Alex Salmond’s failed attempt, by reeling off his usual stream of tired old jokes and jibes, to turn our august Royal Conservatoire into his more comfortable music hall environment resulted in a very flat-footed performance during Tuesday night’s referendum debate.
Alistair Darling, in the role of honest broker, perhaps wasn’t much more inspiring but at least he did attempt to enlighten the audience on some of the more important consequences of independence, whereas for Salmond, as usual, a question was simply to set the tape rolling on any anti-UK bluster he wanted to air.
David Cameron is not my favourite person but we Scots should be grateful to him for consistently refusing Salmond’s challenge to a televised debate – on Tuesday night’s showing a boost to the so-called “Scottish Cringe” would have been the main outcome.
(Dr) A McCormick
The position of Orkney and Shetland never came up in the TV debate. It appears impossible to gain an answer to the question: what will happen if Scotland votes Yes by, say, 56–44 per cent but there is a massive majority for No in Orkney and Shetland?
Will the SNP recognise the right of Orcadians and Shetlanders to self-determination, perhaps even to remain in the UK or will the Scottish Government insist on seizing the oil? It is a question worthy of an answer from a campaign that prides itself on fairness, social justice and democracy.
(Dr) Roger I Cartwright
The First Minister rightly identified the democratic deficit which arises from the situation where the Scottish people are governed by a Westminster Government driven by a different agenda. He instanced the poll tax and the bedroom tax, two impositions levied on the poorer in society and at odds with a more socially inclusive Scotland.
I would add to the list the illegal invasion of Iraq which, while ridding the country of Saddam Hussein, has left a far more dangerous power vacuum which is being filled by more extreme terrorist groups in a country riven by sectarian divide.
The unclearly defined mission in Afghanistan has an even more disturbing pedigree; initially to exact revenge on the Taleban for the World Trade Center atrocity, then to defeat the Taleban, then to introduce democracy into an essentially tribal country, then to improve the rights of women and latterly, bizarrely, to reduce the security threat to Britain.
Finally it is to get out at any cost, leaving as the only trace of our occupation the blood of our young soldiers in the sand.
To these I would add the more recent bombing of Libya. Would an independent Scotland have embraced any of these aggressive actions, the product of a deluded belief in a long gone Imperial past?
At least the debate proved one thing: there is no limit to the First Minister’s ability to underestimate the intelligence of the voter. The fate of a politician who pursues a relentlessly populist strategy in relation to complex issues is found out sooner or later. Unfortunately for Salmond but fortunately for Scotland, this has happened before and not after the referendum.
During the debate, and at other times, much has been made about Scotland not always getting the government it voted for at Westminster. Fair enough, but why no mention of the fact that England periodically gets a government it did not vote got? This is what living in the UK means.
Speaking of governments we did not vote for; at Holyrood at the moment we have an SNP government we did not vote for.They have a majority of the seats because of a quirk of the electoral system; they have only 45 per cent of the vote, on a 50 per cent turnout. This is the only reason this referendum is taking place.
Bo’ness, West Lothian