The great maltesers debate

Here we go then, the great debate, the dug’s been walked and I’m sitting in front of the telly with a mug of tea and a box – yes an entire box – of Maltesers. But Emmerdale is still on so I’ve been amusing myself with anagrams. The ancients thought that anagrams and other forms of word play revealed deep essential truths, but then they also thought that you could predict the future by disemboweling a chicken. So what did they know.

Mind you you can fairly predict that the chicken’s going to get plucked, stuffed and cooked and I’m hoping that’s going to be Alistair’s fate in the debate. Anyway, with the chickenesque caveats in mind, did you know that Alistair Darling is an anagram of ‘tired liar salad’ – which is spookily appropriate and probably a reasonable description of his strategy for the debate. Meanwhile Alex Salmond is an anagram of ‘man-sex doll’, which is kind of unsettling and may distract me from my maltesers. But Alex Salmond is also an anagram of ‘no lax damsel’ which is a wee bit more reassuring. And Scottish independence is an anagram of ‘I spend on decent ethics’, which is nice to know.

But back to the main event – that would be the box of maltesers. I’m playing non-alcoholic drug free Darling Debate Bingo and will reward myself with a chocolatey treat every time Alistair says “proud”, “best of both worlds”, “volatile”, “look…”, “currency union”, “no going back”, or “risks”. I’ve got a back up packet of fruit pastels. The bevvy bingo version isn’t possible because I’d be rat arsed before getting this blog post finished.

The start of the programme gives a new Ipsos Mori poll showing 40% Yes, 54% No. Yes is 4% up on the previous poll by IPSOS Mori. No doubt this poll will be disemboweled like a sacrificial chicken over on Scot Goes Pop. I think IPSOS Mori is one of the polling companies which traditionally shows a lower vote share for Yes, so a 4% increase is a Good Sign. And no chickens were injured either.

Alicsammin’s speaking now, wondering why some folk might still doubt that Scotland could be a successful independent country. It’s because they’re sacrificial chickens, if you ask me. He’s asking why in such a prosperous country there are so many families who are forced to rely on foodbanks, meanwhile just down the road from the STV studios there’s a stockpile of nukes that’s costing us billions.

Darling’s turn now: Proud! He’s proud! Ooh a malteser. The maltesers are coming thick and fast now. Risks, no going back and he’s scarcely finished his first sentence. See, those of you having a wee swally are hauf cut already. Other than that it was pretty content free. And he did the waggy finger. You get a bonus malteser for the waggy finger. Another “look..” another malteser.

By the time the debate finished there were no maltesers left and I was halfway through the fruit pastiles. It was a bit of a disappointment really, too much ding dong and not enough engagement. The best result of the evening was all the chocolate. I don’t think anyone is going to change their mind as a result of watching this evening’s proceedings. Yes supporters will still be Yes, No supporters will still be No, and undecideds will still be wondering what the hell’s going on and what bastard was it that finished all the maltesers.

Darling was awful, negative, shouty, and completely lacking in any kind of empathy. It was like your dad telling you you’ve already spent your pocket money. He had nothing positive to say, and couldn’t even bring himself to agree with the proposition that Scotland could be a successful independent country because, gulp, that would mean being seen to agree with a Tory. I was right about the tiring liar salad though. It had been widely predicted that he would batter on about the currency, and that’s precisely what he did. It was his big idea after all, he lifted it from the Quebec referendum playbook.

Alicsammin was subdued, like he’s afraid of passion. He seemed to be going for statesmanlike and dignified, but that’s not going to change the minds of those who’ve already decided they dislike him. They just read that as smug. You don’t win brownie points with people who already dislike you, you must start off by accepting that anything you do is only going to antagonise them. So instead you demolish their faith in your opponent. They’ll still hate you, but getting people to like you is not the point. They’ll have lost respect for your opponent. Statesmanlike and dignified doesn’t cut it, you can get that in Madame Toussauds. You need evisceration of lying basterts and going for the jugular. Think chicken, it’s all in the entrails.

He should have dealt with the currency union question better. Because the real point for me is – given that a currency union is in the best interests of both Scotland and the rest of the UK – why should the people of Scotland continue to give their backing to a political system which will wilfully damage Scotland and the rest of the UK out of spite. We’re being asked to reward spitefulness.

But for the most part the currency question is technocratic pseudowaffle. It’s one of those practical problems to which there is a practical solution. And there are several solutions, ranging all the way from a formal currency union to sticking the UK national debt up George Osborne’s arse and setting up a new Scottish currency, and all points in between. My personal favourite is the sticking it up George Osborne’s arse option, mainly because I’d like to see the look on his face. You can probably tell I’m not primarily motivated by economic arguments there.

I don’t feel that independence was brought any nearer by tonight’s performance, but on the other hand I’m not too devastated either. Alicsammin made some good points, and there were a few welcome sparks on display, but they got drowned out in the shoutiness of Alistair and the boring technocratese. It was all a bit sterile and heartless. Frankly, it was too fuckin middle class. I want more heart, I want passion. And above all I want vision. Vision is precisely what the No campaign doesn’t have, and precisely what Alicsammin is good at articulating. That’s the advantage that each of us who support a yes vote must press home. Everything else is so much waffle. It’s the vision thing. Articulate your vision of the Scotland that’s poised to be born.

