A Lesson From History

Scotland has become a strange country where videos from Government feeds regularly trend around social media, has it not? Gloriously so, I think.

Two such videos are, as of writing, doing the rounds.

One being Brendan O’Hara, the new SNP MP for Argyle and Bute, and his maiden speech in the House of Commons.

I’m not going to take anything away from this speech. It is a wonderful one. My concern lies instead with the other video going around. Namely, the reply from the Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

This reply is being held up as some kind of paradigm shift within the House of Commons’ attitude towards Scotland and the SNP. I, however, was reminded of a passage from Aneurin “Nye” Bevin’s memoirs, “In Place of Fear” published in 1952 (page 7-8 of the First Edition).

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“The new Member’s first experience of [The House of Commons] is when he learns that passionate feelings must never find expression in forthright speech. His first speech teaches him that. Having come straight from contact with his constituents, he is full of their grievances and his own resentment, and naturally, he does his best to shock his listeners into some realisation of it.

“He delivers himself therefore with great force and, he hopes and fears, with considerable provocativeness. When his opponent arises to reply he expects to hear an equally strong and uncompromising answer. His opponent does nothing of the sort. In strict conformity with Parliamentary tradition, he congratulates the new Member upon a most successful maiden speech and expresses the urbane hope that the House will have frequent opportunities of hearing him in the future. The Members present endorse this quite insincere sentiment with murmurs of approval.

“With that, his opponent pays no more attention to him but goes on to deliver the speech he had intended to make. After remaining in his seat a little longer, the new Member crawls out of the House with feelings of deep relief at having got it over, mingled with a paralysing sense of frustration. The stone he thought he had thrown turned out to be a sponge.”

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I’d caution my friends within the new tranche of MP’s and their surrounding campaigners. Stick to your principles. Stay by your constituents. Don’t let the establishment do its job of quelling all ambition within you.

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