Friday, May 25, 2012

Some white men spoke in a cinema. #yesscotland

So the Yes Campaign has been launched for the Independence Referendum.

Before the question has been agreed. What if it ends up being "Do you want to be a part of the United Kingdom?" Mr Salmond will look a bit daft then. 

But, jokes aside, I actually felt a bit disappointed. I'm never going to support this lot, but I wanted them to come up with something I could feel jealous of. Instead loads of blokes spoke in a dingy cinema. For a campaign supposedly offering something liberating, fresh and new, this was just more of the same male, pale and stale politics we're used to. I know they don't want to scare the horses, trying to say that life in an independent Scotland would be much the same with the same money and the same Queen, but they had an opportunity to do something different and flunked it.

The keynote speakers were Alex Salmond, Patrick Harvie actors Brian Cox and Alan Cumming, Blair Jenkins, Tommy Brennan and Denis Canavan. and Liz Lochhead. There were songs from Dougie McLean and Lou Hickey. Sean Connery, a rich man who doesn't live here, sent a video message and Elaine C Smith, who does, sent another video telling everyone to sign the Declaration (of Fountainbridge)?

Regular readers will know how steamed up I get about predominantly male tv show discussion panels. I was surprised to see such a male dominated line up.  That is one very unhealthy vibe. It gives a signal that men have all the power in that organisation. If there's one thing I am determined to do over the next couple of years it's to ensure that women's voices and views are hardwired into this debate and on my side. The SNP know fine, though, that their message tends to persuade more men than women, so are they deliberately seeking to firm up male support?

I've had a wee look round their website which is pretty basic given the amount of time they have had to prepare. And I wonder if they are trying to annexe us to the USA, given that they're asking for State and Cell (Phone) numbers.

And one interesting observation. If you look at the Becoming Independent page, you find this:

The consultation on the rules and question for the referendum has now finished and the results will be published later this year. The Scottish Government will introduce the Referendum Bill into the Scottish Parliament at the beginning of 2013 and it will become law by the end of that year.
Note question, singular. Does this mean that they have conceded that there will be only one question?

 I had a bit of a giggle to myself when I realised that they were launching their campaign on Towel Day. This annual event to honour the memory of Douglas Adams encourages fans to carry a towel around all day. Apparently, according to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, it's the most practical thing in the universe if you're planning a crazy, unpredictable intergalactic voyage. 

Timing is everything. I don't get the desire to smash up a successful monetary and political union at a time when working together intra- and inter-nationally has never been more important, as we face the worst economic circumstances of our lifetimes. The union as it is is far from perfect, but if I have something that doesn't work as I want it to, I try to fix it. I don't break it up into pieces. 

Nothing I have seen from anyone in the SNP has come close to persuading me that there is any need for independence other than they want it. As a highlander, I have as much of an issue about being told what to do by Edinburgh as I do London. 

When we're seeing Greece fall apart, Italy ruled by technocrats, Spain's banks in a mess, all of which is going to have a huge knock on effect on the European economy, is it the right moment to cut loose? What will we be able to do as a new independent country? Are we not better to weather the storm as one nation while balancing the relationship between its member states? That sounds like the best of both worlds to me.

It's a very risky environment out there - and, frankly, a newly independent country, trying to find its feet in the world, would need more than a towel to cope with the economic storms which nobody expects to subside for  a good while yet.

Advocates of independence would say that's "talking Scotland down". It's not talking me down to suggest that I can't climb Everest. I wouldn't even try. I wouldn't want to. Just because something isn't a good idea for you, that doesn't mean that you are in any way deficient. I don't want to stay in the UK because I need Westminster to look after me - I just think that the partnership makes sense for both. 

Anyway, we have at least 27 months to have that debate - today, though, was a disappointment. I had expected better.


Fourfolksache said...

Well Caron, enjoy the 27 months. Before the end of that time you will either have no one left to vote for ie if you want to elect a LibDem, or your Scottish contingent will hopefully wake up and detach themselves from Clegg and his cronies?
And who knows perhaps even honour their so called Home Rule credentials?

Anonymous said...

Ah yes Fourfolksache - is abuse the best you can do.

Anonymous said...

Gender good point. Shame it is undermined by wrong spelling of Liz Lochhead's name.

Unknown said...

Anon 2, apologies, genuine typo now fixed. I know how to spell it. Having an unusual name myself, I know how it feels to have it mis-spelled all the time.