That’s what’s going to win this for Yes – a positive vision of what Scotland can be. We got a wee bit of that towards the end, but it was still too restrained. Perhaps the most successful ploy of Project Fear has been to make us afraid of our own passion, our own emotion. We’re winning the argument of the head, is their proud Scot boast. The heart doesn’t matter to them, and they want to win a No vote in a Scotland whose heart and head are divided. And this from the people who say they want no borders – they seek to create borders within our souls. Psychologists call it cognitive dissonance.

So here’s my vision, I want a Scotland of heart, of passion, of dignity and justice. A Scotland which rejects weapons of mass destruction, foreign wars, which does no harm in the world and which doesn’t just speak of peace and compassion – but acts on it. I want a Scotland which is governed for the benefit of all, not for the few who are wealthy and connected. I want a Scotland which sees its priority as tackling poverty, inequality and social exclusion where it is recognised that the market doesn’t always know best and the profit motive is not the only motive to prize. A land where we don’t put a price on dignity. And these things are achievable with independence.

According to the post-match dissection on STV, Yes gained 2% as a result of the debate, No was static. So perhaps the wee flash of the vision thing was working. We need more of it. More heart, fewer statistics, and we will win.



51 comments on “The great maltesers debate

  1. smiling vulture says:

    Darling more powers—a giant chasm

    Salmond–plan B—-needs to be answered

    Alex talking about aliens,wrong side of road made him look an idiot

    gutted to be fair

    • Robert Peffers says:

      Were you watching a different debate to me, Smiling Vulture? Eck answered several times that Scotland, if independent, would use the pound. As that is a Yes/No question there cannot be a plan B,C,D or Donald Duck. You either use it or you don’t use it. Scotland cannot tell Alistair, England or Santa Claus whether we have a currency union or not. That’s something that takes both sides to agree and Eck said that was his best option. It doesn’t change the fact that there is only one plan – Use the Pound with or without a Currency Union.

    • Plan B is in the white paper and ive posted it on my facebook page

    • Gordon says:

      Alex talking like an idiot? No, I do not think you knew about the original comments, re driving and space ships, which were sub- thalamically automated blogs from wetminster politicians who themselves were trying to take the proverbial p… or m…..! If you didn’t hear these comments I can understand why you misconstrued the source. Mr Salmond is no idiot.

  2. flooplepoop says:

    Eck lost his way a bit tonight, going on about Project fear was a mistake.
    As you said, needed more ooomph, get into them and show up their negativity.
    Goto frighten the NOs and make them actually realise what they’re voting for.

    • Toas says:

      Ditto: This is what he had to do last night:

      Surgical precision attacks, right at the heart of the opponents arguments.

      Oh well, c’est la vie. Its over with now.

  3. steve allan says:

    just got this on a share from a facebook friend.

    I love Scotland, because I was born there, went to school there, worked there, my children were born there, and I met the love of my life there. Someday, my ashes will be scattered there too. However, I had no easy start in life being born in 1947 in the East End of Glasgow in a Bridgeton slum with an outside toilet shared by the neighbours. I shared that one roomed flat (single end) with my brother and parents for four years. Like so many poor working class people who endured bad conditions in the Glasgow slums, my family succumbed to the dreaded Glasgow disease TB. My father, brother and me were shipped to sanatoriums, only my mother escaped. I spent a year in hospital from the age of four. The reason I share this with my F.B. friends is to highlight the fact that many Scottish people have suffered hardships in the past because this Union we are locked into has maintained an iron grip on Scotland and limited our ability to change our lives.

    Hardship and poverty is therefore not a new thing for Scottish families, it has been going on for years and years, and it is still going on today. When I was a child there was no food banks for the poor, everyone had to make the best of it, difficult as it was. At School I was made to stand in a line at school meal times with the other children who had free meal passes until the paying kids were served and then we were allowed to be fed. I remember the humiliation I felt then as though it was yesterday. Consequently, I can empathise with those Scots who now rely on food banks to feed their family. A small child knows nothing of its surroundings and adapts better than adults do, but that is no excuse to allow child poverty to continue and escalate in Scotland today. Neither is it pertinent to point out that there are poorer people elsewhere in the world as if that makes the level of poverty we have in Scotland acceptable.

    Back then when I was a boy there was no established SNP, no vision of escape from the system that kept us locked into the situation we found ourselves in. Nevertheless, there burned a resentment for change in the breasts of many and I was one of them, young as I was. I had a great teacher at school whose eloquence and pertinacity to teach Scottish history introduced me to my country’s past. I learned then that my people had been suffering long before my own humble beginnings and had suffered much greater hardships, even death at the hands of our supposed partner in this unholy Union of Unequals. The seed was sown then in my young mind and has grown steadily ever since for Scottish independence.
    I left school at fifteen, and got a job in engineering, but throughout my working life I saw one great manufacturing company in Scotland close, one after the other.

    We had the devolution referendum in May 1979 under the Callaghan Labour government and all the Westminster parties promised new powers for Scotland if we voted No. I remember how excited I was as a young man of 32 with a young family that at last Scotland would have a political wedge between us and London. Despite winning 52% of the vote we were denied devolution by Westminster when a Labour MP George Cunningham, a Scot from an English constituency proposed the unprecedented 40% rule that the Labour government eagerly accepted. This stipulation had never been employed in British government elections before, but they used it on Scotland. They moved the goalposts on us because they could, such is the power of Westminster.

