John Reid, before he got a peerage for services to Tony Blair, insisted on being called Dr Reid. Now he’s Dr Frankenstein Lord John Reid Baron of Warmongering UKOK – and he’s very upset that nasty independence supporters are abusing poor defenceless politicians. The abuse here is not a reference to John being felt up in a dark alley by a strange man who’s offered him a bagful of security consultancy sweeties, he’s complaining that people are saying rude things about him. Like calling him Dr Frankenstein Baron of Warmongering, or wondering aloud if you can barge your way through to the front of a crowd at the scene of an accident shouting ‘let me through I once wrote a thesis on the slave trade in 18th century Nigeria’.
John wrote a thesis on the evils of the Atlantic slave trade in the 18th century, which saw millions of people kidnapped, transported across the Atlantic in chains, and held in brutal captivity on Caribbean islands, making a small number of rich and privileged American and European plantation owners even richer and more privileged. Nowadays John does work for the Chertoff Group, a company founded by Michael Chertoff the former US Secretary for Homeland Security. John Reid’s boss had a key role in running the US detention centre at Guantánamo – kidnapping people, transporting them across the Atlantic in chains, holding them in brutal captivity on a Caribbean island, and making a small number of rich and privileged American and European security company directors and consultants even richer and more privileged. But it’s probably abusive to point that out, unless you adopt managementwankspeak in which case it’s synergy.
John’s made a career out of abusing voters’ trust. He doesn’t think that we should be allowed to complain about it, he doesn’t think that now he’s no longer in elected office he should cease influencing our laws, and he’s upset that he’s not being accorded the respect given to Dr Frankenstein – although if a horde of Transylvanian peasants bearing torches and pitchforks were to turn up at his front door John would be the first to complain that they’d been sent by Alicsammin.
It’s a funny thing respect. When you demand it, it’s a guarantee that you’re not going to get any. Especially in Scotland where the answer to the question “Do you know who I am?” is “I know whit ye are.” Respect cuts two ways, you only get respect when you show respect. John’s career has demonstrated that the only respect he has is the respect he demands from others in order to compensate for his lack of self-respect, or indeed his missing sense of shame.
Now John is attempting to link his own demands for respect to the respect due to those who fought and died on the beaches of Normandy. You can accuse John of many things, but the ability to recognise when you’re being crass isn’t one of them. Today in the Scotsman there’s a report that John has been criticised for linking the commemorations of the D-Day Landings to the independence referendum. He claimed that the landings showed that “men and women drawn from Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales – ordinary men and women […] did extraordinary things and did it together” with the clear implication that it’s only possible for ordinary people to do extraordinary things under the aegis of the Westminster Parliament.
John’s comments are an insult to the memory of those who died on the beaches of Normandy – it is not for him or anyone else to tell modern generations what the personal motivations of the fallen were. My Irish republican grandfather served in WWII, he took no part in the D-Day landings and thankfully he survived the conflict, but he was not fighting for King and Country, he was fighting against fascism. Those who died on the beaches of northern France died for noble personal reasons of their own, we mourn them because they were humans and individuals, and the war cost them their lives. They are no longer here to tell us what they did it for or what it meant to them. That’s why we mourn and commemorate them John, not because the event glorifies the corrupt and venal politicians we’re lumbered with today.
John Reid’s remarks are also an insult to the thousands who fought and died on D-Day who were not Scottish, Irish, Welsh or English. The Canadians, Poles, Americans and the rest who fought and died were not doing so in order to preserve the Westminster Parliament’s rule over Scotland. They were fighting against the evils of the Nazi regime. The D-Day Landings were not a Westminster affair, they came about because of co-operation between independent democratic nations who freely chose to act in concert against fascism.
There is no positive and substantial case for the Union. John Reid is reduced to doing what he and his ilk accuse independence supporters of – resting their case upon emotive and selective misreadings of a past that is long past. D-Day will remain in history, whatever happens in September. And Scottish people will continue to mourn the loss of the brave and noble servicemen and women from all over the globe who came together to fight against a great evil.
And hopefully, in the future, the politicians in a Scottish Parliament will not employ that sacrifice to make a cheap political point in a democratic debate. If they do, we’ll be able to express our displeasure by voting them out of office and removing them from public life. Westminster does not give us that option with John Reid – and that John, is why we are having this independence debate now.