25 Jun 2012

Normal folk and a sick musical joke

“Thank you. I’m not used to that.” Alistair Darling’s opening words of the “no” campaign as he entered the hall to loud applause. Imagine Alex Salmond saying that! And that’s a contrast this campaign hopes will work to their advantage.

Mr Darling went on to develop the theme that in dangerous times you shouldn’t embark on a one-way journey to an unknown destination. The “yes” campaigners are portrayed as “the committed few” (translation: fanatics).

We can have “the best of both worlds,” Mr Darling said. That’s also the slogan on some leaflets, the first time I’ve seen “cake and eat it” so boldly stated as a political slogan.

To contrast with the celebs at the “yes” launch (Alan Cumming, Brian Cox etc), “Better Together” has brought in a lot of “normal folk” – a former Miss Inverness, a retired brigadier, shipyard workers and much more besides. The former Scots Tory leader, Annabel Goldie, is doing heavily  pre-scripted chats with these folk.

As some kind of sick joke the campaign played on a loop One Great Thing by Big Country as we waited for the start – sick because we were subjected to 90 mins of it on a loop at last month’s “yes” campaign launch and some of us were only just in recovery. Then it turns out this is also the soundtrack to the campaign video as well – the identical music to the Yes campaign. Has that been done before?

Alistair Darling said now was “make your mind up time.” But that’s not strictly true. The referendum is due in autumn 2014. Perhaps by then one of the co-frontmen of the “no” campaign, former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy, will put in an appearance. Scots journalists were told only yesterday that he’d be here, but he’s a “no show”.

Like the “yes” campaign launch, this was fairly slick (if protracted). We have a pretty good idea where the first donations to the “yes” campaign have come from – lottery winners, a bequest from a poet. Where have the first donations to the “no” campaign come from? Looking around the hall at familiar Labour apparatchiks, this is a Labour-dominated and Labour-fronted campaign. But is the engine going to be full of Tory fuel? I expect this to be a theme the “yes” team will make much of.

The backdrop behind the launch speakers is a vast picture window dominated by two images: the university car park and a substantial red brick home until recently owned by a former Labour cabinet minister. The union appears to have worked for him!

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19 reader comments

  1. Alex Wilson says:

    It will be very difficult for the No campaign to gain traction. No will translate in the mids of some to No for the Union unless and until a miracle happens, someone actually comes up with anything that will support the ‘benifits of the union’. No-one so far has !.
    Scaremongering is easily seen through and although thick sometimes, the electorate don’t like to be patronised.
    Scotland gets inundated daily with all things English/British, are they any different that it is becoming an alien concept in itself.
    The most scary thing for the Unionist/Dependenist No campaign is that the road to independence is wide open. The Scots government is making a pretty good job of things and people recognise that, witness the SNP and Salmond’s popularity rating. None of the No leaders added together can come close to Salmond.
    So the SNP have the floor all to themselves well, not quite. The rise in support for the Scottish Democratic Alliance and others is proving that there are a wide range of views out there as to where Scotland can go.
    2 years is a long time and the political landscape might be a whole lot different by then !.

  2. megz says:

    All very drab, Alastair Darling had all the charisma and passion of a wet fart. The chat session with annabel and kezia was very cringeworthy, dont think they should hold out on being approach by loose women with a proposal to be presenters (tho annabels quip about not entering miss renfrewshire did make me giggle) Have to say tho i was very glad that the feed cut out during wullie rennie’s speech o.O going to have 2 years of fear mongering about how the sky is going to fall in if we vote for independence (even tho they advocate it for every other nation on the planet) even the Falklands are supported in their wish to have a referendum. I even doubt america who will be celebrating independence day will be mourning their chance to be #bettertogether

    I am, however, hopeful that Channel 4 will be a more impartial reporter than the pravdaesque BBC. Its a sad day when you have to go to Russia today to get some unbiased reporting =(

  3. Charles O'Brien says:

    Darling says voting independence means not knowing the future,OK has he got a crystal ball and can he tell me that if we end up in the union it will be a bed of roses?Is the money for this unionist campaign coming from inside Scotland? or is there more money from Westminster bribing people?

  4. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Thew whole “No” campaign, when stripped of the disguises, is predicated on the assumption that the Scots are uniquely unable to all the things all the other peoples in all the other countries of the world do. It is a “too wee, too poor, too stupid” campaign we are about to have two years of and in the final analysis only the thick and the feart will be left voting for the union.
    The level of banality in the union campaign is already alienating intelligent Scots, a majority of whom now incline to independence. You cannot expect to continually insult the Scots and their abilities and then ask them to vote for more condescension,
    The basic proposal that after 300 years of a union Scotland needs support from England is hardly an encouragment to vote for more of the same.
    UK is indeed stronger with Scotland as part of it. Scotland’s long term to decline continues as part of UK however.

  5. Home Rule for England says:

    We can have the best of both world says Darling. Can you? What if we English say enough is enough and call for English independence. Wouldn’t that wipe the smug smile off his face?