Anonymous said...

Imagine actually sitting down and writing this crap, and thinking it's a good idea.

Munguin said...

How right you are Caron. Women are underrepresented in British politics. Perhaps you would like to remind us all of how many female Lib Dems are in the English Cabinet that sits at Westminster? Let’s have a look shall we? There are five Lib Dems in the English Cabinet: Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Ed Davey, Michael Moore and Danny Alexander. Oh dear that appears to be 100% men! Surely you’re not suggesting that the SNP is sexist while all the time claiming that all the “talent” in the Lib Dems is vested in its male members? What are the little women in the Lib Dems doing? Baking cakes and making yellow pom poms?

Anonymous said...

Are we not better to weather the storm as one nation while balancing the relationship between its member states?
That depends - I'm no enthusiast for independence, but if there is a choice between a harsh, socially polarised UK and a chance for Scotland to strike out as evenly vaguely egalitarian/social democratic state, as viable as anywhere like Denmark or Norway, why on earth not? Especially given the rise of English nationalism with its really stridently anti-Scottish tone? UKIP are ahead of the Lib Dems in a range of polls down south, and some English polls show a majority wanting rid of Scotland - Salmond might not need to ask his question!

Anonymous said...

Great post Caron. I am now *so* hoping the question is "Do you want to be a part of the UK" ;-) Very disappointing opening to the campaign....

I especially liked "As a highlander, I have as much of an issue about being told what to do by Edinburgh as I do London". Coming from North Wales, about as far from Cardiff as you can get Northwards without being in the middle of the sea, I have exactly the same problem. The one people the North Welsh Gogs hate more than the English are the Hwntws down South... Devolution to the Celtic Fringe is great, and I'm glad it's happened, but some decentralisation would also be appreciated. I suppose this is what you get when it's brought in and dominated by Labour.

I hope this will actually factor in quite heavily to the election. The highlands and islands probably don't want to see Edinburgh rule any more than London rule, and I hope our localist, decentralised position will go down well.

Unknown said...

Munguin, I am painfully aware of the failure of all parties to properly address the gender deficit in politics and, believe me, mine hear a great deal from me on this subject.

For the Yes to Independence campaign to so publicly muck up on this, though, is a serious thing. The signal it gave out loud and clear yesterday is that independence is for blokes born in the 50s or 60s.

And given the latest poll, showing that barely a quarter of women support independence, that might be right.

Unknown said...

Oh, and Munguin, almost 40% of our councillors are women, more than any other party.

Unknown said...

Spineless Lib - Willie Rennie asked Ming Campbell to chair a Commission not just on Home Rule but on how best to devolve power from that centre too - it's our USP in this debate, I think because Labour and the SNP will centralise anything that sits still for long enough.

Jennie Rigg said...

Imagine leaving a pointlessly abusive anonymous comment on somebody else's blog, and sitting back with a smug smile of satisfaction at a job well done?

Caron, if it's any comfort to you, those of us in Yorkshire don't want to be ruled by Westminster either, but we still voted agin regional assemblies because that was another layer of politicians to pay for with no discernable benefit. Sadly this means Yorkshire independence is a lot further away... ;)

* may have missed the point of this post completely *

Oh yeah. Sexism. Lack of racial diversity. In a nationalist campaign. Witness my face of not-surprise.

Munguin said...

40% of your councillors and 0% of your cabinet ministers! Now what does that say about women Lib Dems in British politics? Is it that women are crap and therefore only fit to occupy the lower echelons and remain there? Or is it that despite talking a good talk the Lib Dems are an equally sexist organisation that is run by men for men?

The Scottish cabinet has two females out of nine so slightly less than a quarter. While the English cabinet has 5 out of 23 so a similarly less than a quarter. However interestingly the party that bangs on about equality the most and likes to wear its equality credentials on its sleeve by quoting the fact it has more female councillors for example provides none of them. Is that irony Caron or hypocrisy?

Munguin said...

I hardly think you are in a position to point out the SNP’s equality home goal Caron when the Lib Dems one is equally huge! And let’s face it Caron two Lib Dems have already had to go under a cloud and your supposedly most equal party of the lot (40% female councillors) still couldn’t find a woman to fill a role! So that’s actually none out of seven. At this rate every male Lib Dem MP will have got a cabinet job before any woman.


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