Rich Wrinklies For Yes

 

4 T UMAX     PL-II            V1.4 [6]

Didn’t get round to posting yesterday…I was having a champagne bath and making boats out of £10 notes. There is so much silver money about to burst into the economy that I’m launching my own range of grey luxury goods including cashmere cardigans with built-in ipod pocket, solar-heated buckskin slippers and solid gold, diamond-tipped porridge spurtles @Dimanate Derek©.

I must say as a pensioner myself that the Tories are misunderstood. Allowing those of a certain age who have earned it to spend their retirement fund on Caribbean cruises shows a truly compassionate side to the “evil Tories”. And when the money’s gone, who cares? You can’t take it with you, can you? May as well have a blast and when it’s gone rely on the state to pick up the pieces. I see all kinds of business opportunities here. For example, I may set up a financial vehicle aimed at OAPs where they can shelter their pension money instead of tying it up in an annuity. Of course, the charges would have to quite high but if I market it through Saga and get Michael Parkinson to front it, I could clean up. Which group is most vulnerable to financial scams and cold-calling? Yes, pensioners…Osborne is right, the economy will soon be booming again, awash with silver sterling pouring out of retirement accounts. Bingo! as the Tories like to say.

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I may have detected the slightest hint of electioneering in this statement which didn’t sound much like a Budget to me at all. In fact I’m not sure why we have a Budget nowadays, the autumn statement seems to knock it sideways and half the contents are leaked so it’s not news to the markets. Just rename it the Election Giveaway and stop pretending. And to rub it in, I suspect that all along the Thames Valley where the Tory-minded seats line up like dominoes, this, along with tax changes favouring the better off, they will be smiling this morning.

Osborne has shown in whose interests the Tories govern and while Labour is still slightly ahead in the polls, Miliband and Balls are miles behind on economic competence. Added to the underwhelming Scottish document on devolution and the impression grows that Labour may be entering a spiral of failure. The funniest idea of all is that Ruth the Ruthless has an historic chance to upstage Labour with a more radical option. If the Devo Plus analysis is correct and Johann’s incoherent pastiche only raises 26 per cent of the budget, not 40 per cent, it will be easy for the Right to overtake her offer. The ignominy will be crushing and not lost on Labour voters who already harbour severe doubts about both Johann and Miliband. And to cap it all, Panelbase shows the gap closing further with possibly as little as a three per cent swing required.

champagne-cooler

Staying with Labour’s travails, did you see Jenny Marra’s intervention in the row over Lena Wilson, head of Scottish Enterprise, earning £60,000 from the private sector? Jenny said: “Commanding a high salary in the public sector is different from the business environment. As it’s taxpayers’ money there is an expectation that the employee will be wholly devoted to their job with no other external responsibilities and interests. While it’s vital that Scottish Enterprise directors have their finger on the pulse of business, I don’t think it’s the public expectation that highly paid public servants are pulled off in other directions. Scotland’s economy needs its full-time officials doing their jobs full-time.”

It’s hard to defy her logic. And we can apply it to the leader of Better Together Alistair Darling who receives £66,396 a year to be a full-time MP for the people of Edinburgh South West. Median wages in Scotland are £25.960, so Alistair already earns 2.5 times as much as the average Scot he represents. Yet year on year he earns several times that. In the last MPs’ list his additional outside earnings were £170,000, giving him an income of £234,900, almost exactly 10 times his constituents’ incomes. Does that mean, as Jenny says, he is being pulled off in other directions? Indeed it does, since he is also full-time leader of Better Together. So is he wholly devoted to his job with no external responsibilities? Maybe Jenny would like to clarify.

And talking of double standards, if Aberdeen can get away with using council facilities to tell every household to vote No, how is it that in West Lothian, where the same regulations apply, even renting a hall is verboten?

A Yes request to use Linlithgow Burgh Halls was met a firm No because “Unfortunately we are not able to accommodate your event at Linlithgow Burgh Halls as we have been advised by our legal team that facilitating such an event on council controlled premises would breach section 2(3) of the 1986 Local Government Act.”

The law says:

2

Prohibition of political publicity.

