I’m so pleased to learn from various articles, magazine contributions and personal conversations that I am not the only one furious and confused by the First Minister’s apparent love-in with one of the nastiest and reactionary business moguls on the planet.

I am referring to the ill-judged decision of the normally astute Alex Salmond to not only contribute a tame and slavish column to the first Sun on Sunday in Scotland but to then follow that up with the now infamous tea and caramel wafers get together with Rupert Murdoch a week or so later.

This guy has devoted his life to the production of sexist, anti-trade union and pro big business publications that seek to demonise minorities like single parents and asylum seekers while fostering division and hate.

The whole News International stable was a bastion of right wing reaction and now stands exposed as a criminal empire to boot.  Why the hell would our First Minister demean himself and his office by fawning over the head of such a disreputable organisation?

And I suppose the related question is why should we care and be agitated by such behaviour?

Does it matter if Salmond, fed up with years of biased and unfair newspaper and media coverage of his party, decides to try and get one of the big sharks on-side?

Yes it does matter.  I and millions of others across Scotland believe our small country deserves the status of a nation in its own right.  We in Scotland are not any better than the 200 plus independent countries recognised by the United Nations, scores of them with populations smaller than ours and many of those smaller countries with higher living standards than us.

We are not any better but we are not inferior either.

We deserve the democratic right to govern ourselves.  The sky won’t fall in and those who pedalled fear as their strategy of opposition to independence for years are now having to realise we as a populace are more intelligent than they gave us credit for.

Frightening the masses with unfounded scare stories about the bogey man waiting to pounce once we renounce our link to Britain and become a free nation again is no longer tenable.

Yet support for independence does not mean there is a settled view of what a future independent Scotland will look like and become.  I and other socialists hope for a Scotland free of the grinding poverty which so scars our nation, with a landscape not blighted by the illegal and immoral nuclear weapons which pollute Helensburgh and the beautiful land it occupies.

A Scotland where equality, tolerance and hope replace the free market carbuncles of inequality, division and despair.

A Scotland that is not afraid to nurture its own industries of steel and manufacturing to serve a publicly owned transport network with safe, reliable and environmentally sound buses and carriages.

A Scotland that invests in a publicly owned pharmaceutical industry to supply our publicly owned health service and save us millions in the process while able to patent and sell life enhancing drugs worldwide at affordable prices to developing nations.

A Scotland that promotes a value system where people are more important than profits and children come before cash.  Where honour and rank are earned and not conferred by birthright.

A Scotland that we can all be proud of because we endeavour to banish obscene inequality, and aim to have our children 20 and 30 years hence ask: ‘what was poverty?’: ‘what were nuclear weapons?’: ‘what was racism?’

True, that vision of a future independent Scotland may not be everyone’s but I bet it is closer to the majority view than that of the likes of Rupert Murdoch and his ilk.  If he ever supports an independent Scotland it will be as a business opportunity.  A chance to sack workers in one part of the globe to employ them cheaper here.

The guy and his business empire are toxic.  The SNP did what the Scotland Act was designed to prevent, despite every tabloid paper opposing them.  They secured an outright majority in the Scottish Parliament.  They don’t need newspaper endorsements or support. 

Ordinary folk are suspicious of such arrangements.  They don’t like being told how to vote or being force fed a particular political agenda.  That’s what makes Alex Salmond’s embrace of Murdoch so stupid and counterproductive.  It actually provides ammunition to an independence opposition who have been running on empty for months.

Sure I have a personal axe to grind.  I despise the Murdoch Empire and all attached to it because I believe they targeted me politically and set out to destroy me.  Those who believe this claim to be the rant of a wounded and paranoid man will just have to wait a few months to stand corrected, but that personal animosity I feel towards Murdoch and all he stands for is not limited to me.

The one tune which always inspires me and re-fuels my desire for a socially just and Free Scotland is the Deacon Blue classic ‘Dignity’.  It sums up the hope and aspiration I have for a new and better Scotland linking up with other parts of the world as a beacon of peace and social justice.

Rejecting the kind of illegal and immoral wars in Iraq that every single one of Murdoch’s several hundred titles worldwide endorsed and promoted.  Murdoch and all he stands for is the polar opposite of dignity and all that we should aspire to in an independent Scotland.

So for goodness’ sake Alex drop Murdoch now and help lead us to a successful independence referendum untarnished by association with the toxic and poisonous News International brand.

Show a bit more ‘dignity’.


Tommy Sheridan

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