Saturday 23 March 2013


At the last general election for the UK parliament Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg and David Cameron refused to debate with Alex Salmond. 

Only the three main parties would debate, said they.  Although I thought it was unfair, after all, the SNP had seven seats in Scotland and the Conservatives only had one, I could see some sort of reasoning.

Alex Salmond had no chance whatsoever of being first minister of Britain, although, if that was the criterion, what, I wondered, was Nick Clegg doing there? He had no chance either.

Now there is a chance for the First Minister of Scotland and the Prime Minister of the UK to debate, and once again the opportunity has been turned down.

Mr Cameron will not debate with Mr Salmond. He says that Mr Salmond should debate with Mr Darling. 

I'm not sure on basis these things are decided. I realise that people like Cameron, and for all I know, Salmond, are 'position concious'. I know that Mr Cameron is distantly related to the Queen through his mother, and closely related with immense wealth through his late father, and that Alex Salmond is neither. So they are not really in the same "class"... and that sort of thing means a lot to Tories.

It would also be true to say that Mr Cameron is the Prime Minister of the UK, and no doubt considers himself to be a very important man on the world stage, second only perhaps to Mr Obama. He likely sees Mr Salmond as a mere administrator of what Tony Blair described as a parish council.

This referendum is not about political parties or position, though, so who should debate with whom?

Alistair Darling is head of the Better Together or No campaign (although so, it would seem is Anas Sarwar). Alex Salmond is not head of the Yes campaign.

Yes is not about the SNP, and No is not about Labour.

There are, we all know, many Labour supporters who are for independence, and this is shown in the growing movement started by Allan Grogan, which works with the Yes Campaign. 

We also know that there are Liberals who are pro independence (they have a group on Facebook) and there may even be Tories who are. The stance of the Green Party and Scottish Socialists is pro independence too, and there is a Trades Unions for independence Movement.

As has been said many times, people who vote SNP may not be for independence. Many voted for a good solid government after 4 years of good governance from the SNP, (I think many voters were simply terrified at the idea of Iain Gray as First Minister!). An IPSOS poll the other day showed that, after 7 years in government the SNP still have a positive rating of +12 points compared with the UK government's -41 after only 2.75 years! 

So we can't really have the YES and NO sides represented by individual politicians. Darling is the exception because he doesn't represents a political party as such. He, despite being a Labour backbencher, represents the Tories and the Liberals in his position as head of the No campaign. Perhaps he would debate with Blair Jenkins

But the head of government in Scotland and head of government in the UK, would not be an unreasonable debating combination.

According to this article from The Scottish Sun, the public wants to see a debate between the two of them, even if it might be a little infra dignitatus for Cameron. It would certainly arouse interest as they are both extremely prominent people.

The trouble is that Cameron knows full well he would be beaten to a pulp, unless he got one of his friends from the BBC to chair the debate. 

To start with Cameron's arguments are always based on the GREAT in Great Britain (although in this case it actually only means big!). He trumpets the embassies, the 4th largest military spend, the influence with America and in the EU, and the position on the UN Security Council  the clout that Britain has everywhere....

Now, much of that stuff is dubious anyway. We can't afford the military and are having to cut; we have almost no clout with America, we are likely to leave the EU; and our position in the security council must be in doubt in the next ten years as the balance of power changes from West to East.

But even if some of it were true, it's not putting food on the table, clothes on the kids, or stopping old people freezing to death, never mind paying the mortgage and buying a new car or a holiday in the sun.

Secondly, Alex Salmond is a consummate performer. Even his worst enemies can't deny he is brilliant in debate. If you disagree with every word he says, he puts it over well; he isn't patronising and he makes sense. Despite getting on well with the Queen, he has no friends at the palace. He got where he is today by being good at what he does. 

David Cameron, on the other hand, is poor in debate and has little grasp of detail. He has a tendency to be patronising, and when someone scores a point on him he has a tendency to lose his temper and become Mr Flashman. Cameron got where he is today by a combination of money and contacts (including some in the palace).

If the two debated Salmond would win hands down and the Yes campaign would move forward in the polls. Most of the people in Scotland who dislike Salmond, also dislike Cameron (even the Tories).

Methinks Cameron, to use his own rather patronising word, is "feirt", and if he refuses accept this debate, he will be remembered as a coward, who knew he was beaten before he opened his mouth, and/or a snob, who thought he was above debating with a mere first minister.