(1)

A local authority shall not publish any material which, in whole or in part, appears to be designed to affect public support for a political party.

[F2(2)

In determining whether material falls within the prohibition regard shall be had to the content and style of the material, the time and other circumstances of publication and the likely effect on those to whom it is directed and, in particular, to the following matters—

(a)

whether the material refers to a political party or to persons identified with a political party or promotes or opposes a point of view on a question of political controversy which is identifiable as the view of one political party and not of another;

(b)

where the material is part of a campaign, the effect which the campaign appears to be designed to achieve.]

(3)

A local authority shall not give financial or other assistance to a person for the publication of material which the authority are prohibited by this section from publishing themselves.

So, who’s right…Aberdeen or Linlithgow and how come it’s Yes that is prevented from campaigning with public facilities, not the No side? I am now so confused, I must go and read Johann’s Devo Naw document to clear my head.

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The Scottish Spring

This goes against all my instincts but I can’t fight the feeling any longer. For probably the first time since I started blogging last September, I begin to think we can win this. Or more accurately that we really are going to do it. It’s an amalgamation of things. First the combination of Jim Murphy and Alistair Darling this week has mildly shocked me. Watching their performances – remember these are two of the Big Beasts of Labour Unionism – gabbling and scrambling to make questionable point after doubtful assertion, I suddenly had an Emperors’ Clothes moment. I thought: They are desperate. They sound like drowning men with so many pleas for help that it was pitiable. Neither could let the interviewer in, each of them repeating a string of claims which all ran into and over each other, neither of them displaying the gravitas and stature expected of their office, with so many caveats popping up in my mind as they spoke that I was left convinced they were in propaganda, not persuasive mode. They had nothing.

daffodils

I heard Jim – eyes wide as if transmitting horror – on the STV sofa say that Scotland raised less  income than it spent therefore how will it cope…the idea being we would be bankrupt. I nudged my aching head and thought: isn’t that called a deficit? Doesn’t every country have one…except rich little countries like Norway which invested its oil money rather than spending it? Doesn’t Britain – Jim’s real country, as opposed to Scotland – have a deficit? And doesn’t every other country borrow money to cover the gap? Does he mean Scotland will be outside the club of normal nations? And is it not also the case that the deficit is in fact caused by the apportioning by London to Scotland of a share of UK national debt, money that doesn’t actually get spent here anyway? He was equally domineering and unattractive on the Radio Scotland programme in the afternoon.

Alistair too sounded slightly manic like a man on laughing gas, unable to stop himself, talking over the interviewer and reading his list of questionable assertions like someone who had memorised the shopping list and had to hurry before he forgot. I remember Malcolm Chisholm doing this in interviews when he was a minister where he was wound up so tightly, through nerves and desperation to get his point over, that he talked twenty to the dozen and made no sense at all. They sound like some agricultural machine spraying slurry in an incessant stream of meaningless invective. Contrast with Nicola Sturgeon calmly but persistently making one or two key points in a moderate tone. She wins hands down, yet Darling and Murphy are the best Better Together have got. Where is the “proud Scotsman” Alistair Carmichael who campaigned behind Michael Moore’s back to replace him? What an abject failure he has been. What grim pleasure Moor must get watching his replacement flail from the sidelines.

But the real change is Labour’s rubic cube of proposals which lack the element of zing that can transport it beyond mere policy into a campaign theme. It is risible and must shake the faith of the hardened No brigade in suburbia let alone the real hard core Labour voters who would prefer a question of their own on the ballot paper. Not only is Labour’s offer weak, it is only Labour’s. After three years of working together – and the years of Calman before that – the Unionist front has failed to coordinate a response. They jeered and scoffed at the SNP for lack of detail, then got it and still tried to sneer and now, after months of teasing, when confronted with Johann’s own moment of revelation, drop the seventh veil to audience laughter. Truly and historically pathetic.

There is little sign Labour will win the next election and if they form a minority government what might fall by the wayside? Oh, extra powers for Scotland perhaps? There is a school of thought now that whatever the outcome, the impact of this tawdry affair will irreparably damage Labour. Some forecasts have the SNP winning Holyrood again and taking 20 seats in the General Election.

