[But the tinfoil works? Doesn’t it?! – Ed] That’s what they say… In the Spectator, Alex Massie takes a look at the state of Scottish politics in the aftermath of the referendum for Scottish independence – and the resulting ‘No’ vote.
One of the most notable features of Alex Salmond’s account of the closing stages of last year’s referendum campaign is his hatred of the press and, indeed, the media more generally. Newspapers which run inconvenient stories are ‘anti-Scottish’ and journalists who ask awkward questions are accused of ‘impersonating Alistair Darling’. Salmond cannot quite decide whether the press are an obsolete irrelevance or the primary reason the Yes campaign fell short.
His greatest vitriol is reserved for the BBC which is accused of being a fully-owned part of the No campaign. Of course Salmond was so convinced Yes were going to win that it comes as some surprise to discover that Scotland actually voted No. It certainly seems to shock him. Hence, one suspects, the need to find someone to blame for this calamity.
As it happens, I think the BBC did scrutinise the Yes campaign’s claims with greater vigour than it did those made by the No campaign. I’m neither sure that could have been avoided, nor that it was necessarily the wrong instinct. It was the Yes campaign – and the Scottish government – that were proposing a significant change to our way of life, after all. For the most part, with the exception, admittedly, of promises of further devolution, the No campaign was happy to defend the status quo. It is in the nature of these things that advocates of radical change are asked to justify that change more than those who favour a status quo that, whatever its shortcomings, is at least a known unhappiness. [added emphasis]
[It all sounds strangely familiar… – Ed] You might very well think that…
As Alex Massie says in his conclusion
In each instance, awkward questioning is inconvenient, illegitimate, and letting the national side down. Welcome, people, to Fox News Scotland. Come on in, the certainty’s lovely.
No wonder Scottish politics increasingly resembles a shouting match of the deaf. I think Nicola Sturgeon deserves credit for, at least in her first weeks in power, trying to strike a more modest, more conciliatory tone (one that, unavoidably, has frayed as the election nears) but I’m not sure she is assisted in this by her predecessor.
Again, division is not the problem since division is a necessary part of politics but the kind of division we see in Scotland now is a problem because, to a considerable degree, it makes honest politics almost impossible. Because honest politics demands you allow at least a modicum of good faith to your opponents. But though there’s plenty of faith in Scotland these days precious little of it is good. Who needs reality – or reason – anyway? [added emphasis]