Friday, May 17, 2013

Sturgeon wins first setpiece TV independence debate

I think pretty much every independence supporter who watched tonight's STV debate will have come away feeling considerably more confident. It has to be remembered that TV coverage of the campaign proper will resemble this debate much more closely than the phoney TV war we've seen up to now, which has typically consisted of a pro-independence spokesperson being outnumbered two-to-one, three-to-one, or even four-to-one if you count the occasions when a 'neutral moderator' like David Dimbleby joins in with the unionist sneerfest. With the two sides of the argument having a scrupulously equal chance to put their case tonight, it was very noticeably the No side that found itself on the ropes most often. Perhaps that can be explained away by the fact that Nicola Sturgeon is simply a more able debater than Michael Moore, but if so that begs another question - where exactly is the match-up that is going to favour the No campaign? Alex Salmond v David Cameron? Blair Jenkins v Blair McDougall? Nicola Sturgeon v Alistair Darling? Dennis Canavan v Johann Lamont? Tommy Sheridan v Nigel Farage? Each and every one of those looks to favour Yes, and by quite a distance in some cases.

The most worrying sign for Moore and co was surely when Sturgeon scored a hit by pointing out that Moore had castigated the UK economy under the stewardship of Labour, while Alistair Darling had castigated the UK economy under the stewardship of the Tories and Lib Dems. How are the No campaign going to square this circle? Are they only going to present a united front in defending the UK in terms of very dry constitutional structures? Or are they seriously going to try to present a united front in defending the UK in respect of weightier matters like economic performance and welfare policy? If so, the likes of Nicola Sturgeon are going to continue having enormous fun pointing out their hopeless lack of credibility. It's a particular problem for Labour, of course, who tell us that the Tories are ghastly and we must get shot of them, but who simultaneously work with the Tories in a campaign that seeks to uphold a constitutional system that guarantees the Tories will continue to rule over us most of the time.

The other direct hit that Sturgeon scored was when she countered Michael Moore's scaremongering on the currency question by pointing out that the Liberal Democrats had proposed joining the euro as recently as their 2010 general election manifesto. Moore's rueful smile at that point was perhaps his most eloquent contribution of the whole evening!

Here's how I scored it -

Nicola Sturgeon (Yes campaign) 8/10
Michael Moore (No campaign) 6/10

And don't take my word for it - both of STV's pundits, including the venerable Mr Ponsonby, declared that Sturgeon had finished ahead on points.

* * *

I did reasonably well with my prediction for tonight's second Eurovision semi-final (eight out of ten correct), but unfortunately one of the two I wrongly picked out was San Marino, my favourite song in the whole contest. I haven't been so disappointed by a song's non-qualification since Kate Ryan's Belgian entry failed to make the cut in 2006. I'm not entirely sure what went wrong - the staging was maybe a little bit uninspired, and it had the handicap of being in the notorious second spot in the running-order, but nevertheless when you look at what it was up against it should still have qualified with ease.

Ah well, I'll just have to cheer on my second favourite Norway on Saturday night (and I might sneakily admire their oil fund while I'm at it).


  1. James,
    yet again Moore said that an independent Scotland would NOT have been able to support the banks in the crash. Nicola did not demur.
    Once again, why not. When the truth is that the bailout is shared by the country in which that portion of the bank operates.
    Why is this great lie never exposed. Beats me.

  2. I always felt that it was an unfair contest: Nicola v Michael. But as you point out, if you look at the other possibles the independence candidate would appear to be likely to come out on top every time.

    I'm sorry about San Marino too. Still given the outcome of Nicola v Michael, I can't feel down overall.

    I look forward to Caron's analysis of the debate, which is yet to appear.