Then there is UKIP, loathed in Scotland yet poised to be the winner is this year’s Euro elections where again Labour’s vote may reduce them to a single MEP in Scotland. The English reaction to this success for a Little England anti Scottish anti immigrant party will repel many Scots and confirm our different political culture.

The daffodils are out in the garden with the snowdrops and spring is in the air. Maybe that’s what I’m smelling. Or maybe it’s the clean cool fresh air of an independent Scotland. I’m begining to think it’s the Scottish Spring.

Boys of the Old Brigade

Steadily shoulder to shoulder, steadily blade by blade

Marching along, singing a song, like the boys of the old brigade

 Eyes right! There goes Labour in lockstep with their political allies the Conservatives upholding the ultimate power of the British state to block a movement for democratic change. Try to exercise your rights – enshrined in the preamble to the UN Charter – for self-determination and the people’s party knows where its allegiance lies. The party which was founded on working peoples’ rights and campaigned for self-determination and freedom from domination by economic super powers in countries from Nicaragua to Palestine, stamps its foot and salutes in loyalty to the chocolate soldiers of vainglorious Britannia. Respect and progress are aspirations for people around the world who offer them no threat but closer to home when it means they might lose some control, the imperial mind prevails. And we discover it was all brought together by a Labour MP, Alistair Darling.

It is today as clear as it has ever been that the differences between Labour and Tory are Chinese walls, paper-thin and translucent, slid around into alternating positions to confuse the viewer and all the time flimsy enough to push your hand through. Joining in a loose arrangement to resist independence while working openly to create a new devolution settlement, would have been the right thing to do. Instead they formally joined Better Together, are led and dictated by Britain’s most right-wing government ever, casually setting aside their claims to moral outrage at the evisceration of working family incomes, the heartless treatment of the unemployed and the impoverishment of the disabled in order to fight, not for democracy, but to uphold the self-serving British state to which they belong.

You can find confirmation in the names and “occupations” of the Better Together funders, almost exclusively moneyed, corporate and mercenary individuals, by instinct Labour-haters who donate millions to the Conservatives. It’s just that they hate the Nationalists more.

How clever would it have been for Labour to have run its own anti-independence campaign based on what could have been a more socialist Devo Max script, leaving the hated Tories and their Coalition fags the Liberals to be arms-length makeweights…working on the same principle, they could have quietly demurred from the united sterling threat and said while it may be difficult to construct a currency union, they didn’t want to do anything that might damage a future Scotland and the interests of the rUK. It could await the referendum outcome and the election of a Labour government. That would have left Labour with a foot in Scotland’s camp. The only reason there was a need for “clarity” on the issue was the implied refusal by Osborne that didn’t make clear he meant it. We must now assume – for the purposes of the referendum – that he does mean it.

Why does Labour have to wrap itself inside the Union flag beside him? The answer comes partly in Ed Balls remark: Welcome the real world…That is, in his mind, aimed at Salmond and the SNP but in the typical mistake of the English supremacist he confuses the Nationalists with the Scots. This kind of bravado plays badly in Scotland where anyone from outside picking a fight and attempting to lord it over the Scots gets the sullen stare…name and number quietly filed. You can see the same anti-Scottish contempt in the commentators – we had two examples last night on television in Simon Pia and John McTernan where their loathing of the SNP and specifically Salmond is visceral. They know that Salmond is head and shoulders above anything Labour has to offer, he has overturned their applecart of domination and patronage and they hate him for it. So when they think their side has stolen a point back as they do over the currency, their glee is unconfined. They lack the perspective to see that their reaction is not widely shared beyond the Labour laager, otherwise why did the Scots vote for Salmond, why is the SNP out of sight in the Holyrood opinion polls and why have cruised their way into a seventh year in office? The cold reality is that the Scots look to the SNP as guarantors of Scottish interests – not independence, it is true – but, minus the constitutional status, it is the nationalists who best express what most Scots feel which is a self-assured national pride and an flinty reaction to British superiority being shoved in their face. Scottish Labour is being smeared by the London party bosses and their friendly commentators as agents of the Tories, helped by Miliband joining the ranks of Labour leaders grateful to Margaret Thatcher. It is very difficult to ‘stand up for Scotland’ when you are marching in time with the people most associated with destroying your country’s interests.