  1. Oh Mr Cameron,we ken whit you'll say
    You're happy to take,if we're willing to pay
    Now we have ideas,they're much better than yours
    So tread your own path,for we're off down oors

    Now soon we'll be going,and leaving behind ...
    A life that's been hard,not joyous,nor kind
    As you strut round the world, stirring everyones pot
    You're happy for the haves,to forget the have nots

    Well that's not our mindset, we want fairness for all
    We may trip on our journey, we might falter, or fall
    Then the baton will be picked up, by those coming behind
    Our life will improve, be more just and more kind

    A wee country like ours doesn't need nor want strife
    We don't want our young killed, nor trained to take life
    We've no need for your wars, being fought in our name
    No more do we want our heads bowed in shame

    We've got folk, who are willing to care for our old
    We've got water for all, and we don't want it sold
    With the wind and the tide, you'll see our lights shine
    No more will it be, what's yours is now mine

    Our main riches are people,young, vibrant and strong
    Who will look back and wonder. what took us so long
    The naysayers and doom mongers, have had their last chance
    The wallflowers will be left,while we sing and we dance

    So with fire in our bellies and a light in our een
    We'll march forward to victory in 2014

  2. So apparently Cameron sees it as beneath his dignity and/or is afraid to debate with Alex Salmond; similarly, Darling won't debate with Blair Jenkins supposedly because the latter is not a politician.

    I hope challenges to such debates will be made repeatedly and publicly by the Yes campaign so that people can draw their own conclusions if Cameron and Darling continue to be evasive.

  3. tris..The First Minister is a privvy councillor so has agreed to defer to the Queen over all others. And cover up any of her indiscretions. This is probably why he supports the monarchy and wants us to remain subservient after getting our independence. So he does have friends there.
    Like the bagpipe pic :)

  4. There is a definite mismatch in position, Cameron can't be see to be in direct debate with the leader of a devolved government because as we all know, he's a politician on the world stage (but perhaps not world class.)

    I think Salmond should be available to take to bits any unionist politician who sticks his or her head above the parapet, Blair Jenkins can take the legs from under any non-party political unionist (the other Blair who's surname escapes me, he looks like a potato though...) He (Blair Jenkins) should also be able to go head to head with Alistair Darling (who was just on the Sunday Politics* spouting shite) since he's the head of Better Together.

    *Darling said in his (unchallenged) interview with Andrew Neil with regard to Scotland going it alone and its oil reserves (which in the face of demonstrable and empirical fact; will make us all poor) that: "Any country can go it alone as long as it can cut the cloth to suit its needs." Was this the economic paradigm he deployed while in office at Westminster or was he referring to his own arrangements when he flipped his home four times?

  5. Scarben: It could be that anyone watching would believe the non-politician.

    Good poll numbers for the SNP in the Sunday Times, James Kelly has the figures on his blog.

  6. Another beauty fairfor. Really stirring stuff.

    You should put it on the Yes campaign's website. Really.

  7. Scaraben:

    Welcome to Munguin's Republic.

    I agree. These people won't debate with our people for the silliest of reasons. If you look hard enough you can always find an excuse not to debate...: he's not on my level; he's not a politician; he's taller than me; she's a woman and I'm a man. Silly.

    Cameron and Salmond are respectively the most senior politicians in the UK and Scotland. Initially, after the vote ad until the elections in both countries, THEY will be the people in charge of sorting out whatever the outcome is.

    I actually think that we have that right. We are going to make a very serious decision on our future and yet the two people who will be effectively in charge, won't get together and debate front of us.

    As for Captain Darling, politician or no, he is the head of the No Campaign. I think it was an error to have a politician to do that job, for obvious reasons, but that is what they decided. Surely though, being a politician doesn't stop you being able to talk to an ordinary person?

    The likes of Cameron and Darling are at the moment quite happy to give interviews to papers and BBC and rarely have anything challenged. Clearly they are both scared stiff of the idea that their ideas should be queried on live television.

    Dead right... they should be. They have no substance.

  8. Nice to see you again Monty.

    In fairness to the FM, before he was the FM and a PC, he got on well with the Queen. He appears to be a royalist, which is not my thing, but I have no problem with him being a royalist.

    What I meant by influence at the palace was, however, not the Queen or Charlie liking him. I really meant the kind of influence that Cameron's background gives him with the movers and shakers in the palace who went to the same school and the same university, attend the same sporting and social events, operas and cocktail parties.

    When Cameron applied to get a seat for the Tory party and was turned down, the chairman of the Tories received a letter from the palace (not, of course, from HM) suggesting that they should consider this young man with much to offer... (allegedly)

    I doubt Eck would ever have got that kind of support.

