KEN HOUSTON                NOVEMBER 15 2016

Even if it does not revert to being an independent country within the next few years, Scotland will still have one of the most devolved and powerful national/regional parliaments in the world.

Precisely for this reason the country is crying out for statesmen and stateswomen; unfortunately within the present political class there seems to be none at present nor on the horizon.

This deficit in statesmanship became all too apparent following Nicola Sturgeon’s grudging congratulations to Donald Trump in the immediate aftermath of the American presidential election.

But the problem extends beyond Sturgeon to the entire ‘politocracy’. For at least a year all the main political leaders at Holyrood had queued up to lambast Trump in the press and social media, smugly wearing their own perfect political credentials on their sleeves.

For several weeks the hugely over-promoted Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, had even been pathetically ‘campaigning’ for Hillary Clinton in Scotland – as if this was ever going to provide the Democrats with a single additional vote.

But Sturgeon was the biggest culprit in the very fact of being the First Minister of Scotland. This particular criticism of Trump was pure self-indulgence because her PC/left-liberal credentials are already well known and thus her comments would not have had the advantage of garnering any additional political capital at home.

Her judgement also needs to be questioned because even though Hillary Clinton maintained a clear lead in the polls for most of the campaign, there was still the chance that Trump would eventually become leader of the most powerful nation on the planet. Not what you call ‘trying to win friends and influence people’.

It was inevitable (and in some instances understandable) that ordinary members of the public who took offence at Trump’s comments would respond on social media with passion.

But Sturgeon is not an ordinary member of the public and therefore should not have that luxury, especially as she aspires to be the leader of a fully sovereign nation-state within the four or eight years Trump may serve as US president.

In other words, as a matter of protocol and to protect the future interests of our country, neither Sturgeon nor the other party leaders had any business poking their noses into the US election campaign.

But for Scotland this issue has an added dimension, i.e. Donald Trump’s business interests in Aberdeenshire and Ayrshire.

Back in June the tycoon flew in from New York to officiate at the launch of his golf hotel at Turnberry, in which he had invested £200 million.

Sturgeon, along with Dugdale, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie were sent gold-leafed, courteously-worded invitations which, in a fit of group petulance, all of them declined.

Around the same time the issue was the talking point on Kay Adams’s morning call-in show on BBC Radio Scotland. As expected the airwaves were full of the usual anti-Trump moaners so it was refreshing to hear a different perspective, from a local tradesman.

No cheer-leader for Trump’s political or social utterances, nevertheless the caller explained that he passed the rear of the hotel most days and what he saw were positive aspects of The Donald’s involvement in Scotland: vans and lots of them; vans belonging to local electrical contractors, local caterers, local dry-cleaners, etc.

Unlike this perceptive listener, our political leaders were blind to the bigger picture, i.e. that Trump Turnberry actually provided work for local businesses and their employees.

One can, perhaps, understand this myopia from the likes of Sturgeon and Dugdale who have been encased in the public sector bubble since they were out of nappies.

But Davidson playing the same game was a major disappointment; a Conservative leader refusing to attend the launch of a £200m inward investment project which attracts high-end tourist income and provides work for local small businesses? Is this woman, at heart, really a Tory?

Poor Scotland. A parliament again after 300 years but totally lacking in a leader exuding a level of gravitas and circumspection sufficient enough to bring on board folks of vastly different political opinions. Much like 1707 and its ‘parcel o’ rogues’ in fact.


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