Friday, November 22, 2013

Sorry to be so repetitive..

...but if the No campaign and their friends in the media can't help themselves, why should I? From the Guardian -

"Darling, chairman of the pro-UK campaign Better Together, told the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland (Icas) that the Scottish government was moving into 'very dangerous waters' if it set out to instruct the rest of the UK on the terms of future independence talks."

So let me get this straight. The Scottish Government do not have the right to "instruct" London...but the Welsh Government do? Those are the rules now?

This whole brazen exercise in hypocrisy is starting to remind me of Tony Blair's concepts of "reasonable" and "unreasonable" vetoes at the UN - a "reasonable" veto being one used by the US or UK, and an "unreasonable" veto being one that is used against a resolution supported by the US and UK.

* * *

In the light of the special day tomorrow, I wonder if Ruth Davidson can "guarantee" (to coin a term) that Scotland will continue to receive Doctor Who if we DON'T become independent? I mean, what if the BBC cancel the show again, like they did in 1989? I take it from the way Ms Davidson is talking that the Scottish Tories and Better Together have some sort of control over the decision-making process?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Compare and contrast

Scenario A - The SNP First Minister of devolved Scotland expresses a mere opinion on the likelihood that the London government would agree to sharing a common currency with an independent Scotland.

Reaction of the anti-independence campaign : "Jumped up parish councillor! Embarrassing his country by getting ideas above his station! It would almost be funny if it wasn't so tragic..."

* * *

Scenario B - The Labour First Minister of devolved Wales makes the patently ludicrous suggestion that he would somehow "veto" the sharing of a common currency between the UK and an independent Scotland - a power that he simply does not possess.

Reaction of the anti-independence campaign : "THE LORD HAS SPOKEN."

A few more constructive things you can do with your time and money

These Indiegogo fundraising campaigns for pro-independence causes seem to be sprouting up all over the place now - which is perhaps hardly surprising, given the astonishing success of all the previous ones!

Newsnet Scotland are seeking £40,000 to expand their operations. I know some of us are a touch ambivalent about the site - it could do with having a slightly less blatant 'propaganda' feel (although to be fair so could most of the mainstream media at the moment!), and by all accounts it has a ludicrous moderation policy that almost makes James Mackenzie look tolerant and reasonable. But we mustn't lose sight of the bigger picture here. Newsnet fulfils an almost unique role in the pro-independence online world because it's not a blog, or a site restricted to comment and analysis - it's a fully-fledged news website that can (and already does) directly rival the websites of leading newspapers and broadcasters. And let's not forget that this fundraiser will also help pay for more outings for the intrepid Duggy Dug, as voiced by Brian Cox (the Hollywood actor I mean, not the TV physicist). To donate, or to read more about the aims of the campaign, click HERE.

Bella Caledonia are also seeking £40,000. I'm sure this one will be a very easy sell for most readers of this blog - Bella is quite simply an unalloyed Good Thing, and if it didn't exist someone would have to invent it as a matter of some urgency. Donate or read more about the campaign by clicking HERE.

As ever, it's worth bearing in mind that these campaigns are only beneficial if they supplement rather than detract (or distract) from the Yes campaign's own fundraising efforts, so for the sake of completeness HERE is where you can go to donate to Yes Scotland!

Now for something that won't cost you any money, but is arguably even more important. The BBC Trust are seeking responses to a public consultation on the draft guidelines that are intended to ensure impartial coverage during the referendum campaign. This falls very much into the "speak now or forever hold your peace" category, so to read the guidelines and to submit your suggestions as to how they can be improved, click HERE.

Last thought - isn't it encouraging to hear about all these university debates that are resulting in huge numbers of converts to the Yes campaign? It's a pity we can't squeeze the entire population of Scotland into a lecture theatre, because at this rate we'd have the whole thing sewn up in an hour. Alas, that isn't possible, but at least we're getting further strong indications of just how soft the No vote is, particularly among young people.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wisdom on Wednesday : I suppose we all thought that, one way or another...

"I seem to remember that OGH's last lauding of a Scottish Lib Dem was to say that Willie Rennie was the man the SNP fear. Have we any polling to indicate how far down in their trenches the SNP should be cowering from 'Death, the destroyer of Worlds' Rennie?"