  6. Philip Edwards says:


    If a large portion of the funding for the No campaign can be shown to be from the Tories it will almost guarantee a Yes vote. It will also be a devastating blow to the Scottish Labour Party. The Tories are even more despised in Scotland than they are in regional England and Wales.

    I hope the Scottish people have learned the prime lesson of the last century – that nationalism causes more horror and misery than any other human condition. It is as outdated as prancing around a Maypole or chanting the stupid mantras of capitalism.

  7. Taimoshan says:

    Brillian article- sums up the incompetence and hypocrisy of the “No” campaign. I understand the PR firm behing them is pretty good at reducing it’s tax bill while we the “nasty nationalists” go on paying our taxes like good little boys and girls. Oh and that emblem of unionism in Scotland “The Rangers” are a shining example to us all of what we should be. No thanks I want no more illegal wars, no more class ridden society, no more sectarian “divide and rule” from the British Government and no more nuclear weapons on Scottish soil. Let’s get out of this corruption fast!

  8. Andrew Dundas says:

    Answers please:
    Will all Scotland’s residents be transferred out of their UK citizenship? Or will they become foreigners and unable to take a full part in their own country? What would be the citizenship of Scots not resident in Scotland?
    Now that SNP promises to keep Scotland in NATO, what might happen to Faslane and it’s Trident base? And who will pay for any transfer? Who will actually determine Scottish foreign & military policies, NATO, EU or Holyrood?
    Would the BoE still allow Scottish Banks to issue their own Sterling bank notes where Scotland to become a separate State? How would Scottish Bonds & interest rates be determined?
    Is there an EU policy in respect of a category called ‘legacy member’? Does the EU’s 1993 Copenhagen Agreement that requires agreement to adopt the Euro, still apply to new members?
    Nobody knows what the answers are to these & other vital topics.

  9. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Anrew Dundas
    A raft of silly questions indeed and this is just the sort of level of banality to which the Scots will be subjected to by the unionists.
    All resident in Scotland will of course be Scots citizens after independence.
    What else would they be?
    The UK will not exist but if they have been citizens of the former UK (or fUK for short)I’m sure it can be arranged for them to keep that.
    I don’t see that makes much difference to anything. After all all the peoples of Nothern Ireland can choose to be ciizens of the Irish Republic if they wish.
    SNP has not discussed NATO membership as yet. It may be on the agenda of Conference in October. It is entirely possible to be completely non nuclear and in NATO . Several coutries are. The SNP have made it completely plain (and did so again two days ago) that there will be NO nuclear weapons in an Independent Scotland.
    Who presently decided foreign and defence policy for the UK. Is it Nato, EU or Westminster?
    An independent Scotland will be in exactly the same position on these issues as the UK is now.
    Sensibly the Scottish Government will clean up after the nukes have gone but the fUK will pay its 92.5 % proportion of this.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      So YOU wish to transfer my citizenship from UK to Scots, and the citizenship of others like me! You have no right so to do. Nor do I believe Northern Ireland’s fractured and bloody story is any role model for Scotland.
      Leaving NATO would leave Scotland highly vulnerable. All NATO members accept that nuclear weapons of that alliance will be on their territory, sea or air space from time to time.
      The UK has much more autonomy on foreign and military policy than either Scotland or our neighbours if we separate.
      I’m very interested to learn that you know what the UK government will agree to do. And what the EU will decide too. Have you asked either of them yet?
      P.S. I don’t believe any of your observations are “silly”. But I do worry that you classify mine as such.

  10. Dave McEwan Hill says:


    Scottish Banks already produce their own Sterling notes. Perhaps you hadn’t noticed. Sterling is an internationlly traded currency which any country can adopt. The Bank Of England is not an “English” bank. It is the clearing house for Sterling and Scoland owns
    8.5% of it. It would be disaster for Sterling if Scoland decided NOT to use it.
    Scotland is already a member of the EU and after the dissolution of the union both Scotland and the fUK will be legally in exactly the same position – ie inheriting all he condidions, laws and positions of the original state.
    Its an equal legal union that of Scotland and England, you see, not a colony situation or anything like that
    Scotland’s legal position will be exactly the same as England’s.
    ALl sensible persons know all these answers already.
    Some people (evidence provided above)however haven’t been paying attention or they can’t understand some of the facts.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      Just because I disagree with you does not mean I haven’t been paying attention. Such disparagements encourage opposition to your otherwise legitimate cause.

      Owning 8.5% of any corporation does not provide 8.5% of control. Ask any minority shareholder…
      Sterling money supply remains under the control of UK government; Scottish bank notes are issued under the control of BoE. It’s possible that a separation agreement would enable that coupling arrangement to continue, but having Scottish monetary policy – and therefore both fiscal and economic policy too – is very short of “independence”. An alternative is to join the Euro as the 1993 policy requires.
      Unlike the SNP, I have asked EU constitutional experts about the potential status of a separate Scotland and they report that:
      1. None of the larger States wishes to give any encouragement to their own separatist movements, and
      2. That only the 1993 Copenhagen Accord applies to ANY new member. Scotland is presently not any EU member state. All ‘breakaways’ are therefore new applicants.

