I have a couple of questions for you that I just thought I’d jot down given that I’m unlikely to get anywhere near you in the run up to the vote on Thursday.
Three weeks ago during the second debate with Alistair Darling, you did something that for me was a pivotal moment in the campaign. You see, Alistair was speaking for me. He might not have been doing it terribly effectively, but he was taking the concerns that I and many other Scots have about your currency plans and asking you to give us a bit more than “och it’ll all be fine.”
This stuff matters. It’s about how we put food on the table for our families. It’s about how we keep the roof over our heads. All you needed to do when Alistair pressed you was to show us how our currency would be as safe as it is just now in an independent Scotland. Rather than do that, you laughed in his face and called him a one trick pony. When you did that to him, you did it to all the voters who care about this. That would be roughly half the country you casually and contemptuously dismissed. Any shred of confidence I had in you shrivelled up and died at that exact moment.
After that debate, you and your Yes campaign started telling lies about the NHS. I don’t often use that sort of language but in this case there is no other word for it. You put out leaflets all over Scotland scaring people needlessly. It was one of the most cynical and egregious things I have ever seen in politics. You and your Government are solely responsible for the running of the Scottish NHS. That includes how much money is spent on it and its overall strategy. Everyone cares about the NHS. To prey on people’s fears about access to health care is a low blow.
The truth of the matter, as outlined by the respected Institute of Fiscal Studies is that the NHS is far safer within the UK.
How, Alex, when you have shown such contempt for me and my concerns and lied to my face, am I supposed to trust anything you say? You are asking me to support something that we can’t reverse if it doesn’t work out and I can’t do that.
And then of course we have to look at what you do with the powers that you already have. Freedom and civil liberties are most important to me. When your government has been found wanting in the human rights department, what did you do? Were you mortified and desperate to fix it, or did you pick a fight with the judge because he was based in London? Your Government has put armed police on our streets with no debate and against the wishes of local communities. It’s allowed unregulated stop and search which led to over 500 children under 10 being searched. Your Justice Secretary has the clearest desk in Edinburgh because he thinks everything is an operational matter for somebody else. What would he do given free rein over counter-terrorism powers? The prospect makes me shudder with horror.
But it’s not just the economic and social policies of an independent Scotland that worries me. It’s the sort of society we would have. The other day you held a press conference to which you invited an audience of your own supporters who proceeded to applaud you and heckle the journalists. One of the international journalists in the audience was heard to remark that they’d never seen anything like it in a democracy before. You pick a fight with a BBC journalist who is, I grant you, on occasion, very annoying. But that’s what journalists are for. They are supposed to annoy the hell out of the establishment. I’d rather it that way than have them trot out government lines.
So you pick a fight with Nick Robinson, your supporters then complain about the way in which that is reported (wrongly – I’ve watched it all) and then a thousand of them advance on the BBC’s HQ in Glasgow to protest. It’s quite bizarre, don’t you think, to have people protesting that a media outlet isn’t taking the Government line?
Is the way you trash one of the best broadcasters in the world while cosying up to Murdoch even at the height of the phone hacking scandal a shape of things to come in your independent Scotland? Oh, and how do you feel about having Kim Jong Un’s endorsement?
You have led and encouraged a highly negative and abusive campaign. It’s interesting that Yes campaigners all say how wonderful and inspiring and friendly it’s all been. Well, they would say that given that most of the nastiness is not going in their direction. Yes, there are idiots on both sides, but let’s look at the example you have set. When you suggest that the case against independence is the case against Scotland, or one of your councillors calls Alistair Carmichael a “supposed Scot” it encourages your supporters on the ground to throw lemonade over No canvassers as happened to former MSP Robert Brown the other day. It encourages the daily abuse I’ve received on social media for three years. It leads to the sad situation where a five year old shouts “No are Rubbish” at Better Together campaigners in the street.
So, Alex, how exactly, having unleashed all this pain and division, do you expect half the country to come out and celebrate an independent Scotland on Friday?
And, finally, do you really expect us to believe that a win for No on Thursday will mean that you just forget about independence and you’ll never call another referendum for a generation? Once in a lifetime opportunity? Pull the other one.
Isn’t the reality on Thursday that the most powerful vote people can make is for No? The guarantees of more powers have been so public that they must be delivered. Otherwise you’ll get another overall majority in 2016 and we’ll have to through all this again.