    The Tories under Lord Hume had promised to address the concerns of Scots if they voted No and devolve more powers to the Scottish Secretary, the de-facto Governor General of Scotland. But his pledge wasn’t honoured when Thatcher came to power months later after she deposed Ted Heath. The lesson learned from 1979, was that we Scots cannot trust Westminster promises to Scotland, and we must never forget it.

    Scotland then endured 18 years of hell when Thatcher systematically destroyed the industrial heart of our country. I remember when Rootes of Linwood closed in 1981; people thought it would never happen because it was so big. But it did. 13,000 lost their jobs as a direct and indirect consequences of the closure because Westminster wanted to cease car manufacturing in Scotland, and offered no help. There was no Scottish devolved government then to save the plant like Alex Salmond did with the Grangemouth refinery in 2013.

    After Linwood, many more institutions that were bastions of employment in Scotland were destined to follow suit. Thatcher demonised the miners as the “Enemy Within” because they had the audacity to challenge her authority in trying to save their industry. The coal industry was destroyed in an act of vengeance against the miners for what they inflicted on the Tory government in 1972 &1974. But Thatcher was only getting started. When Scott Lithgow closed in Greenock, it paralysed that town and the neighbouring Port Glasgow, because it employed so many of their citizens; the place was like a ghost town for years afterwards. But, the yards of the Lower Clyde were not to be alone. The Upper Clyde shipyards soon followed, and one after another the shipyards that had made Glasgow and created so many iconic ships closed. Thousands of our skilled men and women were thrown on the ever rising scrap heap of unemployment.

    Lots of other areas of Scotland followed Glasgow’s fate at the hands of the English Tories who continued to rule over us. Irvine, Bathgate, and Methyl all suffered, as did Uddingston in 1987 when the giant Caterpillar tractor plant closed, with the loss of 1200 jobs. Thatcher didn’t raise a finger to save any of them. I was around to see them all turned into rubble. Our fishing community was also decimated when Thatcher traded the Scottish waters to the EU in exchange for her rebate. The fisherman might hate the EU these days, but it was the Westminster Tories that sold their industry down the river and removed their birthright.

    But Westminster was not finished with destroying what was left of our engineering heartland. They turned their eyes to the profitable Ravenscraig Steelworks, the only steel producer in Scotland. Despite having a world reputation for quality and the longest strip mill in Europe, Westminster decided on a whim to shut it down and concentrate steel production in Wales. Ravenscraig had a buyer, but Westminster didn’t want competition for British Steel, so the offer was declined. The jewel in the crown of Scottish engineering was closed courtesy of Westminster, and like all the rest, turned into rubble. It was then Lanarkshire’s turn to suffer the blight of mass unemployment. Once again we Scots were expendable in Westminster’s eyes, something that will never change.

    I was made redundant like all my friends and every member of my family in Thatcher’s purges and with all the closures it was hard to find a job. Like many men I had to leave my home to find work at a cost of a normal family life. My kids were still in primary school and I had a mortgage to pay, so I had no choice. This is a scenario still familiar to many Scottish families today with the bread winners quest to find a job becoming harder, and harder.

    We had to wait another 20 years before we gained devolution and only the rise in support for the SNP delivered it, but the Labour Party in government gave it the dismissive title, “The Scottish Executive,” as though it was no more than a quango. They didn’t want the Scots to get above themselves with delusions of government. Since the SNP took control of Holyrood and showed the Scots how they could govern well even with their limited resources, the seeds of independence were sown in the minds of a new generation of Scots the length and breadth of Scotland.

    The de-industrialisation of Scotland has left an open wound that will never fully heal, making long term unemployment a way of life for many. Our people have been forced to take zero hours contracts with no guaranteed wage or lose their benefits, something that wasn’t around in my day. Many working people still cannot make ends meet which is an irrelevance to the Tory led Westminster government. Because Westminster still favours Thatcher’s monetarism policy over manufacturing we have seen London grow into a city state to the detriment of every other region of the UK, and to the steady decline of industry. To finance London’s rise, Westminster used North Sea oil revenues, which also provided tax breaks for the rich. In parallel to London’s rise a new generation of poor grew up with little likelihood of escape or change of attitude from Westminster. The ghost of the past was returning to haunt us.

    The Tories now call the poor and disadvantaged on welfare, scroungers, such is their empathy and lack of humanity. The fact that Westminster policies have created the feeling of hopelessness and lack of opportunities for many Scots escapes them and is something that never ceases to anger me. It is why I hate the Tory Party and everything they stand for, and I make no apologies for that. The best cure for unemployment is not welfare but jobs and government investment in industry. But, the Tories would rather swell the ranks of the unemployed than invest in our national industries. To emphasise the point only last year Westminster allowed a shipyard in Portsmouth to close making 1200 skilled workers redundant, and forced the redundancy of another 800 Scottish shipyard workers in Glasgow. Cameron’s government then went on to place a multi-million pound order for Royal Navy auxiliary ships in South Korea using taxpayer’s money that those same men made redundant contributed to. Pounds before people is always the Tory way. Never forget that, because it will never change.

    Westminster have systematically lied to Scots about the value of our oil for the past forty years and they are still doing it today. They don’t want us to realise its true worth and potential. That is why only government sponsored quangos predict a negative viewpoint on oil values and longevity than those of the industry and academic experts. It is so obvious why they are doing it, because they need the revenue for their own grandiose plans down South. We must not be fooled by it. Oil will make Scotland very rich; just look at the other oil producing nations in the world if you doubt it. Better Together is the greatest lie in a long list of lies perpetrated on the Scottish people. We must stop believing these Westminster’s lies, and believe in what we can do, not what they try to convince us we cannot do.

