Better Together has an ely

Well that went well, didn’t it.  Despite being hailed by some random Tories, and even the Observer, as one of the most passionate and eloquent speeches Davie Cameron has ever delivered (there’s low expectations for you), the reaction in Scotland to Cameron’s plea for us to remain under his thumb, sorry, remain a part of bright and shiny Brand Britain, has been a mixture of anger and scorn.

Dave has reduced us to a brand.  Marmite, that’s a brand.  The difference between Marmite and Dave is that even people who like Marmite would still be nauseated by seeing Dave over the breakfast table.  The guy just doesn’t get it.  We’re not interested in product promotion, but even if we were the basic expectation any of us have from an advert is that it tells us what the product will do for us.  Dave couldn’t even do that.

In history books yet to be written, Dave’s wee impression of a used car salesman in the echoing emptiness of London’s Olympic Velodrome will be seen as the moment when the Union was lost.  What it showed was that the Westminster elite are blind to the perspective of Scotland, deaf to her voices, and do not feel the shifting of Caledonian tectonic plates.

Dave chose the venue because of the symbolism it represented, to him.  All he has are symbols, there was nothing of substance in his words.  He didn’t understand that the value of a symbol is in the experience of the perceiver.  He thought he was stirring up an image of a common British experience, but he could not see why a Tory lecturing Scotland from afar, in front of a row of bicycles, might stir up images of other Tories lecturing us to get on our bikes.  The din of a distant Olympic roar deafened him to the complaint from Scotland that our taxes had helped pay for it, yet it brought no benefit to us – like so much Westminster does.  He spoke of the damage to the prestige of a Parliament that most of us believe is already too arrogant by half.

Dave still thinks it’s all about identity.  That’s the mistake he’s been making since the independence campaign began.  He hasn’t realised that Scotland is already quite sure of its identity, it’s an identity that doesn’t need Westminster to define or validate it.  And we’re increasingly of the opinion that it’s an identity that doesn’t include Dave, a man who talks at us but never listens to us and won’t be questioned by us.  And who, most certainly, is not accountable to us.

All Dave’s misjudged plea did was to confirm that opinion.  How can he claim to share an identity with a country he doesn’t even begin to understand?  The immense irony of this debate is that despite the accusations of Better Together that independence will turn us into foreigners, we are already foreigners to Westminster.  They do not even know who we are.

For the past year and a half, Better Together and the Tories have smugly congratulated themselves that all was going to plan.  But as the polls show that the no vote continues to evaporate away, they’re starting to get the awful feeling that something, somewhere, has gone terribly terribly wrong.  While they’ve been talking down to us and talking us down via their total control of the mainstream media, people in Scotland have been talking amongst ourselves.  We’ve been having a different conversation, a conversation about our future not our past.

The late great humourist Douglas Adams once published a book called the Meaning of Liff.  Adams thought that there were many useful concepts for which the English language lacked words, and many words – in the form of place names – which have no modern meaning.  So he decided to pair them up.  Liff, the village near Dundee, was defined as “A book, the contents of which are totally belied by its cover. For instance, any book the dust jacket of which bears the words. ‘This book will change your life.”  Spookily descriptive of just about any Better Together press release.  Meanwhile the Cambridge city of Ely is “The first, tiniest inkling you get that something, somewhere, has gone terribly wrong.”  This week Better Together had an ely.

This realisation seems to have dawned on Tory MP and former Eton schoolboy Rory Stewart, the one that called for 100,000 Unionists to stand along Hadrian’s Wall bearing torches so they can gaze northwards into Northumbria and ward off the advancing Picts.  Not sure why he thinks that will help his cause, but it does give something of an indication of just how clueless English Tory MPs are about the Scottish referendum, even those who, like Rory, profess to be as Scottish as haggis pakora and Irn Bru.

On Friday night’s Newsnight on BBC2, Rory went to a pub in the East End of Glesga along with the BBC’s Alan Little in order to persuade a few Weegies that the Tories really get Scotland and would be diminished without us.  Rory’s the Ross Kemp of the posh end of the Tory party, and he was going to lovebomb where even Ruth Davidson’s drones fear to fly.  It was one of those “ooo let’s get the popcorn” moments.

What Stewart discovered, much to his surprise, was that the independence debate isn’t about identity, or even nationalism.  He was genuinely perplexed.  He was even more perplexed that the camera crew only managed to find a single No voter.  He had the look of a general who had just discovered he’d won an overwhelming victory in the wrong war.  It’s not about Scotland’s identity questions at all.  It’s about Westminster’s.

Does Westminster stand for fairness, for equality?  How does it express the will of the Scottish people?  Does it listen?  Is it accountable?  Does it tell us the truth?  The evidence suggests very strongly it does none of these things.  That leaves the biggest concern of all, how is Westminster going to reform itself between now and September 18 to lay Scotland’s concerns to rest.

Rory didn’t have an answer.  There isn’t one.  That’s why Scotland is going to vote yes.