  11. Dave Mcewan Hill says:

    Utter rubbish, all of it.
    So Italy and Germany aren’t “independent states” because they use the Euro.

    After the Scotland’s seccession from the union the remaining bits are in exactly the same position legally as Scotland. In Andrew Dundas we have someone with a mindset that sees Scotland as somehow a colonial adjunct that is “breaking away”. Scotland’s an equal partner in a voluntary union. If it decides to dissolve the union the both parts become new states. Legal advice already sought by the SNP indicates that both communities with EU membership remain as EU members. There is no procedure presently to put either of these parts of a previous union out of the EU. When Greenland split from Denmark it had to negotiate EU withdrawal. That the EU would seek to keep a Scotland, with a command of the N Atlantic, much of Europe’s fishing grounds, the vast majority of Europe’s Oil and available renewable energy power, out of the EU is absurd.
    No sensible person believes any of this infantile rubbish anymore.
    After a distortion by a UK official SNP asked Spain which replied that it had no interest in blocking Scotland’s march to independence.
    Not that it’d matter if it…

  12. Andrew Dundas says:

    Hello Dave Mcewan Hill,
    “No sensible person believes any of this infantile rubbish anymore”.
    I note that the proposition that Shetlander’s might not want to be any part of a separated Scotland has now come up again. You will recall (I hope) that the Zetland community voted against devolution in the 1970s partly because they felt alienated from Scottish politics and the of personal abuse that so often accompanies our discourses.
    Unless you & your colleagues moderate your commentaries you will end up persuading even more of us to oppose your aggression.
    Maybe SNP should publish its legal advice and its references? None of the treaties provides for special terms for separatists.
    Perhaps you’re aiming to induce a smaller Scotland without Glasgow and our southern Scots? Partition could be some alternative option.

  13. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    I note you cannot answer any of my points.
    Can you point out any aggression in my posts?
    Disagreeing with patent nonsense is not aggression.


  14. Big Euan says:

    Just like cringeworthy dependant to bring the threat of partition into the debate. Dundas you have a cheek to speak about the situation in Ireland. You and your lot would have that done to Scotland.

    Scotland went into this so called union of partners in 1707 with the Shetlands as an integral part of our nation. Scotland will exit with the Shetlands and Orkney as an integral part of our nation. This is principally because the vast majority of the people of the islands see themselves as Scots. Scots with thir own unique island identity.

    Just because the percentage of yes votes in Orkney and Shetland may be lower than a national percentage, will not give the dependants the right to steal part of Scotland. Any such attempt would be fought in the international courts.

    Should the people of Orkney and Shetland choose their own path then that will be by way of a referendum post independence. That will be their right

    Dundas when you and your kind bring up these kind of partition type arguments you betray yourself as a fool and a dangerous one at that.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      I neither said nor implied that Scotland is not capable of a separate constitution. We have been one of the richest nations in the world since at least the early 1960s. There are several much smaller (and less wealthy) States within the EU: Croatia (soon 2B), Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta and Slovenia each have smaller populations and GDP, but rely heavily on external trades with larger States. Like each of them we specialise our commerce. There are no stats on Scottish external trade but it’s thought to be 2/3rds with our southern neighbours and c. 40% of jobs. And growing proportionately.
      I doubt the process of separating Scotland could be completed in my lifetime. I doubt the proposed referendum would be the last.
      Like both Marx & Adam Smith I observe that nations are built on their commerce.
      The EU aims to increase inter-State trade to promote inter-dependency. Small States get protection in exchange for surrendering their policies to whatever the big four determine. As the Irish keep discovering.
      Ask the EU Commission about terms, not Catalonia. Ask NATO too.
      And please, let’s be polite!

  15. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Separating Scotland from what exactly? The very fact that you use that infantile word tells us all we need to know.
    Tomorrow is American Separation Day, though most countries have Independence Days.

  16. Andrew Dundas says:

    I acknowledge that I’m asking questions that are variously described as ‘silly’, ‘banalities’, ‘utter rubbish’, ‘infantile rubbish’, ‘no sensible person’, ‘dangerous fool’ and that I’ve a ‘mindset’ that believes small countries are incapable of separate status. Despite all that, I still believe that your desires to create a separate State of Scotland are legitimate and should not be disparaged.
    As currently presented, the proposal is to create a separate constitution. You say that we would have the choice of either being Scottish or UK citizens. Which means many of us would hold different human rights from our neighbours & family members.
    You hope that BoE would control our money policy, which we can now see means fiscal and economic policies too. The advice I’ve been given suggests those three policies would be controlled by Frankfurt, because of the 1993 Agreement. Moreover, Associate or full membership of EU requires protection of minority rights. I doubt that both EU policies would be waived for Scotland.
    Faslane is a NATO base. As UK is the 2nd largest contributor to NATO, and its intelligence gathering lead for Europe, the UK has a major…

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