    The Labour Party has been complicit in this duplicity as much as the Tories, and these days it is hard to tell them apart. The Scottish people have been conned by the Scottish Labour Party for years as they continue to masquerade as the party of the underprivileged. In reality they are only the voice piece of the London Labour Party and do what they are told by their London leader. When we had a Scottish Labour Prime Minister, and a Scottish Labour chancellor who did nothing to redress the London-centric policies of Thatcherism to the detriment of Scotland, it is madness for Scots to continue to support them. Success in England is more important than fighting for the Scottish people, that is why they do what they do. When Scots wake up to the fact that voting Labour won’t help them, like it didn’t help the men and women of my generation we might get somewhere. Only the SNP fights for Scotland and only Scotland, and all Scots should recognise that by now.

    The present Labour MP’s and MSP’s are a sorry bunch, as they collude with the Tories and their Lib. Dem. lap dogs to talk Scotland down. When the odious Scottish Labour leader Lamont, admits on national TV that we Scots are not genetically programmed to make political decisions, everyone with half a brain must realise what voting Labour really means for Scotland; a wasted vote. They and their Tory friends are this generations parcel of rogues selling out Scotland.

    For someone who has endured hard times in my life it pains me greatly to read that so many young Scots are suffering poverty when I know we should be a rich country. We have the resources, the brains and leaders with political acumen to match anyone in Westminster. The litany of Scottish achievements would fill volumes of books, and we are recognised the world over as an inventive, industrious, and caring people. But, what we don’t have in abundance is courage and the belief in ourselves. Countless years of being told what to do by our political masters in London has left an indelible inferiority complex in the minds of many Scots. They believe the negativity and lies perpetrated from London by Westminster’s friends in the media and the national mouthpiece known as the BBC.

    Like many others, I believe the only way to reverse the problems that face Scotland is if we take control of our own country. Westminster is no friend to the Scottish people and the past has proven that beyond doubt. Sadly, throughout our long history there has always been Scots who favour London’s rule in Scotland regardless of what they do, and these days are no different. The reason these CEO’s, and London based politicians support a No vote is because they have a vested interest in maintaining the London system of control in Scotland. The same can be said for foreign politicians that have answered Cameron’s call to denounce Scotland’s independence. None of them care about the welfare of our people, all they care about is their own selfish interest.

    Those ordinary Scots who intend to vote No, have just given up on Scotland. They think it is acceptable to continue letting the people of England choose who governs Scotland whether it be Tory or UKIP, and that we should just submit to London’s rule regardless. If they are successful they will have to watch when Westminster turns the screw on Scotland after the 2015 election and cuts our budget by billions. The Tories will then set out to finish what Thatcher had started, and the No voters will be responsible for that. Their supine subservience to Westminster rule makes them the saddest people of all.

    I won’t apologise for rambling on about the past, because I lived through it and don’t want to see our young folk being made to suffer at the hands of English Tories like I did. They don’t care about the Scottish people, they only want to suck us dry for their own benefit. A No vote is a sure fire way to turn the clock back instead of going forward and it will be the biggest mistake in our country’s history if we don’t vote for our independence. With UKIP on the rise in England the situation is becoming critical for Scotland. 307 years ago the Scottish people had no vote regarding joining this Union, but now we have, and we must not waste it. A No vote is a Tory vote, and we should all be clear about that, because it is the only way the sneering Tories will get their dirty, greedy hands on Scotland again.

    I am retired now and a pensioner, so my days of struggling to get a job are over. However, I never lost sight of my dream. I still want to see Scotland flourish. I don’t want to see anymore English Tory governments riding roughshod over my country, treating my fellow Scots with indifference. I want to see Westminster humbled by removing their nuclear weapons from Scotland for ever. I want to see the unelected House of Lords never again legislating on Scotland. I want to see Scotland gaining benefits from our oil and gas revenues for the first time in forty years, and see the gravy train to London stopped for good. I want to see jobs created not destroyed to give our young folk a better start in life. I want to see poverty eradicated with decent housing for all our citizens. I consider child poverty in our country in this day and age an obscenity. I want to see a stop to unfettered military spending when our people endure the lowest pensions in Europe. I want Scotland to have a properly funded NHS and welfare system that will be the envy of Europe. If we are in control of all our finances and resources and stop paying for Westminster excesses, we can afford to do it all. I want Scotland to be a land of opportunity not of despair, and if the English government wants to be our enemy after independence we should rise to that challenge like our ancestors did. Scotland will prevail.

    But most of all my friends, I want to see Scotland become a free and independent country for all time, and for all its citizens to have a better life than those who went before them.

    Alan N McPhail

    • weegingerdug says:

      Hi Steve, could you please ask Alan for his permission and I will republish this as a stand alone post. It really deserves more attention.

    • hektorsmum says:

      Please convey my admiration for his post. I am ages with him and remember what he is talking about. Fortunately I did not live in the West of Scotland and never suffered all that happened there, but right on my doorstep today you can see the result of the damage Westminster has done to Scotland.
      TB was the scourge of the poor, lost my Birth Mum to it, never suffered from it myself thankfully my Mum’s Sister ensured I was well cared for and I got a decent start in life. Took 23 years before my folks got out of the room and kitchen though.

