A week when Michael Forsyth and Ian Paisley made sense


By a Newsnet reader

I can’t decide which quote this week amazes me more.  Is it the Reverend Ian Paisley’s magnanimous statement :

The Scottish people are a canny lot, I should know, my mother was Scottish!  I fail to see what all the angst is concerning the question to be put in the upcoming referendum.  The Scots know exactly what they want, know how to get it, and probably would greatly appreciate it if we left them alone to make their own decision.

Or is it Michael Forsyth’s admission that Government Ministers know more about the south of France than Scotland:

I think that’s probably true.  What alarms me is that when I got into the House of Commons in 1983 almost every Tory supported the Union and was committed to it.  Now I find Conservative MPs saying in increasing numbers ‘Why do we need Scotland?’ and abandoning the unionist position.

Does this sound like, with two years left to go, that the Unionists are giving up?  Much as I’d like to say yes, I doubt it.  When the balance sheet of the UK becomes more closely examined in the run up to 2014, then we’ll see real panic set in.  I’ve seen a lot of commentators say that the Unionists are already panicking, and while this may well be true of Scottish Labour, who have so much to lose come May this year, neither the Tories or the Lib Dems are quite at that point yet.

The Lib Dems have been in gentle decline for almost a century, and the taste of power that Cameron offered them has turned so sour that the gentle decline is turning into a head long plunge to oblivion.  The Tories have only one MP in Scotland and don’t really care much for the devolved party in Scotland.  They just don’t care enough from a political stand point either.  Currently, Scotland is not worth the trouble we’re causing.

No, the Lib Dems and the Tories aren’t panicking, they are being condescending.  The scare stories being circulated by them are what they think will bring us back into line.   There’s no co-ordination between any of the parties.  With Labour tail-spinning north of the wall, they are on the brink of losing their northern fiefdom long before the referendum, they can’t risk co-ordinating with the other parties because of their obvious toxicity.

Do you think Johann Lamont was truly grateful for Ed Milliband’s token public statement of support for the Coalition line on Scotland, knowing full well how toxic the Tory brand is in Scotland?  Of course she has to play the faithful underling, but she deals with the day to day politics of Scotland and has in the past tried to link the SNP to the Tories to try and gain from that same toxicity.

Michael Forsyth is right though.  They aren’t getting their act together at all, and Scotland is already well engaged in the debate about her future.  Meanwhile, Westminster just keeps throwing occasional glances our way to see if we’re still too scared by their stories to vote Yes.  The polls still look that way, but we can see the gradual upward trend towards Yes from poll to poll.  We know that with time on our side, we are going to win.

But here’s the point, and here Ian Paisley has the right of it too, at some point within the next two years the anti-independence parties will realise that we are a canny lot, that the pro-independence arguments have been well thought out and are being positively put to the Scottish people, while they have been busy engaging most of their attention elsewhere and occasionally throwing their laughably negative nonsense our way to keep in the debate.  Remember how confident Iain Gray was this time last year?  Remember their campaign?

The Unionists haven’t given up, but for the most part they are kidding themselves.  Labour has a clue about what’s going on, but doesn’t have a clue about what to do about it.  The Tories and the Lib Dems are too caught up in Europe, the banking crisis and Westminster politics to have any clue at all.

We have momentum now, but we musn’t take it for granted that the current state of affairs is going to remain.   Michael Forsyth’s words may well lead to the beginning of a waking up to what this Referendum really means for the whole of the UK, or maybe it will be someone else further down the line, but eventually there will be a co-ordinated and well funded No campaign and we will have to start the fight for real.  We are holding pretty much all of the cards now, but we’ve got to watch out for our opponents bluffing us!