Former TV fitba pundit Airchie Macpherson wasn’t happy with the independence referendum. It was a negative and depressing experience for him. He was in particular shocked that people reacted negatively to his own negativity about independence. That sort of thing doesn’t happen in the 1970s bubble where Airchie’s at his happiest. It was a time of big tie knots, and equally big knots tying Scotland into the UK. It was a time when no one scoffed at the right of the British state to rule Scotland, and no one scoffed at a dodgy comb over. But most of all it was the time of the 1979 General Election when the SNP were blootered out of the park. Woof!
Airchie’s description is a commonplace one of the independence campaign amongst opponents of independence. On the other hand, supporters of independence typically describe the campaign of 2014 as positive, uplifting, and a joyous expression of public involvement in big political questions. Neither side is lying about their own perception of their own experience. The difference is due to the nature of the campaigns that each side fought. The No side fought a negative, fearful, and deceitful campaign. It’s hardly surprising that those involved in it report it as being a negative and depressing experience. On the other hand the Yes campaign was happy clappy and resolutely positive. We’re longing for a rematch with a fervour that is only matched in its intensity by the dread with which no campaigners look upon it.
The next time, the No campaign is going to be even more negative, fearful, and threatening than it was the first time around, because the anti-independence parties themselves have blown up anything that might have passed for a positive case for the UK. They’ve trashed the Vow, pissed all over “the closest thing possible to federalism”, taken us out of the EU, destroyed the UK’s reputation for being a stable and secure democracy, undermined the devolution settlement, and have given us a Prime Minister whose sole achievement is his willingness to lie and to disregard the basic standards of democracy. Naturally Airchie isn’t at all looking forward to another independence referendum. He’d rather the whole subject would just go away and leave him in peace to enjoy his reminiscences of how well Rangers played in the 1976 cup final.
But there is one thing upon which even the most fervent supporter of independence can fully agree with Airchie. That’s his suggestion that Gordie Broon needs to be the leader of the next No campaign. Please please pretty please make it so. Airchie wants Gordie to be the leader because there’s no one else. Ruth Davidson has waltzed off in the expectation that there’s a daytime TV sofa awaiting her in a BBC studio sometime soon. She can hardly come back and tell Scotland that we need to suck up a Conservative Prime Minster and his policies that she herself so publicly couldn’t stand. The remaining Tories are stuck with defending a Brexit that’s as toxic as their party. No one can remember Labour’s Scottish branch office manager Reinhart Lunchpacker’s name long enough for him to lead the campaign. So that just leaves Jeauw Sweynseun with her amazing mutating accent and her equally mutating support for austerity. However if you fancy yourself as the leader of a campaign to keep Scotland a part of the UK, don’t you think that it might be a good idea to actually live in Scotland and not just to stay with yer maw in Milngavie when you deign to visit your constituency? If you’re putting all your hope in the Lib Dems to save the UK, you might as well admit that your team is already as sick as a parrot, to use one of those 1970s sporting metaphors so beloved of Airchie.
That just leaves the Gordosaurus. Airchie is quite correct that there’s no one else left. And Gordie would be a great leader of the No campaign, for the Yes campaign that is. He’d actually have to appear in venues other than those solely populated with tame Labour hacks and carefully selected members of the press. He might even, may all the gods help him, have to answer some questions. We could ask him what happened to his Vow. He could be interrogated on what exactly transpired with his solemn promise that he personally would ensure that the leaders of the main parties upheld their commitments to the people of Scotland. We could question him on the likely estimated time of arrival of that closest thing to federalism that is now strangely overdue. Wasn’t it within a year or two of a No vote that he said it was going to happen? And we could ask him why, given that all of his promises from 2014 have turned out to be as empty as the acreage of scalp that Airchie’s 1970’s comb over was covering, should anyone believe a word that he has to say this time around.
Realistically however, Gordie won’t be heading the campaign. He’s far happier repeatedly intervening for the very first time. Heading the campaign would expose the hollow nature of his arguments and his promises. Self-awareness might not be in the top ten list of qualities that are associated with Gordie, but he’s aware enough to realise that. So it’s not going to be him. However the fact that his name is being touted merely illustrates one of the biggest problems facing opponents of independence as we head into another referendum campaign. They blew their credibility in the first campaign, and now they’re running on empty. No politician who still has ambitions for a political career will want to lead a campaign that looks to be doomed to failure. A former PM like Gordie won’t want to lead it as his legacy is pretty threadbare as it is. He has only been saved from the title of worst PM since WW2 because the Tories have scored a hat-trick with Davie, Theresa, and Lyin’ Bastert Johnson.
The No campaign finds itself in the position of not having any positive argument to put to the people of Scotland, having to explain and defend its failure to deliver on the promises and commitments that it made in order to win the 2014 referendum. The Labour party will not wish to be associated with any campaign in which the Tories play a major part. And there is no one who could credibly lead that campaign anyway. No wonder that they are so desperate to prevent a referendum from happening in the first place. They know that Scotland is going to show them the red card and blooter them off the pitch. As Airchie so famously said, woof!
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