Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Jack McConnell jumps into Labour strategist's tweet row as indignant SNP ‘stoke the fires’, where was the husband of Nicola Sturgeon and SNP Chief Executive Peter Murrell when an Asian Candidate was getting smeared at an SNP meeting behind his back?

Dear All

Have you ever played pin the tail of the donkey?

It is a child’s game; there is an adult version which people in the Scottish National Party play, its pin a label on someone.

Ian Smart; is a Labour blogger and tweeter, I see his stuff from time to time, he generally goes for the humour angle when he tweets.

One of his tweets has caused a row, Ian Smart spoke of an independent Scotland "turning on Poles and Pakis" and later likened the SNP to the Ku Klux Klan.

On his blog, I said that his tweet wasn’t the greatest; however, I don’t think he is a racist; rather a victim of the curse of twitter, 140 characters is sometimes a recipe for trouble.

Now, former First Minister Jack McConnell has entered the row, which the SNP will be keen to keep going since political smearing has popped up again.

And the stories involve the Scottish National Party under the leadership of Alex Salmond and Niocola Sturgeon.

Ian Smart is a former president of the Law Society of Scotland, just as the dumb can run foul of twitter so can the bright. He was promoting a blog reflecting on Labour's failings following the South Shields by-election when he was asked on-line about the view that a No vote in the 2014 independence referendum could usher in a decade of Tory rule.

Mr Smart responded:

"Better 100 years of the Tories than the turn on the Poles and the Pakis that would follow independence failing to deliver."

And then having a label to tag him with the independence camp set to work!

There was a flood of tweets objecting to both the use of the phrase "Poles and Pakis" and the suggestion that a post-independence Scotland would be racist.

Would an independent Scotland be racist?

Well anyone here who is a racist would still hold the same view, regardless what the outcome of any ballot let alone an independence vote.

Former Socialist MSP Carolyn Leckie urged him to "stop digging".

Personally, I think this is the first time I have credited Ms. Leckie with coming out with something sensible.

Unfortunately, Mr Smart responded to Ms Leckie:

"Who seriously thinks I'm a racist? Only those for whom the cap fits. What are you doing in their company?"

If someone is throwing you a lifeline, on reflection he might in future pause for a moment for before engaging brain.

Former First Minister Lord McConnell commented on long-time ally Mr Smart and suggested his critics may be "feeling guilty".

This brought one response:

"You are a former First Minister, don't get into this ****".

An SNP spokesman said of the exchanges:

"It is only a few days since Labour's Douglas Alexander called for a respectful referendum debate, yet these nasty tweets have been posted by prominent Labour blogger Ian Smart. The tweets are highly offensive, not just to everyone who supports a Yes vote, but more particularly to Scotland's Pakistani community."

I sat in an SNP meeting where SNP Councillors David McDonald, Iris Gibson, Shab Jaffri and James Torrance, all sat in silence as Shona McAlpine smeared an Asian Candidate who wished to stand as a council candidate.

I was the only person to speak up and put a stop to it.

Where was SNP Chief Executive Peter Murrell’s concern about that sorry episode when it was reported to SNP HQ?

Peter Murrell is married to Nicola Sturgeon, so you would think he would have done something, after all the smearing was done in a room full of witnesses!

To quote the SNP spokesman:

“The tweets are highly offensive, not just to everyone who supports a Yes vote, but more particularly to Scotland's Pakistani community."

What a great pity that no one at the SNP HQ was willing to stand up for the Asian Candidate.

Lord McConnell said today:

"I abhor racism, whoever is the target and whatever the context. I wish others were as consistent."

I think he might be talking about certain people in the Scottish National Party.
Mr Smart conceded:

"I've been caught up in a bit of a Twitter storm over the last 24 hours."

In future, when tweeting, be sensible because as Clint Eastwood said in the 1979 movie, Escape from Alcatraz:

“You never know when some arsehole will take offence”!

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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