Lord Ashdown's Hysterical History
Interviewed by BBC Breakfast's Bill Turnbull today, alongside other political veterans Michael Howard and Ken Livingstone, former Liberal Democrat leader Lord (Paddy) Ashdown made the type of sweeping comment to be filed under the heading 'hysterical'.
He insisted the democratic mandate the Scottish people might give to the SNP on 7 May would lead to Nicola Sturgeon's party coming "to burn Westminster down and to make the thing dysfunctional", adding that this was exactly what happened in the Balkans (where he served as the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2002, a role created to oversee the peace accords that ended the 1992-95 Bosnian War).
The comparison is an insult to the process of democracy
The comparison is farcical, and an insult to the process of democracy he must have surely espoused in that diplomatic role. The SNP embrace a broad range of policies, but are clearly anchored in the progressive, socially democratic, left-of-centre (the arena his own party abandoned when the Conservatives offered them cabinet posts in 2010). Any leverage the SNP might have in collaborating with other parties to form some future Westminster coalition will be because voters placed an X in a box in a polling station, not because they began slaughtering neighbours on the basis of whichever church/chapel/mosque they attended. The violence that eviscerated Yugoslavia was stoked by an ultra right-wing form of nationalism that picked at festering sores dating back to the Ottoman Empire.
The outcome of this year's UK General Election may be unpredictable, but one certainty is that there will be many more of these lazy but inflammatory soundbites, right across the political spectrum.
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