    • Jim Fleming says:

      Thank you so much for this comment. It is one of the most moving, heartfelt expressions of the case for independence that I have ever read. I wish it could be posted to doubters throughout the land.

  4. Rookiescot says:

    Well I was diapointed by Salmond. I honestly hoped he would say “If the rUK wants to have a hissy fit and not enter into a currency union then we will use the pound till we set up our own currency. As most independent countries have.”

    p.s. How are things in your life? Better I hope?

    • weegingerdug says:

      Aye thanks. Himself was being a cantankerous auld git with the nurses today. This is a Good Thing. It means he’s getting some strength back.

    • Robert Peffers says:

      Err! Rookiescot – Salmond did indeed say many times that an independent Scotland would use the pound. The question he could not answer was the ony you, (and Darling), somehow missed understanding. Eck said, (also several times), he wanted a currency union and Darling kept on demanding to know what was Plan B. Like you Darling seems to not understand that while Eck can answer that an independent Scotland will use the pound he cannot answer that they will have a currency union. BECAUSE THAT QUESTION NEEDS THE TWO SIDES TO ARGEE TO IT.

      Got it Now, Rookiescot? We will use the pound and want a currency union IN THE KINGDOM OF ENGLAND AGREES

  5. […] Here we go then, the great debate, the dug's been walked and I'm sitting in front of the telly with a mug of tea and a box – yes an entire box – of Maltesers. But Emmerdale is still on so I've been…  […]

  6. Mammy says:

    The Scottish people are a very highly educated race and many of our brains have gone abroad to seek employment and job satisfaction When we have our own country we can build on the future with our own talents and build a country that we are proud of and show the word that everything is possible.

  7. Mick Pork says:

    It’s entirely understandable to want Salmond to nail the expenses troughing scaremongerer Darling to the wall and eviscerate him. I too would love to see him do that but there are actually good reasons for why Yes and the SNP are going for the statesman like approach, dull as it may well be. Those reasons are 2007 and 2011. Put simply, it works.

    Now you can also argue that 2007 and 2011 are also excellent examples of why relentless negativity doesn’t work but in the end not scaring the horses and competence seem to be the bedrock on which the SNP and Yes want to win this. After all, it’s why we are actually having an independence referendum in the first place.

    Much as I love Wings and other sites never forget that this referendum wasn’t built in a couple of years across the internet but over decades by hard work, belief and persistence. I believe the canvassing and my own ears which are most definitely far more encouraging than the polling. Polling which, it has to be said, is still moving in the right direction even though the questions just keep mounting on methodology and several other aspects that ensure it cannot be relied upon for the entire picture right now.

    Currency disappointing you? Well they have banged on and on and on about currency for years and it hasn’t stopped the polls from narrowing to the point where we are 3.1% from winning this in a poll with the others beginning to creep ever closer to a win as well.

    Don’t let No set the terms of the debate. It is not their debate because the tory labour lib dems would rather be doing anything other than facing the prospect of an independent scotland free from their incompetent grasp. This is our debate since we have worked for it for years and for some of us almost all our lives.

    We can keep asking the scottish public if they trust Cameron, Clegg and Miliband to best look after scotland’s interests. We can keep asking the scottish public if they are happy with more of the same from a corrupt and inept westmisnter establishment. While we are doing that No can keep banging on about the pound and ‘too poor, too wee and too stupid’. That is how it was always going to be after all.

  8. WRH2 says:

    We seem to have got two blogs for the price of one tonight with Paul and Steve Allan. Both really good to read.
    I have to agree the debate didn’t live up to its billing but I think some of the reason is because the time for TV debates has passed. Ordinary people have taken over the campaign and we are being more personal, open and emotional about the idea of independence. I think this is a good sign as we are engaging at a deeper level with what it will mean to us individually and collectively. Convinced Yes voters have gone beyond the “how will it affect me” to what it can do for Scotland along the lines of JFK’s “think not what your country can do for you, rather what you can do for your country”. If you seek evidence look no farther than the generosity of donations to appeals to help support websites like WGD, WoS etc. We want to talk to each other about our dreams and vision for Scotland. We are connecting with each other. We want to describe the country we can be living in. I heard Darling say people can’t be expected to vote Yes with their fingers crossed and hope it will turn out alright but to me voting no would be like electing to go back into the dungeon from which I had just been released.
    Incidentally, I noticed Darling slip up when talking about the currency union. He said we would need “political agreement” not the usual claim of political union. Oops!
    Oh, and can I add to Steve Allan’s list the destruction of Springburn Railway works that was starved of orders for new designs and only given orders for designs that were going obsolete.

  9. Our FM was looking tired this evening — hardly surprising given his punishing schedule. Tomorrow morning he’s speaking at the Business for Scotland Vision Conference in Edinburgh. The format of the debate is not one which allows for more than shouted mantras so although we hoped for more I don’t think our expectations were realistic, especially as IpsosMori with its usual way out poll results was also selecting the audience.

    An interesting point that such debates are now outdated, their place taken by social media. For many of us that is undoubtedly true, less so for the majority of people perhaps — those who are not political animals. And sad to see so many Scots who are proud to believe that their country is subsidised, too poor to pay pensions and retain a free health service after indy, and too wee. For heaven’s sake! These idiots must inhabit insulated caves not to know about countries like Norway etc! The cringe has been imbibed since birth and is going to take time we no longer have to work it out of systems. And a fair proportion of folk need hearing aids as well — those who never hear when AS or Yes say that we will use the pound. Yes, AS could have elaborated on this, but I’m not sure the audience actually wanted to hear it.

