I'm not easily scared. Actually, scrap that, I'm terrified of anything a tiny fraction of my size that wriggles on the ground on its belly, and that's just for starters. My point on this, though, is that when Alex Salmond said that there wouldn't be a second referendum in the final tv debate a couple of days before the election, it shook me a bit.
I wrote about this at the time for The Steamie, (ok, the title of that post is not quite as prescient as I'd hoped it might be, but the main thrust of the article is, I think, valid) saying:
If you're going to vote yes, you'd have to trust the people who were doing the negotiating. But wouldn't an SNP who'd won an independence referendum be a bit ecstatic, like the verger doing cartwheels in the nave of Westminster Abbey after the Royal Wedding the other day?
They'd surely be more inclined to agree to any cost for separating off the complex tax and national insurance databases and setting out own up, for example. It's not just as simple as "see, you, bye." Who gets UK Government property in Scotland? How do we disentangle the Pensions system? Do we pay the current UK Government to keep paying them out and if so how much?
Surely whatever deal is made, there should be some brake on the SNP negotiators? If all that was required was for Holyrood to ratify the agreement, and there was an inbuilt SNP/Green majority, we could find ourselves in a situation that most of us don't want.
I don't know how things work in your house, but if we decide between us to buy something, I might well go off and do the research. But I would consider it a courteous thing to do to take the results of my research back to the others in the house and get their opinion before I made a final commitment. If I think it's that important to make sure everyone's on side when I'm buying a holiday or a washing machine, I darned well expect the Government to get my say so on a new constitutional settlement. Not to do so would be downright rude and would demonstrate enormous disrespect and arrogance for me and everyone else in Scotland.It's really important to me that Scottish people get the say on the final deal. I'm hearing a bit too much "Och, it'll be fine" from the SNP and not much in the way of hard fact about the costs entailed and how an independent Scotland might work on a practical basis. They've had decades to refine their plans. Why can't we see them and look over them?
It seems to me that the new majority SNP are slightly ill at ease with the world at the moment. They're in a situation they didn't expect to be in, where the buck stops with them and nobody else. All we've had from them in the past few weeks is aggressive posturing and picking fights with Westminster - and very little, bar Nicola Sturgeon's efforts on care of the elderly yesterday, else.
I've found the language of the last few weeks overly aggressive and macho for my liking. And I really don't like it when I see Fiona Hyslop dismiss Mike Moore's ideas as "blethers", or Alex Salmond's office saying he's "wittering" or "irrelevant nonsense". This is not an appropriate way for members of one government to talk about members of another. It does kind of make you wonder what they'd be like at the UN.....
And when it came to Willie Rennie's and our MSPs' decision to back them on minimum alcohol pricing, many of them online have been shouting the odds, questioning our motivation and the one that made me bristle, on Lib Dem Voice yesterday, "I doubt you’ll get much credit for arriving at the correct answer only after your opinion had ceased to matter". That speaks to me of a bubble based mindset, one that's so concentrated on the parliamentary chamber that it doesn't see the benefit of an ally to help argue the case in the country. And I don't think that argument has yet been won amongst ordinary people. To be fair, Nicola Sturgeon was much more conciliatory. She and Willie Rennie will have different ways of expressing themselves and I think that's a good thing - and it might even lead to some of our good ideas being put into the legislation. Who knows? Worth a try, surely.
I do think there is a bit of unease and fearfulness within the SNP ranks - their members who comment online are often at their most aggressive at times like this. Maybe they've just had more of paradise than they can cope with.
I want to see an end to fractious language generally. The business of government and politics, which is all about people's lives in the end of the day, is a serious business that deserves passion, yes, but purposeful, reasoned debate. Whether it's the price of booze, or the constitutional future of our country, can we not have some dialogue that deals with the difficult issues in a respectful way? They don't come more calm and rational than Michael Moore.
What I do want to see from our lot, though, is more advancement of how we want Scotland to evolve. If we spend all our time arguing about the Scotland Bill or independence, where's the space for getting our idea of good old fashioned home rule out there? We do need to talk about that and what it means in practice as our ultimate goal. I don't see much consensus on getting much more added to the Scotland Bill at the moment. Mike Moore's in a tough position - he knows fine that neither Labour nor Tories at Westminster want to cede any more powers, yet he faces an SNP majority which insists on them. There has to be space within that debate for us to articulate what we're aiming for in the future.