The Donald For First Minister

Donald Trump is soon to become the 45th president of the United States of America. I find myself wondering if he could job share; First Minister of Scotland, say on the weekends. He could work on his golf swing too.

He already owns some excellent golf courses. He qualifies as Scottish by means of his mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, who was a Gaelic-speaking crofter from the windswept Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. It’s not as if we even have to go to a Scottish granny as we do to find international football players. I think this could work.

Now, I sense many readers may be unconvinced, but bear with me. There are advantages. Firstly if our politicians work on the weekend, they could get real jobs and might be better informed about the world. Also, we could pay them less. Even allowing for The Donald’s weekly air fares we would save a small fortune. We would not be the foremost thing on his mind, and Scotland thrived like never before after the Act of Union when we were ignored by disinterested politicians. As always with government, neglect is our ally. Still not convinced? Well I confess there is a more immediate and specific reason: the relative qualities of Donald Trump and the Scottish political firmament as revealed this week in their handling of fake news. Allow me to explain.

In America, Mr Trump faced a storm. It started at the Golden Globe awards, during which famous actress Meryl Streep launched a prolonged attack on the President Elect. Streep dredged up old examples of fake news and really made them shine with a sparkling performance. To any-one who has seen the film “Team America” the serial jokes about the Film Actors’ Guild came quickly to mind. This was the political establishment’s celebrity-hit squad in full flow. It was meant to grab the headlines, change the narrative and turn press pack on to the allotted victim.

But The Donald did not agree to be the victim. He tweeted out that Ms. Streep is one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood (and you know, he has a point). He also had many allies. The world changed in 2016. This headline grabbing stunt likely would have worked a year ago. But not now. The complacent left wing mainstream of Anglo-Saxon politics (and for the most part I include the British Conservative Party in that grouping), having long been distant from the ordinary people, find themselves suddenly no longer able to understand what is happening. They repeat the moves that worked in the past for so many years. Yet now they fail, and fail again. Also, as Meghan McCain points out, these tactics do not merely fail, they build support for the opposing viewpoint.

The more ideas are described as deplorable, the more people take pleasure in exploring those ideas. The more we are told that our wise overlords know more than we do about how to run our lives and raise our children, the more people stand up and argue the opposite. The more people are told what to think, the more they reject the programming and insist on thinking for themselves. It is a wonderful sight to behold.

Donald Trump’s trial by fake news was only just beginning however. Next came the declassified report into alleged Russian hacking of the US election. An amazing document, entirely evidence free and reduced to citing the most mundane aspects of RT editorial policy as evidence of the sneakiness of those pesky Russians.

For fans of political conspiracy, this is thin gruel indeed. Far more satisfying is the exchange between Putin and the press on the subject. When challenged on the matter, Putin describes what he knows about western governmental interference in Russian politics. It turns out he knows rather a lot, with his former KGB colleagues providing him with a steady stream of letters from western governments directing the efforts of western NGOs to undermine the Russian Government. I suspect he rather enjoyed being able to note that he sees the original letters, not photocopies.

Finally, the part of the American society once feared as the “deep state” decided to smear Mr Trump in frankly every way it possibly could. This was released by those two go-to organisations - Buzzfeed and CNN. The next day The Donald has a press conference arranged. He came out in combative fashion:

The president elect shared his thoughts on Buzzfeed (“a failing pile of garbage”) and CNN (“you are fake news”). He also mentioned the BBC: “BBC News, there’s another beauty”

The President Elect then said something which impressed me. He explained that his position and prominence gave him a megaphone to speak to the purveyors of fake news. He went on to point out that most people are not so fortunate. He said he had seen many people destroyed by the fake news. In short he stuck up for the little guy against powerful vested interests. He did it as an aside, without fanfare and apparently in an un-scripted comment. He said it without political agenda, or advantage. It was a moment that spoke to a man with some genuineness. It showed character.

Contrast this with one of the stories from Scotland this week. We have a witch-hunt, orchestrated by the largest-selling red-top paper in Scotland, The Daily Record. The target was a video-blogger with the wrong sort of opinions. His name is Colin Robertson.

