The subtle political art of knowing when to speak, when to shut up

Well, the last thing anyone in this wide world is thinking about today is ‘li’l ole Scardland.’ But let me indulge in the parochialism that is woven into the heart of Scottish nationalism, that we’re at the centre of that world, and draw a lesson for Scotland from the US presidential election. As I write, Donald Trump is speaking, surprisingly statesman-like, about the fact that he’s just won.

Three days ago, Nicola Sturgeon declared her support for the opposing, Democrat candidate:

Her election would be a result which was warmly welcomed around the globe but would also mark the shattering of the glass ceiling in terms of equality for women (Sunday Mail).

No doubt the SNP narrative will shift immediately to, ‘Oh, it was really a statement about the place of women in politics,’ a subject Nicola Sturgeon has majored on successfully in promoting her brand on a much broader, and frankly undeserved stage, than Scotland.

Meantime, our British prime minister Theresa May was quoted in the media a few days ago as wishing luck to both candidates. Very wise.

That’s the political art of knowing when to shut up.

Back in April, and since written about it here several times, Nicola Sturgeon signed a memorandum of understanding with two Chinese companies. She said nothing in public about the deal. In August, we now learn, the Scottish government received an e-mail from the Chinese companies saying the deal was off. Nicola Sturgeon said nothing in public about the deal being called off.

That was the chance to demonstrate the political art of knowing when to speak. Instead, three months later we have the usual scurrying around blaming everyone else – the media, Scottish opposition parties, the British government …

The subtle political art of knowing when to speak, when to shut up. The first minister doesn’t have it, the SNP don’t have it. How naive we must look on that world stage. If anyone was taking any notice.

Update. The Scotsman website today has a brief article in which the first minister goes through the motions of congratulating Trump on his election. She also manages to get in ‘While this is not the outcome I hoped for … many in America and across the world will also feel a real sense of anxiety’ and ‘I also want to pay tribute to Hillary Clinton.’ What’s the saying? When you’re in a hole …

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2 Responses to The subtle political art of knowing when to speak, when to shut up

  1. wujeanty says:

    When I see Scottish politicians pile in on Mr Trump, it always occurs to me that he has in all likelihood employed more people in Scotland than all of the MSPs who have ever sat in the resurrected parliament combined. This, rather than the impression that he is an obnoxious alpha-male, is perhaps the root of their blind hatred of him: he is an ultra-successful, ultra-rich businessman, traits which the Marxist political establishment in Scotland utterly loathes. Even Ruth’s been at it today, with a very mean-spirited and petulant statement on his election. These people should be thankful that he’s brought jobs and money and taxes to pay their wages, rather than slagging him off at every opportunity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alec says:

      All of Trump’s business ventures have been rash, impetuous, and with a high likelihood of failure (often deliberately, so he could avoid paying suppliers) especially around Atlantic City. When his casino was going under, his father turned up and bought $3.4m of chips.

      He’s a spoiled baby-man who never once worked for a single thing, and stole from many who did.


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