by Colin Campbell
INVERNESS MP Drew Hendry had the biggest day of his career yesterday when he was chosen by the SNP to be their media frontman across the TV and radio airwaves on the day of Nicola Sturgeon’s big conference speech, with the role of heralding Queen Nicola’s nationally broadcast address, previewing it and defending it.
I’m not being deliberately unkind to the Inverness MP when I say that he was a surprising choice for a day of exposure in the media limelight. He comes across quite well but he came across quite well when he was an Inverness councillor five years ago. He has no doubt gone through some media training since then and some of the rough edges may have been rubbed off but when he appears on TV he doesn’t exactly electrify the screen.
But who else have the SNP got to fill such a role?
Certainly compared with his more prominent colleague across the Kessock Bridge, he’s virtually an SNP saint.
It’s hard to imagine a greater contrast between workmanlike, plodding and essentially decent Drew Hendry than the odious, bellowing, English baiting, tourist industry wrecking political hypocrite Ian Blackford in Ross shire, who is adept at claiming vast amounts of expenses from a Westminster system he claims he wants to destroy.
If he’d been Queen Nicola’s TV frontman for the day viewers would have switched off in droves even before she’d got her make-up on.
Any other alternatives for big speech day limelight?
Joanna Cherry is probably the pick of what’s left but at the weekend she openly criticised the “Sturgeon cult” mentality in the SNP so she won’t be in front of a TV camera again anytime soon speaking on her behalf.
What about Kate Forbes, only elected three years ago, who because her predecessor was into sending highly dubious text messages to a young teenager, suddenly found herself elevated to being in charge of the nation’s finances? She looks totally out of her depth and is mainly reduced to holding out the begging bowl to Westminster, seeking yet more billions on top of what we’ve already received. If this fretful novice was responsible for getting us out of the virus crisis without vast Westminster support the only jobs available would be running soup kitchens. Unfortunately, she looks too fraught and frayed to be a photogenic curtain-raiser for Nicola.
Hate crimes Humza, Angus “the ghoul” Robertson who tallies up the numbers of dead elderly no voters as he does his electoral calculations? Neither would go down well on TV at the moment.
So our own Drew Hendry got the starring role. Except he’s not all that much of a star. On the radio, on Sky, and most importantly on the main BBC broadcast, he presented himself reasonably well. But there were no tough questions to answer. He got away with spouting banal generalities laced with outright drivel.
It was yet more of the same from a tediously repetitive SNP script. He told Sky: “I can’t see anyone across the nations of the UK saying it’s legitimate to stand in the way of the democratic right of the Scottish people. That can’t possibly be sustainable. Scotland will have a legal referendum.”
I can see two million people in Scotland alone who do not want another hugely divisive and stressful referendum anytime soon after the crisis we’re going through now is fading. Especially as the SNP think it should be based on next May’s Holyrood election where they assume the right to brand it an “independence election”, making up their own rules and expecting the rest of us to meekly follow them. And they will be delighted when Boris Johnson duly rejects it, most sustainably, “under any circumstances”.
A generous dose of drivel and fantasy there from our local man in the limelight.
Earlier Hendry told a radio show: “I think support for independence is rising, not just because of the pandemic, pre-pandemic we were seeing a rise in the support. Fourteen opinion polls in a row have now seen a rise in support for independence.”
So according to Nicola’s warm-up act the reason support for independence is rising is because a succession of mainly junk opinion polls say it is. This “fourteen polls in a row” garbage is repeated with nauseating regularity, including by much of the supine, SNP fearing mainstream media. What they never say is that many of these polls have been commissioned by pro-independence organisations with questions skewed to produce the results they want. There should be a toxic health warning on every one of them, but there never is. So once again the SNP get away with murder. It has become something of a trend.
On the main afternoon BBC broadcast presenter Jo Coburn put it to Hendry as he popped up again that Westminster had already paid over £8.2 billion to Scotland to help deal with the consequences of the coronavirus, and did that not demonstrate the strength of the Union? Hendry said it was our entitlement, naturally, and was something an independent Scotland would be doing in any case.
If she’d said £100 billion Hendry would have claimed an independent Scotland would have matched that too. These vast sums of money mean nothing to those who don’t have to find them, like Sturgeon, Forbes, Hendry and co, who only see them flow northward and continually demand more.
There would have been no comparable furlough scheme in an independent Scotland without Westminster support, and maybe no furlough scheme at all. The leading lights of the SNP know that but it costs them nothing to indulge in the falsehood that these colossal sums of free money would have been swilling around here, ready to shower on anyone who otherwise faced begging on the streets.
But don’t expect those gullible SNP supporters who are, shall we politely say, “not too well informed economically”, to believe that.
So Drew Hendry had his media day in the limelight yesterday and he did ok, by SNP standards at least.
But he and other won’t be allowed to deal in vague generalities for ever.
What currency would an independent Scotland use? Drew Hendry would be unable to tell us.
Who would pay our pensions for the years ahead and would they be guaranteed at the same level as they are now? He would have no convincing answer on that.
How would Scotland make up the £2,000 per person extra it receives for public spending compared with folk in England, which is of particular relevance to the scattered Highlands? Credible answers would be missing.
Would there be a hard border with England and how would that affect trade? No answer would be forthcoming.
When could the SNP expect to lead an independent Scotland back into their precious EU? Drew Hendry wouldn’t have a clue.
And at a local level, where would all the flats and houses in Inverness come from for the “open doors” policy of the SNP to welcome another mass influx from the EU? Not to mention the school places and health services. Drew Hendry, as I wrote a few months ago, made a thing about his “anguish” at seeing local young people not even being able to afford small flats because of high rents and the huge pressure on accommodation. But still he wants more migrants. A lot of what he says just doesn’t add up.
But he’ll be taking a breather from such parochial concerns after doing the rounds of the TV and radio stations on Sturgeon speech day. It was her day, but it was his day also. And the pair of them were united in their outpouring of enthusiasm, fantasy and drivel.