by Colin Campbell
WHAT have we done to deserve to have this pair as our representatives in parliament? That was the question that was browbeating my brain for too much of yesterday.
On the Inverness side of the Kessock Bridge we have limelight loving lout Drew Hendry, who at a stroke wiped away all considerations in his favour with his shameful and disgraceful behaviour in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
And on the Ross-shire side of the bridge we have the appalling Ian Blackford, a shameless political hypocrite who smirkingly claims to be “a simple 10 acres crofter”.
They’ve both shown themselves up as being a complete and utter embarrassment to their constituents and to Scotland, and all that separates them is the width of the mile-long bridge.
I ask again, what have we done to deserve this?
The root cause of course is the willingness of SNP supporters to vote for a monkey on a bar stool if he’s wearing a yellow rosette. That, and the cursed ill-fortune that this pair of tree climbers happened to be sitting around side by side at exactly the same time.
The only remaining matter for debate is which of them is worse?
Breaking it down into categories and patterns of behaviour may be the best way to try and resolve that difficult question.
Puerile and pathetic exhibitionism: Until Wednesday Blackford was in the lead here by a mile. His bellowing puce-faced tirades at PMQs every week are a ghastly sight to witness if you are a proud and dignified Scot. We have become more used to it by now. But the realisation that many people south of the border could think that this is the best Scotland has to offer for months on end made me writhe with embarrassment. He also led a pre-planned walkout of SNP MPs from the Commons with Hendry trotting obediently behind him, straight into the waiting TV cameras. This was over some nationalist grievance or other. Who can remember which one? Who can possibly keep track?
But on the embarrassment scale Hendry on Wednesday overtook the lean, wiry 10 acres crofter. His performance was about as bad as it gets. Some have questioned as he made a shocking exhibition of himself in parliament – one of the worst if not the worst ever seen – whether his feelings were genuine or if it was a preconceived stunt. Any doubts about that can be surely be dispelled by his seizing the Commons mace and striding towards the exit with it.
Where did he think he was going with it? Back to Inverness to display it as a Christmas ornament? Of course he knew he’d be stopped at the door. Pity in a way. Yuletide spent in Porterfield for theft of parliamentary property would have had him seeing the error of his ways. Stunt rating? Right of the chart.
Pandering to the English haters in the nationalist movement: This is pretty much all Blackford’s domain. His enthusiastic backing for a doctored **** off sign at the border and his vicious recent targeting of an English photographer were pure meat and drink to the worst elements in the nationalist movement. Hendry has no form on this, at least none we’re aware of. But with an election looming orders may be handed down from the headquarters of The Party for him to step up his game.
Serial grievance mongering: The two are inseparable, although Blackford attracts more attention. If they can’t find some manufactured grievance to monger over they’ve both had a bad week. And as far as grievance mongering goes, they rarely have bad weeks.
Political hypocrisy: Blackford’s 10 acres crofter pose is the most childishly nauseating. But ex-councillor Hendry pretending he can’t stand Westminster with all its perks and privileges is hard to stomach too. This is a man living the high life who five or six years ago was tapping on doors to plead for a few hundred council votes. His expenses were limited to a few quid based on verifiable petrol receipts. Since being elevated to Westminster he’s claimed hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Money grubbing snouts in the trough: Blackford rakes in more, again in the hundreds of thousands, but Hendry’s not that far behind him. This is from a system they claim they want to destroy. The only part they definitely don’t want to destroy is the big fat salaries and expenses payout department.
So which is worse? A week ago I’d definitely have said Blackford by a nose, or by a protuberant waistcoat belly.
But after Wednesday Hendry has put his grandstanding, exhibitionist credentials on full display as well and shown what he’s capable of in the ugliest way possible.
He’s set an appalling example that in the months ahead other SNP MPs will try to follow. And he’s excited – and incited – wilder elements of “the base” who believe they should no longer play by any rules when it comes to their zeal for independence.
In fact if there’s civil disorder in Scotland next year as a result of a howling clamour for independence, Wednesday’s rule-smashing performance by our limelight loving lout of an MP could undoubtedly be part of the reason for it.
After decades of having men of stature like Russell Johnston, David Stewart and Charles Kennedy representing our two Highland constituencies efficiently and effectively, it’s truly grim to now be directly linked to the two most embarrassing politicians in Scotland.