Thoughts of David

A misfire of a novella by Iain Crichton Smith was Thoughts of Murdo, about a mumbling aspiring writer sacked from his job as bank clerk, completely lacking in self-awareness and prone to making decisions which questioned his suitability; and he would repeatedly meet with cancelled appointments and acquaintances who recalled prior engagements.

One fictional creation of this fictional creation was Sam Spaide, a gumshoe from the mean streets of Tobermory… also an affirmed Presbyterian because Murdo did not think it fair that the Catholics should have Father Brown and we Protestants no-one (make sure you say that in an I-i- i- i- i- i-sl-e-e-e-e-e-e-s a-a-a-a-a-cc-e-e-e-e-e-nt.

I cannot help but think of Murdo when I consider, David Kerr the gaff-prone SNP PPC for Glasgow East. Although he appeared confident enough of gaining the patronage of Alex Macblair to resign from the BBC, the local party had other ideas and selected Glasgow councilor, Grant Thoms.

Alas, Thoms quickly submitted himself to high-risk blogocide watch, and stood down. Now came James Dornan, SNP opposition leader on City of Glasgow Council.

Then Dornan recalled that he may have been insolvent when he was appointed Director of Glasgow Culture and Sport, and duly stood down whilst potential breaches of Charity Commission regulations are investigated.

So, back to Kerr. But not before it was recalled that amateur photographer, Anne McLaughlin was listed. Then it was accepted that, having inherited a regional seat for Glasgow following the death of the incumbent, SNP first-choice Bashir Ahmed, this may be greedy (not that this stops Alex “Who Ate All the Pies?” Salmond sitting in both Westminster and Holyrood).

So, back to Kerr again. A man who, maybe trying to emulate Councilor AK47, was investigated by BBC managers after he brandished proscribed weapons in a public place as part of a news report.

A man who, suggests that John Knox would have been better going to Glasgow Caledonia University rather than St Andrews, his alma mater, because the former “doesn’t have a reputation to tarnish“: as well as similar for the University of West Scotland.

What baffles me about the reporting of this gaff is the prominence given to the notion of any snobbery towards recently ennobled universities. Not that I found this inappropriate enough, especially because of the access to vocational degree they may offer, or previously excluded adults. What appears not to have been much noted is the sectarian aspect as Kerr, a former member of Opus Dei, ridiculed Protestantism in front of the St Andrews Canmore Catholic Society.


The previous SNP by-election win in Glasgow had been Glasgow East in 2008, when a barely articulate Bible-basher overturned a Labour majority of 13,507 to win by 365 votes.


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5 Responses to “Thoughts of David”

  1. Dominic H Says:

    Oh come on Alec you can do better than this; there once was a time when I’ve have wagered that just jumping on the bandwagon of semi-informed (and fundamentally anti-Christian, whether implicitly or explictly) liberal groupthink were beneath you… :)

    To say DK “mocked protestants” in that speech (which at least I have had the pleasure of listening to) is kind of pushing it a bit, to say the least . He puts on a funny voice pretending to be John Knox and says, squeakily, “Oh you Catholics! You’re all mad!”).

    So, he certainly mocks John Knox for mocking Catholics (fair comment I’ve had thought)- – and frankly, looking at the vandalism and destruction and incitement to murder that that foul man brought upon, firstly and most immediately evidently, the former city in which he was speaking, and secondly more broadly across the country in which that city was one the ecclesiastical capital, I’d say that were letting Knox off lightly. very lightly, in fact.

    (He then made a silly comment about Rangers (and that they must have lost a series of games, which was what had made Knox so angry) – which I suppose is proof of something like , ye can take the man outta Cumbernauld,. but ye cannae… etc) A bit of local Scottish colour for the posh English bejants and bejantines who’d never before been that far north, eh?

