Plus change, plus la même chose

So a wee while ago there was a meeting between La Nicla, which is defined in French dictionaries as “la femme qui puts les shiteurs up l’establaissment britannique”, and the French ambassador. The purpose of the meeting may or may not have been to have a wee laugh at George Osborne’s attempts to make political capital out of the Battle of Agincourt, but La Nicla and L’Ambassadeuse had a wee natter over some Ferrero Rocher about things that diplomatic protocol says that ambassadors and first ministers should have a wee natter about, and as is normal minutes were taken and a report was sent as a matter of courtesy to the UK Foreign Office. There is apparently no truth in the rumour that the minutes of the meeting were taken by someone on work placement from Reporting Scotland, but since the British media doesn’t feel the need to check their sources, why the hell should I?

Then yesterday amidst great fanfare a story was published in the Telegraph, a paper which prefers to overlook stories which are negative for large banks with advertising accounts in the Telegraph, claiming that the paper had received a leak of a Foreign Office memo which said that La Nicla wanted Davie Cameron to be the next Prime Minister and had said that Ed Miliband wasn’t fit for the job. This is of course directly contrary to the SNP’s entire electoral strategy, and if true would be devastating. The problem for the Telegraph is that it isn’t true. But the Telegraph was too busy rounding up the usual suspects to stick the boot into the SNP to bother checking the facts.

The paper managed to get quotes on how shocking this was from an outrage of Labour politicians – that’s the proper collective noun in case you were wondering – Labour politicos were disgusted that a party was saying one thing in public and another in private. How dare the SNP act like the Labour party, being duplicitous is Jim Murphy’s job. The Telegraph even managed to get a quote from Wullie Rennie, who was probably just pleased that anyone other than regular passengers on the number 17 bus to Kelty had noticed that he exists.

But after taking the time to ask the usual hating the SNP suspects to give quotes about how appalled they were, what Simon No-Honestly-I’m-a-Proper-Reporter Johnson failed to do was to ask anyone who was actually present at the meeting to comment on the contents of a memo which gave a fourth hand account of what was supposedly said at a meeting that the memo writer did not attend. You know, the kind of thing that budding reporters get taught in their very first class in journalism school, the class entitled “Checking sources : How to do your fucking job”.

The source in question, La Nicla, immediately denied there was any truth in the tale. The Labour party tutted, “Well she would say that wouldn’t she?” Now La Nicla may be many things, but she’s hardly likely to undermine the SNP’s entire election strategy in a meeting which is minuted, even if it were true that she wants Cameron to win the election in England, which she doesn’t.

Then the French weighed in, and denied the story with a firm, “Non, absolutemente non.” Labour said, well they would say that, what with being foreign and probably immigrants. I made that up of course, but sauce for the goose and all that. I could make up another quote from Jim Murphy at this juncture, but he was doing that quiet voice thing that he always does when he’s trying to make out that he’s a serious statesperson and I couldn’t hear him over Kezia Dugdale’s screams.

Everyone who was at the meeting or anywhere in the vicinity denied the Telegraph story even before the sole copy of the paper sold in Glasgow hit the newsstand. The only person who hasn’t denied anything, or been quoted on anything – apart from La Nicla and the French ambassador – is the Scottish Secretary of State, Alistair Koalamichael. He was the other person who met with the French ambassador that day. Alistair has been keeping his head down and has been very quiet indeed. He’s hoping no one will ask him where the memo came from.

The icing on the brioche and the need for the Telegraph’s ace reporter to, you know, do his fucking job, was illustrated by the final sentence in the very same memo that the Telegraph published in defence of a story that was deflating more quickly than Jim Murphy’s reputation as saviour of the Labour party in Scotland. The final sentence read: “I have to admit that I’m not sure that the FM’s tongue would be quite so loose on that kind of thing in a meeting like that, so it might well be a case of something being lost in translation.”

So even the un-named person who drafted the memo was uncertain about the truth of the allegation. But none of this stopped the Telegraph rushing into print with it without doing the most cursory of checks.

