The message and the messenger

Scotland’s breakfast tables are still reeling from the gobsmacking arsery of Tuesday’s patronising Eat Your Cereal broadcast for Better Together and the hysterical Twitterfest of pisstakes that followed. Cornflakes are being crunched accusingly. But at least it stopped people talking about just how badly Alistair Darling bombed in Monday’s debate.

It’s already being reported that the advert was so dire that it’s convinced some No voters to vote Yes. Which is very good news, but that’s not quite how these things work. It wasn’t the advert exactly. What the advert did was to crystalise a decision that was already brewing. The crapulosity of the advert and its channelling of 1950s social attitudes becomes a symbol for the utterly dreary doom-laden backward looking negativity of the case for a No vote over the past two years. The advert is the proverbial dried grass stalk and the dromedary with the spinal injury. Watching it, a wee light comes on like those weans in the Reddybrek advert that glowed in the dark. The entire No campaign distilled into three crunchy phrases like the wee plastic toys that are a choking hazard in a cornflakes packet: Shut up. Eat your cereal. Know your place.

The wee rebellious voice within says – Mother of Parliaments? Aye right. You’re no ma maw. And another voter serves Westminster a bowl of Cheerios and decides to vote Yes.

It’s been a difficult week for heavily burdened members of the genus camelus. For some the last straw was the inability of Alistair Darling to save the union without jabbing his finger, or it’s the Patronising BT Lady and her empty cup, for others it’s the wee No thanks badge on Tory Home Secretary Theresa May’s dress as she’s interviewed about the latest failure of British institutions to protect the vulnerable and hold the powerful to account, or it’s Gordon Brown being heckled by a Labour activist as he addresses another closed meeting of supporters and friendly media.

After informing the women of Scotland that thinking is really hard, it’s Airchie Macpherson to the rescue. Because trotting out a 1970s TV sports presenter is exactly how to appeal to undecided voters who’re concerned you might be just a teeny bit out of date and out of touch. Still, BBC 1970s presenters had much more socially advanced attitudes to women than 1950s public information films.

However Airchie’s rousing defence of not wanting to become a foreigner is going to be a gamechanger and will stop the rapidly accelerating camel snapping. We’ve had a lot of gamechangers already, like every time Gordon Brown intervened in the debate for the first time. There was supposed to be another one on Wednesday, when Gordie intervened for the first time again, only this time with Alistair – having agreed temporarily to bury the hatchet after getting Wee Dougie to remove it from his sister’s back. But that one got upstaged by the heckler and Superairchie.

God I hate fitba. I blame Airchie Macpherson and the BBC. I never paid any attention to what Airchie had to say during those interminable wet Saturday afternoons in the 70s when my dad hogged the telly, and I’ll be buggered if I’m starting now. It’s thon symbol thing again. One person’s beloved former sports presenter is another person’s symbolic representation of a long gone and unlamented introspective and parochial Scotland. Airchie is fitba, the wee wummin in the kitchen making a bowl of cereal, letting those clever chaps in London deal with the difficult stuff, and sweaters for goalposts isn’t it. 

Your horizons can stretch no further than you can kick a baw. Don’t dream, don’t think, eat your cereal and go play fitba. The camels are squashed like roadkill on Airchie’s Unionist moral high road.  Follow, follow, because you can never lead yourselves.

Today the great evader comes to town, back from his holidays. The man who Airchie is really defending. Davie Cameron is speaking in Glasgow at a dinner organised by the CBI, who’re not being political at all. Davie will speak to the business people, he’ll speak to closed press conferences, he’ll only answer questions from those who’ve been approved. He won’t speak to the little people. He won’t speak to you or me, because he doesn’t speak for us.

The Guardian publishes the story of Davie telling the CBI to tell us to stay, and in patronising editorials it pushes the case for compliance and passivity. On the same page of the paper is an article called The Top of British Society is a Racket for the Privileged. Just read the fitba pages, says Airchie.

