Time is running out for Alex Salmond

YES OR NO: Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and former Chancellor Alistair Darling, the leader of the pro-UK Better Together campaign, at a TV debate about the independence referendum

YES OR NO: Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond and former Chancellor Alistair Darling, the leader of the pro-UK Better Together campaign, at a TV debate about the independence referendum

First published in Columnists
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I'M just back from a visit to the homeland and a nostalgic trip down memory lane. A group of ex-schoolmates on Facebook had mooted the idea of tracking down our favourite teacher, David Griffiths, and taking him out for a beer or two in Edinburgh.

It was almost 30 years since we'd been together, and we'd taken different paths, many of us leaving Scotland all together – including Mr G, who was working as an education consultant overseas.

But we all had one thing in common – a heartfelt appreciation and deep respect for this man who taught us Modern Studies back in the Thatcherite Eighties at Boroughmuir High in the heart of the Scottish capital.

Modern Studies is only taught in Scotland, and is best described as modern history/politics. The cold war, nuclear bombs, Apartheid in South Africa and the housing crisis in the UK following the sale of council homes were just some of the subjects we covered.

It's fair to say, Modern Studies, and Mr G's enthusiastic and passionate teaching, opened my eyes to the broader world outside and to the many injustices that existed – most of them, sadly, man-made.

Modern Studies wasn't without its critics, and some quarters equated it with brainwashing young minds with a liberal/left-wing agenda.

I remember the fuss made when Mr G was ordered to take down some political posters from his schoolroom after complaints were made to the local authority by someone attending an adult education class. But in the context of teaching young people about power and how it shapes our world, they earned their place on those walls. In our teenage minds at least.

As the hour of the reunion arrived, I surmised what Mr G's view might be on Scotland's big issue du jour: independence.

I felt confident he would be a 'no' voter, that the sense of justice he shared with us all those years ago would extend beyond boundaries. That he would feel Scottish, for sure, but would want politics to work to help people in Liverpool as much as in Lothian.

I'll admit to feeling relieved when he admitted as much when we met up. It pretty much matches my view of the issue.

Also Scottish politics has come a long way since I left for England in 1992. Back then, we were in the midst of a recession, there were no jobs for me in journalism and the Tories were back in power despite winning only 11 of Scotland's 72 Parliamentary seats. In the 1997 election, they were wiped out completely north of the border.

As part of the New Labour manifesto, Tony Blair promised a Scottish Parliament, and it was duly delivered following a conclusive referendum on devolution in 1997. After many, many years of being democratically disenfranchised, the Scots had the best of both worlds politically.

Devolution gave Scots an opportunity to exercise their political will on a whole host of matters close to their hearts. Free university education, free prescriptions and free social care, are just some of the popular policies that make them the envy of elsewhere in the UK.

And yet, they still have the safety net of being part of the UK – something which turned out to be a life-saver during the banking crash of 2008.

During the first televised debate on the independence vote on Tuesday night, Alistair Darling, former UK Chancellor and leader of the No campaign, made this point repeatedly, stopping short of saying that by sticking with the status quo, the Scots were virtually having their cake and eating it.

Alex Salmond, Scottish First Minister and leader of the Yes side, was sticking to his script too: asking his compatriots to follow their hearts and take a leap of faith into an independent tomorrow, despite lingering questions over the currency, membership of the EU, future oil reserves and pension funds.

With polling day just six weeks away, Salmond is running out of time to find reassuring answers, which is why he will lose on September 18.

I trust Mr G will join me in a toast to that.

Comments (1)

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12:52pm Fri 8 Aug 14

again says...

"With polling day just six weeks away, Salmond is running out of time to find reassuring answers, which is why he will lose on September 18."


The vote is not simply about Alex Salmond. Not a lot of people (south of the border) seem to know that!
"With polling day just six weeks away, Salmond is running out of time to find reassuring answers, which is why he will lose on September 18." The vote is not simply about Alex Salmond. Not a lot of people (south of the border) seem to know that! again
  • Score: 3

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