Who Can You Trust to Run Our Country? It's Touching, to See So Many Politicians United by the Vaguest of Proposals, but Beware If You Dare Question This Bogus Consensus

Daily Mail (London), September 9, 1997 | Go to article overview

Who Can You Trust to Run Our Country? It's Touching, to See So Many Politicians United by the Vaguest of Proposals, but Beware If You Dare Question This Bogus Consensus


Byline: ALLAN MASSIE

THE word 'trust' has been thrown about lot in this stuttering referendum campaign. Tony Blair, of course, has the idea of trust at the centre of his Government and he has fulfilled his trust by delivering the referendum as he promised, if not quite as was thought to have been promised: That's to say, it's being held on the White Paper and not on the firm proposals of an Act of Parliament.

Then Donald Dewar and Alex Salmond are agreed that they trust the good sense and future will of the Scottish people.

Whether the parliament represents 'a just and fair settlement for Scotland within the framework the United Kingdom' or whether will lead to independence, is, they agree, in the hands of the people.

Their agreement stops there. Mr Dewar trusts we shall be satisfied with what is on offer. Mr Salmond trusts we shall not. But they agree that trust is the thing.

When they say they trust the people, they also mean that the people should trust the politicians to make sensible decisions in accordance with the people's will. Well, I suppose that's fine too. The position is clear. The people of Scotland should trust the politicians in the Scottish parliament just as the people of Paisley and Renfrewshire trust their local and elected politicians.

However, we go one step forward.

Mr Dewar has also asked us to trust him and the great and good of the Scottish Labour Party to ensure Labour candidates for the Scottish parliament in no way resemble the sort of Labour candidates at national and local level in whom the people the West of Scotland have for so long placed their humble trust.

So that's all right too. We can trust Scottish Labour from this day on and for evermore to give us Scottish Labour politicians worthy of our trust.

Now some may think that the demands for trust are just a bit excessive, and that to be asked to trust politicians to behave sensibly and well is a bit like being asked to trust the SFA's Jim Farry to develop sensitivity for public relations. But what's on offer: A chance to trust politicians to use the Scottish parliament in our best interest. We must trust Labour to use it to strengthen the United Kingdom as Donald Dewar tells us it will. And we must trust Alex Salmond's SNP to use it to end the Union and effect a political separation from the United Kingdom.

If you point out that these purposes are contradictory, the reply you get is 'trust us as we trust the Scottish people'. It's really rather touching.

Unfortunately, there is one section of the Scottish people excluded from this trusting business - those who think the proposed scheme a bad idea.

The message from the heights of Keir Hardie House and the SNP offices in North Charlotte Street is that such doubters or sceptics are unworthy of trust because, apparently, their opposition to these proposals shows they don't themselves trust the Scottish people.

This is a bit puzzling. Sir Bruce Pattullo, the Governor of the Bank of Scotland - certainly a very Scottish institution which Scots have been prepared to trust with their money for more than 300 years - expressed doubts about the merits of giving the parliament power to increase taxes.

Though he said nothing, and was clearly very careful to say nothing, about whether he thought the establishment of the parliament a good idea or not, he was immediately blackguarded. …

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Who Can You Trust to Run Our Country? It's Touching, to See So Many Politicians United by the Vaguest of Proposals, but Beware If You Dare Question This Bogus Consensus
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