‘This is the language of enemies not friends’ Coveney’s common sense for Brexit applies to Scexit too

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Putting a Cork in it?

Speaking to Andrew Marr this morning, the ever-impressive Irish Deputy Prime Minister, Simon Coveney, said:

‘When I read in much of the British media around the approach that needs to be taken by a British Government; ‘to take on the EU’; ‘to defeat them’ and ‘to stand up to them’, this is the language of enemies not friends. We need to move away from that. Both sides in this negotiation in the next stage of Brexit has a vested interest in working together, not to try and outmanoeuvre each other. We need to put in place, from a trade perspective, a deal that respects the fact that the EU has got to insist on equivalence and a level-playing field if there’s going to be free-trade in the future and the UK also has its interests in the relationships it wants to develop with other parts of the world taken into account as well.’

As he spoke, I visualised the speakers of the ’language of enemies’ he described – Boris Johnson and the risible and ironically-named, Mark Francois, to name only two. In the case of the former, I saw him blustering and finger-jabbing at the SNP in Westminster, but I also saw the image of Ian Blackford, puffed up and red-faced with indignation, roaring the ‘Scottish People’ will never forgive something.

Now as someone who has often raged against injustice, here, it’s a bit rich me arguing against it but I’ve been wrong before. There’s no reason why we can’t expect and help to arrange a ‘velvet divorce’ if the Czech and Slovaks could. So, maybe, we’d benefit too from a more low-key, still determined and using forensic evidence to undermine our critics, but keepin’ the heid, manner. Is it time for the Deputy Westminster Leader and Spokesperson on the Constitution, Kirsty Blackman to speak more often for us?

Published by johnrobertson834

Retired Professor of Media Politics Not-for-profit independent political analysis

10 thoughts on “‘This is the language of enemies not friends’ Coveney’s common sense for Brexit applies to Scexit too

  1. Kirsty Blackman would be a good choice, and it would bring out the Boris “inner misogyny”.

    I also saw Tommy Sheppard give a first class, well argued speech in the Commons this week.
    The SNP have talent in abundance.

    When Labour were in the ascendency in Scotland, the evening news usually had a wee slot to cover the goings on at Westminster in relation to Scottish (Labour) MP’s contribution. Now the SNP has the bulk of MP’s–guess what?—they don’t cover MP speeches any more. David Porter comes on to waffle about the Boris and Jeremy show.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Don’t think Kirsty Blackman is a good choice , never did , she’s too accommodating and subservient .Tommy Sheppard, Stuart Hosie , would be my choice , they are articulate and no pushover , that’s what Johnstone needs , someone to call him to account .


  3. You raise a matter of importance here, John.

    As things stand, the routine conduct of MPs in the daily business of parliament, and particularly at Prime Minister’s Questions is more akin to a ‘stairheid brawl’ than to civilised debate. In my personal experience little of any good ever comes from that sort of conduct. I suspect that the present way of doing in Westminster stems from the introduction of television cameras in the chamber – it’s not politics, it’s showbiz.

    It would do no harm for the representatives of Scotland’s people to be seen as the adults in the room, speaking measured, but powerful, words leavened where apposite by a touch of earthy Scots humour. Two things the ‘elite’ of the UK find difficult to handle – Truth and Mockery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanna Cherry QC MP is my choice. As a QC she has the legal expertise, and the advocacy and debating skills. She always gives (courteously) as good as she gets. And she has a great record – a co-founder of Lawyers for Yes, and of course her victory in The Supreme Court against the unlawful prorogation.


  4. Off topic but just saw this.


    Expect unionist politicians will go trawling through the stats up here to find something, anything, that suggests things are worse or as bad up here

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with the suggestion of Stuart Hosie or Tommy Sheppard and I would suggest Joanne Cherry be added to the list. She’s articulate and would be more than capable of countering the guff from the opposite benches.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I note the debate about who might replace Blackford. Has Iain indicated there is – or could be in the future – a vacancy? Hostility is one thing toward one’s opponents, but it’s seldom a good idea to form a circle and fire!
    However, if there is one, I would be happy to see Tommy Sheppard- a good performer in the House – or Joanna Cherry – perhaps one of the best minds in the Commons who I am certain will yet tie BoJo in knots before throwing him away – get the gig.
    But a word about your thesis. It’s difficult to argue with Coveney’s argument – always better to reach an agreement by consensus rather than beating each other up. However, I would suggest a wee review of footage from the HoC as a counterpoint to that. It’s not just the shouting and the vitriol, but perhaps even more telling the coordinated walkouts when someone from the SNP (sometimes Blackford, sometimes someone else) stands up to speak. That’s not to say that our side is without blame, but it is to observe the mindset of the other side.
    What Coveney is talking about, really, is mutual problem solving – that we have a disagreement which is doing neither side any good, so we work together to identify a solution that we would both be happy with. However, the problem is whether there is enough common ground for such a solution to emerge from the problem solving process. Francois is a good example of the difficulties facing the EU talks. Coveney is right when he cites the use of “enemy” etc, but the more fundamental problem is that such as Francois still dont get – or dont respect – that the EU will not allow their Single Market to be undermined. The UK has to play by the rules or it doesnt get to play. Francois and those like him dont get or respect that the EU will go through the pain of disrupting trade with the UK for if they dont there will be a long queue of member states looking for the same deal (or states which will be putting in their own Article 50 letters) and pretty soon the Single Market will be no more.
    Is there enough commonality between the independence movement in Scotland and the Unionists in London? Personally I doubt it, but the more important point is their frequent assertions that it’s us who have the problem – accept Brexit even though 62% didnt want it, stopping finding grievances, accept that Brexit will mean change. As with the EU London/ UK is just fine – it’s the other lot that have to sort out their thinking and change. Given all that, with the present administration, I have to say I doubt there is the necessary common ground to achieve what Mr Coveney suggests, and thus, while I take your point about Blackford’s bellicosity, this, for now at least, is a “war”.


  7. Blackford does pretty well in TV interviews, rarely ever stumped His speed of thought surpasses anything the yoons can throw at him, (obviously down to all the fish he was fed growing up on the islands.)

    Not sure the Westminister approach matters too much. We don’t get to see his entire question. The broadcasters use the same tack with Blackford at Westminister as Sturgeon at Holyrood, ie they restrict what is broadcast to a narrow bandwidth, followed by the current PM sounding powerfull with a tried and tested put down.

    Finally with Blackford as our Westminister leader the recent election result wasn’t too shaby.

    So it’s Blackford for me, however as others have pointed out there is a wealth of talent.


    1. I would just like to add that I am happy to see Ian Blackford stay in his role. He exhibits knowledge and has gravitas—something Boris could never be accused off.

      If I hear Blackford speak and I don’t see him, Angus Ogg springs to mind. That is not a complaint. Ogg would soon outwit Boris, while the spluttering “Onion” Jack would be rendered speechless.


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