Forget ‘staycation’ – a word whose sound is so removed from pleasure its use makes one consider staying at home.
The Scottish Government has sent its best wishes to – wait for it – ‘Scolympians’- less than majestic, more of a disease.
The sound immediately conjures ‘scoliosis’ and conjures images of makes Scottish athletes competing at the 2012 Olympic Games in London suffering from curvature of the spine.
This confection is also simply unattractive.
Who’d want to be a ‘Scolympian’ and what expensive young ‘adviser’ came up with this wheeze?
The desperate attempt to nationalise everything at all costs is counterproductive at the level of the ‘anti-Scottish’ device employed for a few tacky outings.
The message of best wishes is on a recorded video and does not itself disable the athletes. It leaves that to the accompanying press release: ‘Ministers send message sent to Scolympians on eve of Games’.
There is another curiosity.
The message, from the Scottish Government, has been recorded by a group of senior ministers. The naming order of the press release, which is not alphabetical but apparently hierarchical – is ‘First Minister (Ed: no need even to name), Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Finance Secretary John Swinney, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and Education Secretary Michael Russell’.
This is interesting for its exclusions.
Sports Minister, Shona Robison, would have been the obvious first addition to the big three of Salmond, Sturgeon and Swinney. Tourism Minister, Fergus Ewing, would have been another. Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, would have been appropriate. Education just about squeaks in but not in preference to sports, tourism or culture – but justice?
If this performance team is based on rank rather than relevance of brief, it excludes big hitters like Cabinet Secretaries Richard Lochhead (Rural Affairs Secretary) and Alex Neil (Infrastructure Secretary).
This looks very much like the subliminal introduction of an insider ‘A team’ for the independence campaign.
We expect to see increasing manoevering for advantage and populist headlines from now on, as ambitious ministers hedge their personal positions against the scenario of failure of the independence referendum and the early departure after that of a tired Alex Salmond.
In the batting order of the government press release, Argyll and Bute’s MSP, Michael Russell, is the new kid on the block, which may doubly account for two otherwise inexplicable recent happenings:
- his extraordinary and highly populist campaign against his own government’s actions and against publicly owned ferry companies of which he is a shareholder
- the fact that the First Minster or the Infrastructure Secretary, Alec Neil (whose brief includes transport and for whom Mr Russell’s actions must have been troublesome and unhelpful) did not rein him in.
The first looks like jockeying for position in the public eye to support a later last-chance succession campaign; and the second as if the First Minister is giving him a free pass to do as he likes.
The oldest members of the current cabinet are Alex Neil (born 1951), Michael Russell (born 1953) and Bruce Crawford (born 1955).
The young bucks with good performances in office and who would see themselves as potential candidates to take the party forwards are Richard Lochhead (born 1969) and Keith Brown, currently Transport Minister, who will have found Mr Russell’s acceleration of ungrounded ferry disaffection in Dunoon a considerable nuisance.
Interesting times – and let’s hope our ‘Scolympians’ maintain a strong spine in competition.