I’ve complained about the First Minister’s presidential style for some time but that headline is pure daft. The foundations of Scotland’s democracy have crumbled? Really? I’m well-into to worrying about Robin.

Remember the Dead Kennedys punk band and ‘Holiday in Cambodia?

Now you can go where the people are one
Now you can go where they get things done
What you need, my son…
What you need, my son…Is a holiday in Cambodia
Where people are dressed in black
A holiday in Cambodia
Where you’ll kiss ass or crack

Common Weal have been right into this kind of misguided hyperbole recently. Remember them on care home deaths saying:

The single greatest failure in devolved government since the creation of the Scottish Parliament

and completely missing the evidence that it had been a failure of centralised UK government, failing to lock-down early enough and sending misleading messages about the risk to care homes.

I was going to just ignore this. The readership of Common Space is tiny so maybe the damage done by this kind of mad hyperbole is minimal.

Regrettably, someone shared it again with me and that Jeremiac headline just pissed me off so much, I felt I had to say something.

I’m not spending much time on this. I don’t need to. The incredibly daft headline above and one section will do:

Let’s take the SQA debacle; like everything else, it seems clear to me that the only real consideration was how the exam problem would make the first minister look. She clearly wanted a slight improvement – but not too much. In other words, to look like last year with a slight uptick. It’s plain as the nose on your face that the methodology was retrofitted to achieve the outcome. Fearing that the Scottish Government would catch a Daily Mail backlash if poor kids got decent results, it was made sure that they didn’t. Had I pages and pages to spare, I would document dozens of examples where government in Scotland has been calibrated primarily to the interests of a first minister who behaves like a president in a system ill-equipped to deal with this concentration of power. It is why virtually everything this government has done in five years has failed – you can’t weld a presidential model onto a parliamentary democracy without consequences. They’ve been dire.

This is plot-losing, conspiracy-hugging paranoia at an astonishing level. No one surely can believe any of that yet….


Robin McAlpine was head honcho at the Jimmie Reid Foundation which launched Common Weal and its Common Space website but left to do his own thing with it in 2014 after an acrimonious split from the founders.

I understand the clever, patriotic choice of a Scots word in the title but doesn’t ‘weal’ just suggest, to 99.9% of Scots, a red, swollen mark left on flesh by a blow or pressure?

She slapped his cheek and a bright red weal sprang up on it!