Have you been enjoying it, friends on the Yes side? I know I have. Some of it has been, frankly, surreal. Some of it has been a shade or two even beyond that.
This campaign has had highlights aplenty, from moments of low farce to those of high comedy. Some events have been barmy combinations of both.
Take the latest celebrity endorsement for example; no sooner had we finally stopped laughing at John Barrowman (and for all the wrong reasons) earlier in the year, but we were rolling in the aisles this month at Kermit the Frog’s plea to the Scot’s to keep the UK together. He did this, apparently, in an interview with The Big Issue, even as he was mistaking Britain and England as being one in the same.
With friends like these ….
From frogs we progressed all the way to the moles at the weekend, when we had a cabinet minister briefing that “of course Scotland will get its currency union”, as if this was ever in any doubt. This is widely regarded as the moment the public face of Better Together ran slam into its private one, and some of the “dark arts” were revealed for what they are. Campaign tactics, you say?
Isn’t that what Alex Salmond and Yes has been saying all along?
Well, of course. A lot of people never believed it, but there’s a difference between knowing that ice is slippery and getting to watch a guy on crutches trying to walk across it and ending up a pin wheeling, flailing, embarrassing mess. Which is what happened to Better Together this weekend.
How damaging will this revelation be? Well, it makes their campaign look as if it’s either based on lies or being run on the hoof … and neither of those things is good. But the seasoned campaign watchers, who spend their time focussed on that stuff, knew those things anyway. If this idea takes root in the public consciousness though … well, that can’t really be spun as something good, can it?
It’s brought about a change in tactics, or so we’re being told. The onus is now on putting forward the “positive case for the union.” You get the impression than when all the London parties are spending all their time trying to tell Middle England that the future is cutting, relentless cutting, that finding a positive for Scotland is going to be hard to do. We’ll soon see how they manage it.
The crisis brought the most hilarious (and troubling) article of the campaign yet though, from Alex Massie in The Spectator, of all places, where his fury at this act of sabotage was so intense that he took temporary leave of his common sense and suggested that the mole be found, lined up against the wall and shot.
(I’m not joking. He advocated the murder of a cabinet minister for leaking information. Good job we don’t take that stuff seriously around here and get the cops onto it, isn’t it? Nudge, nudge, wink, wink).
This outpouring of fury is not exactly a rare thing in this campaign, not when Labour MP Ian Davidson wants to “bayonet the wounded” and wants his own treacherous constituents fired from their jobs if the vote goes the wrong way.
He’s not alone there. The Secretary of State for Scotland actually spent the weekend combing through commercial contracts to see if he could remove them from the Govan shipyards should the vote not go the way he wants.
Yet, we are supposed to be the extremists? You actually couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried. During this campaign, I’ve already been called a “hate filled, rug chewing nutter”, by a Labour Councillor who lists his employers as Better Together, and who went out of his way to label not just myself but all supporters of independence in the same way.
The hatred some of them feel for their own countrymen and for the notion of their nation going it alone is tragic.
We’ve had Jim Murphy describe it in terms of a national disaster … and he was supposed to be making a positive case!
We’ve had Johann Lamont making a fool of herself and everyone else in the Labour ranks talking to Gordon Brewer, in one of the most brutal dismantling’s of a politician I have ever seen in my life, followed by an appalling low-order speech that ought to have had every Labour Party member hiding under the bed.
We had the sheer hilarity of Ed Miliband and his “Scottish connection” – that his dad was once stationed in Fife, and Miliband went there the day before (I mean, are you for real?) – itself coming hot on the heels of Cameron’s “great, great uncle” who might have fought and died under the Saltire. Maybe.
But it’s those celebrities you’ve really got to love. Those really make me giggle uncontrollably.
I read constant references – even from people on our side – to Bowie’s intervention in this debate, as if he did actually make one. Let’s not forget what really happened here.
He was invited to attend an event held in front of a group of millionaires, to win one of those awards they hand out in mutual back slapping, and declined to attend. He sent a supermodel mate, and notorious party girl, to collect it for him, and whilst doing so she made a throwaway appeal which, for all we know, was nothing more than an entreaty to a friend in the crowd not to leave early.
An ageing celebrity “engaging” with the independence debate by appealing to Scotland, through a third party, from 5000 miles away, with four words. Greeted, on Twitter and in the press, like Christ had returned for his long awaited encore, with a fifteen minute segment for the world at half time at The Superbowl. Better Together need all the good news they can get, I guess … but it’s embarrassing when you’re relying on that kind of thing to give your side a lift.
None of it has stopped me listening to Bowie as I work, and it won’t stop me from enjoying the occasional bout of craziness from Eddie Izzard, but I don’t take these people seriously. It’s hard to do that when they reveal their ignorance and their contempt for the political process every time they open their mouths. Kermit the Frog? Seriously? When Labour tried (and failed) to get the endorsement of Peppa Pig during the 2010 election campaign I thought I’d heard it all. Their disappointment when Peppa was not available for an endorsement meeting was all the reason the campaign organisers needed to start sacking press officers long before Gillian Duffy wandered onto the scene.
The chattering classes in the media are awake, at last, to something that social media followers in Scotland have been aware of for quite some time. Better Together is in bother. Their message is all over the place. Their game plan is a shambles. They have made the age old mistake of mixing up strategy with tactics, shooting for one day news stories and recycling them until one melds into the next. They appear not to understand that this reached saturation point weeks ago and the public now assumes every statement they make is a lie, or something they’ve heard before.
The media has twigged to something else too; If this comes down to the ground game, we’re going to win it in a landslide. Whilst Better Together trots out celebrity “endorsements” like the aforementioned, appeals which might change one mind in 1,000,000 if that person has been listening to The Spiders From Mars with a bottle of Jack Daniels on the morning before he casts his vote, people up and down this country are working tirelessly to get the only endorsements that matter … those of the voters who will decide this thing.
Kevin McKenna paid tribute to the bloggers at the weekend too, and the role they continue to play, and he’s identified that as one of the great equalisers in the campaign. So it’s proving. The whole of the media might be lined up on the No side, but it’s already been years since many of us have taken our lead from what the “straight press” has to say.
McKenna has, rightly, said the bloggers and the “citizen journalists” are the future of the industry, but the future might be a lot closer than he thinks.
They say the CIA didn’t know the Berlin Wall was coming down until chunks started hitting them on the head, and it doesn’t surprise me that it’s those in the wee Westminster media bubble who are the last people to catch on to what’s really going on in the streets.
When the Rev and Wings, and all the other sites, are assembling readerships that will soon be challenging the dailies in terms of numbers – and, more significantly for now, they are forced to quote these sites over and over again in their analysis, helping them build the momentum that will roll over the current press like a tank – then you can see the writing is definitely on the wall.
Everything I’ve seen, and heard, and read tells me that only one side is putting in the shift necessary to win this thing. We’ve got the boots on the ground. We have our own formidable media strategy, because we’ve constructed our own media machine (and how they hate it … as a Cybernat and Internet Bampot both, it makes me smile).
We’ve got the Big Mo … and more … the even Bigger Mo, the Money, is yet to be utilised … and we can outspend them all to Hell.
Lastly, it seems, to me, that although we’ve fought one Hell of a campaign so far, there’s a lot still left in the tank. Nicola is ready to roll out the Constitutional Framework, for one thing, and that will gain us a lot of traction. I get the impression that with the financial advantage about to come fully into play we can move up another gear or two as required.
Better Together are hopelessly trying to roll backwards, to get some forward momentum.
Yes, that’s what I call being in big bother.