By Mike Small
‘Zombie Nationalist accuses Democracy Movement of being a Contagion’. Okay, that needs to be filed under the heading ‘Headlines from an Imaginary Press’ but yesterday marked a new low as Johann Lamont littered her speech at Labour Conference with some extraordinary language about Salmond v Scotland and referring to fellow Scots as a disease.Yesterday Margaret Curran took up the attack and today, no doubt, Jim Murphy will focus, not on spelling out the positive case for the Union but on attacking the Scottish democracy movement.
From The Survivors to I am Legend, from The Road to The Green Death tales of apocylpse and plague have been a constant motif of contemporary culture. From Spengler’s themes of decay, decline to the culture of fear from AIDS and nuclear Armageddon this idea has been constant.
But for the leader of Labour in Scotland to Johann to call nationalism “a virus that has affected so many nations and done so much harm” and accuses the SNP of “corroding politics” leaves many people incredulous. This from the people who constantly refer to the ‘poverty of debate’. She said:
For the Nationalists the misery of the people isn’t a wrong to be corrected – it is a chance to be exploited. For them, grievance is not to be addressed – it is to be nurtured,” she said. And that cynicism, that calculation which leaves families suffering now is a price worth paying if it translates into votes next September. It’s a cynicism which corrodes our politics. It should create in us a revulsion.
As Bill Macdonald writes in The Scotsman this morning:
“I read with sadness and concern Johann Lamont’s speech to the Labour Party conference in which she descended into the depths of the gutter in describing the desire of her fellow Scots for independence as a virus polluting the debate on the future of Scotland.
Such nastiness has no place in the mature debate that many proud Scots have entered into, and she should be ashamed of herself.”
While others have taken perhaps the better response which is to treat such comments with glee:
“The Independence VIRUS! Symptoms include: thinking for yourself, having faith in your abilities, not being terrified by the future.
First this week we were described as peripheral, now we are a virus. Things can only get better?