Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Bodies of your Enemies

On the day that Margaret Thatcher fell, Ted Heath ordered champagne for his staff. And, as they quaffed, he was called forward to say a few words. Heath, the great sinophile reached for an appropriate remark. "There is an old proverb," he observed "that if you wait long enough beside the bank of the river, eventually the bodies of your enemies will float by."

I'm not a great one for geography, but even I recognise that Scottish rivers flow faster than most Chinese ones. Nonetheless, even I did not think that the flow since May 2011 would have been quite so rapid.

Just over a year ago, Alex Salmond was master of all he surveyed. By tea time time tomorrow I suspect he will be someone to be more pitied than envied. Never was there a more glaring example of hubris.

The Scottish Labour Party is a pretty dysfunctional body. As a feature of that dysfunction it assumed that it could put just about anybody up for election and still win. Last May, it couldn't and it didn't. Quite right too.

Nonetheless, in the aftermath of that defeat, the victors were lured into believing they had won on their own merits, rather than simply by default. Or, at least, their leadership, who knew, from private polling, the truth of their situation, were nonetheless obliged, if only by their own foot soldiers, to present themselves in that manner.

Thus we have tomorrow's cinematic extravaganza.

Now, were the Scottish people being invited to the polls to vote for Independence this Autumn, tomorrow's event would be perfectly timed. Get ahead of the opposition; get your campaign launched; leave the other side to catch up. Only they, the Scottish people,  are......err.....not.

Amongst all the manifest advantages of a "free" Scotland to be advanced tomorrow, nobody watching will be unaware that, if these advantages  were indeed so manifest, outrage would ensue among the general population about being denied the opportunity to enjoy them for a further two and a half years. That is, after all, the example, for good or ill, of Irish Nationalism. Each generation of absolutists turned compromisers is swept away by a renewed generation of absolutists.

As I've previously observed, to date, much of the Scottish press corps has had a self interest in going along with Salmond's fantasia; otherwise Holyrood reporting is only a very small step above filing the report of a local cooncil meeting. But events at Ibrox have hurt the Scottish press; particularly, the suggestion that Rangers only got away with their ever larger bubble blowing because all of those in a position to do so failed to deploy the pin.

I have a strong suspicion that tomorrow we are about to see a debacle on a scale unprecedented since Ally McLeod in 1978. But, let's be honest. Throughout the whole adventure of the last thirteen months nobody has been in any more under the illusion that independence was a real possibility than they were, in 1978, under the illusion that the World Cup was actually going to be won by anybody other than Argentina, Holland or Brazil.

Patently, there is not going to be a Referendum. The rest is just process.

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