12 March 2011

That SNP PPB & its Labour-voting archetype...

I've always very much appreciated gay wit and repartee. God rot baleful unremitting sobriety, I say. Combining politics with even the gently mirthful is typically a rather perilous endeavour. There are few creatures we despise more enthusiastically than the failed joker. Even charmless, dull-dog tedium is more forgiveable.  It was certainly creative and risky for the SNP to try a Monty Python parody in its latest party political broadcast. The thing I found particularly observationally pleasing about the broadcast is that I've met the main sceptical fellow on a number of occasions. Not the actor, but the archetype. 

The setting is perfect. This character is encountered most frequently in West of Scotland pubs and hostelries, a pint of lager in paw (Budvar rather than Tennent's), creased newspaper under oxter and wearing a slightly crumpled suit-type jacket without a tie. He takes himself to be a free-minded, rational figure. His vague Old left pretensions, lapsed half-Marxism and suspicions of Scottish nationalism are married to a comfortable bourgeois lifestyle, fine personal conscience and a deep well of contempt. There is a reasonable chance that he is a secondary school teacher, a social worker or a middle-to-upper range council employee. He affects a cynical swagger and always votes Labour. 

He was often the first person of his family to go to university, but the process did not contribute to his sense of existential security. Retaining some (almost ethnic) sense of being working class, this should not be mistaken for significant personal solidarity with the workers, but on some unconscious level, he finds that the distinction retains a satisfying cutting edge. His keynote is ressentiment and he has a tendency to hold forth - at length - about his cherished positions. If challenged, he is likely to become rapidly vexed. Face creased and grimacing, he punctuates his - "Bah, Alex Salmond!" - with a dismissive flap of his fin. Classically, he resents being asked to explain this position and will persist in it, despite all contrary arguments and reasons offered. In his mind, this has no implications for his sense of himself as essentially a sagacious, cosmopolitan customer. For me, this SNP PPB neatly sketches the lineaments of this fellow - and skewers him. What have the Scottish Government ever done for us? Here it is...


  1. To think I remember Jimmy Chisholm as a curly haired scamp who didn't belive in any 'ism', other than Chisholm...

  2. That's a very professional PPB. And funny into the bargain!

  3. LOL! Excellent, but dare I say I thought your musings superior to the PPB ;-)

  4. I'm having to rethink my census answers and check the box for the crumpled suit, though I thought boudoir was last year, shouldn't it be hairshirts and tap water. Did you listen to the Radio 4 interview with the SNP this morning (12/3, John Humphrys Today Programme)? Welsh John had obviously been fed the line about throwing money away on allowing free prescriptions. Something was definitely stuck in his groove, though your SNP man was a wee bit rattled.

    I thought you were going to do the headmaster who taught in the History Boys routine about Philip Larkin whenever Hull is mentioned. I usually get that way when either Stirling or Strathclyde - centres of academic excellence - get mentioned.

  5. He didn't expect the SNPish inqusition.

  6. GrassyKnollington12 March 2011 at 16:49

    Great post LPW. That PPB is a big improvement on the OAP waving off young chap to holler "S c o t l a n d" from a mountain top which for me was a bit redolent of a sales pitch for the Peoples Friend.

  7. An excellent PPB, but some credit is due to Plaid for having "set the scene", so to speak in one of their election broadcasts for the UK 2010 GE. See here for their PEB of 22 April 2010.

  8. i think this was a great ppb.

    the on thing a thought it could have done without was alex at the end. Too in your face, not needed. And I thing technically eggy - felt like a drop in, as i suspect it was

    But great broadcast. Hope it is a sign of things to come election campaign wise

  9. An interesting post LPW. The PPB is actually quite amusing, which is more than you can say for most of them.

    I still suspect the SNP's problem (if this is a clue as to their campaign focus) is that it is positive, but it's positive whilst looking back.

    It's no surprise that the SNP want to play up their record but I always think that having big lists is a sign that people aren't listening to you, rather than a point of strength.

    If the SNP want to win it's what they'll do going forward that's surely more important. More on this at my blog if you're interested in reading it.

  10. For a PPB to have a touch of humour untainted by cynical hypocrisy is a rare event in the political snake pit.

    However Salmonds' address to the SNP conference had qualities even more rare in the PR machinated parlance spouted as promises by the political alchemist bedded to Westminster.

    It suggested purpose, had a hint of integrity and promised commitment.

    Had his words been broadcast in England, we would have taken Cumbria and possibly North Yorkshire to the independence cause.

  11. I dare say that the number of responses here speaks for itself! Yon PPB has clearly provoked a warm reaction. Just a few "matters arising" out of your remarks.


    Saw Chisholm in the Edinburgh Lyceum in 2008. A slight but mirthful evening, as I remember. No intrusive -isms. Indeed the absence of an -ism proved a point of contention in our little group who went. I was for an -ism. My companion did not lament its absence.

    Jim, Grant, GrassyKnollington,

    Glad that I entertained! I was wondering whether other folk would have encountered a similar character - or whether I was maliciously projecting folly onto the innocent.


    No harm in a characterful crumple! If only the statisticians at the census had thought to include such interesting inquiries in the census, as opposed to their basically racialised "ethnic" inquisitions! That, however, it a matter for another day and another blog post. I missed the Radio 4 bit you referred to. I generate enough hot air myself without Humphries turning my garret into a tropical greenhouse!


    Thanks for the Plaid link. I see what you mean.


