The media has been exercised this week, over what has been the charge that Alex Salmond has "muddied the waters" of the "Great Discussion" on the referendum. Never mind that the media has been quite happy to let pass, the endless haverings of opponents of Scotland's independence, those who love nothing better than to portray Scots as a nation of subsidy junkies. On Sunday past, on BBC's The Big Question, it was even suggested that had it not been for the civilising hand of the Union, there would have been no Scottish Enlightenment, that our baser instincts would have been allowed to surface and that Scotland, alone of the smaller nations in Europe, is incapable of running our own affairs. Why that should be so is never explained, after all, who needs an explanation for what are deemed to be self-evident truths?
And they were fellow Scots, as the programme came from Edinburgh, and included the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party. It was she who suggested the Enlightenment was the product of the Union and, if that is the best she can produce over the next few months, the one Tory seat they hold in Scotland, for the Westminster Parliament, is almost certainly on borrowed time. Those sentiments are as nothiong of course, compard to the hysterics emanating from England, with Osborne's, "you will not be allowed to issue bank notes" to Hammond's "you will have to pay for the removal of the nuclear weapons on the Clyde" to the PM's "you will not be automatically allowed into the EU and you will be forced to use the euro" Boom! Boom! How do you like them apples?
We can afford to laugh at all of that of course, because it is just so much drivel. However, we are not immune ourselves from the drivellers. At the moment I am enjoying crossing words with the cybernats on the Tartan Army Message Board (TAMB), where Alex's mantra is as the word of God. He who questions that word, is not welcome and any suggestion that the "muddied waters" could be made clearer, for the sake of the debate, you understand, is howled down. Thus, according to one TAMBer, independence means any Union from which the Scots can extricate themselves, irrespective of the conditions of membership and that during the term of that membership, considerable damage might be done. The EU is acceptable, because Scotland can come out if we want, and that would mean we are independent, but the UK is not, because for some reason, we are not independent, despite being free to leave it when we want. Are they confused? Not according to them, because Alex has it all sussed.
We are three weeks into the campaign, we have seen the Scottish Government publication on the referendum, but are we any further forward? One would think the holding of a referendum on whether or not Scotland should be independent, would be simple and straightforward but so far, we have debated the following
1) How many questions there should be
2) The form of words to be used
3) What the words mean
4) Who will be allowed to vote
5) If we go for Dev/Max, who will be responsible and who will have most to gain/lose
6) How we determine how we get devolution
That is before we touch on the currency, defence, the EU, the euro and so on. Now Alex has decided that even if Scots vote for independence, they will still be in the United Kingdom. At first glance, his reasoning appears reasonable as the Union of the Crowns, preceded the Union of the Parliaments by over 100 years, and until Scots decide otherwise, we will still share the monarchy. It is when we look at the normal understanding of what the United Kingdom means and people's perception of what the United Kingdom is. To the rest of the world, the term United Kingdom means Great Britain, it certainly does not mean the Union of the Crowns and international recognition is the one factor we cannot afford to ignore. In an attempt to make independence sound as cozy as possible and create the mirage that as little as possible will change with independence, Smart Alex is in danger of creating a quagmire, which is totally unnecessary.