10 comments on “Better Together has an ely

  1. I had missed that episode of Newsnight. It’s still on iPlayer (, but I hope somebody will capture it and put it on YouTube before it disappears.

  2. Eilean says:

    Aye and hell mend them!

    For as long as I have been politically aware the unionists have portrayed Scottish nationalists as some kind of underclass. A bunch of swivel eyed, tartan wearing, haggis munching porridge wogs that can’t string a sentence together unless it contains the words “`soor oil”

    Now they are realising that they could not have been more wrong. The SNP and others have proved that they are more than capable of running the country aye and much better than Westminster ever could.

    I think that the white paper has made the difference for lots of sensible Scots. Now that it has had time to sink in independence does not seem so scary. Nothing could be more scary than voting no that is for sure.

    Despite the BBC and MSM covering their backs Better Together are stumbling from one crisis to another. Nice if they could implode sometime soon but not too soon as I don’t think that they have fully displayed the extent of their ineptitude yet.

  3. Vincent McDee says:

    Gosh Man! That duggy of yours does really have a way with barks, Paul. Just Indy poetry in motion. Simple, though and they would never suspect that.

    By the by, my girl Kee says yours have soulful eyes, and his expression is very much in line with “Que paciencia hay que tene con tos vosotros”/ I agree with the assesment.

    Wise duggy, really wise.

  4. Mr Cameron served up this pablum because he cannot make a substantive positive case for continued union. That’s been the problem all along with the anti-independence consortium.

    His performance and his script need a remake. Whomsoever wrote that speech should be put down. It is clear from that Mickey Mouse thesis that he has but a cartoon understanding of Scotland and no good sense at all of the fast changing Scottish political dynamic.

    Feel the whole “Britishness” thingy had a cloying quality about it, I wanted to get away from as quickly as possible. I don’t feel that about Scotttishness. Immune to Scottish cringe I long ago embraced my inner Braveheart and am at peace with myself. I neither want nor feel a need to be British.

    Quite honestly, by the time he got to the end of that . . blaah, I’d just about lost the will to live. I’d rather be poked in the eye with a burnt stick than go through that again.

    I guess at some level I was embarrassed for him. There is something deeply disturbing about David Cameron telling you how much he loves you, up close and personal, on a wide screen high definition TV.

    You don’t believe a word of it and you wonder how any higher primate could. Then you read the Unionist press and TV and they’re all taking him seriously, and you realise the chattering class must be some lower order of species.

  5. Geoff Huijer says:

    Thank you.

    I really needed to read that; I’m not alone.

    I have total respect for Rory Stewart solely for his sojourn into a Glasgow wateringhole to meet the ‘locals’; albeit I suspect his reasoning for doing so was less deserving of respect. Perhaps, given the Unionist/Westminster bubble he lives in, he was expecting a communal ‘hug’ from a bar-full of Naysayers; perhaps he sought an overwhelming anti-English furore.

    Regardless, at least he went (even with the ‘security’ of a film crew). It is more than can be said of our Westminster ‘betters’ who act as demi-Gods some of whom rarely set foot in Scotland and others based here. like my local MP Gordon Brown, who find it impossible to reply to a constituent’s letter (in my case).

    Surely, if the Tories are so toxic in Scotland (which they are) they should be asking themselves why. They should be trying to engage with voters in Scotland (to votes) to at least try and find somewhere that they can make gains or a difference; to understand the mindset here.

    But no; the attitude is to ignore, to dismiss, to denigrate and then wonder why no-one loves them.

    The Westminster/Scotland (esp. Tory, but including Labour/Lib Dems) relationship, as has been said by others before, is the very definition of the abusive husband/wife situation.

    But they LOVE us don’tcha know…

  6. Macart says:

    Heh, I’m looking forward to seeing how Cameron and the rest of the Westminster machine square a circle two years in the making. They and their media have pounded Scotland and indeed the rest of the UK with the narrative, that Scotland is a basket case. They gave license to the media and their various political mouth pieces to paint a picture of subsidy junkie Scotland always moaning with its thankless hand out. Now he’s gone to that self same public to plead for their help in asking us to stay with the family.

    To which their response, not unreasonably, should be why?

    Squeaky bums explaining that away.🙂

  7. oh hi. Just a quick note about Rory’s visit to Glasgow on Newsnight. I noted that – when the No-voting lady said she thought Scotland too wee/poor to survive without England – Rory did not correct her. I was very disappointed with him there – I thought that at least he was an honourable man.

  8. Jim Wylie says:

    Has anyone, or does anyone know anyone who has been contacted by friends or relatives outside of Scotland with a plea to vote NO? Hello…..? Is anyone there………?

  9. john king says:

    “Has anyone, or does anyone know anyone who has been contacted by friends or relatives outside of Scotland with a plea to vote NO? Hello…..? Is anyone there………?”

    Maybe we should get SETI on the case?

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