By Mark McNaught
It has become apparent to the UK coalition that Michael Moore as Secretary of State for Scotland was not the sharpest knife in the drawer, and they need to instead bust out the rusty meat cleaver to hack away at Scots’ desire for self-governance.
This appears to be the logic behind Moore’s sacking and Alistair Carmichael’s appointment as Scottish Secretary.
Apparently, Moore was not ‘fighting’ hard enough to keep Scotland subservient within the feudal archaic Westminster system. Even worse, he successfully helped negotiate the Edinburgh Agreement which will lead to independence.
Apparently, this obsequiousness is disqualifying for a Scottish Secretary in the run-up to the referendum, during which the job qualification will be to talk Scotland down, rather than look out for its interests. It is telling that Westminster unionists view the Scottish independence debate in terms of imperial conquest.
According to the Guardian, a ‘senior party figure’ has threatened “Let’s make no bones about it, this will be a wounding, bloody campaign; this will be a fight to the death”
Presumably, Unionists believe that Mr Moore was ineffectual in making the case against Scottish self-governance, and that criminal lawyer Mr Carmichael would make it more forcefully. This presupposes that there is a case to make.
It will be fascinating to see how Carmichael goes about convincing Scots that they better not leave Westminster, or else…
First, he has to raise his name recognition so Scots know who he is, when he is debating better-known pro-independence advocates. If most Scots’ first impression of him is that he is just another Unionist hack spewing out threats, he will be rightly tuned out.
Second, credibility is paramount. He can begin to establish his credibility by explaining why he now relishes a post he sought to abolish.
Third, criminal lawyer tactics won’t cut it in this debate, and will simply increase the margin by which Scots vote for independence. It should be patently obvious to Unionists by now that bluster is not only ineffective but also counterproductive, but I guess it isn’t.
The appointment of Mr Carmichael shows that Unionists privately recognise that their scare-stories are getting shot down in flames one after another, yet somehow believe the reason Scots are increasingly convinced of the merits of independence is that their bluster has not been blurted out forcefully enough.
If there were a positive case for staying in the Union, they would have made it by now. More brute rhetorical force is all they have left, and will fail to convince Scots that channelling all of their oil revenue to the UK Treasury and remaining a repository of nuclear weapons into the indefinite future is worth remaining within the dysfunctional Westminster system.
What Unionists fail to grasp is that the Scottish independence debate is not just another political boxing match, where you send in the heavyweights to beat the crap out of Alex Salmond.
Scare-story cowering is over, and Scots are discussing and debating the bright future that independence holds. Bogus arguments against independence are being rationally considered and rejected.
It represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to forge a new political system fit for the purpose of effective governance of Scotland, rather than being ruled by governments they did not elect, often taking measures directly hostile to the wellbeing its people, including sending its children to die in illegal wars.
It is the precious chance for Scots to make decisions over their own destiny, have their own successes and failures, collectively take care of their own people, and chart their own course in the world.
If the coalition government actually believes more pugnacity in their Scottish Secretary is what is required to convince Scots otherwise, and Mr Carmichael ‘takes the gloves off’ and uses defence lawyer tactics to impugn the character of Mr Salmond or others as a tactic to discredit independence, Scots will rightly view is as an attack on their own future and aspirations.
The irony is that Mr Carmichael may get his wish to abolish the position of Secretary of State for Scotland, which will no longer be required after Scotland votes for independence. Let’s hope he uses the remaining time constructively, eschews the bluster, and begins to debate the reality of what will happen for the rest of r-UK when Scotland withdraws from Westminster.