  10. […] there will be much discussion of everything said, analysis, cross-examination, and whatnot. Already Paul Kavanagh and Roddy McDonald have their thoughts up, and to be frank, I don’t think there’s much […]

  11. Capella says:

    The bandwidth problem meant that I missed the opening statements until I got Zatoo set up and working. It was much superior to STV’s offering. The comments on WoS show that many other people in Scotland and abroad had the same problem. When Finland set up their network (about 12 years ago) they awarded the contract to the company who could guarantee the best national coverage so that all Finnish schools could enjoy gigabit fibre optic cables.
    UK, on the other hand, offered it to the cheapest bidder, BT of course which, with its monopoly, could undercut everyone else. Hence the provinces, like Scotland, have rubbish bandwidth dependent on copper cables, while cities , like London, enjoy 24 mbs. Roll on independence when telecomms can be within our control.
    Here is a list of reserved matters – sorry about the length! From wikipedia

    List of reserved matters
    Reserved matters are subdivided into two categories: General reservations and specific reservations.
    General reservations cover major issues which are always handled centrally by the Parliament in Westminster:
    the constitution, including:
    the Crown
    the Union with England, Northern Ireland and Wales
    the UK Parliament
    the existence of the (criminal) High Court of Justiciary
    the existence of the (civil) Court of Session
    registration and funding of political parties
    international relations, including:
    international development
    the regulation of international trade
    the Home Civil Service

    Specific reservations cover particular areas of social and economic policy which are reserved to Westminster, listed under 11 ‘heads’:

    Head A – Financial and Economic Matters
    fiscal, economic and monetary policy
    financial services
    financial markets
    money laundering

    Head B – Home Affairs
    drug abuse
    data protection and access to information
    film classification
    immigration and nationality
    scientific procedures on live animals
    national security and counter-terrorism
    betting, gaming and lotteries
    emergency powers

    Head C – Trade and Industry
    business associations
    intellectual property
    import and export control
    sea fishing outside the Scottish zone
    customer protection
    product standards, safety and liability
    weights and measures
    postal services
    research councils

    Head D – Energy
    oil and gas
    nuclear energy
    energy efficiency

    Head E – Transport
    road transport
    rail transport
    marine transport
    air transport

    Head F – Social Security
    social security schemes
    child support

    Head G – Regulation of the Professions
    health professions

    Head H – Employment
    employment and industrial relations
    health and safety

    Head J – Health and Medicines
    embryology, surrogacy and human genetics
    medicines, medical supplies and poisons
    welfare foods

    Head K – Media and Culture
    public lending right

    Head L – Miscellaneous
    judicial salaries
    equal opportunities
    control of weapons of mass destruction
    Ordnance Survey
    outer space

  12. Marian says:

    The debate was all about persauding Don’t Knows to vote either YES or NO.

    The Guardian conducted a snap poll immediately after the debate and what the poll discovered is that among voters who’d started out as undecideds, Salmond won by 55-45.

    Among those who remained undecided at the end the First Minister was still judged to have done best, by a thumping 74 to 26.

  13. macart763 says:

    I reckon the FM edged it, but was surprised at his lack of fire. He was certainly the more cool and statesmanlike of the two on show, never rattled and as you note scored some early hits resulting in a very shouty Darling. The classic of repeating Darling’s own words back at him and having Darling flat deny he’d ever said them brought a smile as the FM then produced a transcript of the very interview.

    Forcing Darling into a corner over the issue of does he believe that Scotland could be a successful independent country? That was telling on a couple levels. Darling was caught in a bear trap of his own making. He’s invested so much of this campaign running Scottish ability down, he simply couldn’t force himself to agree with the premise, not even to agree with the same point made by his own boss Cameron. On this I thought he was going to lose it altogether. He looked lost, panicked, his face was all over the place as he tried to deflect from a yes or no answer. He looked like a boxer on the wrong end of a beating and looking for the bell to sound. Unfortunately it did. Tactically I reckon that should have been the FMs lead question. Firstly it would have kept Darling on the back foot for longer and in his rattled state would have left him open to further questions.

    What also came across I thought was the complete lack of vision and baseless fear of the no campaign. Darling would merely shout about, madness, folly, error etc for any proposition whether it be currency or EU as if it were a given that his word alone should be believed. If something is such a grievous error, then prove it, don’t just shout about it. Frankly when it came down to whose word to accept on either of those topics, be it economics or international relations, the word of a guy who was part of the administration which took us into an illegal war and presided over the crash of an economy doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the veracity of the source.

    The FM engaged well with the audience during their Q&A, but again he seemed determined to appear too composed, too statesmanlike, too reasonable. I had the distinct feeling that he wanted to cut loose, but was sticking to a predetermined game plan. If a second opportunity presents itself maybe he should go with his first instinct and best asset, his passion and belief.

  14. diabloandco says:

    Loved your piece but Mr McPhails is well worthy of a wider audience too.

    Mammy , thank you for giving us your son and thank you for” teaching him to think “- he said that about you some time ago.

    Good to hear Andy is annoying the nurses – a sure sign of improvement.

