The Sottish Referendum: from the sidelines

August 25, 2014

Like two heroic leaders of a bygone age, Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling prepare for battle. The symbolic War of independence in Scotland is reaching a crucial stage

Have no doubt of the symbolic nature of the war. The matter is to be decided through votes cast for or against a single six word question by those edible by rights of age and location. No voting rights for exiled Scots.

The six word question

“Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Numerous polls have shown roughly 50% of eligible voters disposed to vote NO, 40% YES,, and around 10% DON’T KNOW. The shifts in voting intention have shown enough of a drift to the YES vote to keep those involved anxious and willing to keep on campaigning.

The dilemma of intervention and MRDA

There seems to be a dilemma for interventions from what is seen as beyond-the-border vested interests. These have tended to be from those offering reasons why the Scots should vote No. These have been most most effectively rebuffed years ago by the famous Mandy Rice-Davis retort .  When challenged in court that Lord Astor denied sleeping with her: ‘he would say that wouldn’t he’. I understand it is now found in tweets as MRDA , standing for Mandy Rice-Davis Applies.

Even if MRDA …

Mandy’s line is strong on dramatic force, but those with vested interests may still be making valid points.

Even if MRDA here, Is it significant that the final Yes No question was reduced to six words of blatant over-simplification? “Should Scotland be an independent country?”appears to be asking for some moral or universal rights assertion. It leaves open for debate whether the voters will benefit more from one outcome rather than the other. Not to mention that the outcome reaches into the haziest of futures. Further confusion is added by the dodgy nature of the statistical missiles deployed in the skirmishes.

Worse, as stated the question reveals the difficulties in laying out the decision by with a say in its phrasing. From the outside, I have not been convinced by the justifications offered for voting Yes or No. In that respect I would be among the 10% Don’t Knows.

Clegg v Farage April 2nd 2014

April 3, 2014

Instant and unedited thoughts on the second TV debate between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage

Missed first two minutes …these were their opening statements. Oops.

I liked the BBC’s structure, well-selected audience and questions, with limited response time, distinguished chairman David Dimbleby.

Initial exchanges were rather unengaging for me. Although prepared statements, not strong links with reasoned argument.

The Farage comment about Putin seemed dangerously distracting ground for Clegg to get on to.

Clegg seems to be making it too personal.

Immigration. Farage rather vague. ‘Didn’t recognize’ a leaflet from his party which Clegg waved..

Disappointing low-level debate too close to Any Questions format.

Clegg clear loser for impact on audience including me.

On reflection

At first, I thought the BBC had come up with a sensible format that would produce a watchable programme that would interest and enlighten. On reflection it achieved that to some degree. The disappointment was that the event was too revealing of Nick Clegg as a leader in unconvincing mode. His passion seemed channelled too much towards belittling his opponent. His prepared barbs were embarrassing. His focus for attack poorly judged.

I felt that Mr Farage had far more self-belief. It was the self-belief of the charismatic individual. His style was the style of the demagogue. One instructive difference. When an elderly member of the audience asked Farage a question which might have been supplied by a UKIP speech writer, Ferage turned his attention completely to her. She was made to feel the most important person in the world for an instant. Mr Clegg lacks that sort of display of personal warmth. Or at least, he did last night.

‘Exit polls’ within minutes of the debate confirm my view that Farage had been far more successful than Clegg.