Hey everyone. Last night I watched the independence debate between First Minister Alex Salmond and Cameron’s appointed place man Alastair Darling I have to say that in my opinion the First Minister whilst not on his best form still won it by a reasonably convincing margin.
Now I realise that all of his pals in the press and media will call it as a victory for Darling, that said however I believe they are living in a fantasy world and have little or no conception of reality whatsoever. My reasons for saying this are many and varied, however, perhaps the most compelling is the fact that Mr Darling contributed to his own downfall from the minute he made his opening statement.
In this statement, Mr Darling said it isn’t that Scotland couldn’t be independent but that it shouldn’t be independent as we had the best of the both worlds in the United Kingdom and shouldn’t jeopardise this by taking what he referred to as the risk of becoming independent.
I found this comment to be not only arrogant and insulting to myself and my fellow Scots by which and let me make this very clear I mean everyone who lives in this country, I actually found it disgusting and bordering on the sneering colonialism which has characterised much of the no campaign. I mean who the hell does this self important failure think he is? This was the man who was chancellor of the exchequer or in the real world finance minister at the time of the biggest economic crash since the 1930’s, the man who should be known and deserves to be known as the father of austerity. The man who said during Labour’s UK election campaign of 2010 that if elected he would cut deeper wider, faster than any Conservative. Yet this is the man who is trying to convince me that we shouldn’t be independent. On your bike Mr Darling.
I found his tone to that of an arrogant annoying school bully who kept on telling us as Scots what we couldn’t do. He will find out to his cost Scots don’t like being told what to do, not from him Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, or his new best pal David Cameron. Yes Westminster Labour love their Tory friends a damn sight more than they have ever loved Scotland and Darling loves them more than most. After all Darling has made considerable personal gains out of being a loyal true blue unionist. This is the man who has done more perfect flips than most gold medal winning divers or gymnasts manage in a lifetime. Pity it’s not on a diving board or any gymnastic apparatus but on his home to avoid paying tax. Whilst this may not be nice to tell people of this little error some of us know exactly why Mr Darling thinks we are Better Together
It seemed to me that all through the debate Darling had only one line of questioning and that was on the issue of currency. For some reason he seemed to get off on one on this topic and insisted that should Scotland leave what he called the safety of the United Kingdom we would not be allowed to use the pound. Alastair knows this is nothing more than a bullying tactic to scare voters who are undecided and maybe not amongst the most politically aware members of our society, but Alex Salmond is nothing if not a shrewd political operator and hung Darling out to dry when he quoted his own words from a newsnight interview in January 2013 which were ‘ in the event of independence a currency union would be both logical and desirable’.
This to me is a point which Mr Salmond should have made a lot more of, and maybe he would have done so had he not been interrupted too often by Bernard. Ponsonby who reminded me of the kind of referee that Celtic often used to get in games against Rangers when they would get a dodgy penalty when one of their players fell over their bootlaces with nobody remotely near them. In other words the bold Bernard wasn’t exactly neutral.
The good thing was that Mr Salmond was eating in to Darling’s time and this meant he was unable to raise any other ridiculous issue which he or his colonial masters deem important. This angered and frustrated Darling but ever the football fan Mr Salmond knows a thing or two when it comes to winning ugly. On this occasion the First Minister certainly needed to fight as Ponsonby and an audience filled with many of the unionists usual hacks were doing much of Darling’s dirty work for him.
The subject of new powers for the parliament proved even more cringeworthy than currency for Mr Darling as when asked to name two new powers which would be given to the parliament in the event of a no vote he couldn’t even name one. This will no doubt be a great embarrassment to his colonial masters who would have been hoping that he would have been able to come up with some believable fairytale to con the more gullible elements amongst the undecided in to voting no but then they were always going to be disappointed in a man who is to imagination what Margaret Thatcher was to socialism.
Anyway when it came on to the only issue that will ever really count namely could Scotland be a successful independent country Mr Salmond made his less able opponent squirm with discomfort and you could visibly see Darling cringe when pressed to answer the question. You see that question will always dement unionists because although they would love to tell us we couldn’t, the fact is they know the truth and so in increasing numbers do the voters of our nation.
That said however we have work to do to win our country for our people but make no mistake we can and will do this. I shall be certainly not be found wanting in this respect and will do all I can to help deliver the result I believe our country needs. You see I think everything has a shelf life and for a kingdom which has never been truly united since the Margaret Thatcher era the sell by date is almost upon us.
One of my highlights in a terse bad tempered debate where Darling threatened to throw his toys out the pram was when our First Minister reminded this washed up Labour backbencher just how many Labour voters will be voting yes in this referendum you could see the discomfort in Darling’s face as Mr Salmond taunted him on this topic. However I believe that yet again the First Minister played too nice with his opponent and had I been taking him on I would certainly mentioned the fact that both his first Labour Party boss and his first election agent whilst both remaining in the Labour Party will both be voting yes. Even more significantly I would have played up the Gary Wilson factor and why that completely destroys any remaining shred of credibility better together actually had.
