Every so often a political crisis comes along that just can't be solved by the usual, ordinary methods. In such times, there is but one man you can turn to. He can't be reached by phone, his real identity is known only to a select few, and there's no guarantee then he will help out, liable as he is to years of sulking and plotting. Your best bet of attracting his attention is to ask Commissioner
Gordon Hogan-Howe to illuminate the brown signal. For he is, and will always be, The Brownman.
Yes, now recuperated from the exertion of saving the world from financial meltdown in 2008, Brownman is back to smash the Salmon(d)'s nefarious plot to break Scotland away from the United Kingdom! Could Brownman this time have left it too late however? Should he rather than the Boy Darling have led the battle against the Salmon(d)? And what of the swirling rumours Brownman is only intervening due to the machinations of Two-Face Cameron and Poison Crosby?
Describing the actions of Better Together over the past couple of days as panic doesn't just do a disservice to those who suffer from anxiety attacks, oh no. We're talking full on, head-just-been-cut-off, running around the farmyard with blood spraying everywhere type attacks of fear-induced mania. It speaks volumes of the confidence of the no campaign that a single, solitary, within the margin of error, with don't knows stripped out poll giving Yes its first ever lead causes a quite staggering outbreak of oh my god what are we going to do we must do something anything and right now-itis. These, remember, are politicians meant to be calm, collected and resolute in the face of any threat. Menaced by the divisions of YouGov they've turned tail and ran straight for the high road.
Leaving it till now, both to use a figure who might make a better emotional case than Alistair Darling and to set out exactly what a no will mean in the form of further devolved powers is baffling, except when you know what a basket case the no campaign has long been. They believed they could just go on saying no to everything Yes said they could do, and that would be enough. No currency union, no EU membership, no deals, no friendship, no help, no chance of Scotland becoming Norway. In fairness, the polls suggested this approach worked, except until the vote got so close you could start to feel it, more people began paying attention and Salmond played the if-you-hate-the-Tories-even-if-you-don't-know-why-vote-Yes card (PDF).
I've tried not to pay too much attention to the Scottish independence campaign for the reason that both sides equally depress, or rather infuriate me. Generally in politics and as I've often tried to argue here, all involved are ghastly but there's usually one slightly better than the rest, even if the differences between them are almost imperceptible. Yes peddles a fantasy vision of a Scotland freed from the perfidious English establishment, a country where the sun will always shine, the oil will perpetually flow and the welfare system will forever be more generous and fairer than its south-of-Berwick equivalent. Sure, every so often either Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon will say they're not claiming independence will be a panacea or transform the nation overnight, but it usually comes after a very particular flight of fancy. No by contrast paints a picture of a nation too wee, too poor, too stupid to go it alone, one where London knows best and to prove exactly that point will block any proposal, however modest, to give the Scottish people more say. This is without getting into the petty grievances of both sides, the dead horses beaten daily, the phony differences played up by those who really, really ought to know better, the we're more Scottish than you attitudes on display by all concerned.
Just as sad is how otherwise intelligent people have been sucked in by this cavalcade of bullshit. Some of those on the left backing independence really seem to believe this is the first step on the road to socialism in one country. Never mind that the SNP is about as radical as those people wooing and cheering as Apple launches yet another slightly better iPhone than the last one, a party that as Shuggy says has not during its 7 years in power instituted a single redistributive policy, that Salmond is more than happy to pal up with those pinkos Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch, as once the independence deal is done and dusted they can elect someone better. Like whom? The Greens? A reinvigorated Scottish Labour party, suddenly receptive and open to policies they weren't when tied to the English party? Or do they seriously think the tax cutting yet still somehow able to spend more SNP will turn from yellow to red? The notion Scotland is more left-wing than the rest of the country doesn't stand up to any kind of real scrutiny; hating Thatcher and not voting for the Tories in the same proportion as us southerners have certainly doesn't equal the same thing.
Yet it's also impossible not to see the attraction. Forget the chest-beating nationalisms for a second, and why wouldn't you want to take a chance on independence when the alternative is more years of austerity, whether delivered either by a Tory-led or a Labour-led coalition? No one seems to have connected the spectre of another war on the horizon with the leap in support for Yes, despite independence suggesting a break from the overseas adventurism of the recent past. Listening to David Cameron speaking last weekend from the NATO conference was to hear a man suffering from the most extreme delusions of grandeur, imagining the nation he leads is still a world power, able to project itself around the world as it builds a second aircraft carrier and ensures defence spending remains at high percentage of GDP. Who wouldn't want the insufferable, jumped-up arse to be forced to go to the Queen and tell her in the space of four years he's managed to oversee the dismantling of the union? The idea he could stay as prime minister in such circumstances is laughable, as is the one the general election would go ahead next year as planned. Besides, do you really want to align yourself with the gimps in power at Westminster, complacent with the apathy they usually encounter, until at last they realise the situation is far more serious than first thought?
The problem with this is both that it's a strange independence movement that wants to break up the United Kingdom yet keep the pound, if necessary without a currency union, all while staying in the European Union, and that even if we accept at face value most of the claims about the true potential of the Scottish economy, it still leaves the country facing an incredibly tough initial decade, such are the levels of debt the newly independent state would take on. This is if everything goes smoothly in the negotiations between Scotland and rUK, of which there is absolutely no guarantee, with Mark Carney explicit today about the incompatibility of sovereignty and a currency union the SNP insists will happen. It could just be my natural pessimism talking, but I'd like to think it's in fact realism.
All three main party leaders are then off north tomorrow in their bid to lovebomb Scotland into submission. It's a pretty pass we've come to when unleashing Brownman is the more rational, more likely to have an impact stunt of the week.
Labels: Alex Salmond, Better Together, Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, politics, Scotland, Scottish independence, Scottish National Party