Duncan's zealotry in insisting that absolutely nobody at all is empowered to speak on behalf of the No campaign (not its own members, not the UK government, not Ed Miliband, not even Dunc himself) calls to mind that old Rory Bremner gag about Gerry Adams -
"I demand that the British government withdraw all troops from the north of Ireland without delay. I demand that the DUP ceases its provocative language. I demand that the RUC stop its harassment of the nationalist community."
"And should the IRA disarm, Mr Adams?"
"Well, it's not for me to tell the IRA what to do!"
* * *Duncan Hothersall : Special #YesScot debating rule number 253: Alex Salmond doesn't represent Yes; but Theresa May represents No if its convenient.
Me : So what's your own view, Duncan? Do you embrace Theresa May as a representative of your own campaign, or not?
Duncan Hothersall : Of course not. From the moment the Section 30 order was passed the referendum became nothing to do with the UK government.
Me : But isn't she also a leading member of the Conservative party, your comrades in arms?
Duncan Hothersall : #Bettertogether is a campaign involving Scottish Labour, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Conservative Party.
Me : So English politicians can't speak on behalf of those parties? What sort of 'better together' is that?
Duncan Hothersall : Of course they can speak on behalf of their parties. But you can't pretend they speak on behalf of the No campaign.
Me : This is hurting my head, Duncan. Would you listen to yourself?
Duncan Hothersall : Theresa May does not speak on behalf of the No campaign. How hard can that be to grasp?
Me : Would you welcome her if she "joined" the No campaign?
Duncan Hothersall : In what sense could she?
Me : What on earth do you mean? Do you exclude on the grounds of race, or something?
Duncan Hothersall : What? Ludicrous leap after ludicrous leap. I asked how could she join the No campaign. Do you have an answer?
Me : To the best of my knowledge she is eligible to "join". Are you saying that's wrong? If so, on what basis is she barred?
Duncan Hothersall : How? It's a simple question. I'm not barring anyone from anything. How could she join the No campaign?
Me : By joining! There is a "join" option on the website, for pity's sake! Are you saying she's barred, or not? If she is, why?
Duncan Hothersall : Oh you mean as a supporter? Well of course. But that wouldn't mean she then spoke on its behalf, which was my point!
Me : Ah, so you're saying people who join have not really "joined"? They're just a sort of fan club? Another sham exposed.
Duncan Hothersall : No. I'm saying supporters aren't spokespeople for the campaign. It's not hard to understand.
Me : You've spent the last twenty minutes asking how May could join the No campaign. You seem to think there's a distinction.
Duncan Hothersall : You asked "Do you embrace Theresa May as a representative of your own campaign, or not?" and I answered very clearly.
Me : I then asked if you would welcome her if she joined the No campaign. You didn't seem to think she could. Why?
Duncan Hothersall : "You didn't seem to think she could." Evidence for this assertion? I asked how she could, I didn't say she couldn't.
Me : All right, so why did you ask, when the "join" option is prominently displayed on the website?
Duncan Hothersall : I'm not particularly familiar with the website.
Me : I'm appalled.
Dun Garbhan : Last week you declared Indy had nothing to do with Cameron and were proved wrong, as usual.
Duncan Hothersall : Proved wrong? It's an opinion. One shared by Alex Salmond until very recently ("a referendum made in Scotland").
Me : So why do you accept donations from outwith Scotland?
Duncan Hothersall : Me? I have never accepted a donation in my life. Why are you addressing me as if I am a spokesperson for BT?
Me : So this logic means that "Cybernats" are irrelevant to the SNP and the Yes campaign?
Duncan Hothersall : Sorry, which logic is this now? The fact that Theresa May isn't a spokesperson for the No campaign? Have we finally agreed that?
Me : The logic that you are not a representative of the No campaign. Wouldn't be pretending not to understand, would you, Duncan?
Duncan Hothersall : Of course I am not a representative of the No campaign. Did you seriously think I was?
Me : So "Cybernats" do not speak for the SNP or the Yes campaign. Correct?
Duncan Hothersall : Of course they don't. Who has ever claimed they do?
Me : Good. After all the obfuscation, an historic admission. It will be recalled.
Duncan Hothersall : (responding to another tweeter) That is a ludicrously broken piece of logic.
Me : Do you think it's a mistake to ban "non-Scottish" parties from Better Together, Duncan? Where's the togetherness?
Duncan Hothersall : Nobody's "banned". BT is a campaign set up by 3 Scottish parties which includes individuals from all parties and none.
Me : So would you encourage non-Scottish parties to get involved? All hands on pump, and all that?
Duncan Hothersall : No, I wouldn't.
Me : Why not?
Duncan Hothersall : Because the campaign is doing fine as it is.
Dun Garbhan : (responding to earlier comment) It flies in the face of reality. Fact - Cameron, UK Ministers, Treasury, MoD, DWP et al are all promoting NO.
Duncan Hothersall : And in my opinion it's none of their business.
Me : So would you agree it's not the business of donors outwith Scotland to bankroll the No campaign?
Duncan Hothersall : I'd prefer it if campaigning was state funded. Neither side should be reliant on private donors.
Me : But as there are private donors, would you discourage non-Scottish donations just as you've discouraged non-Scottish parties?
Duncan Hothersall : No, and I haven't "discouraged" non-Scottish parties. I merely answered your question.
Me : So you're neutral on whether non-Scottish parties should get involved? Do you have an opinion on anything?
Duncan Hothersall : Yes. I think you're wasting my time, and you know damn well Theresa May isn't a spokesperson for the NO campaign.
Me : Duncan, I've indulged your logical gymnastics, but in the real world everyone knows the UK government speaks for No.
Duncan Hothersall : "In the real world everyone knows" = "I can't justify it but this is what I want to be true".
Me : Your entire campaign is about the UK government continuing to rule Scotland - and yet they don't (and can't) "represent" you?
Duncan Hothersall : No, it isn't, and you know it. #indyref is about Scotland in the UK, not about the current UK government.
Me : I didn't say "the current" UK government - I said "the UK government". Next excuse?
Duncan Hothersall : You said the current UK government speaks for BT. #indyref is about future governments, not current governments.
Me : So on that basis would you accept that Theresa May might be representing you, but you don't know it yet?
Duncan Hothersall : Stop being silly. #indyref is about constitutional decisions, not individuals currently in power.
Me : Stop moving the goalposts. You said it was about "future governments". Theresa May might be in a future government, yes?
Duncan Hothersall : It's not about the members of future governments. Stop playing the daft laddie.
Me : So it's only about future governments collectively? But wouldn't May be bound by collective responsibility, as per tradition?
Duncan Hothersall : (no reply)