Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Christopher Harvie MSP - A Loony on the Loose

Just when you think the SNP are controlling their urge to resist shooting themselves in the foot up pops Christopher Harvie MSP. Yesterday in the Scottish parliament he spoke during a debate on tourism and this is just some of what he had to say about a trip through the south of Scotland.

"On getting to Lockerbie, I discovered the place is a dump – Tescotown. It should really have a certain attraction of a rather sombre kind, as a place where something terrible happened. There are, after all, places on the Western Front and that sort of thing that have such an attraction for families who have lost people there."

It was then youth on which he vented his wrath. "...there ere were lots of kids hanging around the place smoking, drinking and so on. It was not in the least attractive." The MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, went on to criticise the attitude of some youths he encountered travelling by bus from Galashiels, complaining that they put their "big muddy trainers" on the seats, and went on to attack young people for the "ugly" clothes they wear. Apparently it's all Tom Hunter's fault. The founder of Sports Division has caused this "from selling people what must be the ugliest clothes worn by anyone on the entire continent." The former lecturerer in Germany went in to praise German kids. "Bavarian kids rarely wear anything other than knickerbockers, or something like that." before returning to his attack on Scotland. "...but here that is replaced by universal sports goods, barely concealing the fact that Scotland is perhaps the least healthy nation in western Europe."

This is far from the first time that the MSP has gone public wih his over the top views and I was surprised no one picked him up on this in January when he said. "I can - just - get this down on the laptop, despite the swaying and swerving (he was on the bus from Galashiels to Edinburgh). But in winter feet turn to ice in the ill-heated buses, often late, often overcrowded, failing to make connections, sometimes not appearing at all. Evenings bring methadone men, pulling the windows open to the bitter draught because "Ah'm roastin' in here!" Or big men with bigger problems who've taken a mental battering in Iraq or Afghanistan and want their captive audience to know about it. The Borders bus is a slice of Scottish life to be contemplated, "with a seriousness approaching to despair"

He also attacked opponents of the Waverley rail line last month saying. "Here were a lot of RP (Received pronuociation) accents among the line's opponents. There are many English railway buffs (it is a national speciality, after all) on our side, but the St Boswells majority actually did not want to be connected to the Scottish central belt. The isolation of the Borders region suited these retirees, who once might have settled in, say, Rothbury or Wooler but had come north of the border, where the Scots, supposedly, get a better deal."

Of course there's issues across Scotland where their towns centres have been adversely affected by out of town supermarkets. There are clearly issues over kids and under-age drinking and all sorts of other social problems that affect the young (not least a lack of government investment in activities targetting the young) but Harvie's attacks have an air of arrogance, and mis-placed use of the language that inflames debate rather than furthering it.


Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Arogant? Yes. Loonie? Perhaps. But is he wrong, Richard?

Richard Havers said...

Yes on several counts. The idea that it's a sports goods firm that is behind this in some bizarre way for a start. Of course there's serious problems in our towns over shop closures as new supermarket developments come in and because people's buying patterns have changed but this is a debate on tourism. There clearly needs to be urgent attention to these issues but Harvie's approach is hardly the answer. I wonder what his own constituents would feel if a Tory MP attacked some of the less attractive villages and towns in Fife - and there are a few?

He seems to take these extreme positions and then compare us to he=ow good things are on the Continent.

There's no denying the issues but Harvie's approach is not the fix.