The Mail on Sunday reports on the embarrassing time Harriet Harman and Labour General Secretary Ray Collins had at the Scottish Labour Conference.
Apparently, after several vain attempts by Ms Harman to make head or tail of what one of the Glaswegian delegates was saying, Mr Collins asked a Scottish party official to join them on the platform, ‘to translate’. Unsurprisingly this went down badly.
This episode tells you so much about the careless arrogance of the Labour leadership. They could have spent some time listening to their colleagues and tuning in to the local accents. It’s not as if they are short of Scots in leading roles in the party. Or they could have approached the situation with humility and booked a local chair from the start. After all, having the chair repeat questions so the whole audience can hear is good practice. And having Scottish accents in Scotland should not be a surprise. Instead, Labour preferred to act out the worst arrogant stereotype of the English abroad, snapping their fingers for some flunky to ‘translate’.
As the English partner of a Glaswegian, when I’m visiting Scotland I see it as my role to make the effort, to tune in, concentrate, listen and learn. And thanks to Richard I’ve acquired some useful vocabulary to describe Mr Collins. Of which the most polite is numpty.