PB poster TheUnionDivvie, raising an eyebrow or two at Mike "can't be arsed" Smithson's seemingly genuine belief that Alistair Carmichael will be the hero of the referendum campaign, wipe the floor with Alex Salmond in a series of TV debates, and triumphantly emerge as the next leader of the UK Liberal Democrats.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Why do some sections of the media seem unable to take 'Don't Know' for an answer?

We all know that the London media love to count Don't Knows in independence referendum polls as firm Nos, but the website Tennis Earth seems, for reasons best known to itself, to be taking the practice into a whole new dimension.  In a short piece on Andy Murray's recent political comments, they accurately quote him as saying that he has yet to make up his mind whether to support independence or not -

"As it gets a bit closer to the time, I think we need to do what’s best for the country – what’s best for Scotland. Nearer the time we will start to see in more detail what is the best decision, and I’ll make my decision based on that."

So how on Earth do they reconcile that with the headline "Andy Murray against Scottish independence", and the introductory comment : "Without hurting the sentiments of his fellow Scots, former World No.2 Andy Murray has put his weight behind a unified Great Britain with Scotland being an integral part of the Union and not as an independent nation."

What? Where? When? If you have the exclusive quote, guys, don't be bashful about it - there's not much point in getting the scoop of the year and then using a quote of him saying the complete opposite, is there?

I tried to leave a comment to set the record straight (although to be fair Murray had already done it for me in the article itself!), but the website demanded a ridiculous level of access to my Twitter account - the right to follow new people on my behalf, no less. I wonder if one of them would have been Blair McDougall...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Advantage Independence

One piece of advice you sometimes hear tennis commentators giving is that if you get your opponent break point down, the first thing you should do is go for a little walk.  Let the reality of his predicament sink in for a while.  What he wants to do is very, very quickly get a big serve in, and forget the crisis ever happened.  If you don't need to even rely on your racquet skills to prevent him from doing that, what is there to lose?

It seems to me that Alex Salmond and the Scottish Government borrowed from the same book of tactics when deciding on a long timescale for the independence referendum.  You could tell from the word go that anti-independence activists sensed the danger, even as they failed to come up with a convincing explanation for why the tactic was supposedly illegitimate.  (The faintly pathetic whine of "does Mr Salmond really have to BORE us for the next three years?" was the best they could do.)  We're beginning to see clear evidence that their fears were well-founded.  Alex Mosson's decision to become the latest Labour heavyweight from west-central Scotland to come out in favour of independence might well not have happened if Salmond had opted for a snap referendum during the honeymoon period after the 2011 election win.  In that scenario, instinctive tribalism could easily have set in across the parties, and the vote would have been over before a great many people had even thought the issues through properly.  As it is, everyone has had - and will continue to have - ample opportunity to take in the reality of the choice that lies before Scotland, and some interesting and unexpected things are happening as a result.  Below the surface of the headline opinion poll numbers (which, as we've discussed many times before, are nowhere near as favourable for the No side as the anti-independence media have convinced themselves), there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that any gradual movement going on is from No to undecided to Yes, rather than in the opposite direction.  The ever-fickle Alex Massie (I mean fickle in terms of his assessment of the state of play, rather than his politics) makes precisely that point in his Spectator blog post of a couple of days ago.

Massie also highlights the other advantage of a long campaign for the Yes side, which is that their opponents have a much more limited repertoire than they do.  Project Fear have shot the bolt too early - the public have been exposed to so many scare stories now that they're beginning to respond with a disbelieving laugh when they hear the latest claim that the Black Death would return to Scotland after independence, or whatever.  That wouldn't have been the case in a quick campaign - witness the outrageously daft scare stories that voters fell for hook, line and sinker during the AV referendum (and that, I'm sorry to say, includes members of my own family).

To return to Alex Mosson, although there are no downsides to his decision, I can't help wondering if it would have been even better if he'd stayed within the Labour Party while campaigning for Yes, as I gather Sir Charles Gray plans to do.  It's ironic, isn't it?  In normal circumstances, we as SNP supporters would be delighted if anyone 'saw the light' and departed from Labour.  But in this campaign, what will be even more valuable is the normalisation of the sight of current, card-carrying Labour members campaigning for independence.  We're getting there.