The blogger is part of the so called alt-right, a loose connection individuals and small organisations opposed to the speech and thought control of political correctness and out to push back. Starting with gamer-gate, moving to fights over the SciFi Nebula awards and targeting third wave feminism and other left wing dogma, the alt right tend to say the “unsayable”. This particular blogger is accused by The Daily Record of the full range of thought and speech crime. He is a “vile vlogger”, racist, anti-semite and misogynist. He is everything Meryl Streep, CNN and Buzzfeed accuse Trump of being. But three things stand out:

1. This is a single commentator making videos for Youtube, from a modest home he shares with his father in Linlithgow

2. The video clip embedded in the article has him saying nothing that we wouldn’t say on the UK Column. His sin seems to be who he was saying it to.

3. The Daily Record can offer no quotes to back up their claims of that he is a vile racist.

In a follow up article we learn some further interesting facts:

4. Hope Not Hate are involved (they are going after more than Nigel Farage)

5. The blogger has 20,000 followers and 2.1 Million views

6. No complaints over his comments have been received by Police Scotland

Scottish politicians of all colours were quick to condemn this man. Afterall, he holds views they do not like. A Scottish Tories spokesman said: 

Clearly the police can’t take action until a complaint is made. People would expect action to be swift and serious. 

Scottish Labour justice spokeswoman Claire Baker said:

There is no place for hate crimes in Scotland – in our schools, workplaces, communities or online.

Scottish Green MSP Ross Greer said:

Donald Trump has clearly encouraged bigots here as well as in 
the US. 

So without a single example of any unacceptable speech (and remember we are talking about speech here, ideas, no-one is getting hurt) we have all three main Hollyrood political parties line up to pronounce the blogger a bigot and to call on the police to take swift and serious action.

It all reminds me of the pre-enlightenment trial of a young man with heretical ideas. Thomas Aitkenhead was convicted of heresy and hanged by the neck to deter others from similar ideas. He was 20 years old.

In a BBC dramatisation of the trial, the politician pushing the process said, “we’ll hang him!”. The lawyer said “no, we’ll have an assize”. To which the politician responded “very well, we’ll have an assize ... and then we’ll hang him!”. 

Colin Robertson is the Thomas Aitkenhead of the Scottish 21st Century. The heretic rounded upon by the established order. He has fled to the United States, and frankly I think he is wise to have done so. In 21st Century Scotland he could expect no more justice than young Mr Aitkenhead received at the close of the 17th Century.

And who, you may wonder are the Witch-finders General in this sorry tale? That would be the authors of another blog, one so left-wing and right-on that it's 21st Century conformity to the new religion could never be doubted. They are the priestly cast of the new Scotland. They are called “A Thousand Flowers”:

“A THOUSAND FLOWERS is a Scottish blog launched on International Women’s Day 2013 by an unsavoury cabal of queers, feminists and trolls. Your new go-to gaiz for seditious gossip and druggy innuendo.

Oh aye, and we like calling people w*****s a lot, so if you don’t like swearing, you can f**k off.

It’s time for the cross-pollination of radical ideas, it’s time to let A Thousand Flowers bloom!

keywords: gender, obsessed, discussion, group”

Many thanks to the UK Column viewer Ruth Allan who pointed out the origin of the name:

Let a thousand flowers bloom is a common misquotation of Chairman Mao Zedong's "Let a hundred flowers blossom". This slogan was used during the period of approximately six weeks in the summer of 1957 when the Chinese intelligentsia were invited to criticize the political system then obtaining in Communist China. The full quotation, taken from a speech of Mao's in Peking in February 1957, is: "Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land." It is sometimes suggested that the initiative was a deliberate attempt to flush out dissidents by encouraging them to show themselves as critical of the regime. Whether or not it was a deliberate trap isn't clear but it is the case that many of those who put forward views that were unwelcome to Mao were executed.

So Colin Robertson’s flower has to be destroyed, how very Maoist.

Now in the US, Donald Trump was standing up for the little guy. Will Nicola Sturgeon do the same to defend the free speech of an individual blogger against a campaign by one of the most powerful opinion formers in the Scottish print media? Will she champion the little guy against the Daily Record?

Perhaps not.

In response. what can one say but "The Donald for First Minister!"


Main image: Gage Skidmore (CC BY-SA 2.0)