for the sale of chemicals to the middle east.
 
 
# Macart 2013-09-02 06:14
Depends on your definition of clout. I'm sure the rUK will still be able to have special relationships, sit at tables with the USA, China, Russia, France and discuss how to use their 'clout' on the world stage.

Independence means we determine how we interact with the world as opposed to someone deciding our role on our behalf. Yet again though Mr Darling is inferring that Scots would be incapable of lending aid to those in need because we choose our own path. Bit of a stretch in logic there, but never let logic get in the way of a good spin eh?
 

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