I recently watched, with John, a re-showing on the BBC Parliamentary Channel of the Referendum Debate between Alex Salmond and Alastair Darling in Edinburgh. It was lively and interesting. Neither party was victorious or vanquished. The chairman, Bernard Ponsonby, was formidable and excellent. I felt like weeping at the end of it.

As a young woman, I used to feel sorry for any organisation or place where my father took up a temporary Residence because he would walk in meekly, concealing his real identity as an avenging angel. For some weeks or months he would go quietly about his business while observing the local corruptions. Then his cooperation would be required. My father would politely refuse. The issue would rapidly be escalated until the main man stood before him. Only then would my father plant his standard and cry Justice! He would advise the main man to repent and make restitution for all his sins, otherwise ruin and destruction awaited him. As you can imagine, the local Big Mick would be incredulous. Who was this unknown stranger, this nobody, to challenge him, Big Mick of generations of Micks Big who had run the affairs of Tinpot Yokelery without opposition for decades? He would threaten to call out his dogs. My father would very politely advise him to think carefully before committing himself to so unwise an option, and withdraw. Then would follow a period of siege, where hoodlums would be sent to beat him up, local cars would seek to involve him in accidents, other harassments. My father would endure all this without retaliation other than that required for self defence and by a combination of cunning, forethought and amazing good luck would survive unscathed. When I think about these experiences now, I am reminded of the Roman proverb, Fiat justitia ruat caelum. (Let justice be done, though the heavens should fall.) My father explained that there were two ways to overcome an enemy. One way was to study his weaknesses, lay traps for him, and lure him to destruction. If you were clever and patient enough, you would probably succeed – but how were you any better than him? The other was to behave as near to perfection as you could, wait until a suitable opportunity came along, make a stand, cry Justice and stand in your place until the heavens fell. I saw the heavens fall in more than one place. People would die in accidents; go to jail; their farm which their family had owned for generations would be sold at auction to pay for their debts. (None of these things were directly linked to my father.) We would enjoy the peace of the place for a little while, and then my father would be off, whistling, to slip quietly into the next unsuspecting place. It was very educational, but in truth one eventually became tired of living in a war zone.

Months ago I began watching the Referendum debate with a neutral stance, desiring an option which was not offered and was neither Yes nor No. But the behaviour and attitude of the No campaign has annoyed me. Why didn’t Cameron go to Scotland, state his credentials as PM of the United Kingdom and therefore bound to serve what he saw as the best interests of the 4 nations. He could have said perhaps the Scots did not feel valued enough within the Union and then list some of the strengths of Scotland and where it has made a valuable contribution to the UK. Then he could enumerate the benefits to Scotland of remaining in the UK. (There have to be some, I suppose). He could then outline his alleged measures to devolve more power to the four nations and pledge that he would carry these out to a stated timetable irrespective of what the vote was. He could say he had absolutely no doubt that Scotland could make its own way successfully in the world, but he commended the union. However they voted, he would do his utmost to assist them. He hoped that he personally would be counted as a friend of Scotland, and it had been an honour to serve as their prime minister.

Had he been able to lead the campaign as a man of honour and with the conduct of a gentleman, what a different position we might be in. But had he said that the Tory party, whose members are not averse to getting rid of Scottish labour MPs (bearing in mind there are more pandas in Scotland etc etc) – would promptly have expunged him from the record and then he wouldn’t have been Prime Minister.

Anyway enough of him. I’ve discovered something astonishing. The Press doesn’t always tell the truth! The newspapers almost uniformly report a Darling win. This debate could not produce a ‘winner’ but in my view it certainly wasn’t Darling. The view of the Press was that Darling had ‘won’ because Salmond declined to detail his plan if England was successful in denying Scotland the use of the UK (Note: the UK) pound. I think his refusal to do so was wise. It is not tactically recommended to answer hypothetical questions designed to put you at a disadvantage especially when you may have a delicate negotiation to conduct eventually. Incidentally, for what reason would England seek to appropriate the UK pound? Since it would be advantageous to all parties to come to an agreement, surely Westminster and Osborne would not pursue a policy of attempted denial merely through spite and malice? Would they?

But the question that Salmond asked Darling – Did he agree with Cameron that Scotland could be a successful and independent nation, was more revealing. Darling proved unable to answer Yes – even though it is obviously the case. He became upset and annoyed in the process. I felt really sorry for him. Darling is a good man and he will have Scotland’s best interests at heart as he sees them, but he has thrown in his lot with crocodiles. Presumably he felt unable to be quoted as saying ‘Scotland could be a successful, independent nation.’ He reminded me of Macbeth: Wherefore could I not pronounce Amen? I had most need of blessing and Amen stuck in my throat.

Salmond, on the other hand, remained calm throughout. Some ignorant, arrogant businessman, in disappointed headmaster to troublesome pupil mode, chose to declare himself displeased with Salmond’s conduct during the debate. Not only was this untrue, unfair and inappropriate, it was also extremely impertinent: Salmond is First Minister. Salmond did not react to or acknowledge this statement by so much as the flicker of a muscle. He also, once he had made his point, did not press Darling unkindly. He did not wipe the floor with his opponent.

I was thinking, that the Westminster lobby holds up Ireland as an example of the difficulties that can beset a small country which chooses to go it alone in the world. But I’m sure that the vast majority of Irishmen would gladly face these difficulties and be a free and independent nation than return to being an occupied English territory. (Erin go bragh.)

As for Alastair Darling, I fear he is fighting for the wrong side, but he is a good man for all that; so we will say Amen on his behalf and wish him every blessing. Scotland in the difficult time to come will have need of every good man it has.

Brace yourselves, ladies and gentlemen. We’re in for a rough ride.







About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

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