The snooty views of Christopher Harvie

Oh dear. SNP MSP Christopher Harvie has found himself in a spot of bother for comments he has made about Lockerbie and the Scottish yoof.

On getting to Lockerbie, I discovered that the place is a dump – it was Tescotown. It should really have a certain attraction of a rather sombre kind as a place where something terrible happened; there are, after all, places on the western front and that sort of thing that have such an attraction for families who have lost people there.

There are a few things about this paragraph that are a bit off for me. I might be completely right to say that Lockerbie is a dump. I have never been, but frankly it wouldn’t surprise me. There are plenty of dumps around the place, and Lockerbie isn’t exactly known for its beautiful beaches or rolling hills.

Jeff is right when he says that if Lockerbie is a dump, Christopher Harvie should be able to say so. It should not be exempt from analysis because of the fact that it is the scene of the country’s worst terrorist atrocity.

But here is the thing. Christopher Harvie seems to be saying that Lockerbie should be positioning itself as a potential tourist attraction to help rake in the money from fans of disasters. As Mushkush implies, the idea leaves a slightly sour taste in the mouth.

Following that he turns his guns on the much maligned youth of the country. They cannot get a second of peace from the establishment’s whining about the yoof.

They are a demographic that literally cannot win. If they spend too long indoors playing their Xboxes they are criticised for not getting enough exercise and causing an “OBESITY EPIDEMIC“.

If they do the opposite and dare to go outside to get some fresh air and happen to commit the heinous crime of wearing warm clothing they get called names like “hoodie” and “yob”. And everyone points at them and says, “Why are you standing on the street corner? It is so intimidating.” As though just standing around is intimidating.

If they are not on the corner but are standing in the vicinity of a shop some ridiculous person comes along and installs a discriminatory device that is deliberately designed to cause youths pain. And people wonder why today’s young people are disaffected.

Anyway, Mr Harvie has added himself to the long list of poshy snooty types criticising yoof fashions. You know, fair enough on that front. Some people do wear horrendous clothing. But why is he attacking Tom Hunter for it? I thought the SNP were meant to be aligning themselves as a pro-business party. But Christopher Harvie’s comments are about as anti-business as it gets.

It must also be said that the most immense fortune that has been made in Scotland in the past few years – that of Tom Hunter – has arisen from selling people what must be the ugliest clothes worn by anyone on the entire continent.

Tom Hunter is one of Scotland’s most successful businessmen. If Mr Harvie’s theory is true, then Mr Hunter has done the country’s people a great service–selling people clothes that they want. He spotted a gap in the market. It is what great businessmen do best. It should be celebrated. But Christopher Harvie just looks down his nose at it.

There are also echoes of this anti-business sentiment with his dismissal of Lockerbie as “Tescotown”. It is the most successful business in Britain, which makes it the butt of ill thought out jibes like this. What does it even mean to be a Tescotown anyway? My town has a Tesco as well–does that mean I should just go and top myself now?

Christopher Harvie Anyway, back to fashion. What clothing would Christopher Harvie prefer people to wear? Knickerbockers. Goodness me. Apparently his personal preference is for plus fours. And look at that awful check jacket. Holyrood Watcher rightly takes him to task.

For me, this whole issue highlights a problem with the electoral system currently in use for Scottish Parliament elections.

Christopher Harvie was the SNP’s candidate where I live in Kirkcaldy. During the campaign he began to get a bit of a reputation as a “mad professor” among some locals. From today’s comments it looks as though he earned that reputation.

Even Brian Taylor has used slightly colourful language on his blog to call Mr Harvie ‘The Nutty Professor‘. And according to Kezia Dugdale, “Rumour has it the SNP were waiting for an episode like this but were surprised it has taken so long.” In addition to Christine Grahame, it looks like the SNP has its second major loose cannon.

Prior to Mr Harvie’s campaign, I was considering voting for the SNP as an anti-Labour tactical vote (not that it would have done much good anyway). But I did not want to vote for Christopher Harvie. He lost in Kirkcaldy. Yet, today he is an MSP. He got in through the back door on the list vote.

No-one voted for him to win his seat. People only voted for the SNP as a party–or Alex Salmond For First Minister, as they were known on the ballot papers. What a shock those voters will have got, thinking they were voting for Alex Salmond and instead getting Christopher Harvie!

The problem with the list system is that it gives voters the minimum amount of power possible. Voters have no control over the candidates. Positions on the are determined internally within the parties. This makes the MSPs accountable not to the voters, but to internal party structures. This allows too many poor candidates become MSPs and fills the Parliament with lackeys. The Scottish Parliament needs a heavy dose of Single Transferable Vote to weed out these people.

One last thing. I really don’t get this quote from Jackie Baillie on Christopher Harvie’s comments.

“He represents a supposedly pro-European party but displays the worst kind of euro-phobia.”

He singled out Scotland’s youths for criticism, and said they were the worst in Europe! How this is supposed to be a display of Euro-phobia beats me.

Unfortunately, this does not tie in with my theory about the inadequate list MSPs. I have to conclude that Dumbarton is one of Scotland’s many Labour rotten boroughs.


  1. Have a watch of his little interview on the Parliament website, his views on Kdy are that:

    ‘You can imagine that the people of that constituency are enormously varied, but the people of Fife, and the people of the lang toun of Kirkcaldy in particular, are a distinctive lot. They are very argumentative and very polite. On the hundreds of doorsteps on which I canvassed in the election, I was treated with rudeness on only about one occasion; the other times, I was taken in, fed with tea and cakes and had long and very interesting conversations with people whose opinions have simply tended to be passed over by politicians.

    I bet if he went to my house my mum didn’t give him cakes.

  2. “I have to conclude that Dumbarton is one of Scotland’s many Labour rotten boroughs.”

    I was born there. It is; always has been since the Labour party first stood for election.
    But then so many towns are.

  3. Lockerbie isn’t very prepossessing. But there is no reason on Earth why it should be.

  4. It is interesting if Lockerbie has no memorial to the bombing whatsoever. I wouldn’t imagine it’s the kind of thing people there want to dwell on and it’s a bit macabre to refer to tourism, but many people do go to visit war graves, Auschwitz, the site of the World Trade Centre even if it has nothing to do with them.

    Jackie Baillie really doesn’t have a clue if she’s referring to the Professor as “anti-European” – he’s lived in Germany for years for a start.

  5. He’Oh how these elected representatives dislike the hoi-polloi! His comments reminded me of Maggie’s ‘Anyone over the age of 30 who finds themselves still using public transport should regard themselves as a failure’ brainfart.

  6. I was trying to add:

    He’s entitled to his opinion, right enough, as long as he realises that the people of Lockerbie and those trackie-wearing yoofs are – or will be – voters. That was the mistake Maggie made with her…yadda yadda…