We’ve all been there recently. You’re having a nice drink with friends, in the pub or the park. You’re at a lovely dinner party or a barbecue. Or even at Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn’s visit to Dundee and somebody always does it.
They bring up the referendum.
Jeremy’s visit had been going pretty well. His left-wing message had resonated with the audience. He outlined his passionate opposition to austerity, war, privatisation. He excoriated the Tories’ handling of the economy, growing inequality, benefits stigmatisation, bankers’ bonuses.
The Dundee audience lapped it up. There was some thunderous applause as Jeremy set out his policies and condemned the personal attacks which have landed on him recently. It was all going very well.
And then someone had to do it.
That someone was left-wing firebrand Tony Cox.
It started with the kind of obtuse angle that may have seemed innocuous at first.
Something along the lines of “I’d like to ask Jeremy about animal spotting” before we got towards the point “because there’s an animal in this room, a big elephant that nobody’s speaking about.”
Anyone with their political antennae out knew straight away what he meant “The Scottish National Question” and whether he would support a second referendum. You can read Jeremy’s full response here, and things got a bit shouty as Tony pressed his point.
I suppose there was a time when Labour meetings were full of left-wing firebrands like Tony, but he stood out like a sore thumb here as did “The Scottish National Question”. Shhh! Don’t mention the referendum!