I've long suspected that the editor of the blogs section of the Telegraph website is running some kind of internal contest to see which writer can demonstrate the greatest lack of knowledge and self-awareness in a single post about Scotland, with bonus points for cramming in the greatest number of cretinously offensive Jock-bashing comments. As of this moment, a chap called Jake Wallis Simons seems assured of the grand prize (five minutes alone with the urn?), but this being the Telegraph we of course can't be completely sure. Sit back and marvel...
"The first rule of referendums is that the question should be neutral."
God, what do they teach kids in Brit Nat fundamentalist schools these days? No, Jake, the first rule of referendums is that you rig the franchise so that a Yes vote is really a No. I know it sounds complicated, but don't worry - I'll send George Cunningham around to explain it to you.
"Somehow, Alex Salmond seems to have managed to circumvent this in the case of the Scottish referendum in 2014. The question is "Should Scotland be an independent country?" rather than something like "Should Scotland leave the United Kingdom?", or "Should Scotland split like a sulky teenager from Great Britain, thereby making itself terminally weaker, even smaller than it is already, and immeasurably more parochial and irrelevant?""
Yes, folks, you read that right - "Should Scotland be an independent country?" is considered 'biased' on Planet Jake (that's in Hampshire, in case you're wondering), whereas "Should Scotland split like a sulky teenager from Great Britain, thereby making itself terminally weaker, even smaller than it is already, and immeasurably more parochial and irrelevant?" is considered immaculately 'neutral'. Now I have a feeling I know what your objection is going to be here. Even though this is about as funny as a below-par episode of My Family, the guy must at least think that he's joking, right?
The news is grim, I'm afraid.
"His initial draft of the question, "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?" was so laughably biased that the electoral watchdog wasted no time in ruling that the "Do you agree that…" was a step too far."
Actually, the electoral watchdog "wasted" quite a bit of time in considering that matter, Jake - they were at it for bloody months. And can I just gently point out to you here that the Electoral Commission didn't "rule" on anything - they had the power only to advise. It was the Scottish Government that freely chose to change the question to the extraordinarily similar one that the Electoral Commission recommended instead.
"Thus, by setting up a straw man to take the flak, Mr Salmond managed to slip a still-dodgy question under the radar, and gave himself an in-built psychological advantage when it comes to capturing floating votes."
Tell me, Jake, do you have the slightest shred of evidence that the Electoral Commission lied through their teeth when they stated that the new referendum question was their own invention, and that Alex Salmond instead secretly suggested it and somehow compelled them to consider it? Or is it not rather more likely that they were telling the truth, and that they simply devised a question that, after extensive testing, was considered superior and more neutral to the Brit Nat-flavoured questions that you would have preferred - even if you had been generously willing to excise the 'sulky teenager' bit?
I fear the answer to that question may not seem as obvious to a recreational unionist from Winchester as it does to the rest of us.
"The wording of the question is also revealing in another way: it demonstrates that the primary motivation for Scots to vote to leave the United Kingdom is a romanticised sense of national pride rather than anything sensible or – heaven forbid – rational."
Best take that up with the UK government-appointed Electoral Commission that devised the question, Jake. But the amusing thing is that we all know that if the wording of the referendum question had been used to set out what we wanted independence for, and what the SNP plan to use the powers of independence to achieve in terms of social policy, our Jake and his ilk would have had a conniption fit. "Salmond tries to confuse voters with labyrinthine question! We demand a simple question that sets out the choice in straightforward terms!" That's what you've got, mate, but if you'd much rather have a question about who should control North Sea Oil revenues and getting Trident off Scottish soil, be sure to let us know. I'm not convinced you'd be entirely happy with the end result, though.
"Because, as the blogosphere has noticed, the fact is that when Salmond talks of independence, what he really means is the satisfaction of nationalist lust and very little else. Will the Queen remain head of state? Yup."
You mean in exactly the same way that she's currently the head of state of the independent nations of Canada, Australia, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, the Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Belize and Tuvalu? That's right, Jake. Yup.
"Will sterling remain as the common currency? Yup."
As it did in Ireland and Australia after independence? That's right, Jake. Yup.
"Will dual citizenship be maintained?"
On much the same voluntary basis as it is maintained in Northern Ireland? Which doesn't appear to have led you to the conclusion that the NI unionists' desire to remain in the UK is "the satisfaction of unionist lust and nothing else"? That's right, Jake. Yup.
"Will British embassies still represent the Scots?"
In an identical way to how Irish embassies represent Northern Ireland-born British citizens who voluntarily choose to take up their right to dual citizenship? That's right, Jake. Yup.
"Will Scotland continue to be a member of the EU on British terms?"
Er...nope. Although I'd be interested to know if even you have a clue what you actually mean by "continue to be a member of the EU on British terms", because I must admit I haven't got a scooby.
"Yup, yup, yup, yup, yup and yup."
Well, before you get too carried away with all this yuppitiness, indulge me for a moment as I ask a few questions of my own. Would independence get inhuman weapons of mass destruction off Scottish soil? Yup. Would independence result in the UK government's disgraceful welfare policies being reversed? Yup. Would independence mean we could opt out of London's illegal wars in future? Yup. Would independence enable Scotland to be represented in the EU for the very first time, rather than being 'represented' by David Cameron and William Hague as we are now? Yup. Would independence give us access to our own natural resources? Yup. Would we, in a nutshell, be ruled by a government we actually chose? Yup, yup, yup.
Nothing much to see there, I must admit. The emergence of this Scottish nationalist nonsense is a bit baffling, isn't it, Jake? But I dare say it can all be explained away by the existence of haggis, or something.