One of the remarkable things about the Scottish referendum campaign is that some semblance of respect for Alex Salmond must be maintained, until he loses in September, simply to keep a veneer of ‘fairness’ going. It’s not the kind of courtesy that Eck himself would normally offer people with whom he disagrees, having made a certain cocky sneering dismissiveness into a political artform this past few years.
There have been quite a few excellent commentaries on last night’s unexpectedly entertaining debate, and I would merely commend anyone interested to read Iain Martin – always good on the Eck enigma; Alex Massie and quite separately his dad, Allan; The Economist; Cumlazaro and Max Hastings. A wide range of opinions, but all concluding that Eck failed, which he did.
My own incomplete list of queries for the Great Man is straightforward:
1. Why does he keep claiming that Scotland has been getting a government that it didn’t vote for? The evidence for this is patchy at best. Labour were in power in Westminster from 1997 to 2010. In the 1999 and 2003 Scottish Parliament elections, Labour were miles ahead of the SNP, and governed with a bit of Lib Dem help. In 2007 Eck’s SNP was just the biggest party, but had to form a minority government as the majority of Scots hadn’t voted for him. Hardly a great divide between the two parliaments in that period.
Before that, even when Maggie was unpopular, the Tories’ share of the vote in Scotland was pretty high (with seats), and it’s still steady on 15% in the Eck era. Enough to hold a balance of power in future elections perhaps.
When Westminster had Labour governments before that, Scotland was solidly Labour, again with quite a few Tories. This is manifestly not 50 years of oppression and misrepresentation.
2. Why on earth does he think Scots are obsessed with being in the EU, unless it’s because despite what he says, an independent Scotland will be an economic wreck reliant on handouts?
3. Why does Eck think Scotland wants to be a ‘nuclear free zone’? It provides plenty of employment (and international cred). The argument against Trident is simply the financial cost, not some wacky hippy nutjobbery (I remember the tiny filthy ‘peace camp’ at Faslane)
4. Why does he keep quoting old newspapers and weak jokes as if they are the No campaign’s gospel?
5. When he rants on about the ‘disgrace’ of Scotland’s multiplying food banks (AKA ‘free food’) in the past year, who does he think has been running a majority government all that time?
6. Why does he claim that he has to save the Scottish NHS from the English tyrant when it’s been completely devolved – and financially privileged with the 15% uplift – for the past 15 years? Believe me, it chucks millions away on rubbish.
7. A true patriot would surely want the Edinburgh Mint back, churning out groats and bawbees, not the English pound. After all, this is the man who claims with a straight face that his favourite drink is Irn Bru.
The Knife has plenty of previous in attacking Eck, going all the way back to letting out a mass murderer convicted by a Scottish court in an unholy cabal with Tony Blair, but truly, as the day of reckoning approaches, he is excelling even by his own subterranean standards.
And that’s without going near the various amusing and no doubt unfounded tales of Eckery.