I missed the final FMQs of the year, but I see from today's Scotland on Sunday that Iain Gray has been at it again. Not content with offending Ireland and Iceland, he has recently been using Montenegro as a means of showing how terrible independence would be for Scotland.
This is same Iain Gray who, in a recent interview with the Scotsman, stated that:
"What I think the Scottish people don't need at a time like this is a politician like Alex for whom it sometimes seems that photo opportunities in silly hats are more important than taking the serious and hard decisions that are needed for Scotland"
Because picking on other nations in order to do down your own country is mature, grown-up, thoughtful and serious politics. Causing diplomatic incidents just to make a point.
Mr Gray's argument is put thus:
“...the SNP website where it includes Montenegro: ‘Montenegro shows us just how easy it can be to become an independent country. 40 days is all it took for Montenegro to regain her freedom. It could be Scotland next.’ 40 days, plus two world wars, the Balkan conflict, ethnic cleansing, a war crimes tribunal and a UN peacekeeping operation."
I doubt very much that the people of Montenegro feel their journey to regain their independence was easy, but the process - which I believe is the point - was indeed relatively simple. Unionists like to argue that we would be bogged down for years debating who gets what after independence; if both sides are willing to be mature and sensible, there's really no reason why this should be the case.
While it's good to see the exposing of Iain Gray's deficiencies as a politician (and indeed as a adult human being), the Scotsman itself has been caught wanting in this whole affair - as the letter published from the Montenegro Charge D'Affairs Ms Zivkovic reveals:
"I feel compelled to respond to your report (24 December) which describes Montenegro as "the war-ravaged country". Montenegro, in fact, was the only former Yugoslav republic where neither war nor devastation took place in the last decade of the 20th century.And not only was there no ethnic cleansing in the country, as proposed by Scottish Labour leader Mr Iain Gray in the same article, but Montenegro opened its doors to the refugees of all nations.
At one point in 1999, refugees made up one fourth of the population of Montenegro, when - in just two days - we provided shelter to more than 100,000 Albanians fleeing from Kosovo.
And, crucially, Montenegro was the first country in the Balkans that renewed its statehood by peaceful means in a democratic referendum organised in full co-operation with the European Union.
Embassy of Montenegro