At the very beginning of this whole thing (no, not two years ago when we starting preparing ourselves – six weeks ago) the debate was framed around the Salmond Darling debate. Every yesser I knew (and there were a whole lot less yes back then there is now believe me) was confident about the big debate. You felt sorry for him going in, the Darling delighted.
Before the First Minister allowed himself to be bullied about the pound (astonishingly, still a leading argument on the no side), the framing of the party political debate (not the Yes campaign of course) was this.
On the question of should Scotland be an independent country, Alistair Darling suggested that the answer to that question lay in the ability of the First Minister to answer hypothetical questions which no politician already in charge of any country could sensibly answer.
In the debate that everybody told us he lost, Darling’s challenge was this – why do they call it ‘Project Fear’.
It wasn’t because of anything Alistair Darling’s had to offer. No, two weeks before the most important exercises in democracy in British history the UK government has used all its official and unofficial influence, thrown its economic might against the idea of Scottish independence.
Not one effort has been made to present a positive case for remaining in the union. The response from the opposing leaders has been instead to undermine and intimidate, to spread confusion and threats.
The No campaign is conspicuous by its absence. Strategists from the No side are reluctant to discuss the positive case for independence, as they know that the more people hear what can be acheived in an independent Scotland, the further their voting intention moves from No to Yes.
I had one of my best discussions on Friday evening – there was a heady yes mood all over Glasgow. All around me as people learnt about the issues they were coming to Yes
The torygraph had gone with ‘Salmond’s economic case in tatters’.
‘Ye couldna write it,’ I observed to a co-glancer. ‘Actually, I don’t think there is an economic case.’ He replied. We began to have a reasoned, articulate and polite discussion around whether or not there was a business case for Scotland.
We probably began to agree to disagree, and I started to discuss historic underrepresentation of Scottish communities which have been gravely failed by Westminster.
‘But that’s politics, we’re not talking about politics.’
I took that one on the chin as well. And left him to his Absolut.
He didn’t dare talk about the politics.
So why, when Scotland had been so happy on Friday, have we been edging about, ducking for the shadows all day. Believe the reports and Yes Scotland are pseudo paramilitary fascist hit squads – sinister agents creating division and destroying value.
We are bullies, we are agressive thugs, we are nationalists, separatists and secessionists.
Only trouble is, that’s not what you see if you spend time amongst people who think Scotland should be an independent country. We’re told this is a divisive debate, but where does that come from?
Until two weeks ago, Better Together and the rest of the forces opposed hadn’t even bothered trying. Now, we’ve been promised the sky will fall on our heads if we become an independent country.
That’s their answer to the question, should Scotland be an independent country – you can’t.
Well we can. When the SNP gained its majority government in 2011, instead of a referendum with Devo max on the ballott, we were offered a Yes No Independence vote, on two assumptions – that the Scottish government wouldn’t be up for it, and that the Scottish people wouldn’t have the bottle for it.
Nobody has even attempted to mount an argument that we shouldn’t, only that we can’t. In this whole saga, the contempt shown by the political elite for the people of Scotland has only been matched by their contempt for democratic process.
They think we’re too wee, but we’ve got a highly skilled and well educated population. They think we’re too poor, but we have substantial natural resources. They think we’re so stupid, that it wasn’t even worth spending six weeks trying to have a debate, when you can just threaten to pull the arse out of the world for two weeks and undo the spontaneous burgeoning of ideas, connections, creativity and commitment amongst disparate and talented people with a common cause.
On Thursday the 18th of September 2014, at 7 am the political, media and financial elits will no longer be in charge. The people of Scotland will be in charge. And we’ll stay in charge on Friday morning. And it will be a great victory, not just for the people of Scotland, but for the people of Britain, and for the exercise of our highest expression – democracy.