Which is one reason why Balls’ speech this week is a more tricky task than Osborne’s as Labour voters look to him not just for clarity but surely too for an alternative. Simply saying No – as with independence itself – isn’t enough. It’s easy to write off an opponent’s thesis by saying it won’t work but if you represent a party with aspirations to run Scotland and creating a new working model, you can hardly brush aside questions about what currency solution might fit. The Tories have no such ambitions but when a Labour figure comes to tell Labour voters why they can’t use their own currency, they’ll expect to hear what he thinks might work. Without it, Labour find themselves in a position of awaiting a vote which might make us independent and with only one policy in place – that there will be no currency union. They are blocking the very thing they would want to campaign for post a Yes vote. Clever…

I’m not fond of military allusions but there is something bellicose about this pan-Unionist front in which the British brothers-in-arms lay down the law to us and imply they will do everything they can to wreck our economy. The only way to currency union is to vote No, said Labour’s Ian Murray, oblivious to democratic desire or national aspiration. It didn’t take him long to get into Westminster bully mode. We are being threatened and the Scots have to be aware that this is the first of many joint humiliations the new British alliance will attempt. Some stoicism may be needed as we discover who are friends are and how it is glaringly obvious now that when Cameron says he cares, he really means he doesn’t give a shit.

Personally I think this type of British bluster will scare a section of society which has always been Don’t Know but was likely to go to No as it doesn’t have the stomach for anything that might offend England or take £5 out of their savings account. But if this is the start of a long campaign of We All Agree You Can’t Have This And You Can’t Do That, then they misjudge us.

I confess to a sneaky sense of pleasure that the true face of Westminster has been revealed unvarnished and unspun so we can see who the Tories’ friends are. It has dispelled the notion that this is Scotland against England or against the Tories. It is now explicit that this is Scotland against the whole machinery of British government and all the Unionist parties are in this together, resolutely against Scotland unless  we do as they say. It must be salutary for Labour voters to watch Johan Lamont and think what she really represents.

I also have a frisson about the currency because I never liked the idea of the Treasury having oversight of our accounts. We have learned not to trust them in their manipulation of information about Scotland and I prefer using sterling without them. Remember, our balance of trade is in surplus – theirs isn’t. They run a huge current account deficit, as in importing more than they export, so they have to borrow overseas to fund the difference. And that deficit gap is the highest among the western democracies and getting higher. Remove Scotland’s contribution of say £50billion from ou North Sea and whisky exports and the rUK’s deficit mushrooms – probably doubles to such an extent that their creditors will question whether they will be able to repay. That’s when the charges go up and your credit rating comes under pressure. But the opposite happens in Scotland where our trade surplus acts to strengthen our currency and make us an even healthier prospect for lenders.

Also, on this mechanical economical stuff, can we dispense of the po-faced moralists who say ‘Scotland can’t default on its debts’? WE DON’T HAVE DEBTS. Britain does and only weeks ago confirmed its liability for all of them in all circumstances. There IS a moral obligation to volunteer to take a share of liabilities but only if we get a commensurate share of the assets. And since they are not our debts, who in the world community is going to say ‘naughty Scotland’? Unless they are contacted by the Foreign Office first, of course. It certainly won’t be the markets who take the moral high ground. They would have concerns about a country not paying its debts and therefore potentially not paying them back, but that does not apply to debts we did not run up. Instead they would see a rich country with a massive resource base and a ledger book bereft of debt. The only debt Scotland would need I think is a fund to buy the currency when its value was under threat. But that money can easily be afforded because of the profit Scotland would have on Day One of independence, as described by the FT.

It’s up to the SNP to decide their next move but they can’t go on for seven months denying what is now obvious – there isn’t a voter who will buy that. The trick about campaigning is being able to move, to be nimble. I think the simplest idea is to keep the pound – now there’s a slogan…It’s Scotland’s Pound – and that is reassuring for many and I’m not sure how much information voters will demand on how it actually works, since they don’t today. We say no to the debt in return and lose – probably – British support for our entry to the EU. The tit-for-tat they have started will go on down the line. We still have the nukes.

