Recalling these past joys, and having a squint at bits and pieces of the SNP conference, various thoughts swim into view. Firstly, splendid choice of venue in
Two Roads Taken...
Two roads diverged in a reddish wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
Before I tried to push my luck
And cut myself in two
- Lallands Peat Worrier, after Robert Frost
In argumentative terms, it is generally a sage proposition to avoid holding two mutually contradictory views simultaneously. Someone might notice. Criticism might follow. Electoral prospects might suffer. Quoth Iain Gray, SNP is a campaign not a government. Salmond is merely using
Sunday 31st May 2009“I wonder if the SNP will be willing do to a u-turn and end this ideological roadblock to Public Private Partnerships. I know that some people in the party will be angry and will have to stop using their soundbites in FMQ's but I think far from being shameful it would show a responsible Government who accepted that they have got this very, very wrong.”
Yousuf Hamid, Tuesday 20th October 2009 “Never mind having an actual reason to vote SNP or a policy to support but I suppose it's easy to avoid being a proper political party when you have no ideological beliefs whatsoever. It's where you see a Government who will play to the gallery on abandoning the Right to Buy despite it being highly questionable how progressive that actually is and then slashing rates on property and business taxes.”
You have no principles, and you stick too zealously to them! Shame. This isn’t just the young man from Strathclyde being a confounded shallowpate – though it is a stonking example – but is simply representative of the far more general vacillations in Labour’s argumentative tactics against the SNP which are, at bottom, riven with mutually contradictory impulses, played out in laughably fatuous ways.
Take another example. Again, from the gurning desk of Mr Gray, we were once advised that the SNP are really “tartan Tories”. The heat of this allegation must be ideological. It must credit Toryness with negatively appraised ideological characteristics. Needless to say, to pursue this thread of reasoning with a second allegation of essential ideological emptiness is precisely to rob the first stab of much of its energy. You have to choose which road to travel by. By turns, Labour and Scottish Labour have in brisk succession taken both – and I think, cut their argument into ribbons. It is, perhaps, symptomatic of malaise and their lack of confidence. Not content with the force of a single argument, they fiddle and muddle to make them all, just in case, whatever damage this lack of finesse does to the overall cogency and honesty of their message. Two roads diverged in a reddish wood, you numpties. Only a moron would attempt to walk both at once.