Best of Both Worlds


“The Best of Both Worlds” has started to give me heartburn whenever I hear it. It used to be that ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ was the collection of words most likely to turn me into a rampaging rage-beast (not unlike the Hulk when he gets mad) but that’s long gone. These days, I could probably buy a Keep Calm and Drink Wine tea towel and not even flinch.

Keep Calm and all it’s variants has paled into insignificance now that ‘Best of Both Worlds’ has been endlessly rolled out as a paper thin reason and reward for Scotland voting No on the 18th.

Recently, I heard two women on the bus discussing the benefits of an all-inclusive holiday versus  self-catering where ‘the best of both worlds’ was used on several occasions and I had to sit on my hands for fear I started punching myself in the head with frustration. I wanted to shout “Oh for goodness sake, woman, there’s no such thing. Commit to one holiday and make it amazing. Get a bloody grip”. I didn’t though. I sat and stared out of the window and marvelled at how two little nostrils and a bit of rage can steam up a whole window so quickly.

Before today’s newest poll (YouGov poll has the Yes vote in it’s first ever leading position of 51% ahead of No at 49%) , ‘The Best of Both Worlds’ (TBBW) was a fairly innocuous collection of words that were used at the end of faux passionate speeches by Dear Leaders & Spokespeople of Better Together Incorporate about how we’ll all get everything we could ever want when we all just stop being silly and vote No. ‘More powers’, and ‘devolved tax raising powers’ – some interesting sounding promises, but when called to confirm what these words actually intended nobody in the Better Together camp (nor in fact, the UK Government as a whole) were able to give any concrete information nor idea.

Yet more empty words chucked about like brightly coloured balls by clumsy juggling clowns – and yes, to drive home the analogy even further, we’re supposed to be the circus audience – lapping up any sort of promise and entertainment, watching slack jawed in the dark with a big blob of candy floss stuck in our hair.

After today’s poll, however, TBBW has been taken to a whole new level and the horsepoop-ometer has been spinning out of control after the announcement by the UK Chancellor George Osbourne (someone who’s remained fairly tight lipped throughout the whole referendum debate) that a deal for more powers would be coming out in the next few days. Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show he confirmed that after the event of a No vote, a timescale will be put in place to give Scotland more tax and spending powers, greater fiscal autonomy and greater plans over the welfare state. He added three separate times (as we watch goggle eyed from our circus benches) that this means we can have the (guess what?) best of both worlds by reducing the risks associated with independence and gaining greater powers.

So, up till now the Best of Both Worlds that we’ve been offered and promised wasn’t actually the best at all – it’s now being admitted (by it’s creators) that it was actually a pretty pants version of ‘best’ and as of today that rubbishy old BBTW is being scrapped for a new and improved model which this time,  really, truly, honestly, really IS the very best of both worlds. And as soon as those plans have been laid out in front of us and we see it for ourselves, we can all stop acting like hysterical demanding children and just vote No.

What Better Together (and everybody else who fancies coming along to the party) fail to realise is that not only have we been paying attention but we also have memories – fancy that! It wasn’t so long ago that the option to have Devo Max on the referendum ballot paper was denied us by the UK Government. It wasn’t so far in the past that the UK Government refused to pre-negotiate on any topic to do with the referendum and wasn’t it only yesterday that the UK Government was unable to name any additional powers that might come Scotland’s way should we vote No?

And yet – here we are today. The major parties are in pre-negotiation to provide us with a version of Devo max – with an action plan! And a time scale! And possibly post-it-notes!  On the very day that a poll shows Yes is moving forward. Uncanny.

It’s still up in the air as to whether this new development is even legal due to the restrictions on Government activity in the 28 days in the run up to the referendum – although it is possible the politicians involved will make use of certain loop holes in the Edinburgh Agreement so they can steam ahead with their plans.

And if they do steam ahead with their plans for increased powers for Scotland – the ones they wouldn’t give us till they had some proof that we were very serious about this – remember that Better Together and the UK Government don’t really believe in giving us the Best of Both Worlds. If they did, they’d have worked out what the very best was and offered it to us straightaway. For them, TBBW is another bargaining tool, another goal post that can be changed and shifted to suit their needs and get us to shut up into the bargain.

There’s no such thing as best of both worlds, or having your cake and eating it. This is all just cliché and we’re not buying it. I don’t know how long it will be before I could use a ‘Best of Both Worlds’ tea towel but let’s hope that come the 18th we don’t have to hear that phrase for quite some time.

Until then, I’ll just keep munching down on these antacids and breathe deeply.

Comments (17)

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  1. Maggie Craig says:

    Keep calm, Abi … oh dear, I nearly gave you more heartburn!

    Great article. You made me laugh out loud.

  2. bringiton says:

    No means leaving power in the hands of unelected governments.
    Yes means power in Scotland will be in the hands of those who live here.
    Two worlds only exist in the minds of No hopers.

  3. Craig B says:

    TBBW reminds me of Voltaire’s spoof professor Dr Pangloss in “Candide”, who announces his absurd philosophical doctrine, “All is for the best in the Best of All Possible Worlds”, even as things collapse in ruins around him.

    1. douglas clark says:

      Craig B,

      Pollyannaish is a favourite word of mine.

  4. Best of both worlds!! what other world are they on about? I live in this one world that I am sure everyone else lives in also.Best of both worlds such a stupid phrase.

