Monday, 31 October 2011

Is this Willie Rennie's "Subway" moment?

It would appear that the Scottish Libdems and Willie Rennie have shot themselves in the foot. With a very large canon.

Earlier this afternoon I was doing my normal rambling around the interwebs and blogisphere, when there began a few disgruntled stirrings about the "Scottish" Libdems Twitter account. Naturally, being a nosey wee besom at times, I had a look. And there for all to see was a "photo-shopped" poster of Alex Salmond.  He had apparently acquired a fine suntan and was bedecked in traditional Keffiyeh and thawb with an arm swung casually over a camel's neck. Not that shocking - until you read the text which accompanied the picture.

The "artist" had taken a quote made by Mr Salmond today, that Scotland and Qatar shared "remarkable similarities". However, the bullet points beside the picture severely contort the imagery into rather ugly and unedifying contortions. 

They read as follows:
  • Absolute monarchy, controls all aspects of life.
  • Gay rights suppressed and no legal recognition of same sex marriage.
  • Death penalty used for crimes against the state.
With "Mr Salmond's "independent Scotland" emblazened across the bottom.

While each of these things on their own don't add up to much, when put together in this fashion, it all of a sudden becomes quite disturbing and shocking. It also elicited from me a bit of a gasp and a WTF?

Initially I thought, this was a set-up, you know, some group is trying to illicit a reaction from SNP supporters. I also thought that perhaps it was a result of account hacking. Therefore, I surfed around to see where the tweet had come from, and sure enough, it appears to be directly from the Scottish Libdems official Twitter account.

Well, as you can imagine, by this stage I was as incredulous as the next Tweeter as to the potential of this rather obscene tweet. Not only did it portray a narrow-minded Western ideal of an Arab in a rather stereotypical camel hugging fashion, it uttered three rather unambiguous lies about Scotland and her people, Scottish politics and Alex Salmond.
  • The fact that the people of Scotland had DEMOCRATICALLY elected Mr Salmond into office in a landslide victory in May seemed to have escaped the poster-maker's memory. Perhaps they were still banging their head on the wall wondering how it happened in a system designed specifically to prevent this. However, that's not the point. This poster alleges that Mr Salmond has somehow rigged the electoral system to his own ends for the forseeable future. It also alleges the Scottish people were too dim-witted to have noticed this.
  • It also claims that gay rights are in danger of being dismissed in Scotland, when it has been shown that this isn't the case. Especially as Mr Salmond has gone on the record in support of marriage equality. Furthermore, there was a recent poll in Scotland showing a majority of the public were also in support of legitimising gay marriage. This particular bullet point alone is one huge dirty lie, perpetrated by the Libdems to do no more than fear-monger among folks who feel vulnerable to start with. Nice one.
  • As for the reference to the death penalty? Need I really comment? I am completely unable to wriggle into the psyche that set this to paper as being something which is connected to Scotland and/or Mr Salmond. I'm actually speechless, bereft of words, and as of right now unable to formulate an opinion on that particular part of the picture content. I'm sure I'll think of something... eventually.

 Then, this tweet appeared. Not only was the first one deliberate. They were proud of it. It was starting to look like "attention for attention's sake".

By mid- late afternoon I was tweeting and posting to Facebook and was deep in discussions with various folks online, all of whom were voicing their outrage and disgust and the dirty tactics, when someone mentioned Facebook. 

One of Willie Rennie's Facebook pages to be precise. He apparently has two. Again, my immediate thought was - naawwwww! So I toddled over and looked and... Ayyye... there it was.

Over and again I kept asking myself, "What" and "Why"? 

What makes the leader of a political party do such an incredibly stupid thing, such as this? 

Why does he think that using such negative imagery and blatant lies is something he can do without any sort of sanctions being brought against him. Or why and how does he think this will enhance his standing with the electorate in Scotland and the members of his own party?

What seam of angry, peurile hopelessness runs through the man's - or the party's - veins to allow this to happen on his watch? Where are the checks and balances on the side of common sense which would have screamed -THIS IS WRONG?

Why can't he and his party engine channel all this energy into consrtucting, positive  and effective opposition to the SNP, rather than dissolving into gutter diplomacy, the likes of which we see here.
As the afternoon passed into early evening, it had become increasingly obviously that he didn't disapprove of the picture and its content, because after hours and hours of speculation and questions asked, there was nothing eminating from the "Scottish" Libdems's camp. 

The Facebook page is unchanged nor has the tweet been withdrawn, and certainly no comments are forthcoming from Libdem central or Willie Rennie. Business as usual, nothing to see here, move along.

Even Libdems were disgusted.
However this is, in my opinion, one mega-sized shot in the foot. And may well be the final nail in the coffin which contains the decomposing remains of the Liberal Democratic representation in Scotland. 

On my last veiwing of a few minutes ago, there are 98 comments and 29 have "shared" the photo on Willie Rennie's page. Almost to the number, every one of them condemns the the publication and its content. There are one or two that have chosen not to see the nastiness therein.

Among those who commented, there are several Libdem supporters who are beyond angry. In fact they are rightly outraged and these include at least one who has now signed up and joined the SNP.

 It has been said on several occassion recently, the Unionist aligned parties in Scotland are in total disarray. They are contributing to the cause of independence day and daily. I say more power to them. However, it would be far preferable if they left their nasty, racist and narrow-minded ideas out of the Scottish political picture. This type of unseemly behaviour is really uncalled for.

UPDATE 1: Willie Rennie apologises on BBC Scotland

UPDATE 2: Despite the apology, I think Rennie's credibility is now in the gutter and will be very hard to ressurect to any position of respectibility. 

Sorry Willie, "Run wae the craws, get shot wae the craws". This is the best example in Scottish politics for quite sometime (well, April and a sandwich shop incident with some other guy) which reflects the axiom, it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only seconds to destroy it. The worst of it being of course, by his own hand.  

UPDATE 3: There has been talk there are two Facebook pages for Mr Rennie. Indeed there are. The first one had reached its friend subscription limit and a second one was started. Both were his pages and both appear to be affiliated to the Libdems.
The announcement where Mr Rennie guides followers and friends to new page.

As you can see, it was the most recent FB page on which the picture appeared. 


  1. They're a pathetic, childish bunch who have no place amongst adults.


  2. So much for The Gray Man's claim of the SNP's "vile politics"...... Perhaps he would have been better served to look further to his right and find the near invisible LibDem's when pointing his nubby little fingers

  3. From day 1 I've questioned Rennie's ability to lead the Lib Dems. His face exudes the opposite of intelligence, this stunt is just yet another confirmation of this.

    Liberals need to dump the SDP element of their party and return to the genuinely Liberal fold. Do it well before Independence and they could be ready to replace the Labour Party post Independence.

  4. It is rather notice that the "apology" from Rennie actually refuses that take RESPONSIBILITY for the cartoon. Apparently a big boy did it...