    Hope to compose a thought or two tomorrow on the Maximum Eck's speech at Conference today. I've argued before (perhaps mildly controversially) that oratory of this sort is not one of Salmond's especial talents. Beyond the delivery, I hope to have a rummage through the contents that you refer to in due course.

    And finally, Ideas of Civilisation,

    I share some of your concerns. I haven't read my Prince or Discorsii in a good while, but I'm pretty sure Machiavelli had a thing or two to say about the dangers of resting one's prospects on your people proving grateful for past creditable deeds. Once you've handed over the goods - be it loot or a policy on tuition fees - your basis to exercise power is at the very least significantly diminished, if not entirely extinguished. It is a political King Lear effect, and I dare say a good many politicians get pretty peeved by the flighty nature of public opinion, fostered by a mayfly-minded press. Will have to give your argument more thought.

  12. A line I should have thought of Conan! No doubt the fellow would dimiss it as an SN-Pish inquisition...

  13. Interesting that they've repeated the lie about the 330 schools they claim to have "built", the same one that was in the "all women" ppb.

    Do you think they've convinced themselves it's true...?

    Stranger things have happened.

  14. Braveheart,

    I'm aware that there is some controversy in Labour circles about the number of schools built. For my part, I've not looked into the details myself, to come to a clear view on the rights and wrongs of things.

  15. LPW

    Regarding the archetype that you so accurately and amusingly captured earlier, it's possible that seeing as I live in Glasgow South we have both met the same fin flappers.

    On the schools thing, I have noted that the SNP claim.
    "Since the last election, 330 schools will have been built or refurbished - 80 more than planned by Labour."

    Either that's true or it's a lie.
    It's a fairly measurable claim.

    If the claim "built or refurbished" is being distilled to 'built' then that's something I would find fairly risible.

    I suspect that Braveheart may want to indulge in some wordplay with the term 'refurbished' and possibly on the word 'planned'. This may well be the place for such arguments to be settled.


  16. No wordlplay from me.

    I'll play it as I see it.

    2001-2007 Labour (and Lib Dems) at Holyrood provided matching funds to councils to build schools. Holyrood supplied 60% of capital costs of these projects, with councils raising the other 40% usually (I cannot swear for all of them) using PPP.

    Under that dispensation, hundreds of schools were built and contracts for schools signed.

    In the 2007 manifesto Labour promised to build more schools using the same mechanism. The SNP opposed PPP, but promised to match Labour's programme "brick for brick" using the SFT.

    2007-2010... no SFT. Proverbial dog's arse.

    THerefore, 2007-2010, no matching funds to councils to build schools, and no authorisation to councils to begin designing and building schools part-financed by Holyrood. None. Not one. In all of Scotland.

    Any schools "completed" (the weasel word the SNP is using in all its pronouncement) since 2007 already had authorisation and/or funding and/or contracts in place before the SNP came to power.

    2010. Holyrood says councils can put 14 secondary and 20 primary schools (approximate) in their capital plans.. that's 30 odd schools for all of Scotland. The matching funding will only be 50% and will not include extraneuos items (new road formation, crossings etc.) that were in the previous allocations.

    So far none of these schools has been started.

    In December 2010 councils which had been planning to start a school got a letter from the SNP administration saying that the money would no longer be in their capital budget, but instead would be allocated from revenues. And, btw, you have to use PFI to build them!!!!

    Councils are still not clear what the switch from capital to revenue budget means, what impact it will have on other items in revenue budgets etc.

    The result is that no new schoools have been started with Holyrood money (remember brick for brick?) authorised by the SNP administration.

    The 330 schools that the SNP claim to have "complete" (weasel word) since 2007 were all authorised before they came to power. Or some may have been financed by councils within their own capital plands. None have been due to anything the SNP at Holyrood did. There was no matching funding from Holyrood between 2007 and 2010 (in fact 2011, because nothing has happened, even now).

    Claiming to have "completed" them is sort0of true, but in making the claim look and sound like the SNP "built" them, it becomes a direct lie.

    Hope this is clear.

  17. Of course, if the SNP really has "built" 330 schools, it can publish a list of these schools, when the contracts were signed, how and who financed....

    That'd be interesting...

    If any readers here have such a list, could you post it?

    or a webpage where it can be accessed?

  18. This is interesting;


    "The school, near Livingston, is the first of those funded through the flagship £1.25 billion Scotland's Schools for the Future programme to get underway.

    It comes on top of the 300 schools the Scottish Government has already rebuilt or refurbished since 2007."

    So it's "the first" to be started (not yet built) using Holyrood funding since 2007, but it follows 330 that have been "rebuilt or refurbished" since 2007.

    Leaving the question: how were the other 330 funded?

    It comes in a Scottish Government publication,


    so if it's not true it's an officially sanctioned lie.

  19. Jim,

    It is perfectly possible. Of course, no names or bars can be mentioned, to protect the guilty!

  20. Braveheart,

    Thanks for that. I'll have to take a closer look for myself, methinks. When I get a spare moment.

  21. @ Braveheart

    So do you think the SNP have 'sexed' up their claims on school building?

  22. Jim
    I'm not "suggesting" anything. I have put up a pretty detailed post, (tidied up here - http://braveheart-braveheartsblog.blogspot.com/2011/03/snp-delusion.html).

    You could respond to what I say with facts, if you have any.

    Are you suggesting that, if the SNP has "sexed up" its claims on schools building, that that's ok?

    Or are you just trying to avoid engaging in the argument about whether the SNP is lying a little or a lot?