Saturday, June 2, 2012

Is Tom Farmer the independence referendum's 'Alec Douglas-Home in reverse'?

To return briefly to the subject I discussed the other day, it's gloriously ironic that Mike Smithson suggested that Tom Farmer's intervention this week was somehow a 'blow for the SNP', because in truth it's an early illustration of the massive dilemma that the No side will face as the campaign progresses. In a small way, Farmer can be seen as this referendum's "Alec Douglas-Home in reverse". Douglas-Home was someone with impeccable credentials as a devolutionist who voted No to devolution because it was "the wrong sort of devolution". By the same token, Farmer has impeccable credentials as someone who has always supported the union, but he is nevertheless minded to vote Yes to independence because the wrong type of union will be on offer (ie. the status quo). Now, he might not be enough on his own to make the kind of impact that Douglas-Home did in 1979, but if he and Jim McColl are joined by other well-known public figures over the next two years, and if the polls begin to show that a significant number of people who are essentially anti-independence are minded to vote Yes to independence as the only alternative to the status quo, then London's insistence on a single question is going to start looking like a monumental tactical blunder. So can the No side (to coin a phrase) get themselves off the hook? Other than backing down and accepting a second question on Devo Max, which would be both the most sensible and the most democratic option, the only other alternative would be for Cameron to put some flesh on the bones of this Top Secret Devo Plus Plan of his that supposedly has a chance of being implemented if there is a No vote (but only if we're very nice to him and if he's in a good mood, of course).

A list of specific powers to be transferred and a proposed date of implementation would probably do to be getting on with.

* * *

As I mentioned at the time, by completely freakish chance I managed to miss the whole of the Royal Wedding last year because I was stranded on Arran. No such luck for the Jubilee Weekend, though. I have a couple of royalists in the family, and when I walked past the TV set last night, I kept hearing snatches of Prince Charles saying things like "what the Queen means to us as a nation, or even as one of her children", and Alan Titchmarsh (!) saying things like "the Queen was determined that ceremony should not detract from Kate and William's special day", and I just thought, for the love of God, this is supposed to be a modern 21st Century democracy, not North Korea or Iran. Shouldn't it be possible to make a clear-sighted documentary about our Head of State? It doesn't even have to be particularly critical - just anything shy of hagiography would be great.

When I was at university, I winced when an American politics tutor informed us that the UK media's reporting of the Royal Family is "deferential". All I could think at the time was "what about the American media's fawning deference towards politicians?" But in retrospect I realise that it's utterly impossible to dispute her point.

1 comment:

  1. That would shoot Smithson's Fox.

    For your information the voting figures from Darling's poll have been released. SNP still ahead at Holyrood and not far behind for Westminster. Not bad after 5 years.