  15. McTim says:

    Love Maltesers. Would have fought you over them if I’d been there, Paul.😀
    Last night was so frustrating for me. STV’s servers were a joke. Missed most of Eck’s closing statement and other stuff because of the connection dropping out. The format itself is a disgrace. Not as bad as the Lamont/Sturgeon disaster months ago but still bad enough to make me clench my fists and grit my teeth. Darling’s body language must have been very offputting to the neutral observer. Jabbing fingers and raised voice and all that. People laughing at him 5 mins in was beautiful. Sadly that didn’t last. Eck spent too much time on highlighting the ridiculous scare stories, should have moved on after the first two examples. Best bit was him pinning Darling down on whether he agreed with Cameron or not. Should have been the starting question in hindsight. Where Eck blew it in my opinion was his refusal to even briefly outline the other options, new Scottish pound, using Sterling informally etc etc. He could have done that and still made clear that they’ll push for a currency union just the same. But just repeating the same warmed over lines about Stiglitz yadda yadda can make him look like dodging the issue in the eyes of the undecided. He rightly pointed out that the currency union denial is a campaign tactic but in not even explaining what other options we have (personally I want our own currency), he makes us look vulnerable. It’s a high risk strategy to stick to that line and I’m genuinely concerned that it might cost us the referendum. In the next debate, Eck needs to highlight the risks to the rump UK if Westminster really did decide to cut off their own noses just to spite an independent Scotland’s new government, and he needs to hammer Flipper hard next time on Trident and the risks posed to our NHS in Scotland. Screw the advisers with their “be statesmanlike” and “don’t look smug” shite and unleash him on Darling. Took heart from the fact that we got a 4% swing post-debate and that 74% of the Don’t Knows thought Eck won. That said, I won’t be watching the BBC debate. Definitely not live. Had enough of UK Broadcasters’ shit servers and their awful formats.

  16. vronsky says:

    This debate format is hopeless and inevitably trivialises the subject. It would suit Darling better than Salmond, as BT need to make sure that the debate stays stuck at the level of scary soundbites and is otherwise content-free.

    Agree about the vision thing.

    Without a vision the people will perish
    – Proverbs 29:18

  17. Nana Smith says:

    I watched the ‘debate’ and what came across for me was how calm and measured the FM was. Darling was his usual charmless sarcastic self, pointy finger and curled lip is not a nice way to portray yourself. It was also rather obvious there were BT ‘plants’ in the audience.

    Mr Salmond in his opening statement brought up how many foodbanks are in Glasgow and how Westminster consider that to be fine while they plan to renew trident.
    If I were undecided his comments would make me vote yes as it shows who cares about Scotland’s future.

    Bedroom taxes,poll tax, foodbanks and every other crap that has been visited upon the people of Scotland have come from Westminster.

  18. dennis mclaughlin says:

    This ‘debate ‘ scenario suits STV/MSM as a slanging match with lots of heat , but hardly any light.
    Folks in the YES camp, keep yer heids……Some folks cannae see the woods for the trees.
    Grassroots is where BT lost this battle.
    Is it any wonder when their campaign was funded by rich Tory Elites who are totally out of touch when it comes to a street fight in Scotland.

  19. Rosa Alba says:

    Glad to see you back even if pigging out on Malteasers. Alex couldna win for trying to win last night – trying to appeal to those to whom he does not (because he is perceived as smart-arse) and failing to engage those who like our SmartAlic, obliterator of Grey Men.
    But, I have to say, he didna look weel.

  20. faolie says:

    Here’s what I heard about the pound. Plan B, Plan B, Plan B, you huvnae got one huv ye?

    We’ll use what’s best for Scotland and the UK, we’ll use the pound. Ye can’t! We’ll no let ye! Where’s yer plan B? Where is it, cos we’re no gonnae let ye use the pound!

    That’s their argument really, that if Scotland has the temerity and audacity to actually vote Yes, then boy, we’re really going to screw your economy good and proper.

    Oh I so wanted AS to go for the jugular at that point. He should have turned viscious (as he can) and really stuck it to Darling, ridiculed him, humiliated his little Englander Tory-led stance because he and the rest of the fear mob have really had it coming to them for a while.

    We will use the pound. End of story. You want to know our plan B? It’s the pound you dolt. We’d prefer a currency union but if you and your Tory chum Cameron are really going to be so spiteful and unhelpful to your newly independent neighbour with whom we’ve created and shared a currency for 300 years then screw you, we’ll use the pound and leave you with your debt mountain.

    I’m just so angry about these threats, fears and bare-faced lies continually being used to scare us because we want independence. Proud Scots my arse. Fuck the lot of them.

    • gerry parker says:

      “screw you, we’ll use the pound and leave you with your debt mountain.”

      And we’ll require back all the assets that the BoE currently hold to back the issue of Scottish notes.

    • faolie says:

      So after the rant, read an interesting piece on currency options over on Bella

  21. J Galt says:

    I didn’t see the debate as I was on a late shift but as has been said elsewhere this Referendum is not the “Eck and Ali” Show – it’s OUR SHOW.
    (P.S. Glad to hear your other half is making a nuisance of himself!)

  22. Bamstick says:

    I decided to take some wee notes during the debate. Maltesers in that amount can add to ones already large arse, note taking is better for me!
    Opening statements: both sides very nervous.
    Vision for the future: Darling was like a broken record about Best of Both Worlds, reminded me of that bread that looks white but has bits in in.
    Salmond talked about social justice.
    Got the impression that Mr Darling thinks everything is SOOOO Risky. Poor chap. He also said that us Scots are ageing more quickly than the rest of the UK, no wonder with all the crap from Westminster.

