Friday, 6 November 2009

Why Smeaton?

It's a common question. Why Smeaton? What gives John Smeaton the right to think he can stand as an MP? How does his role in the events at Glasgow Airport equip him to represent 80,000 people?

The answer's obvious really. It's not so much his actions - I don't think John did any more than most of us would have done given the opportunity, it was the voice he gave to a nation the morning after when a camera crew grabbed him for a quick interview.

Let's not forget the sense of shock in Scotland at the time. We pride ourselves in being different from the rest of Britain, that we are a happy-go-lucky nation comprised of people loved the world over. Terrorism is something that happens everywhere else, not in Scotland. But as those images of a burning car at the airport filled the news-stands and the flames flickered repeatedly on tellys in shop windows it hit home that maybe the world doesn't really love us. Maybe Jocks are as vulnerable as anyone else and any one of us could have been engulfed in tragedy just by going to an airport to fly out on holiday.

As we collectively held our breath, up stepped a glaikit ginger Weegie babbling excitedly and swinging his arms in the air, descibing what he did and more importantly coming out with a line that caught the imagination - "This is Glasgow - we'll set aboot ye".

The relief in us all was tangible. Across the nation people laughed and said "Good for you son". Suddenly, we were back in our rightful place. Jocks are different after all. The terrible evil that was almost perpetrated by religious fanatics intent on burning holidaymakers to death had been thwarted by Scots. A tale of heroism was being told to us by a baggage handler - who was quick to downplay his own role and point out that others did as much, if not more.

That's why John Smeaton deserved his medal. Not for saving Glasgow Airport but for saving a nation from doubt and self-pity. He took away our fears and made us smile again. The immediate fear amongst the Muslim Community in Glasgow was that there would be an unfair backlash against them. That there wasn't can largely be put down to John Smeaton puncturing the pontificating terror "experts" who flooded our tv screens with dire warnings about the "enemy within". All nonsense of course and a nonsense that we Scots instinctively knew, but it took the excited tones of John Smeaton to help us see through that.

John Smeaton is the everyman for our times. His Sun column regularly strikes a chord with the public in a way that more highbrow, more educated, more academic tomes fail to. He doesn't make any claim to being better than anyone else, he just tells it as he sees it, just as he did outside the airport in July 2007. It's that refreshing straightforwardness that endears him to thousands of his readers and so infuriates rival newspapers.

And it's that same welcome gauche approach that makes him an ideal candidate for Westminster. We know that if we send John Smeaton to Westminster, we're going to get some more straight talking answers. Somebody wrote that John wouldn't be smart enough to fiddle his expenses - well he's smart enough to know that taking money that isn't yours is theft, something that a few hundred MPs failed to recognise so he's ahead of 50% of them right away.

Sending John Smeaton to Westminster might be the smartest thing Glasgow has done in ages. Who can doubt that the media circus will descend upon Glasgow North East if Smeaton leads them. As an Independent untainted by the machinations of Scottish politics he can point to Labour and SNP failures equally and cry "enough". He can embarass the sitting governments in Holyrood and Westminster into finally doing something in the constituency. And be sure of this, after such a slap in the face, if Labour regain the seat in the future they will never neglect it again.

In July 2007, John Smeaton made us proud to be Scots. On November 12th, he can make Scots proud of Glasgow.


  1. Good post Alan but I do hate that word Jocks. It's a military expression not a civilian one and disowns half the population.

  2. Maybe showing my military roots then. However, I think it's a term we have to hold onto to stop it going the same way as "Paki". It's used by racists and bigots on both sides of the border in their language of hate. Unless we use it in an everyday sense, it will become something bigger.

    I've never personally considered it sexist though.

  3. The other pertininet question is why not the establishment.

    There's a really good example down here on the South Coast. The local football team. Southampton FC. They've struggled for years, with Directors whose priorites were commercial rather than sporting. There was all sorts of political wranging at board level to gain control of the club and make money out of it, which eventually saw the club relegated and spiral downhill into administration.

    It's just like the wrangling between the main political parties in the UK, that has effectively brought the country to its knees. As a nation we're literally on the point of administration with massive national debts that we can't really repay. Its not inconceivable that we'll have to go to the IMF for a hand-out before too long, if things continue as they are...

    The good news though, is that Southampton FC have turned around with new owners, Directors a competent manager and players who seem to be in it for the right reasons now. They've started winning again and whilst not completely out of the woods yet, they've overturned the points deficit and are almost out of the relegation zone. They also had a good away win in the FA Cup last night...

    So that's why we need a complete change. To bring in fresh blood, get people who are in politics for the right reasons and give us the chance to turn the country around too...

  4. Seriously disappointed that Smeato only got 258 votes, as I am sure you are too. The campaign now seems like a lot of effort for a very small return, but I still think it was worth doing: old habits obviously die hard in Glasgow North East and there's clearly a huge reluctance to change...

    The lesson I think, is that Jury Team need to be active all the time. Going very quiet immediately after the Euro election results was a really big mistake in my view, as any headway that had been made during the Euro campaign was thrown away. Labour, Tory and LibDem have effectively been campaigning all summer. Jury Team have been very quiet and the country as a whole seems to have forgotten about Sir Paul and the rest of us...

    Really must try not to make the same mistake again. Must keep some sort of momentum going...

  5. I watched the documentary last night on the BBC and found it generally sympathetic. I've come to the onclusion that politics is more intensly tribal than I'd previously imagined and I'm struggling or n anser of how to break the party system.

    Local parties generally have very few members - so perhaps the answer is to get supporters to all join a failing local party, and take it over from within?

  6. I managed to catch the documentary and the part that stuck in my mind was the part on polling day when a big fat limping bastard with a walking stick was approached and he proudly proclaimed 'no thanks, I'm a labour man'. Says it all really.


My Blog List

Referendum Poll

Donations Welcome

Twitter Updates

    follow me on Twitter