Trust Davie, says Airchie, trust Gordie and Alistair, don’t trust Scotland, don’t trust yourself. Davie, Gordie and Alistair say they’ll only trust us with answers when we’ve voted for them, only after we’ve signed the warrant to surrender our trust to them forever. The death warrant of hope. Airchie says the fitba is on.

The No campaign struggles with both its message and its messengers. The message is – you can’t, don’t dare, don’t get ideas above your station, leave it to the big boys in the grey suits. Stay where you are until you are attended to. Trust is something demanded of you, not given to you. The messengers are discredited politicians with a history of lies, vacuous celebrities without a clue, voices from a past that was brass not golden, and the squeaky clean young faces in the astroturf video. Now eat your cereal and watch the fitba.

But Yes keeps winning, Yes keeps gaining strength, because the message of Yes is its messengers. The enthusiastic volunteers, the faces with hope, the faces with smiles. They’re chapping doors, they’re campaigning, they’re changing the face of Scotland. The energy and commitment of the grassroots campaign is the message. This is Scotland in movement, a Scotland that can achieve, a Scotland that will not be daunted. The messengers of the Yes campaign are the answers to the questions. Scotland is doing it for itself. We don’t need to wait for answers from the distant men in grey suits. We eat our cereal and go to work for our own future.

The message is the medium, and the medium are the people. Yes is a force of nature like the wind on the high mountains that spins the turbines, the tidal flow in the sea lochs that power a green future. Yes does it for itself, Scotland can do it for herself.

Vote yes, trust the message that’s the messenger. You are Scotland and the message is you.

45 comments on “The message and the messenger

  1. Thank you paul. I loved reading that, it fair cheers me up. there was a lot going on there in that stream of consciousness. I genuinely don’t think they the NO lot have a scoobie being so far removed from the real politik of life never mind the connotative and annotative meaning of what their ad really says. I think YES there is a huge sea change going to happen for this country. See all those politicians? they can all GTF. what we need our parliament full of is all those bloody young people!!!!!!! instrumental in the YES campaign – robin macalpine etc – give them a go. Nobody wants to listen ever again to the likes of Douglas Alexander, Davros Darling, Michael moore alistair carmichael et al et bloody cetera. the thought of having to listen to a word they say actually gives me the boke. What would be the point of a yes vote if they just replace one lot with another lot of professional tossers. Forget it. Long live the republic! (I need to stop sayin that!)

  2. Uplifting insights, as ever. Thanks Paul

  3. macart763 says:

    Now there was a time when they used to say
    That behind every – “great man.”
    There had to be a – “great people.”
    But in these times of change you know
    That it’s no longer true.
    So we’re comin’ out on the streets
    ‘Cause there’s somethin’ we forgot to say to you (we say)

    People are doin’ it for themselves.
    Standin’ on their own two feet.
    And ringin’ on their own bells.
    People are doin’ it for themselves.

    Now this is a song to celebrate
    The conscious liberation of the people’s state!
    Mothers – Fathers and their children too.
    Person to Person
    We’re singin’ with you.
    The “inferior state” got a new exterior
    We got doctors, lawyers, politicians too.
    Everybody – take a look around.
    Can you see – can you see – can you see
    There’s a person right next to you.

    People are doin’ it for themselves.
    Standin’ on their own two feet.
    And ringin’ on their own bells.
    People are doin’ it for themselves.

    Wooooo Hoooo!

    Bring on the 18th September. 😀

    (Hope Aretha and Annie don’t mind)

    • Bamstick says:

      I’ve just added that to my list of morning songs to sing.
      My favourite at the moment is “Scotland is Free” which I made up and sing to the tune of Chirpy chirpy cheep cheep!!!!

      • macart763 says:

        There is an uncanny urge to sing it out loud going around. 🙂

      • JimnArlene says:

        I woke up this morning and the UK was gone,
        Ooh YES has won, ooh yes, yes has won.

