Week 32: Prat – Alex Salmond

by Jackie_South on August 10, 2014

SNP_PratThis week, our panel has bestowed Scotland’s First Minister with our regular award for being the greatest prat of the last seven days.

Alex Salmond and the SNP seem to have had the best of the debate on independence, or did until this week. Up until now, they have been able to use their role in Scotland’s government to broadcast their views over the heads of the Scottish Parliament. Whenever a difficult question came up, the SNP tactic was invariably to rubbish the questioner rather than find an answer. The Yes campaign was also helped by their enemies: every time Cameron or Osborne opened his mouth on the subject, more Scots were recruited to the independence cause.

This week, it became clear that these tactics have a fatal flaw: they do not work in a grow up debate. In the TV debate on Tuesday, Alistair Darling posed sensible questions that needed answering. In response, Salmond avoided them and tried claiming that Darling was not having faith in Scotland.

The problem was that for the Yes campaign to win, voters will need to have faith in their argument to buy into the one-way exit of the United Kingdom. So when Salmond avoided the question about what his plan B was if all his assumptions did not pan out, he was leaving voters in doubt on a fundamental question. Salmond continued to assert that Scotland would share control of the pound, but Darling made the killer observation that leaving the UK but keeping the pound was “a bit like getting a divorce and keeping the same joint bank account”.

That of course is the whole problem with the independence case: it is a whole string of optimistic answers to the big questions without any idea of what to do if they don’t pan out that way. It is not that any of the assumptions are unreasonable, it is just extremely risky to assume that all of them will deliver.

It is a bit like extrapolating the fact that you would make Celtic favourites in each individual game they play in the Scottish Premiership to bet all your money on them winning every single game this season. Or as Darling put it “We cannot make this decision on the basis of guesswork, fingers crossed or his blind faith.”

So, Darling debated like a grown up, Salmond played the sixth-form debater. No wonder the Scottish people thought Darling won hands down: polls show that almost twice as many thought that Darling won the debate.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mike Killingworth August 11, 2014 at 9:50 am

I wonder.

It was obvious from the word Go that this referendum (and not only this one) was going to be a head versus heart affair and if Salmond can portray himself as a victim of Darling’s bullying that fits very nicely into the SNP narrative as a whole.

And “never a Tory government again, lads and lassies!” will still resonate in the Clydeside tenements.

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