The other good thing is that since the three Unionists United parties can come together to deal with the currency it is axiomatic they must do the same with their plans for further devolution. It is no longer enough for each party to make an individual offer, as they have shown they can work effectively together in what they see as the national interest, it means they can do the same for their Devo Max plans. And, as John Curtice was pointing out, if we have clarity of currency, can we have it now on the BBC, Europe and every other contentious area or will their answer be: Oops…didn’t think of that.

The Dad’s Army of British clout is in Blackadder mode and marching itself towards a cliff edge. It’s all getting a great deal more interesting. Oh! What a Lovely War…

 

 

 

Stop Right There

Nine months to go and it is time to make a stand. 2014 is the turning point and the moment we stop, turn and confront. In the time left those of us who believe in Scotland’s independence have to do more than resist. We have to return the challenge with interest and make this the year when the Union is examined in relentless detail, when its worth is questioned and its agents pressurised. A campaign is about winning and that takes more than effort. It requires unremitting focus and dedicated resolve. If we want to win we must risk it all and channel our belief in the cause to one end. There will never be a better chance in our lifetime and the omens are good.

Let’s begin with the Unionist campaign. It isn’t led by the ragbag of Better Together – that is the PR front that feeds the open mouths of the media – it is commanded by the British state which has never been more aware in peacetime that is under threat. At the helm of HMS Britannia is its political master and commander the Prime Minister who directs its strategy, approves the campaign measures and bankrolls with taxpayers’ money the whole operation. We must not be diverted by the idea that a Conservative leader would leave the continuing existence of the state in the hands of a Labour backbencher or a backroom Labour Party fixer. Alistair Darling and Blair McDougall are, like their party itself, expendable dupes in the hands of an establishment determined to keep the rigid order of a class-based society in place. Any socialist or liberal social democrat with Scotland at heart would have started their own save-the-union movement and won over civic Scotland by devising a coherent plan for new powers for Holyrood, committing itself to reform of government throughout Britain and demanded a second question to validate its strategy. There would be no need for the Tories to be anything other than bystanders and, in the current Westminster arrangements, the Lib Dems could justifiably be treated the same and left to shout from the sidelines.

A Labour Party with vision would have kept a Tory–led government at arm’s length and refused to have any formal agreement with it. It would have been free to acknowledge or reject any reports emanating from the British government. It would have applied the “Labour values” they talk so proudly of to the fat cheques from right wing zealots, landowners, financiers and morally bankrupt corporate types who see their personal interests at risk. A real Labour Party would be running its own campaign after consulting the membership, getting the unions to agree and recruiting the civic organisations. With a version of devo max it would be running away in the referendum opinion polls and overtaking the SNP on the Holyrood polls. This period from 2011 to September 2014 could have been the nursery from which a renewed Labour could have grown and burst triumphantly into life on referendum day.

Instead their Scottish leader stumbles through gaffe-ridden speeches which deny Labour’s own history and principles and remains stubbornly invisible to nearly half the voters. Their anointed front man has the charisma of an undertaker at graveside, is derided by the London elite and gets a standing ovation at a Tory conference. He and McDougall are reduced to talking like anti-Scottish Tories who patronise their own country, pumping out the same message that flows from the darker edges of the Tory backbenches – that Scotland is nothing without England and couldn’t play it is part in the world without the superior savoir-faire of London.

That is what they believe – that it’s just silly to imagine Scotland could operate as a normal small state when their life experience is that money, privilege and success are found only in London. That’s why they went there in the first place, because that’s how Britain is organised with talent and resources pouring into London and once there, they look back at home and shake their head at how insignificant it all is. Alistair could have returned as a leading MSP and minister at Holyrood in 1999 but like all those others, Brown included (who even rejected a first junior ministerial posting to the Scottish Office because he wasn’t interested in his own country), he scoffed at the idea…too demeaning.

