Before the US presidential election, Nicola Sturgeon nailed her colours to what could fairly be called an anti-Trump mast. How far away it seemed from the halcyon days when Alex Salmond (sorry, the Scottish government) intervened to thwart Aberdeenshire council’s rejection of Trump’s golf course that was to wreck a site of special scientific interest, and not a few lives besides.
Of course best pals entrepreneur Trump and first minister at the time Salmond fell out a long time ago now.
But it’s a different thing dealing with the president-elect of the strongest nation in the world, a man who, no matter what criticism of him and the process, has won a democratic election. Now is the time for political leaders to trim their sails.
Here is Nicola Sturgeon’s response in Holyrood to that election at last Thursday’s first minister’s questions (thanks to the BBC):
So we go from her previous ‘I’m for Hillary’ to ‘Watch out, I’m going to hold Donald to account’ in one fell swoop.
Well, I suppose it’s consistent, sort of.
The new president aside, they’re pretty bold words, aren’t they?
She’s not going to stay silent in the face of racism, sexism, or misogyny. That’s a very selective list. There are plenty of other -isms and evils around that she could have added – anti-semitism, totalitarianism and dictatorship, to name but three. Perhaps she felt they and all other evils in the world were covered by ‘intolerance of any kind.’
But hang on there. ‘Of any kind’? Wow, she’s going to be busy. I won’t even attempt to list all the many kinds of intolerance around in the world but just as an example, what about the intolerance in Iran, that an approving Alex Salmond led an SNP delegation to not so long ago?
She then turns briefly to Mr Trump, expressing the hope that he’s not going to be like he said he would be and managing to get in that he ‘vilified’ people in his presidential campaign. Well, of course he did, and much else besides (this post is not about praising Trump). But maybe a day or two’s diplomatic silence would have revealed that he’s already rowing back on some of his campaign pledges. That doesn’t transform him into a creature of noble intent. But it may show the advantages of not rushing to instant and public judgement.
Her final sentence reveals all. This is not about all evils, it’s about the evils deemed as such by ‘progressive opinion the world over.’ It’s not the first time Nicola has used that handy phrase, which means … well, not much it turns out, as the BBC confirmed when they looked at her use of the word ‘progressive’ in the run-up to the 2015 general election:
There’s no agreed definition of the word … it seems to be a comfortable and ill-defined word that often means what the listener wants to hear in it.
Meantime, across in the Western Isles, their SNP MP Angus MacNeil has suggested that Trump as president would not be welcome (Trump’s mother came from Lewis) unless he ‘changes his policies.’ My hazy memory of all those American presidents who had even remote Irish ancestry is that they were welcomed in County Wherever as a long-lost son and a boon to the tourist industry. But the Western Isles have so much going for them economically that they don’t need to bother about anything like that.
MacNeil, incidentally, is chair of the Commons international trade committee, so he may have another chance to try and do down the new administration of the USA there. Although I wouldn’t bet on his fellow committee members following his wise political leadership.
Only a few days ago I posted a few thoughts on The subtle political art of knowing when to speak, when to shut up. It was also about Nicola Sturgeon. I see no reason to change the conclusion of naivety I reached there. It’s a conclusion many of us reached a long time ago about her and the SNP’s view of the world.
As I finished this post it was revealed that Nicola Sturgeon has sent a letter of congratulation to Trump. To be filed no doubt under ‘Foreign: Miscellaneous.’