Alex Massie

Salmond Derangement Syndrome

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The main sufferers of this admittedly rare condition are London-based Scots. Fraser, I'm afraid, seems to have come down with a case of SDS if this post is anything to go by. The murder of Linda Norgrove is a ghastly, horrid business that might, one would think, be considered sufficiently awful to be above or beyond politics. Apparently not.

I see nothing wrong far less anything political in the First Minister issuing a statement about the murder of one of his compatriots in Afghanistan. Criticising Salmond for making cheap political capital out of such an awful business is itself a cheap journalistic shot. 

Consider this: if Linda Norgrove had been from Texas no-one would think twice, far less bat even half an eye-lid, were the Governor of Texas to issue a statement noting and condemning her murder. No-one, I think, would suggest it was a matter for the President and Secretary of State alone. For that matter, if Norgrove were from Ulster few people would have objected to the Northern Irish First Minister issuing a statement.

It seems the SNP are held to a different standard and no matter that Donald Dewar would, I suspect, have issued a statement - ie, a press release - had this horror occurred on his watch. So too would any - let us indulge in some fantasy here - Tory First Minister.

But anything the SNP do or say is considered to be intrinsically political, part of their plot to sever Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom. Nothing may be judged on the merits; everything must be seen as some ploy to advance the nationalist agenda.

This is consistent with the fact that, for some reason, plenty of people seem to consider Eck and the SNP the political Wizards of the North. This is not so, yet they are consistently over-estimated by London-based pundits. Devolution may not have killed the SNP "stone dead" but no-one thinks the nationalists would win an independence referendum were they even able to hold one.

These guys ain't infallible not do they possess super-powers and it's a mistake to think they do. For that matter, Fraser's inference that a 36 year-old woman who grew up on Lewis and went to university in Aberdeen somehow forfeited her Scottishness by virtue of working furth of her native land after she finished her education is itself muddle-headed and, frankly, daft.

At the very least, using her murder as a chance for political point-scoring is undignified even if you think, as I do not, those points somehow need to be made.

UPDATE: Tangentially and though I don't agree with all of it by any means, see Kenny Farquharson's column on the 10th anniversary of Donald Dewar's death. Tellingly, it concentrates on Dewar the Man, not Dewar the Politician. But was Donald better than Iain Grey? Hell, that's not a fair fight. And as for Salmond? Well, there's meat for prosecution and defence alike in the first Scotland on Sunday extract of David Torrance's biography of Chief Eck.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.