I've watched and re-watched that first referendum debate, and the more I do, the more I understand. It wasn't really a debate at all. It was a set up; a set up by irrelevant participants (Mr. A. Darling and Better Together audience plants 1 2) designed to hamper rather than enhance knowledge.
I can say that because as it unfolded, I watched the focus slide unerringly to the fiscal aspect, not surprisingly as it’s what many of us need answers on, or so the Union’s organizers’ would have us believe.
In actuality, it was a debate designed from the outset to hammer Alex Salmond and ‘his pet project’. I'm not even certain Bernard Ponsonby was aware of the facts, though it’s hard to see how he’d be ignorant of them. Ponsonby did give Darling, which appeared well anticipated, a few hard shoves but failed to use the debate to move issues and educate. As such, Bernie very much ‘shot his bolt’.
I'm taking that position as it was clear while it unfolded the script like the wrestling results of the ‘70’s, had already been drafted for release by the UK’s media the following day; they just needed to insert quote A into line B.
To any half-witted idiot it became clear before half time that it would be a twofold prong, currency and how ‘Darling won the debate’ after studiously selling ‘their guy’ low. Alistair Darling came across to me more as a renegade guest from the Jerry Springer show, not as a serious debater, although he did raise a few valid questions. He’d obviously been ‘coached’ to interrupt, shout, talk over and negate in any way possible what his ‘opponent’ had been saying. If he wasn't coached into behaving as he did, then in my mind he’s got the decorum and manners of a pig. In civilised debate, both sides get to make their points in allocated time frames, and without interruption.
Now, about those points. My, oh my, about those points.
Firstly, the currency issue. There really wasn't any reason for either of those blokes to be there last night, you see, the white paper told us what ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’ are, and they’re not changing. We’ll use the pound like Ireland and a host of other’s, and we’ll do it unofficially or by preference, officially by treaty. Now, that makes life throw up another few questions, because if we were so clearly laying plan A and plan B on the table, why the screaming heebies the next day, unless the maps had already been drawn and the course charted. Where Ponsonby lost and STV shot its credibility out the window was when they didn’t make this clear.
Now, there’s the 'retirement thing', which was a more minor string on the fiddle of the sonnet to be released the following day. Both sides have agreed that everybody alive today who’s already a UK citizen will continue to have that right to a UK pension. Oddly, Chemical Ali (because he must've used some serious alchemy to arrive at his viewpoint) made it clear that as pensions are supported by those currently working, there’d need to be an agreement, and this would be part of any ‘future negotiation’. In anybody’s book, that’s a nice little addendum to ‘project fear’.
The truth of the Pension’s issue is simple, if you paid in, you get out. Westminster just has to figure out how to keep paying what are close to Europe’s worst pensions to some of Europe’s most deserving and long suffering pensioners. Westminster has to do this because there’s no real way to not do it. Do they enact a law saying you have to live in the rump state, England/Wales/NI? Then what about freedom of movement and all those ex-pats living all over the world. They’ll be coming home, and they’ll be needing cared for. What’s left of the UK neither needs nor wants that burden. What about English in Scotland, do they get a pension? How about one Scot’s parent? How about a Scotswoman married to an Englishman and living in Spain?
The pension issue is smoke and mirrors, no question about it, because any government in Westminster which dumped its pensioners would likely be out on its ear in short order. Or it would if there was such a mechanism. Do I really want to live in country without such a mechanism? We could implement such a right to recall wayward governments and officials in iScotland's new constitution.
Either way, Ponsonby and ITV lost credibility, because at the day’s end, no matter how I've looked at these issues, and what nobody wrote into any of the pre-ordained press releases was this; it all boils down to just three things on both main planks of that debate.
Firstly, we’re being blackmailed in a most horrible, spiteful way, and it’s being done by a bunch of idiots at Westminster who don’t give an actual low flying turd about their own constituents. I have to ask myself, am I in favour of that? Do I support these Bullingdon Bullies.
Sorry guys, it’s your slogan, but it’s ideal here, I’ve got to say ‘no thanks’
Secondly, I'm (still) being told Scotland’s a basket case, an economic basket case that is just too small to manage itself properly. I’ll admit to my jaw almost hitting the coffee table when one audience participant said London had more folk than Scotland, so how could Scotland possibly survive ‘alone’. I smiled incredulously; this bloke get’s to vote? I don’t see Norway, Switzerland or Luxembourg asking Davie lad to let them snuggle under his wing because they’re ‘just too wee’, or Nicky Clegg tabling a motion to devolve all sovereignty to the US, Russia or China? If we’re such a basket case, why fight to keep us? If we can’t afford pensions, the NHS, a banking system that plays fast and loose (we really want that?) and various phallic substitutes, er, sorry, nukes. Something just doesn't ring true here.
Let’s just assume for a second that what’s being conveyed here is a fact, then the only possible conclusion is that for three centuries Scotland’s been so utterly mismanaged, exploited and under-invested by successive London governments, governments who know our vote really means nowt; that they’re happy to continue to pillage and strip rather than invest and encourage.
Sorry guys, again, got to say ‘no thanks’
The third possibility, the one I'm betting on is that we've just been lied to all along. You see, I’ve done my research, unlike ‘Mr. too small’, that being the case, again, I’ve got to say again, ‘no thanks’.
Bernie, and our so trustworthy media, could easily have pointed out that what we really had the other night was a choice. We have a choice to go our own way, or opt for the fearmongering, asset stripping liars.
We do have a choice. We have a choice to watch the next debate, to see where Chemical Ali is allowed to work his alchemical skills of wonder; which one or two areas will be the highlight of his interruptions and shouty, ill mannered focus, then we can watch the media reaction the next day, and smile.
After September 18th we can decide we’ll never have to watch the like again, because we know with absolute certainty that the ones from the Bullingdon Club in London, those mired in corruption and scandal, they’re the only ones until September 18th who are worth being in the debating chair, because they’re the only ones with the power to answer our questions, like the ones for the EU and NATO, and they’re the only ones who can clarify this debate.
Except, we already know they won’t do that. They won’t give me what I need, yet they still want me to endorse them, they want me to say ‘no thanks’.
Fine, then I will, on September 18th I’ll say ‘no thanks’; no thanks to the lies, the misinformation, the half truths, the innuendoes and scare tactics, and I’ll watch us walk away from this disreputable shambles called Westminster.
Yes, it might be to an uncertain future, but it’s a future filled with potential and possibility, and I dream of being a part of it. If we don’t grasp the thistle, we know we’ll get stung for more lies, more official secrets, more obfuscation, more stripped rights and we’ll lose more of our cherished values.
Yes. Give me that uncertainty, because it really can’t be worse that what London’s offering, and in less than a generation, if we decide, it can be so, so much more.
You know what? I trust my fellow Scots to make the right decisions, now, and as we walk forward. September 19th will tell us all if we’re a confident nation.
1: Craig Murray's Blog concerning the debate
2: STV Rigging Audiences?