    After half an hour I thought: Bit bland, nothing new, a bit of a non-event.

    Questioning each other: Mr Darling was put off by wee Alex’s “Logical and Desirable quote”
    Me thinks YES is in front.
    Mr Salmond lost it big time. I had to agree with Darling, his comments were “Stupidity on Stilts”
    This is getting a big bit silly. Bummer. Come on Alex sock it to him.

    After a hour: this is so childish.

    Audience questions: Nice one Alex moving to the front to get nearer to the audience.
    But ohh so boring, I started to doodle. Made cup of tea.

    Closing statements: Darlings on about the bread again!!!!! Plus no boundaries or borders, he seems to like words beginning with B.
    Salmond: Just about there Alex, need more passion. Go for it, but no, it fell short of expectations.

    My overall conclusion:
    Salmond got better as time went on.
    No real meat to the arguments.
    I feel flat.
    I think I expected too much from this.

  23. gerry parker says:

    We need to kill the myth that Scotland currently has a strong government as part of the UK.
    How easily did the unelected House of Lords amend legislation passed by the commons to remove powers that Scotland already had with respect to renewables?

    • AuldGranny says:

      My thoughts exactly. There are no guarantees whatsoever that Westminster will never remove powers from the Scottish Parliament. I personally believe that they are eying up our NHS and water as ripe for privatisation, and there is nothing we could do to stop them.

  24. smiling vulture says:

    Whats Darlings plan B after YES vote?

  25. Teri says:

    Televised debates lack the passion that you can see up and down the country where ordinary grassroots members are putting forward the case for independence in a passionate, sensible, down to earth manner. They relate to the audience by speaking their language. They allow each other to speak without interruption and there is no need for shouting. The audience get asking the questions they want answered, not those that are chosen in advance and those in the platform answer them honestly to the best of their abilities.

    The referendum has hee haw to do with politicians, it’s about US and what kind of future we want. In fact, I think politicians would be best kept out of it altogether.

    Let’s see a debate in a wee village hall being televised, one that is run by the people of Scotland for the people of Scotland. Alternatively let’s have a platform of 3 grassroots YES activists and 3 grassroots NO activists (if anyone can find them) and an audience of completely undecided. We also need someone impartial who can really chair a meeting so that it doesn’t dissent into the usual mayhem. We might then get a real debate and a real result.

    • hektorsmum says:

      Teri, it took politicians to get this Referendum but other than that I agree that the debates which have been held up and down the country have probably have been more use. Certainly I think YES has made inroads into the NO vote and they do not like it hence the screaming and howling and getting their tame Pollsters to keep asking the same people for the answers they want.

  26. Anton says:

    Hmmm. It does seem to me that the currency question is a problem, and just saying that an independent Scotland would continue to use the pound isn’t really an adequate answer as it avoids the question of how it would actually do that.

    A currency union would of course be in the best interests of an independent Scotland, but there is absolutely no consensus that it would be in the best interests of rUK. For those interested in a summary of the macroeconomic arguments both for and against see:

    That leaves “sterlingisation”, whereby Scotland could simply use the pound as its currency, as it is entirely able to do with or without the agreement of rUK. However, I’m not aware that anyone is seriously recommending this as an option. The problem here is the (relatively) huge size of the Scottish banking sector, and its resulting cross-border liabilities. In the event of another financial crisis like 2008, Scotland could not possibly bail out its banks and rUK would have no responsibility for doing so. The results would be catastrophic, not just for Scotland but for rUK as well. Which is why a policy of sterlingisation has no real support from anyone.

    There is a midway, of course, which is sterlingisation by way of a currency peg. This was the arrangement adopted by Ireland after independence and maintained for fifty years until 19787/79 when Ireland joined the European Monetary system.

    This has to be Plan B. There is no other viable alternative. However, it would involve conceding control of Scotland’s monetary policy (and to some extent its fiscal policies too) to rUK whose currency it would be using as an anchor, and this, I think, is why the Scottish Government is reluctant to entertain the idea in public. It’s simply not the independence they’ve been promising.

    • douglas clark says:


      You say:

      ” The problem here is the (relatively) huge size of the Scottish banking sector, and its resulting cross-border liabilities. In the event of another financial crisis like 2008, Scotland could not possibly bail out its banks and rUK would have no responsibility for doing so.”

      I have been led to believe that that is incorrect. Liabilities arise, as I understand it, in the country in which they arise. For instance the US contributed hugely to supporting British Banks that traded in the USA.

      Can you point me to whatever evidence you have that you are right on this?

      • Anton says:

        I’m not quite sure what you mean by this. But let’s take RBS as an example. It was bailed out by the UK Government to the tune of £500 billion. The US did not contribute to these costs. The bail out was underpinned by the UK Government which had resources sufficient to sustain the shock.

        Smaller countries such as Iceland, Cyprus, etc, were unable to provide enough resource to withstand the pressure on their banks and, well, we know what happened to them.

        Now, systemic shocks to the banking system are irrelevant if you don’t have much of a banking system. The reason Iceland and Cyprus had such severe problems was that their banking sectors represented 9% and 7% of GDP respectively. Scotland’s banking sector (depending on whose figures you choose to believe) represents something between 8% and 12% of GDP. And that’s a figure which an independent Scotland couldn’t possibly underwrite.

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