    But, one would have to be spectacularly humourless and in fact one of those vile petty-minded and socially destructive people who seem to be perpetually, professionally indignant (It’s all about me! I am SO offended! Oh my ego is so bruised! Rather than answer back I will whinge and whine in my self-appointed victim status! FFS!) lf which St Andrews is, generally speaking, thankfully free, to regard that as sectarian.

    Oh, sure, if he’d said it at an ecumenical gathering (or some public rally as a SNP candidate, or as a BBC newscaster) it’d have been inappropriate. But at a meeting of the gloriously medieval but eternally relevant University of St Andrews Canmore Catholic Society (with all of its historic proud connections with the Habsburgs). What;s the problem?

    Anyone, one interesting thing I’ve discovered about the rather disgraceful media campaign against the great DK is related on this great blog:

    I was of the vague impression that religious impediments to holding office had been lifted in the 19th century. While I’m unsurprised that the clueless small-minds of the so-called “National Secular Society” would be keen to reimpose them, well, truth be told there was probably no reason to think any more highly of the Green Party.

    The one bad thing I will say about Kerr is this: he used to drive really recklessly (no damage done to anyone that I am aware of: but that surely must be due to the intercession of Our Lady). In pretty much every other regard the guy is a hero and should make a thoroughly excellent elected representative. If being opinonated and passionate (and – more to the point: knowing the truth) is equated by those more keen on moral relativism with being “gaffe-prone”, then, I say, bring on the gaffe-prone. (Berlusconi excepted, obviously)

  2. Dominic H Says:

    I should have said “being concerned for the truth”, rather than “knowing”, more or less.

  3. Alec Says:

    I stand by it all, Dominic. Taken individually, these comments could have been seen as high-japes; taken together, however, he increasingly comes across as an improperly assessed candidate, such was Salmond and Sturgeon’s eagerness to get in their desired candidate (he was given a consolation prize of advisory position when the local party had those other ideas).

    Note how I wasn’t making his Roman Catholicism the main point – instead it was the authoritarian control of the SNP which, had it been emanating from New Labour, I am sure you’d have been the first to decry. Add to that the SNP’s eagerness to stoke sectarianism or religionism – Mason, say, but more significantly, Saeed – simply to push an anti-English line. That’s the root of the new sectarianism, and Scotland simply does not have the political maturity to harness it.

    I’ve seen excerpts of the speech, but haven’t been able to find footage, so would be grateful to view it. A discussion about the historical significance of Knox and Scottish Reformation is fair-game, yet: a) demagogic religionists of whatever confessional at that time tended to be vicious buggers; b) Kerr’s comments were not inspired, not urbane or erudite, but unfunny joke spoken by someone who seemed to think his alma mater allowed him to lord it over hoi polloi (note the absense of the definite article) at plebby universities.

    I hadn’t known about the NSS and Green connexion, but I didn’t have a positive view of the Greens to begin with. Why would I not treat Proddy sectarianism with equal disdain? I certainly wasn’t in approval of young Murdo.

  4. Dominic H Says:

    Well, by definition you follow SNP matters (and Scottish politics) far more closely than I do (although apart from Kerr I am also personally acquainted with another of their prominent and favoured PPCs – who in political and religious terms could barely be further from Kerr and still be a Christian or a member of the same party). In any case I am far from convinced that the SNP of today does sectarianism. Anti-Englishness, maybe. Unfortunately it’s kind of in the air in some parts of Alba. But more than, say, the Scottish Liberal Democrats? I’m not sure.

    But…the idea of David Kerr “mumbling” or “lacking self-awareness”…err, no. Far from it, on both counts. As I daresay will become more evident as he gets more coverage up until the election is finally called and held.

    I do strongly disagree that he is an “improperly assessed candidate” in the general (as opposed to having been rushed into this seat at the last minute: sure the “one candidate election” is not an auspicious way to get selected and may well raise concern about centrally-imposed authoritarianism on the part of the SNP: but I think it is really misleading, to say the least, to imply that he is the 4th or 5th, or for that matter 3rd, choice candidate; 2nd choice – well, evidently, yes.