I make this point because I believe it to be critical importance to the whole independence debate. You see Gary Wilson is no ordinary activist, Gary Wilson was until recently the regional organiser for better together in the Lothian area. Initially a diligent and committed supporter of better together Gary researched the arguments which he hoped case which he hoped would prove the case that he and Mr Darling believed in, namely that Scotland was stronger as part of a United Kingdom and that we really were better together. Unfortunately for Mr Darling the more Gary Wilson researched the argument the less he believed we were actually were better together so this talented and able researcher left his post said no thanks to the union and is now an active yes campaigner spreading a Labour message of positivity that there is a left wing message of hope over the relentless fear manufactured by better together. It is my opinion that Mr Salmond would have been far better going down this route than trying to make capital on the rantings and scare stories of project fear which have been dismissed and dismantled by yes activists on a daily basis. This I think was the First Minister’s only mistake of the night in a competent performance where he retained his composure far more than his battered and rattled opposite number.
Mr Darling found the challenge of debating someone in Mr Salmond’s league rather difficult and often contradicted previous statements made during the campaign. This was particularly true with regards to oil, this is a topic on which unionists never seem to know quite how to play it and they always end up tying themselves in knots. Being unionists they have to tie themselves in Windsor knots nothing else would ever be good enough.
On the topic of oil it was very clear to see the unionists at their hypocritical blustering best or should be worst. For the entire campaign not to mention the last 40 which encompasses all of my teenage and adult life the unionists have been quick to play up the significance of every new oil field as great news for the British economy. Last night however was a very different story as all we heard from their representative was how the volatility of an oil based economy would be bad news for the Scottish economy. What I want to know is how can the same commodity be such good news for Britain and its economy but bad news for Scotland?. This is not good territory for unionists and they really need to learn that if you continue to use double standards the flaws in your argument will be exposed.
Mr Darling’s case was not helped when one rabid anti independence campaigner who was probably desperate for his 15 minutes of fame told the viewers that all the oil is British oil and does not belong to Scotland. Not only that he went on to say that Scotland would not be allowed to negotiate with the major oil companies. This is complete garbage from an ill informed unionist who was so far out of his intellectual depth he would need water wings to swim to in the shallow end of the political swimming pool. At this point in the debate Mr Salmond asked the audience to consider how it was that every other country who have discovered oil have considered it a blessing so why do Scottish unionists consider a curse. This was a good point well made, however it may have been even stronger had he quoted from yes supporter Michelle Thomson’s recent interview on the One show when on being asked why she was voting yes she replied ‘when I look out to sea all I see is oil when I look in land all I see are foodbanks’. This would have been a devastating blow to the unionists especially as he could justify it by saying that in the last 40 years Scotland has produced more oil than Dubai and Abu Dhabi combined but has nothing to show for it but poverty and unemployment. The consequences of decades of neglect and they’ll be plenty more where they came from if we make the fatal mistake of voting no but I don’t for one moment think we will.
One of the reasons I believe we will win our independence is that the unionists mantra of the best of both worlds and more specifically Labour’s favourite phrase about sharing the risks and rewards are starting to wear just a bit thin. This is an area which the First Minister should have highlighted far more than he did. It would have been very fertile territory for him and trust me I should know I’m speaking from experience as this has been a major game changer in empowering me to make converts from no to yes or convincing undecided voters to switch to yes.
The examples I use to ramp up the rhetoric are to contrast the trident nuclear defence system to the development of the new HS2 high speed rail link. The question I would have put to Mr Darling is why was trident which was deemed by experts in the UK Ministry of Defence to be too dangerous for Portsmouth considered to be perfectly fine to be located just 25 miles from Glasgow? This would have been squeaky bum time for Darling and shown the idea of a united kingdom no more than an illusion. I say because whilst successive UK Governments of all colours have given Scotland this unacceptable and potentially life threatening risk I don’t see a single reward from this so-called partnership of equals.
You see my view is that if we really were a real united kingdom where all citizens were given equal value then surely we would stand to benefit from this new rail link but it is only heading as far north as Manchester yet since it has been designated a national project Westminster will use Scottish taxpayers money to pay a share of a project from which no Scots will actually benefit. If this is what Labour mean by sharing the rewards I tell you right now they can forget it.
From education to the bedroom tax, from poverty to nuclear weapons this was Salmond’s night as he forced Alastair Darling to adopt the role of the petty minded, pompous, finger, waving public school boy he is and exposed this supposed partnership of equals for what it really is an unequal relationship where one partner contributes more income than can reasonably expected and the other just squanders their joint income. Though not on his best form this was a First Minister who had plenty in reserve. Darling it seems only had one card to play and when your taking on a political poker player of Alex Salmond’s ability you can’t afford leave yourself so exposed. So based on last night’s performance I am more committed to making sure yes vote is delivered for the benefit the people of Scotland and my reason could not be clearer I’d sooner take a Salmond leap with a man who cares for Scotland than be stuck in a past that we made for ourselves when we pointed the finger of fear
Love And Best Wishes