Despite the story being shot down in flames even before the Telegraph had a chance to be ripped up and used to light a coal fire, this didn’t stop Ed Miliband appearing on the telly to denounce the SNP on the back of a discredited tale. He’s still waving those superglued fingers. This all by itself proves that Ed isn’t fit to be Prime Minister, his willingness to associate himself with a baseless smear that is – although the superglued fingers don’t help -but then Ed learned his politics in the office of Gordie Broon, the man who saw fit to employ Damien the Omen McBride.

An official inquiry into the “leak” has been announced. It will doubtless be a whitewash. But there are serious questions to be answered here – not the least of which is who in the Foreign Office was prepared to do serious damage to the UK’s diplomatic relationship with France in order to score cheap party political points in an election. And there was us thinking that the civil service was supposed to be neutral.

But here’s the real lesson to learn from this debacle. Labour had a whole load of attacks ready to launch on social media within minutes of the Telegraph breaking the story on Friday night. So clearly Labour had been well briefed in advance that the story was going to be published. Instead of it being a story about how the SNP secretly favours the Tories, it’s now a story about how Labour is – yet again – cosying up to and colluding with the Tory establishment just like they did during the referendum campaign. Labour and the Tories, twin cheeks du même cul. Plus change, plus la même chose.

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41 comments on “Plus change, plus la même chose

  1. shahallyon says:

    Vous avez frappé le nail sur le tête mon ami

  2. Pam McMahon says:

    Of course Labour is cosying up to the Tory establishment – who else would give them room space, never mind a cuddle.
    This ploy has seriously backfired on them, and will on the Lib Dems if anybody ever investigates the identity of the person in the Scotland Office who concocted this memo.

    Carmichael is suddenly invisible, like Je Suis Charlie Kennedy and Danny Je Used To Be Dans Les Poches of George Osborne are invisible.

    Time to call them out. They have damaged the international reputation of the French State with their very silly skitterings. Good post.

  3. MoJo says:

    Vive le petit chien roux…..!
    and good to see that the Auld Alliance is still alive and well……..

  4. Nana Smith says:

    No doubt in my mind big Al did it and ran away.

    Should anyone wish to donate to the man who hopes to kick his slabby arse out the door here’s the link

  5. fillofficer says:

    despite all the shabby tricks we’ve seen so far, this is indeed breathtaking. u couldn’t make it up. no really !!

  6. bjsalba says:

    sur la tête, mes amis

  7. macart763 says:

    Snff, sniff, snnniiifffff! I smell une tempête de merde on the horizon for some hapless Herbert.

    Went from laughing by the end of the first line to cheering by the last.

    This one is so going south on them at a rate of knots. What genius decided it would be a good idea to start an international incident over a cheap shot electoral smear? No wonder Heywood has been forced to start an inquiry, albeit one where feck all will be the outcome. I’m willing to bet though that there will have been some terse phone calls around Whitehall and to the offices of the Torygraph.😀

  8. […] Plus change, plus la même chose. […]

  9. Catherine says:

    Bravo! Mais l’expression est “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”.😉

  10. diabloandco says:

    Love the collective noun.
    Been a good day all round , thoroughly enjoyed the rally in the Square , bought several badges ,Wee Ginger on one and to round off I have you in my inbox !
    Can’t be bettered.

  11. shahallyon says:

    I knew it was “la tête” the minute I clicked on “post comment” but it was too late. Je suis désolé.

  12. finnmacollie says:

    “la femme qui puts les shiteurs up l’establaissment britannique”,

    a definate dinner doon the nose moment! And an outrage of Labour politicians – brilliant.

    As for the enquiry: I reckon it will get filed along with Chilcot and the paedophile cover up. Chances of it being completed before the election? About the same as Magrit keeping her seat.

  13. Lollysmum says:

    Well done Paul. I bet even Nicola is laughing her head off at that first sentence. Have to say I roared with laughter & had to read it 3 times just to make sure I wasn’t imagining the words on the screen.

