There’s no worse cliché than, ‘You couldn’t make it up’. In every single case, you could. You just didn’t. But I have been grasping around for a suitable alternative given the twists in the Scottish independence debate.
Last night I started writing a piece that tried to gently explore some of the arguments that we’re not really hearing down here in England. There was an attempt to discuss the merits of an economy not skewed by the City of London compared against the disadvantages of being tied to either sterling or the Euro. There was a patronising and slightly dodgy bit about the way in which the Scots have defined themselves as not English and whether there would be a risk of a rise in sectarianism post-independence, or, indeed whether the Scottish Conservative Party would now be able to revive itself following the self-harming measures it took in the 1980s and 1990s. There was a bit about the similarities between Alex Salmond and Nigel Farage. And finally there was a bit about the urban poor who have surprised many by flirting with yes even though that’s a rational position for them to take.
In short, it was the standard fare on this site: an attempt to be measured and thoughtful.
I have deleted it. It is no longer required.
This morning’s Metro splashes with the suggestion that Kate Middleton’s new pregnancy is apparently going to affect the vote. People seem to have been taking seriously the idea that the news was leaked, not for the claimed medical reasons, but to rally support for the faltering Union.
That’s right. Forget that the status of the royals is not (yet) up for debate and that an independent Scotland would be born as a monarchy and the Earl and Countess of Strathearn (that’s Will and Kate to you) would continue to scatter their regal magic on subjects north of Gretna. By all means change your vote because of the one thing that wouldn’t actually change at all. But please allow me at the same time to withdraw my support for universal suffrage.
You may think that this is an over-reaction; that no one in this debate would react as though the facts didn’t matter. But actually that’s precisely the point. Most of the debate hasn’t been nuanced at all. A campaign with ‘better’ in its title has concentrated not on showing why its case is better but why the other side is worse. The promises of Salmond and co. haven’t withstood any scrutiny at all.
Such is the lack of coherence surrounding the sorry circus that the Daily Express has been able, without irony or self-awareness, to criticise Alex Salmond thus:
While David Cameron and Ed Miliband have relied on facts to garner support, Alex Salmond has unashamedly employed deceit, scaremongering and nationalist jingoism …
So you’ll excuse me if this latest twist fills me with despair.
I could have made it up. I just didn’t.