For the real story of how deep the scare stories run, I refer you to my seven-year-old. She said the P4 boy down the street told her that not only would we lose the Pound if there is a Yes, but ‘we wont be able to swap Match Attax football cards!’
Have Better Together? No Thanks been infiltrating our schools? Is this the latest Ed Miliband we’ll-hit-you-where-it-hurts retaliation? Are Match Attax covered by the Edinburgh Agreement?
It made me laugh because in the febrile and panicked atmosphere of jilted Unionism after a single poll, anything is now possible. Anything. It has reached the stage where even the pro-Union media are exchanging on Twitter asking each other what’s going on…What powers? Who knows? Who’s on board? What’s the real story?
Osborne goes public with more powers, possibly; Carmichael doesn’t know what they are – if they are – and Alexander says there will be none if it means devo max. They are all members of the same Cabinet.
Meanwhile the manic outriders like Brown are devising their own Heath Robinson solutions, this time federalism, I think, which isn’t on the table anywhere even from the Lib Dems whose policy it is. Darling then knocks Osborne off his perch by saying there will only be a timetable for powers we’ve already heard about. In the confusion the First Minister of Wales declares that whatever Scotland gets, Wales must get too, along with our friends in the North at Stormont. Good for him. He’s right to demand it and as he does so, he makes the case precisely that there can be no more devolution without a quid pro quo. He spikes Osborne’s guns.
I don’t normally go for martial metaphors for politics but find this one irresistible. It is like a scene from a war movie – inside the military compound all is quiet as dusk falls. Soldiers loll against tanks smoking; there is music and laughter from the officer’s mess; in their bunks men read by the fading light. We see a shadowy figure roll a grenade into the munitions room and moments later the roof lifts off in the massive blast, the sky lights up and men scurry in all directions firing as they go, shouting in panic.
Suddenly there is no leadership, no sense of purpose but survival, no idea how to take on the enemy. Keep down. Burrow in. Throw anything you have at them. Hope like hell for rescue.
This is what defeat tastes like. It may not come to that of course in reality. There is always the glimmer of hope, the whisper of rescue and redemption. But it will be a close run thing, leaving a scarred and sweating band of defenders, panting with relief and left to survey the wreckage of that which they strove to protect. The Union is mortally wounded, its institutional supporters exposed as liars and snake oil salesmen – the very description they sought to apply to Alex Salmond who daily appears controlled, statesman-like and focussed. For those like Darling, Brown and Wilson who appear to harbour something approaching pathological fear and loathing for the First Minister, a doom-laden prospect emerges…not only that Scotland is on course for independence but that Salmond, their nemesis, is on course to be celebrated as a national hero.
In the blizzard of personalised attacks he has suffered, we sometimes forget that throughout the struggle of the last 30 years he is the nationalist figurehead who has been proved right, right and right again. He may be days from vindication.
And what have the world’s greatest media –the London Fleet Street dwellers – made of all this? I look to the Jonathan Freedlands, the Will Huttons and the Polly Toynbees whom I know to be on the side of the angels when power meets people. Well, all three seem to grasp the issue up to a point and then they part from it, as if there is an invisible wall they cannot penetrate. They are I think hopelessly hung up on two points – one, they are convinced at root this is an ethnicity question because its led by the nationalists and they have no understanding of the civic nature of the modern Scottish movement, and two, they think we really should wait for Labour to win again.
Personally, I think this does introduce an identity question because it seems very few non-Scottish (as in rooted here, rather than born etc) commentators understand the intertwined fibres of culture and history with those of social democracy and a fair society.
Which means the success of Yes is all the more amazing given that every institution pretty well resists what we’re doing and still the people come forward. Still they speak out and still they speak up.
If the forces of the Union haven’t got it yet that fear won’t work, they are certain to lose. If they think bribes will work, they are…well, certain to lose.
I see one chance for the Union and it should never be overlooked.
I cycled home from the rugby last night through stone terraced streets in Glasgow and saw but two signs – one Yes, one No. What is going on behind those curtains and shutters? There is a conservative, safety-first, no-change Scotland out there which would never dream of advertising its politics. If it collectively looks at the excitement and the aspirations of Yes and snorts at our very presumption, then the Union can be saved – if they turn out to vote. It is an unknowable.
But I think smouldering embers have been fanned into flame. We can smell the smoke and hear the crackle of approaching fire as it eats the old and decaying Scotland in its path. The country is alight.
The very news that Yes is ahead will convert the waverers because they needed their view validated by respectability and there is nothing so respectable as victory.
I think we’re in for a laugh for the next week and half as the Unionist implosion continues. It may even extend to an admission that currency union is desirable in order to calm the markets. Now I would even trade my daughter’s Match Attax cards to see that…