    Brilliant post & so pleased to see you posting more often-it’s a real treat, thank you🙂

  14. Robert Graham says:

    oh sugar with all this french I thought i had clicked on the wrong link as you do sometimes and get funny photos well enough of that ,Now for the ones who really run this country this was i suppose their first bungled head on attempt at undermining our First Minister i use that in respect to her office and i do wish the Labor rabble in parliament both of them (freudian slip) there ,would drag themselves out of the gutter and try and respect the office as well ,The whole non story has McTernans gruby digits all over it he contributes to a blog in the Telegraph so link there this is the guy who was twice questioned by the Met who only usually do it once if they believe you this was during the cash for honours inquiry the guy who called the scots narrow minded racist bigots i think that was after he was tossed out of Australia for visa infringements that i add were never really proved cos he skipped the country before they could be the guy who is pulling Jimbo Murphys strings yep honest Jimbo-Curran-Alexander the list goes on what a parcel of rogues as famous Scot once described this scum he wasn’t wrong

  15. You should do your Malcom Tucker impression more often. It’s fun!

  16. The Earthshaker says:

    Fantastic as usual, I bet the French are delighted to be dragged into this tawdry nonsense.

    It wasn’t just Labour Scottish branch on stand by, their comrades in Labour’s Welsh branch in the form of a Leighton Andrews, a Welsh Government Minister no less trying to drag Plaid Cymru and it’s leader Leanne Wood into this ‘story’ last night

    I hope the SNP win every Scottish seat and give the establishment a bloody nose they won’t forget, Alba Gu Brath!

    • Valerie says:

      Yes, Earthshaker, that was what I said about the poor guy Coffinier, he looked completely bemused, saying he had no idea where it came from. I hope the French concoct some suitable backlash to the UK govt. because its a disgrace.

      Brilliant piece as usual, Paul, at least we are all dragging out our O grade French to murder!

      Even before I browsed the Blogs, I knew the FM would never do something like this, because anyone that follows her performances or seen her live speaking, know that she was just being herself at the Leaders debates. Nicola is an intelligent, precise, honest and time served politician, who would never make such a faux pas. I suppose the Establishment just hope we are stupid enough to waver. Lots of people have joined the SNP, and donated in the wake of this french farce, so people are getting sick of the antics.

  17. Steve Bowers says:

    Read the article ( good ) read the comments ( same lines) now i find myself worried for some reason.
    This is Westminster, the SNP are by far and away THE biggest bogeyman on the horizon for them at the moment, while we’re all laughing at their fuck-up are they creased with laughter at us for actually buying it……………. remember, they have the odious McTernan as a paid lap dog, my nose tells me this has his stink all over it.
    Let’s be careful out there, this is not over by a long chalk, they need to whip the labour party faithful back into their drone like line in Scotland, this is not even the opening salvo !

  18. “I have to admit that I’m not sure that the FM’s tongue would be quite so loose on that kind of thing in a meeting like that, so it might well be a case of something being lost in translation.”

    Interesting how things get lost in translation from English to English. I believe the meeting was conducted in English, or am I wrong.

    • Robert, (Auld Bob), Peffers says:

      Ah! Mark, Ye of little faith. Here’s a wee transcript.

      French Ambassador:
      ” I hear you would prefer Cameron to be re-elected?”

      First Minister :
      ” Aye! Hen, That’ll be Richt!

      See – not English to English – but Lallans Scots to English.

      Wee French wife’s translator didna ken aboot the Scots ironic negative.

    • preacherman says:

      I believe at least some if not all of it would have been conducted in french as it is the international language of diplomacy so there would have been a translator present etc.

    • Albaman says:

      Aye Mark,
      And the French diplomats speak better English that you or I, especially “I”!, so what’s been lost in translation eh?!.

  19. WRH2 says:

    I noticed in the follow up article in the Torygraph, Simon Johnson stated that the person who typed up the memo is an experienced civil servant. The gist of it was that he wouldn’t have made blunders about the subjects discussed and the comments made, even though he wasn’t at the meeting, and the French attaché didn’t say what the “experienced” civil servant included in his version. It was a bit confusing, but it suggests that the civil servant is known. So it should be easy for them to investigate. Speaking to this “experienced” civil servant would seem the obvious place to start and follow the trail from there. Or is the Torygraph just making up more sh**e?

