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Little Darling

So, the pollsters say that  Alastair Darling won the debate. As a Yes voter am I dismayed? Maybe slightly, when I think back to the confrontations during the 2010 Westminster election and  recall that they gave us Nick Clegg, but otherwise not too much.

Anyone who thought that Darling would simply roll over is a fool. TV election debates are about rhetoric rather than substantive argument, and there is no better preparation for that than eight years of Cabinet rank questioning at the Dispatch Box on the floor of the House of Commons. That’s a rather tougher school than weekly confrontations with the amiable Jack McConnell, and his successors, who remain unknown to  the vast majority of the Scottish electorate. But  where did the former chancellor score? Where was his victory? They are saying that it was on the lack of a Plan B on the currency question. The fact is there is no need for a Plan B. Scotland is already part of a currency union and there is no legal or constitutional reason why it should not remain so as an independent nation.

Yet Darling’s so-called strength is also his weakness, for it reveals that his entire strategy is built upon playing upon the fears of the well-to-do and the downright wealthy. Yes, the fears, cupboard monsters dreamed up in a strategists’ brain-storming session. In focusing on that group of voters, ‘Better Together’, has forgotten one essential, fundamental truth. And so, I would suggest, have the pollsters. The rich are always greatly out-numbered by the poor. It’s the way the world works.

Westminster politicians are used to fighting campaigns that are targeted towards the small minority, fifteen  percent at best, who are persuadable, and who will vote and decide elections on the basis of which party will put more money in their pockets through the following five years.

The referendum campaign isn’t like that. It isn’t about offering bribes to those who don’t need them, it’s about offering hope to those who need that more than anything, after forty years of the systematic de-industrialisation of Scotland and the construction of an economy in which the nation’s wealth has been concentrated inexorably on the City of London, which has become, in truth, a nation-state to which the rest of us are subservient. In government, Darling, as Chief Secretary and then as Chancellor, was one of the  leading players helping to nurture it. (He was also one of the people who caused its near-collapse, a truth that is never mentioned in his campaign literature.)  Make no mistake, he is still doing its bidding.

We have the opportunity to reclaim Scotland, not for the haves but for the have-nots, and in that crusade, there is one enormous ace in the hole: the fact that every single person in the land has exactly the same voting rights. If the issue is about currency, then remember this; the ballot paper is a currency of its own and every one is worth the same amount.

My hope is that September 18 will bring out people who neglect to vote in Westminster elections because there is nothing in it for them, but who will rush to tick the Yes box, because for the first time ever they feel truly enfranchised. If they do, as I believe they will, the Fearties will be swept into the Tweed, and the pollsters will discover that they have been plying their trade in a situation that they simply do not understand.

Categories: General, Politics
  1. Simon Reid
    August 6, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    So Salmond last lost night’s debate because he lacks experience? That doesn’t bode well for his ability to negotiate with the cartel that is the EU. And no, the matter of a currency union has definitely not been settled – there’s about as much chance of English voters agreeing to it as there is of One Love breaking out between the Israelis and Palestinians. It’s just not going to happen. Not a chance. It’s a vote-loser rather than a gainer for English MPs.
    Darling was very strong on the real economics of pensions. But then that’s a problem for all of us regardless of the question of independence.
    Whatever the spin cycle, there is no reason to believe the world economy is safe from future disasters. The SNP believe they can weather what’s coming. Maybe they can. But if they can’t, at least there will be the option of grabbing land from the legally-owned highland estates; there’s a lot you can do with venison.

  2. August 6, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    The currency union exists. The real question is, how do you take it apart? Whatever is said now, when it comes to it, the J Edgar Hoover principle will apply.

    And by the way, where did I acknowledge a Darling victory?

  3. Diana
    August 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    As I know I have said before, the SNP angle is all heart, but little head. Sorry, but, after nearly thirty years’ involvement in politics, I do have a fairly long view on this. I wish it was otherwise, as I would truly love to see an independent Scotland (even if I no longer live in the UK). I just hope that the result of the vote is really definite one way or the other. Neither Scotland, nor the UK as it now stands, can maintain economic stability in the long term without certainty.

  4. August 7, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Noted, Diana. I can top your thirty by fifteen, but it’s not relevant. It doesn’t make my view any more qualified than yours, or any less so.

    The way I see it, there are three types of politician in any party; those who aim to make life better for everyone, beginning with those most in need, those who look out for their own, and those who crave power, pure and simple. Sorry, there’s another small group; those who don’t have a clue why they’re there.

    IMO being all heart is where it should begin. After that, use your head to make as much of it work as possible. For the last 35 years we’ve had successive administrations with the same agenda, to make the rich richer. September 18 gives Scotland the opportunity to break free from that endless cycle.

  5. Diana
    August 7, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    As I said, let’s hope it is decisive.

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