The message isn’t so much that all Unionist political opinion is united in one campaign, it’s that Labour regards the Union as greater than the needs of the people who vote for it. It will sacrifice the unemployed, the poor, the hungry, the vulnerable, the disabled, the homeless, the asylum seeker, child in poverty and the struggling family in order to save the Union. What mystical power does this creaking alliance have for socialists? The answer appears to be very little because the true Left in Scotland is heavily committed to Yes, be it the Greens, the Socialists or individuals who once belonged to Labour. It is only the old, statist, establishment-loyal Labour and their friends among the trades union leaderships that prefer the public school/private finance Britain to egalitarian Scotland.

But as the research on the British Social Attitudes Survey discovered, there are now signs that Labour voters don’t agree. They know instinctively their party is wrong and are open to the independence message. Many are prepared to adopt an independent Scotland if they can be persuaded to ditch the Labour baggage that has always shaped their voting intentions. They don’t buy their own party’s message about Scotland but aren’t ready yet to vote for what they perceive as an SNP project. But they are poised. They can be persuaded. Further declarations like those of John Mulvey, Charlie Gray and Alex Mosson will shake the floor under Labour.

A constant focus from now on will be on David Cameron who is sounding increasingly implausible as leader, even among his own supporters in England, bemused that he isn’t even prepared to take their antipathy to independence into the studio to confront Salmond. How can the Unionists claim the facts are on their side, the case is being won and it’s now only a matter of how they win by, when their figurehead shirks his chance to press home the advantage in the clearest fashion modern media provides and in an area of expertise – public speaking and debate – at which he excels? How can the man who pushed his way in to the referendum and insisted on its conditions and  signed the Edinburgh Agreement professing to speak for the majority of Scots, back away when he’s invited to answer to those same Scots?  I think he will be obliged to concede defeat, not by Scotland but by England and a startled London media incredulous as the opinion polls tighten. Salmond’s offer should be to debate with Darling but only after he has debated with Cameron. Such a debate has two consequences – one, Cameron’s actual knowledge of and professed interest in Scotland will be exposed to Salmond’s advantage and two, Labour voters will see in action in their living rooms and on the bar-room wall who really represents and speaks for them in this debate – an upper class Tory running a vicious cost-of-living campaign against them, a man made rich by a banker father who amassed his millions helping the wealthy avoid paying their taxes in this country. The leadership may not care, but Labour voters do. Forget Alistair Darling – himself a private-educated, wealthy and still high-earning MP – the real leader is Cameron who represents everything Labour people vote against. Indeed, vote against the rich self-interested Tories has been part of Labour’s own election message for the last 30 odd years. Now they are saying: Listen to him. He is right.

These contradictions on the No side will disentangle more as the parties compete for votes in the European elections when the London-based politicians will forget Scotland and resort to arguing with each other and we will see how united they really are and how likely it is, after a No vote, that they will come together and commit to an agreed package of powers for Scotland. I am writing to my (Labour) MP asking her to request the British government to get a legal assessment from Brussels on Scotland’s EU membership, as the Commission promised it would provide. I am no longer accepting that Unionists say there is uncertainty over the EU while they decline the Commission’s invitation to get a formal ruling. This transcends the debate…it is a question of democracy that we are informed fully before we vote. I think this has the potential to push London into retreat if enough of us demand an answer, along with the Scottish government, and no democrat of any party can deny this information is our right. It may be an issue for Change.org to gage support. This is the year of the fight-back.

Worries in Wongaland

Something interesting stirring in Wongaland over the referendum…someone down there is briefing not just against Better Together comedy stand-up Alistair Darling but also telling journalists that Downing Street thinks it may already be lost.

I have to say I think this is nonsense and completely against the evidence I see which only makes it all the more intriguing.

In Fraser Nelson’s Daily Telegraph piece he reports: “But unofficially, the mood is bleak. Some of the Prime Minister’s chief strategists now argue that the battle is lost and that a Yes vote is not only possible but probable.” This is predicated not on Darling’s failings  but on Scottish Labour’s (Alistair is deemed by Number 10 to be one of Them rather than one of the Caledonian artisans), the same Scottish Labour Salmond made mincemeat out of two years ago. Labour is no longer the unbeatable machine, he says, to general surprise, and cannot offer the kind of rock-like backing the Unionist leadership requires. Add to that the new Scottish Secretary Carmichael whose strengths have never been on the rarified intellectual plane and you get from a London perspective an unimpressive jumble sale of the slow-witted and the low-browed perfectly capable of missing the easiest of open goals.

