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a 1970s TV sports presenter is exactly how to appeal to undecided voters who’re concerned you might be just a teeny bit out of date and out of touch.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.