    On the contrary I think he is a very strong candidate (something that I strongly suspect is a factor in the rather scattershot and irrelevant attacks upon him launched in various parts of the Scottish press), and one that will be warmly received by the people of this specific constituency (which for all the accusations of elitism he is very well acquainted, and grew up not far away from).

    He ran the ridiculous Eric Joyce a very close 2nd when he contested the Falkirk West seat in 2000 (I think it was) – which given it was his first seat, and he was a mere 27 or 28 years old at the time – and Labour was nowhere near as unpopular then as it is now – should give some idea of his calibre. (And, it’s also great that he has been concentrating on building up a life outside politics in the intervening time – obviously his position at the BBC meant that he wasn’t able to contest further polls). He really is the antithesis of the “party hack” or the man with no life outside politics. And, gee, he may say controversial things now and then that might rub some people up the wrong way.

    I wouldn’t say that his comments were inspired, urbane or erudite (and the MP3 of the speech that was on the Canmore website has now been taken down), but…frankly I regard them in the same light as I do the sort of foolish comments that someone like Ken Livingstone has been known to make on occasion. That is to say; in neither case do they impede or detract from the quality of the man, his capabilities nor his principles.

    And frankly (and much as I despise identity politics, would someone please encourage Harriet Harman to leave the country, perhaps to go and take over the Turks & Caicos Islands or something), for a party that in the recent past has, at least in the central belt/west been widely regarded (sometimes with good reason) as a “protestant (meaning Calvinist) party” to stand such an overtly and unashamedly orthodox Catholic candidate as Kerr strikes me as evidence that suggests its sectarian legacy is, either gone, or not what it used to be (As I said elsewhere, DK previously worked at DC Thompson, so is a wee trailblazer there, too).

    Similarly (and I am sure that the bulk of the HP people will disagree with me here), I really don’t have a problem with Osama Saeed being a party candidate and official either; I definitely prefer the “engagement and integration” rather than “exclusion and demonization” model – – I don’t have any time for the “evil conspiring Muslim Brotherhood types represent a threat to democracy” approach that seems to pop up there quite frequently) and an ostensibly nationalist party that actively promotes the integration of minority communities is surely to be praised.

    I mean, I am hard pressed to think of other nationalist parties, or parties that base a substantial part of their identity on nationalism, in any part of the democratic world, that don’t either come perilously close (or worse) at running into racism; or that don’t promote the notion that to be a true member of nation X one must follow its majority religion. From my perch on the edge of the east of england, it seems to me that the SNP are being, in large, not opportunistic and sectarianism, but brave and integrationist, by making it abundantly clear that an independent Scotland (a notion I am fairly agnostic about; and am probably on balance opposed to) would be in one in which a variety of voices, including those of religious conservatives, would be welcome at the top table.

    Which seems far preferable to the narrow liberal-secular-post-modernist-post-Christian morally relativistic line that New Labour (at least at the GB_wide level) seem to favour, and which is doing so much damage to this country.

  5. Alec Says:

    It was bad enough when you turned into an arch religious conservative, Dominic, but this is too much! Now you’re defending tartan Blairism and authoritarian control!

    When he first ran for election, Kerr was fresh from university, and even then has garnered only a few years experience in media or lower-management. After he initially failed to secure the candidacy from the local party, he received a position as spin doctor from Bute House… even if he fails to be elected here, he will return to that (they’re advertizing for more spin doctors).

    So, the only difference I can see between him and a NuLabour apparachik is that he’s a devout Catholic.

    As for your defence of Osama Saeed and the Muslim Association of Britain, not all religions or religious confessionals lead to Jainism. That this is affiliated with the disreputable Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas is unremarkable.

    Here is a quietist Scottish Muslim who did join the SNP, but drifted away because of its tendency to religious reaction and nurturing of men like saeed just to deliver crude anti-English votes. And here’s the beginning of the backlash against him.

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