A wee guest today from Scandinavian-at-heart BN favourite Dom Hinde.
I am writing this under the assumption that most readers will be aquainted with Dr Who. If you’re in the Scottish Greens, almost definitely so. If you’re an SNP type you probably just watch the Tennant and McCoy episodes and have the Karen Gillan action figure.
At the end of the last series of Dr Who, The Doctor, in a typically dead-end situation (time collapsing around him, almost certain death, and an impending binary choice between dying or allowing the universe to continue) came up with a ruse which tricked everyone, both in story and in real life.
He did what any man in a tight squeeze would do; namely persuade a time-travelling and shape-shifting robot to take his place, meaning that the evil antagonists could kill him stone dead and feel happy, whilst he lived to fight another day with the added bonus of getting to hang around with Karen Gillan for another couple of years. It was also revealed that this had been part of his plan all along, and that all his companions had been strung along in a game of cat and mouse designed to engineer such a scenario.
The use of such a deus ex machina to resolve plots is a device as old as Dr Who itself, and as 2014 gets nearer and nearer, it may well materialise (hopefully with a whooshing sound and some props being blown about) that the Yes/No options we thought we were being offered as an audience are in fact superseded by a mysterious third force. We can’t know what this third thing is until the last possible moment, otherwise it would ruin the structure of the debate, but expect it to offer a satisfactory conclusion for the hero of our story and the general public.
Despite Alex Salmond’s protestations that he is not out after devo-max (and as the leader of a nationalist party, it stands to reason that independence is really what gets him out of bed in the morning), full sovereignty for the Scottish Parliament remains a minority pursuit. There is a real risk that a Yes/No vote could both kill the independence dream and even reverse the polarity in the process of decentralisation in the UK which has clearly been of benefit to everyone except the Westminster village. Furthermore, a no vote would give fuel to a lacklustre Scottish Labour Party who would feel that it had somehow vindicated their frankly appalling campaign, which lacks ideas and conviction to the extent that it makes Colin Baker era Who look like a milestone in television history.
In a few weeks time the Greens will get together to decide whether or not to officially join the Yes Scotland campaign, and whether or not they should give up their demand for a three option referendum, the middle option of which would be a variation on a devo-max theme. I personally am happy with the Green policy of being pro-independence, but still strongly back three options on the ballot paper. We would be doing Scotland a disservice if we sought a settlement which polarised the population and relied on a fifty-one per cent vote. If it means garnering sixty-per cent or upwards, then I’m all for devo-max and the innumerable benefits for our democracy which it would entail. I’ll go around Scotland handing out leaflets quicker than a Raston Warrior Robot, and whilst Alex Salmond may be God when it comes to deciding what the ballot paper looks like, I’ll happily be the machine. In the last series of Doctor Who the Doctor asks his Tardis why it never takes him where he wants to go, to which it replies, “but I always took you where you needed to go”.