Bill Jamieson: Scottish independence pantomime

They’re behind you: imagine how the BBC’s pundits will report as the end of 2013 approaches, writes Bill Jamieson

Tis the season to be jolly, as commentators pontificate on Scotlands future. Picture: Douglas Robertson
Tis the season to be jolly, as commentators pontificate on Scotlands future. Picture: Douglas Robertson

John Humphrys: Good morning. The clock is ticking towards 2014, a Year of Destiny for Scotland with the independence referendum. Today the BBC brings specially extended coverage as Hogmanay approaches. So straight over to Jim Naughtie, our lead correspondent assigned to cover this momentous event, to tell us the latest. Jim. Who’s winning? Naughtie: Here on the historic Royal Mile I’m in the ancient street trodden by kings and queens of a bygone era, with the cobbles glistening as a fine mist, or haar as we call it here in Edinburgh, settles upon Scotland’s capital. The grey fingers of fog have curled round the awesome Edinburgh Castle, home of Scotland’s kings and queens down the ages. And in this historic city, Auld Reekie as we call it locally, changeless and unchanging, it’s a scene barely changed since the 17th century. It’s another damp day, John, or dreich as we call it here. But there’s nothing dreich about the referendum campaign that has exploded into life like fireworks on Hogmanay, or New Year’s Eve as it’s perhaps better known to listeners. Humphrys: Thank you, Jim. Now over to Nick Robinson at Westminster. Nick Robinson: John, I’m standing here with the Scottish Secretary, er, um, whatsisname – Naughtie: The initials are AC, Nick… Robinson: Oh, er, Andrew Carnegie? Alan Cochrane? Um – Naughtie: It’s Alastair Carmichael.

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Humphrys: Let’s cross over now to John Simpson outside Bute House…

Simpson: I’m here by this humble village hut as dawn breaks over the Eastern Province, where world leaders have gathered to salute a nation’s famous leader… Naughtie: Wakey, wakey, John. You’re in Eastern Province, Scotland, That’s Edinburgh. Alex Salmond’s official residence. Try again.Humphrys: Now over to Fergal Keane at the west end of Princes Street. Keane: This is indeed a historic day, John. Thousands have gathered to see the first fare­ paying tram trundle by… Naughtie: And here, too, in the Royal Mile the excitement is palpable as the rumbles can be heard of a corporation dustcart looming towards me through the fog. But no,­ it’s a well-kent figure here – that’s a well-known person as we say in Edinburgh – someone whose finger has been on the pulse of the Scottish political scene for as long as we can remember. It’s veteran BBC Scotland’s political editor, Brian Taylor. Brian, who’s winning? Taylor: Enough of the veteran from you, Naughtie. I can’t tell you who’s winning but I can tell you what’s on the menu at the parliament on Thursdays – Stornoway black pudding, fried eggs, kippers, beans and buttered toast. Then off to the Fight Obesity Committee – Naughtie: What are the latest opinion polls telling us, Brian? Taylor: It’s a right royal mingin’ guddle I can tell you, Jim – Naughtie: For English listeners, that’s what we mean by slightly confused. Humphrys: Thank you, Jim. We’re totally confused. Back to Nick Robinson. Robinson: Hello, Jim. I’m standing here beside the Scottish Labour leader who is, er um, er … Naughtie: The initials are JL, Nick.Robinson: Er, um, Joanne Lumley? Janette Lumumba? Um… Naughtie: For God’s sake. It’s Lamont. Johann Lamont. Robinson: Of course, Jean. I hear you’re launching a new women’s equality initiative today. Lamont: Ah’m fur putting on padlocks on men’s wage packets so’s they’re brought hame tae meunopened. Robinson: The feminist cause marches on with Jimmy Maxton. Thank you, Janet. Now let’s cross over to David Dimbleby in our Inverness studio. Dimbleby: Hallo. In a specially extended edition of Question Time we’ll be bringing radical voiceson Scottish independence. On the panel will be Roseanna Cunningham, the Red Rose of Strathearn, speaking for a republican Scotland, Professor John Kay puts the case for a separate Scottish currency and Jim Sillars argues for an independent Scotland outside the European Union. Naughtie: And instead, for viewers in Scotland, Alex Salmond has kindly arranged a specially extended premier league shinty and sheep-shearing. In Gaelic. Humphrys: Thank you, Jim. Now over to Gavin Esler who’s approaching Holyrood. Esler: Thank you, John. Here in downtown Damascus… Naughtie: ­It’s Dumbiedykes you’re at, Gavin. Not Damascus. Esler: Hard to tell, Jim through the mist. It’s a scene straight out of Macbeth and, as I speak,there’s something looming through the fog, like Birnam Wood approaching Dunsinane. It’s someone who can give us an insight into how the Scots economy’s performing – the BBC’s economy guru, Douglas Fraser. Fraser: Well, it’s a mixed picture, Gavin; slowing in the south, brighter in the east, a distinctpick-­up in Aberdeen and cloudy in the west. Esler: And what’s the SNP saying about prospects? Fraser: Well, there’s MP Stewart Hosie telling us Scotland is held back by the London-­based government and John Swinney up here saying the economy is going gangbusters thanks to theSNP. Esler: Couldn’t be clearer, Douglas. A right mingin’ stooshie as I believe you say up here. Now back to Jim. Naughtie: Thank you, Gavin. And that rumbling you might have heard in the background isn’t tanks, but the nearest thing – the first of Edinburgh trams rattling along the historic thoroughfare of Princes Street, the glittering necklace of Scotland’s retail crown where the Scott Monument looks balefully down as if in disapproval of ancient merchandise – Primark. The trams here have been explosively controversial. And in the heat of the battle, reporting from the storm outside theterminus at Harvey Nichols, is Orla Guerin. Hallo, Orla. Know any good tram jokes? Guerin: Jokes? I’m standing here in the stench of death. Naughtie: I hear there’s been disturbances. Guerin: Thousands of civilians have been caught in the crush. All around me are units of the St John Ambulance with breathing apparatus as emergency workers seek to revive the victims. Naughtie: Is it the trams, Orla? Or the Harvey Nicks sale? Guerin: It’s the shock of seeing a tram actually move. The smoke is still belching from the wheels. Naughtie: That’s Auld Reekie for you, Orla. There’s what we call a real rammy brewing up inScotland today. Back to you in the mingin’ studio, John, while I can. Humphrys:Thank you Jim for that dramatic scene-­setting. It seems to change by the day. Over to you, Nick, for a live interview with the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader. Robinson: I’m standing here with, er, um, ar… Naughtie: I don’t have a clue either, Nick. Now a final word from First Minister Alex Salmond. Salmond: As we approach this Year of Destiny for Scotland, I have for you all throughout the UK, friends and opponents alike, in the spirit of Burns, a message of peace and goodwill and my warmest wishes for a peaceful and harmonious New Year. Right. Where’s those Ruth Davidson boxing gloves? Whoever’s taking me on is in for a hammerin’. Naughtie: Back to you, Brian. Taylor: Till tomorrow, it’s a right royal mingin’ guddle from me. Humphrys: Thank you, all. A happy New Year. And for a specially extended TV edition, press the red button.