The impression of Carmichael as – putting it mildly – less than the bruiser he claimed, was heavily reinforced by the STV head-to-head debate with Sturgeon in which she appeared to be the senior politician armed with the knowledge and the answers making demands of the Westminster stooge. I imagined Michael Moore smiling contentedly at home and pressing Record.

Here’s is Nelson’s upsum of the debate: “Carmichael was backed by the combined might of the British government machine – so it should have sent him into that debate armed to the teeth with examples of the White Paper’s most egregious defects. His dire performance was a symbol of another deeply alarming trend: it seems the UK Government is not really trying.”

When you add to this the words given to the Daily Mail about Darling having no fire in his belly and being comatose, it does suggest they have the feeling things aren’t moving their way. And yet surely they are. On the face of it, there’s nothing but anecdote to say Yes is moving forward let alone ahead. They will take comfort from the polls – the published ones – and rightly so, although my own view is that the polls wont move for months yet because the don’t Dnows still don’t know until the pressure is on and so all the polling up to now is largely a waste of money, each effort confirming the previous one.

Of course I’m assuming these are genuine sources truly reflecting opinion in the seat of power instead mischief making. I mean the source who attacked laugh-a-minute, up-and-at-em Alistair wanted Michael Gove or, so help me, Jeremy Hunt to take over. I’d be ordering my Free At Last tee-shirts if that happened. And the deer horn cufflinks. So that idea surely damages the credibility of the source but leaves us with the nagging feeling that something’s afoot. It occurred to me that this is an aspect of the debate I foreshadowed before when discussing the media. I maintain that if and when the polls begin to move north for Yes, the same Unionist media will turn on its own and the likes of Alistair and McDougall will find themselves challenged in print and even on Good Morning Scotland where Jim Naughtie will preface his question with an erudite essay on the vicissitudes of the political fates before asking Alistair: “Mr Darling, where did all go wrong?” And such is my blinding perspicacity that I also foresaw how that turncoat mode would produce resentment among journalists who would be proved wrong. That’s when they start digging and begin to question Alistair’s credentials, his actual credentials, for the job. Thus in the same edition of the Daily Mail which called Alistair useless we find Richard Kay writing about his outside interests. “In the past year he has raked in more than £170,000 for addressing a string of private events. Darling was paid a total of £172,550 in fees for just 15 speaking engagements between November last year and October. He received two payments of £15,300 each in a single day in May when he spoke at two conferences in London — a total of nine hours’ work. One had been organised by Bank of America Merrill Lynch and the other by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Darling picked up a further £8,500 from Merrill Lynch when he spoke at another of its bashes in July.”

Wouldn’t want the Undecideds of Wester Hailes and Gorgie to know that, now would he? With this type of stuff now in Google, other journalists will find it handy when writing skeptical pieces about the Member of Edinburgh South West and write it they will if the idea gets about that despite the opinion polls and in spite of their own uncritical support, journalists see the No campaign stumbling and Salmond starts doing what he does best, making a fool of the Establishment.

I see Downing Street phoned Alistair to reassure him that he is still treasured and that they’re hunting for the mole as we speak. That might be a wise move because I suspect that Alistair’s pride outweighs his belief in the Union and he’s quite capable of stepping back to allow someone else to front it.

That would bring Gordon Brown into shot, as one of the leaky sources said. Alistair doesn’t hate anyone more utterly than Gordon and if that did happen I think he’d become a sotto voce whisperer against Better Together. Another option of course would be to have it run by a woman – Johann is first in line. That would be a welcome addition to the debate, wouldn’t it, a Borgenesque classy political operator in charge?

Alistair moving aside would also remove Cameron’s cover for ducking out of his obligation as actual leader of the Union and debating live with Salmond…this is turning out to be fun. Perhaps that Downing Street source is a closet Nat.