Friday, April 14, 2017

Tim Farron does his best to offend everyone in Scotland

I had the unusual experience this week of briefly intending to defend Lib/Dem leader Tim Farron. Then I checked what he had actually said and realised he didn't really deserve defending ...

Chris Deering tweeted that a Tim Farron speech in Edinburgh could be characterised as

"Come to Scotland and tell us we're" (insert rude word here)

in response to a Buzzfeed report of the speech, titled

"Tim Farron Says Scots Were The 'Trailblazers' Of Personal Abuse In Politics"

Seeing this headline, I thought to myself "Surely he didn't say that, he must have said the SNP, not all Scots."

Well, I looked and you can check it for yourself by clicking here, but unless Buzzfeed have seriously misquoted Tim Farron he did indeed appear, addressing his Scottish audience as "you," to suggest that Scots in general were trailblazers leading the way for the rest of the country in introducing "heated and personal abuse" in British politics.

Now I myself have written in the past week that the abuse thrown by some aggressive nationalists, which has been returned by some unionists, is poisoning the politics of Scotland. But it is important not to suggest that every nationalist, or every unionist, let alone all Scots in general, are guilty of this, and I hope nothing I have written here gives that impression.

But Mr Farron seems to be fairly indiscriminate in his insults, throwing barbs at Nicola Sturgeon, Ruth Davidson and Scots in general with reckless disregard for their accuracy - for example, he accused Ruth who was one of the leading "Remain" campaigners in Britain, not just Scotland, of being "the voice of Brexit in Scotland."

Bob Monkhouse used to tell a joke which is extremely amusing and may sound plausible but which in my experience is almost the exact reverse of the truth.

His joke was that the only time politicians tell the truth is when they are calling each other liars.

Actually in my experience most politicians tell the truth most of the time when they are talking about what policies they want to implement but rather too many people involved in politics suffer a steep decline in the accuracy of their statements at the exact point when they start talking about their opponents.

Many Lib/Dems are among the worst offenders, although both the cases in recent English electoral history in which a successful candidate was removed from office and a fresh election called because he or she was caught telling lies about a rival candidate - this is an offence under election law and in both cases the lies were extremely serious - involved Labour candidates or their campaign knowingly making untrue statements about their Lib/Dem opponents.

What I am about to write is a classic example of the Epimenides paradox. Nevertheless:

I think it is wise always to take what any politician says about his or her opponents with a high degree of caution.

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