“Alex Salmond is right “Cameron doesn’t speak for England, he speaks for a Westminster elite” Go for it, Scotland” – Billy Bragg
The last few days marks a change in the referendum debate. Cameron’s Olympically disastrous intervention (“The United Kingdom has only seven months to “save the most extraordinary, buccaneering, brilliant country in history“), Salmond’s calm systematic response to Matt Frei, Rory the Tory’s bizarre Borders idea, Alistair Darling’s legally precarious anonymous smear, Billy Bragg and Jonathan Freedland’s inputs (and the hysterical reaction of some) are part of a cumulative gestalt switch.
Several things flow. First, tactics should change from the low-hanging fruit of Don’t Know voters (who are coming across anyway) to the soft underbelly of No doubters. Second, Salmond should ignore the demented Lamont and the second rate opposition at Holyrood and respond only to the Prime Minister. The aim should shift from creating the progressive beacon to unstitching the Westminster Establishment, and in doing so unlocking the reluctant Labour Yes mandate.
Jonathan Freedland’s analysis is flawed but hits a high note of clarity. It’s like a penny has dropped in the mainstream English media (If I were a Scot, I might vote yes to independence):
Since 1979 Britain has been breaking away from what used to be called the postwar settlement. Led by an overdominant London and south-east, British politics has been tugged rightward. The prevailing ethos of the past 35 years has been one of turbo-capitalism, privatisation and a shrinking welfare state. Yes, the process was begun by Margaret Thatcher, but Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did little to stop it, and in some cases accelerated it. And Scotland wants no part of it.
Cameron’s precarious place – teetering between the Shires foaming at the mouth with decades-stoked tabloid fervor and the barely coherent uber-bland Miliband Labour void – propped up by Nick’s discredited Mondeo Party – is the perfect leverage point for Yes to mobilise. To mobilise not just Scottish independence but unlock a new settlement for England and Wales too.
Cameron’s endless shallows has been brutally exposed this week. Here’s Gerry Hassan:
…the continual rhapsody of British exceptionalism and uniqueness with Cameron calling the UK ‘the most extraordinary country in history’, even using the language of the Olympics to invoke this: ‘Team GB – the greatest winning team in the history of the world’.
This is related to the widely invoked meme that ‘the UK is the greatest ever union created by humanity’ which is an incredulous, fact-defying statement. Great for whom and decided by who? It is not great in terms of how it treats its people, whether its poorest, who it demonises, targets and punishes, or the super-rich, who it fawns over and never lectures about rights, responsibilities and its moral and ethical behaviour.
As Hassan points out, whilst the Ukanians try and hold dear to continuity back to the Magna Carta, in fact, the ‘UK’ only dates from 1801, and for Ireland from 1922.
The harsh reality is that Cameron’s utterances lack substance or traction, north or south of the border. His party in Scotland is a dark shadow. His campaign leader is described as ‘comatose’ and his credibility seeps away daily as he avoids debate. The problem for the Prime Minister and his power nexus is the construct they rely on – Britain – is unraveling before their eyes.