  20. terry says:

    Brilliant. And you are right – Andy Burnham was talikg this bullshit on the SNP and the Tories cosying up on BBC QT BEFORE the story broke.
    Feck@n eejits. Taxi for Labour

  21. You’re absolutely spot on when you say By this one single action Milkiband has proven beyond any lingering doubt that he is not fit to hold high office. Has he forgotten how all decent people supported him when his father was smeared? It would appear so and that speaks volumes about his character.

  22. Fat boab says:

    By the way, while we’re on the subject of French – is it really true that Murph actually said:

    “It’s Déjà vu all over again”?

    (one of the benefits of a university education I suppose . . .?)

  23. kat hamilton says:

    usual british establishment scare tactics to ward off the revolt coming their way. the house of cards doesnt have a look in with this bunch. hope nicola and the snp will be guarded with the labour party and any arrangements they go into with them post election as they cant be trusted one iota. unionism at its finest folk…be careful nicola, shark infested waters ahead…

  24. Colin Church says:

    I thought the collective term was an astonishment of Labour politicians. Or maybe a carp of Labour politicians.

  25. says:

    Reblogged this on Bampots Utd and commented:
    great article on the dirty tricks deployed by the scared westmonster !

  26. Mike says:

    We should be screaming “SMEAR CAMPAIGN!” from our rooftops, every one of us. Just because there’s “no conspiracy”, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get us. Bastards, one and all!

  27. Gavin C Barrie says:

    Every cloud has a silver lining.

    Labour fooled by the Tory press – seen any “immediate” comments from Wee Ruthie or auntie Annabel in the sma hours as did the Labour clowns?

    Carmichael has a departmental investigation to undertake.His video response that “These things happen” won’t cut it.

    Kezia, First check the facts. Dad. Ouch.

    Then we will be presented with a whitewash Civil service investigation, at the pace of the Chilcot enquiry, I suppose.

    Wakey wakey folks.

  28. Sooz says:

    The French must be wondering what kind of Toytown set up they’re dealing with in Westminster, and re-evaluating their relationship with the Scottish Office.

    A thought – if the meetings are noted, why are those notes not checked with someone who was actually at the meeting, and why aren’t they copied as a matter of courtesy – as well as veracity – to the offices of the attendees? But I suppose niceties of this kind are not within the whit of the Foreign Office or the Scotland Office. Of course, doing so would have made the smear impossible, so it would be useful to know what their usual procedures are. They seem to do very little at the Scottish office to justify the vast expense of keeping it open, apart from picking their noses perhaps, so what the hell DO they actually do.

    What a farce. Labour have proved themselves to be so easy to manipulate that in a hung parliament with Labour running it, it’s essential they have constant scrutiny, which is where we come in together with any other pro-indy parties. Miliband? Useless. Unfit for office. Taken in by a stupid memo? Jeez. Zut alors. etc.

  29. macart763 says:

    Apparently Alistair Koalamichael has ‘fingered’ a member of the SO staff as the leak.

    I’m now looking for a barf bag… ‘scuse me.

  30. smiling vulture says:

    Election,I was lending SNP my vote.

    For the Scottish Office(UK)to smear the FM of Scotland who represents the people of Scotland is unthinkable.

    For The Better Together camp to have a lets smear FM of Scotland reunion, using MSM,Twitter feed is lowest of the low

    I have joined theSNP

  31. Maureen says:

    GE2015 – Not one of these flocks of clowns (Labour or Tory) deserve to be on the ballot slip. I cant believe the stupidity of them. Oh England, I do feel sorry for you. What a choice you have to make, restricted to the two biggest lying scumbag parties (Labour and Tory). SOAR ALBA. Viva Nicola. Contented SNP member.

  32. Scott Borthwick says:

    Great post, although I thought the correct collective noun for Labour politicians was a shower…

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