        • Bamstick says:

          I went to the polling station and cast my vote
          Ooh eeh Scotland is free
          Did the best I could to follow my heart
          Ooh eeh Scotland is free
          Scotland is free

          etc… Seems to change each morning…..

  4. yerkitbreeks says:

    I believe even ” yer actual Chomsky ” would compliment this classy articulation of what we’re all about.

  5. I forgot to say – I thought you were very succinct here – Vote no and sign hope’s death warrant.

  6. hiorta says:

    We are immensely privileged to live in these times of change, of invigorating renewal.
    The industries of mass employment where living men and women often became mere robotic extensions of machinery. Doctrinal religion has all but gone and now the political thinking of yesteryear with its overload of expense-guzzling manipulators and party hacks with lucrative sidelines, seem to be following suit.
    All of them just clapped-out shells of their former lifeforms.
    it would be utterly incredible to even think we cannot do better in the burgeoning dawn of tomorrow.

    This ‘democratic’ society has stealthily, sleekitly and successfully avoided ever putting their case for the Union to the test of electoral scrutiny for over 300 years! This undemocratic, self-perpetuating Westminster bean-feast was intended to continue to disadvantage Scots in perpetuity.

  7. Cag-does-thinking says:

    Sometimes it’s a joy to have somebody say just what most of us are thinking. A great piece again. Hope Dave doesn’t get a bone in his starter, with it being on a budget and everything. How many people can you feed for £9998/ Maybe we can point the CBI to the Maryhill foodbank if they’re short.

  8. A Meringue says:

    Airchie lives near me. I used to see him around but that was ages ago. In all honesty I thought he was deed!

    The moment of the week for me was watching the video of Jim Murphy being heckled to within an inch of his life at Motherwell Cross. the full 38 mins is a bit much but there are some fine moments in the video. I especially liked the chant “Shite, shite, shite, shite, shite”” Remember this is Motherwell FFS.

    • MBC says:

      Yes, it’s amazing the man’s arrogance. Wiser heads would listen, would try to understand what they are up against. He’s sleepwalking through a revolution. And he doesn’t see it coming.

  9. gerry parker says:

    Another belter of an article Paul.
    Can I do a wee plug for Kevin of Livestream.
    They’re doing a “Veterans for Independence” meeting in Westerton Hall in Bearsden.

    Our very own winger”The Man in the Jar” will be speaking at it.

    Fill the hall if you’re close enough to get to it.

    Log in the Livestream if you’re not.

    That’s the good people of Whifflet got a leaflet, the Your Choice pamphlet, and if they had a Yes sticker in the window, they got a Wee Blue Book.

    20 days to go.

    • andygm1 says:

      Call me argumentative (hands up, I am) but wouldn’t it be best to give the WBB to people with either nothing or No in the window? Unless you’re telling them to pass it on to their Undecided neighbours and friends.

      OK, I AM argumentative.

    • faolie says:

      Aye Gerry P. WBB is great but so much better in hands of the don’t knows!

      • gerry parker says:

        Haven’t seen any “Don’t know” posters in windows yet, but I’ll keep an eye out for them. There’s lots of windows with nothing in them, but I’ve got limited supplies for my patch(2000 houses). I give it to the Yessers because I know they’ll read it, learn from it, then pass it on, and use it in discussions and to inform others.
        In conversations this morning I also gave one to a woman(don’t know, not sure about the pension) and to a definite no – ” I’m a labour party supporter” Had a good long conversation with him too.

    • A Meringue says:

      Yes get along to this exciting event in Bearsden and support Veterans for Independence!