  9. I reckon Pa, that Darling can say spout that rubbish on the Andrew Neil show and Andrew will go along with it, but if he were debating with an opponent, or a real journalist, they would say...

    But what about all the figures that show Scotland to be far richer than the UK?


    Well shouldn't the UK be cutting its cloth to match its financial situation, by downsizing its army to a defence force, getting rid of the house of Lords, scrapping 75% of its embassies, putting all the royals in one palace, selling off Chequers and all the other grace and favours, getting rid of the nuclear weapons, resigning from all the expensive "clubs" it is in... and so on?

  10. Marcia. I think it's just that their arguments are all rather flimsy and won't stand up to any kind of investigation. But you have a really good point.

    Who believes a politician. They have very obvious personal vested interests. In Darling's case his VERY lucrative job, and the certainty of a seat in the lords when he steps down.

    Good figures :) Thanks for the heads up.

    Photos will follow!!! I promise.

  11. PS MOnty... Bagpipe pic my favourite...

  12. Why is Salmond avoiding a debate with his fellow Scot, and opposite number leading the Better Together campaign?

    Ah yeah, 'cos the SNP are desperate to make this a 'Scotland vs England' issue. As usual, the politics of gripe and grievance from the divisive nationalists.

    1. Dean

      I don't seem to recall Darling offering one and why would Salmond bother with him, he is just doing the Tory business as a good One Nation Labour man that all Labour are these days. No it's Cameron that needs to get into the debate. Anyway with the polls going the way they are going the pressure is on as I saw with Darlings lies and bollocks this morning and as usual no challenge from Andrew Neil, still the Times reporters liked him so keep it going Alester .


  13. Ah the politics of gripe and grievance...that wouldn’t be anything like, say, holding a grievance over the candidate you favour not being selected to the run the party you are currently supporting and then going off in a gripe to join the hitherto would it?

    Cameron simply hasn’t the ability to hold his own with Salmond and he knows it. I imagine that Darling wouldn’t be able to either, let’s face it he was unable to stand up against his own leader, Gordon Brown and so instead sniped about him in a book literally filled with gripe and greavance.

  14. No, because he is not the opposite number, Dean

    His opposite number is the leader of the biggest party and senior politician in the UK.

    The opposite number of Darling is as a politician, another back bench politician, or as leader of BT, the leader of the Yes campaign, Blair Jenkins.

    1. Dean has great difficulty in knowing between what cheeks to speak.

    2. Seems that blogger thought everything comes in pairs!

    3. It seems, CH, that it thought that it was so good that it would say it twice, still, as Spookie always used to say when I posted twice... I'll clean up your mess for you mate!

  15. neither of them would beat Salmond in a debate, Munguin.

    Darling is a blusterer; he was as chancellor and he is as a BT leader.

    Eck's style is far more laid back... and truthful.

  16. Tris

    Either way Salmond will win the debate even if there isn't one. Cameron won't risk it as he will get his arse kicked or he might have to if the polls keep going the way they are going but it would be a rigged panel with questions ahead of time which Salmond probably wouldn't agree to.

    I suppose the other thing would be if the economy stays in the toilet and no labour recovery on top of polls showing a continued shift to the yes camp. Lets not forget that all of their bluster, Darling again this morning regarding oil, they badly need oil and us and it's what really keeps the economy going as far as the treasury is concerned. They will continue to play down it's importance as they have done since it's discovery, they have to. If the electorate in Scotland woke up to see how important oil is and the overall contribution from Scotland , even if it only lasts 100 years they will be really against it as far as a no vote goes.

    They rely on most people in Scotland not seeming to care and not looking for the answers. The sad reality is I hope for things like England winning the world cup next summer, an englishman winning the open and the winning put in the ryder cup because people will be so sick of the ingerland press they will vote yes to get away from it. Really silly and sad but these are the kind of things that will pee some people off. It's a pity the world cup doesn't start the same week as the vote in some ways as we will all be sick of the BBC and Alan Hanson by then lol.


  17. Good points Bruce. Not everyone thinks logically about politics.

    For some people it would be the constant news story of England doing well in a sporting story that would get on their nerves.

    I wish we could get through that we would be in the top ten of nations; I wish we could make them see that already, without any of the savings in Trident, every man woman and child would have to pay £800 less to be in the exact same position.

    The there would be savings on pretending to be important (massive army spend; immediate jump when America says, WAR...

    We would even save on the huge expense of the house of lords and the extended royal family, not to mention the bar bills of the MWPs.

    In 40 years Norway has gone from being a poor country to being a very rich one. We have more than 40 years of oil left...

    Life could be SO much better.

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