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Sunday, 7 September 2014

SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: A CHOICE FOR BRAVEHEARTS


The political history, culture and climate in Scotland are different from that of the rest of the UK. Scotland, most notably Glasgow, is a socialist heaven and haven. Grassroots politics is very strong; a far cry from the elitist, posh, London-centric Westminster culture present in most of the other parts of the UK. The system seems to be broken.

How the ‘No’ campaign can blow a 20-percentage point lead, in 5 weeks, in the Scottish independence referendum is mind-blowing (see the recent Yougov poll). What’s even more fascinating is how out of touch the rest of UK seems to be on the issue of independence; almost a week to go and no mention of what powers will be devolved to the Scottish parliament, despite votes (postal) already being cast. 

Historically, the Scots are risk-takers (read up the poyiasian scheme 1822). It was risk-taking that got them into the union they want out from (read up the Darien scheme 1698). That’s why it is futile for the ‘No’ campaign or ‘Better Together’ – another name for the unionists – to stop the huffing and puffing. It’s either they stick with the message with benefits or a message with risks. Some commentators have joked that the more unionist leaders – especially David Cameron – talk about the referendum, the more the ‘yes’ vote increases.

Alex Salmond is a very good salesman. The oil economist turned First Minister and leader of the ‘Yes’ campaign believes in what he says and says it how it is. Just like Greg MacGregor in the poyaisian scheme, many skeptics believe he is selling the people of Scotland smoke. Even though the issue of currency has died down, the reality is that there are more pressing issues than currency. 


The problem with the ‘No’ campaign is how they have crafted their messages. Alistair Darling (AD), the uncharismatic former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer and the leader of the ‘Better Together’ campaign sells the union short. His leadership of the campaign characterises the dullness and lacklustre attitude of the‘No’ campaign. Alistair Darling won the first referendum debate, but was humbled by Alex Salmond in the second. AD still read from his pre-scripted closing statements in the second debate – to the amazement of your blogger. That made no sense, Alex Salmond had answered his questions, albeit insufficiently.  Also, he (AD) could not say what job-raising powers or any sort of powers would be devolved – till date none has been mentioned. That fumble was beyond any kind of spin.

Alistair Darling’s dreadful second performance demonstrated how out of touch Westminster is with Holyrood. With 80% of the electorate expected to turn up to vote, the Scots are the most politically aware voters, it seems, in the world. Politics is about persuasion; the ‘Better Together’ campaign has decided not to say what’s so good about staying together. Instead, they’ve chosen to whisper the benefits of staying together and scream out the risks of voting to come out. This is not only patronising but also self-defeating.

Salesman or con man, Alex Salmond has given the people of Scotland a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take control over their destiny. He should be given credit for it. Skeptics fear he’s selling false confidence – that may be the case – but he sure sells it well. But this is also insulting to the Scottish people, because who won’t buy into the concept of hope, fairness and equality?

Your blogger believes Scots should milk this opportunity and get the best out of it. An independence vote should help rejuvenate the fortunes of the Scottish Labour party, Lib Dems and the Tories. The referendum is more than the man – Alex Salmond.