      Signed yours truly A Meringue. AKA The Man in the Jar. 😉

  10. diabloandco says:

    Just read on the Herald website that some bloke with erudition beyond his years just called Douglas Alexander a stranger to the truth – in a slightly more colourful manner.
    This is now hitched to the ” divisive wagon” – our collective memory of ” bayonetting the wounded” and ” gie ye a doing” is now erased, we have had our pink and shell likes offended in a manner never to be healed if we vote YES.
    Gimme strength – if Douglas Alexander has not been called an effing liar before then I am prepared to eat my celebratory bonnet, after all he must have kept the company of ” Fuck off “Murphy throughout his career not to mention Damien” Charm School ” McBride.

    Paul , as ever great writer and spiritual uplifter.

  11. handclapping says:

    Should it not be ‘We eat our porridge and go to work for our own future.’?
    Those cereals are expensive!

  12. faolie says:

    Ha ha, a bowl of Cheerios! Perfect.

    An inspiring piece there Paul, keeping all the door-chappers, well, inspired really.

  13. Bamstick says:

    I’m not a footie fan either but it led me to wonder who would make me change my YES vote over to the dark side?
    There is only one person that I would do it for: the man of my dreams when I was 14. Donny Osmond. He must contact me immediately with a marriage proposal, then and only then will I do a U turn. He’s a Morman you know so I could marry him. Asked my husband who he’d change for. Manolito from the High Chaperral, hurry up Donny I need you.

  14. Laura Gibson says:

    Paul, I’m late to the party as always. What a brilliant blog! Shoot me a wee email back x

  15. Steve Asaneilean says:

    What I cannot (and never will) understand is if the BT?NT front men (and it almost always is men isn’t it?) truly believe in the Union why can not one of them utter a positive case that isn’t couched in terms of what will be lost, what we cannot have, what we will not be able to do, etc. It’s blindingly obvious to someone with even half and eye to see that they are, to a man, defending the indefensible.

    Makes me think Diane Abbott hit the nail on the head when she once said “You can’t defend the indefensible – anything you say sounds self-serving and hypocritical”. Sound familiar?

  16. bringiton says:

    Westminster politicians putting a huge effort into saving their jobs and perks.
    Pity they didn’t do so much for others who have in the past.
    Big bad Tories and all that.

  17. […] Scotland's breakfast tables are still reeling from the gobsmacking arsery of Tuesday's patronising Eat Your Cereal broadcast for Better Together and the hysterical Twitterfest of pisstakes that fol…  […]

  18. Lissa Orr says:

    Brilliant post. I love your writing style and use of imagery. I just cant get my head around people STILL voting No!

  19. WRH2 says:

    When I saw that despicable ad, I almost wished I had been a confirmed No so I could have seen the light and moved to Yes. But I’m not and never have been so I’ll just go and vote Yes as I’ve planned to do for decades now we have the chance. The whole no campaign is getting so dreary I wonder if boring us is their new tactic. What does puzzle me though is who is thinking up this garbage and are they really paying money for it.

  20. I know some guys who are devoting a lot of their time for YES.
    Proud of everyone of them.
    Now we’re told that ALL of the taxes in the UK are raised in England!
    I kid you not Paul. I heard it this morning and just had to do a Blog….

    • Jan Cowan says:

      One thing, BTNT are successful in following one failed attempt with another BUT we must remember the tricks which were used in the Canadian referendum……virtually at the last moment. So let us be sure to guard the back door!!

  21. smiling vulture says:

    DUG your a teenager tomorrow,19 days to go.

  22. […] The message and the messenger. […]

  23. “Yes is a force of nature like the wind on the high mountains that spins the turbines, the tidal flow in the sea lochs that power a green future.”

    That really captures the natural power of the Yes grassroots campaign.

  24. Hugh Wallace says:

    Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    As one of the smiling volunteers, can I just add that I have never smiled at so many strangers, and had them smile back at me so radiantly, as I have in this last week working on Yes stalls and doing door to door canvassing.

  25. donnywho says:

    In referance to “don’t know” in the window there is a MAYBE on great junction st. Loved it, instant gaffaw!

    • gerry parker says:

      Very good sir.

      Enjoyed the Vets lifestream. Very sincere, very moving.

      Well done all of them.

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