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.