Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Too statesmanlike for some?

There's been a big hoo-haa (original spelling by the way) over the above photo of Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Some claim that this meeting is a "great moment for Scotland" others have made light of it or generally criticised it as "style over substance".

Maybe with my moderate hat on I can make sense of it.

It would appear that some in opposition camps (who I seem to remember being awfully fond of Mrs Clinton when she was running for an important office) are a wee bit miffed that it is Salmond and not them who is meeting the US Secretary of State. Others, I guess, are more concerned with how the meeting looks (Scotland, you know, not being a state or anything) than if anything substantive came out of it.

The fact that a popular administration like President Obama's (so far, so good) looks like they are taking an interest in "wee Scotland"
is surely good on a stylistic level. And whether or not anything substantive came out of it, the fact that a Scottish FM is meeting at this level indicates a kind of ambition for Scotland that opposition parties seem only too keen to rubbish. On the other hand, it is patently easy to see the meeting as a Nat stunt, with Salmond keen to show Scotland on the world stage and mixing with the big actors - which, inevitably, is how unionists will see the photograph.

So, a mixed reaction I guess. Getting your photo taken with the US Secretary of State isn't going to change the world. Indeed, its probably not going to change anyone's opinion of you either. But it does emphasise ambition. And that is something that we in Scotland don't tend to go for that often.


subrosa 24 February 2009 at 15:06  

Well balanced post Malc. This won't do any harm to Alex except to upset the unionists :)

The Liberal 24 February 2009 at 15:22  

Upsetting people is often a worthy objective in itself.

Scottish Unionist 24 February 2009 at 15:34  

It’s part of a pattern, Malc. This, the Sandi Thom dirge, Kofi Annan debacle, Broons cartoon, Rikki Fulton stunt, etc. It’s cringeworthy. Fair enough: Salmond has his political agenda. But this kind of thing is so obviously contrived that rather than elevate Scotland’s status he’s making us look like desperate bit players.

Malc 24 February 2009 at 15:43  

Subrosa - thanks. And I think it has done so.

The Liberal - you make a decent point. Though I wouldn't call it worthy. Purposeful perhaps.

SU - Yes, to an extent. I'm not going to suggest for a second that independence doesn't motivate the FM's actions and that everything the Scottish Government does is aimed at furthering that argument.

But - taking this incident alone - isn't there something to be said for the gall of the man? Scottish First Minister meeting with US Secretary of State and talking about his agenda for Scotland. Isn't there something laudable in the sentiment - even if his motivation is too independent-looking for your liking?

The Liberal 24 February 2009 at 18:46  

@ Scottish Unionist: What else is he supposed to talk about? Running the UK? He doesn't. Scottish domestic politics? She wouldn't care. The weather?

He was voted into power on a, at least implicitly, pro-independence platform. He can at least be allowed to talk about it.

The Liberal 24 February 2009 at 18:47  

@ Malc. It's Billy Connelly's entire reason for being, & thats good enough for me!

CrazyDaisy 24 February 2009 at 21:28  

Doesn't it make you smile though? I'm sick tae the back o ma throat fin Broon meanders a ower the jynte thinkin he's somin? But Alec kens he's somin as does Hilary - she didna come doon Princes Street on a Tram!

James 24 February 2009 at 21:42  

Wow, you get all sorts round here. Just let it be noted for the record that I was never fond of Hillary when she was running.

Also, it's an intrinsically funny pic. What might http://punditkitchen.com have made of it?

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