Flaw in the plan

The First Minister has delivered a veritable masterclass.

In politics if your core ambition is something that more than half the people do not want – in this case separation – it seems the key to success is a wish list that keeps everyone’s attention elsewhere, a wish list that enables many disaffected and dissatisfied people to join your cause and give you their vote.

In effect, you say you can make everyone’s problems go away with an end to austerity; getting rid of nuclear weapons; overcoming poverty; increasing spending on public services and delivering more growth and jobs as a result.

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And you call for more powers, because you convince everyone that you can do with them what others cannot.

Then to maintain your success you need to be shameless, ignoring the consequences and feasibility of your wish list.

If the cost of your anti-austerity is more austerity for longer, then you simply ignore it.

If unilateral nuclear disarmament makes the world a less safe place and risks dragging us into more conventional conflicts, then you ignore that as well.

And if the extra powers of full fiscal autonomy today would deliver full fiscal mayhem tomorrow, just put them off far enough into the future so that inconvenient outcome can be ignored too.

Now we have 56 hopeful MPs, with a wish list of demands and strict instructions to not mention what they are really there for. They will keep busy and make enough noise for everyone, even though they only speak for half of us.

There is only one major flaw in the First Minister’s plan: being found out. That is the thing about truth facing power.

It may be rather slow. It might not be very exciting. But eventually, it has a habit of coming out. And when it does, the people don’t take kindly to be played for fools.

Keith Howell

West Linton