  5. A rumour is circulating that Gordon Brown is not standing in the 2015 election, indeed that his successor has already been selected. So he will not be around to push any proposals for devo whatever through Westminster so that we can have the best of both worlds. Nor will he be there to take the flak when his proposals fail to materialise as Westminster approved increased powers for the Scottish Parliament. Surprise, surprise. Now we know why he was selected for this saving the union attempt. When it all goes pear-shaped, as is the plan, then he can be blamed for misleading the gullible Scottish electorate, while he is far away earning hundreds of thousand lecturing other gullible folk.

    1. Craig B says:

      Is this not eerily reminiscent of 1979?

      “The campaign for a “no” vote was much helped by an assurance by former Prime Minister Lord Home of the Hirsel that a future Conservative Government would introduce legislation which would meet the objections. This pledge, made by Lord Home in a personal capacity, was not honoured by the Conservatives when they came to power a few months later.”

      That’s in wiki,_1979

      1. Almost a replay. And despite everything the Yes side actually won, we just didn’t get sufficient votes to scale George Cunningham’s 40% hurdle.

  6. Optimistic Till I Die says:

    ‘But I still hope that our minority of zealots is not quite big enough, our discontented not quite gullible enough, and our realists more numerous than our columnists.

    Anyway, I have voted to save my countries.’

    That is a quote from an article by R D Kernohan in the Scottish Review, a journal that I have been reading regulary for the past few months. The journal seems fairly even handed in the type of articles it publishes regarding the independence debate but I do wish they had a comments section to allow readers to comment upon the articles selected for publication.

    Other articles by Kernohan seem to reflect his religious convictions and are quite sensible. His latest however, noting that he has already voted NO, seems to reflect a myopia that is incredible and a belief that the United Kingdom is admirable.He seems to have forogotten that politics is about power – the power of the establishment or the power of the people – and is siding with the establishment, despite all the misgivings people in Scotland have about the present UK system and government.

    He also seems to think the referendum is simply about questions of identity, reality, and principle which voting on the referendum question alone should decide, as if that decision could be made in a vacuum, as if the average member of society already knew what their decision would be prior to the debate.

    As an average member of society, I perceive his high handed attitude and decision to cast his vote early for what it is. His mind is made up, he perceives that the referendum is being manipulated by zealots, and he has righteousness on his side. The people of Scotland don’t really matter, regardless of how they have been treated over the years and how, currently, they are dismissed as unimportant so long as their resources, human and material, are available for squandering by the union.

    His passion is probably summed up by his final statement: ‘Saving his countries’. This beggars belief. One can only have one country, just as one can only have one natural mother. That does notprevent one caring about other people, the residents of other countries, nor having friends, relatives, colleagues in other countries. But to believe he has other countries and is out to save them indicates a curious thrust of mind. I trust there are not too many others in Scotland as he quite clearly also indicates what his economic policies would be if he were also out to save Scotland: ‘An independent Scotland might even really thrive if it were prepared for ultra-liberal economic policies and welfare-benefit restraints that out-Thatchered Thatcher.’

    This precisely, is what a large part of the debate has been about (though Kernohan thinks people should just sit back and make a decision about ‘the question’ on the ballot paper). Why should people play second fiddle to an abstract theory as if it were a law of nature. If you boil it down from the entire population of the world to just two people it becomes. Ok, brother. The theory, as developed by X, Y, Z, states that for me to prosper, you have to suffer. So be it, I have the whip hand.

    Fortunately it looks as though the citizens of Scotland have more sense than Kernohan. Theories are no more than human constuctions developed to try and explain what we can observe. When they are applied in a fashion that militates against human health, wealth, and happiness it surely is time to question them, then consign them to the junk heap of history. There are always alternative theores, and it is these I trust the citizens of Scotland (consciously or unconsciously) are seeking, for their own sake, if not for that of anyone else. .

  7. Doug says:

    Have just read my last Scottish Review. I felt it only fair to mail the admin and let them know why.

    The Carol Craig piece was the clincher, heavy on supposedly measured, dignified and regretful reluctance to grasp the thistle. It’s not the time… we aren’t ready, we would only offer a managerialist more of the same, even the line about the poor deluded young people who think they are going to make a difference.

    I think what is actually being said is: I couldn’t change the world, what makes you think you can do any better, and then proceeds to tear down what she can. I think that’s a dreich miserablist Scottish cringe, the crabs pulling down the one almost out of the pot.

    After all – look what the alternative is – the stark corruption of Westminster, where an honest man is considered a fool, and money flows like water in to the pockets of backers and bankers.

    You really think Holyrood could be any worse, any less accountable ?

    For those who enjoy wallowing in the Scottish cringe, you can always read the piece.

    1. Jack Beck/Scotus says:

      I’ve always had a lot of respect for Carol Craig, but you need to remember who her Hubby is!

      1. Doug says:

        Alf Young. Noted economics and political commentator..

  8. Bill Fraser says:

    There is no such thing as ‘best of both worlds’ in this context.If it was true not so many would be voting YES.The other world is dead and gone .Scotland for full government. !!

  9. Doug says:

    I would just like to add though, that if we assume that Carol Craig is defined by her husband, we may as well be justifying the patronising woman. I am quite sure that Carol Craig has thought this through for herself, knows who that man on the telly is, and has still come up with nothing better than the impotent internationalists lament, mixed up with a good bit of the Scottish cultural cringe, then all larded over nicely with the paternalistic schadenfreude of ‘ye’ll never amount tae anything, dinnae even bother tryin’.

  10. Iain says:

    Young and Craig are simply closed minds. No form of self-government for Scotland will be worthwhile: the only solution, in their minds is some sort of unattainable socialism, brought about by a perfect Labour Party. But were that to appear possible, they will attack it. Standing on the sidelines and posing as knowing better is satisfyingly self-flattering.

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