My Head Hurts

I’m a ferment of conflicting emotions…part of me wants to switch off altogether and stop thinking about the bloody mess that we could have left behind…I’m sick of the manipulation that the Unionist machine regards as politics as normal…I’m determined to be optimistic that from a triumphant democratic process we can rescue something viable and even positive…and angry at the numbskulls who told themselves a spatchcock last-minute fix would work and voted No.

It’s ironic really that I don’t particularly want what the three parties offered – essentially more tax raising powers with minimal (welfare and so-called job creation) anything else – which is a recipe for taxing more to make up for lost grant and without any meaningful powers to grow our economy and confront poverty.

On the other hand the vainglorious strutting of the delusional Gordon Brown promised, if I remember, stronger powers called modern home rule which were as close to federalism as you can get and which were immediately christened Devo Max in the London-based media. That looks on paper like a recipe for a properly powerful devolved settlement which puts Scotland in control of pretty much everything except macro economics, defence and foreign affairs (and should include a share of oil revenues while some technical functions make sense remaining shared…the oil revenues can be partly traded in a swap that allows the Unionists to fulfil their promise on retaining Barnett). I do recall it was all backed up by Brown’s Iron Timetable! The man is a joke, a dangerous one, but a joke.

But there are things here I don’t understand. The referendum result is now tied to a promise. (There isn’t any doubt because that’s what Darling’s friend JK Rowling voted for). But what was in the promise? We were never told precisely – because they didn’t have time to work it out fast enough to save their skins – and now they are jostling to turn it into something that suits their own agenda. I wanted rid of the British state for this very reason – you can’t trust them. Not ever. We are now their mouse to be toyed with, allowed to escape for a moment, then trapped and reeled in again. What fun.

It was all so depressingly predictable.

I’d like to know what actually took place before Brown intervened. As a democrat, I’d like the main players in this dirty little scam to explain who contacted whom and how the deal was done. Was Brown freelancing or was he asked by Cameron to do his duty by the British state? Was he told what to say or did Brown just blurt it all out in that fantasy world he inhabits and hope like hell they would comply? We are entitled as voters to get a full explanation of how this fix was put in place and how one of our newspapers became the bearer of a joint declaration. Did the editor approach the leaders? Is there a go-between who works in the shadows? We need to know the genesis of this anti-independence arrangement and who the players were in order to understand how this key moment came about and potentially altered history.

Part of my difficulty is that I just don’t believe what any of them say, not on the NHS where – beyond parody – the Tories are claiming to be the protectors – or on the constitution. For example what is the real reason for Brown’s humiliating call for a petition…a petition!…to endorse the ‘guaranteed powers’ he offered only weeks ago?

I never forget what I was told about him – that Brown never says or does anything that isn’t political and he’s incapable of acting through normal human instinct without some background stratagem.

Is the petition just a device to indicate that he’s now fighting the Tories having spent the campaign actually sleeping with them? Possibly. Is he genuinely worried that his offer will be undermined and he’ll be left yet again the object of scorn? Also possible.

Where it leaves the Scots though is the real question…with the real power handed back with a ‘No thanks, old boy, you keep it. You know best’.

Politically energised certainly, but to do what? Win 20 seats in the 650-seat Commons in a few months time? Haud me back. There will be ferocious campaigns to come but the harder we all work the larger will loom the question: Why didn’t we take all the power when we had the chance and get rid of the chimps’ tea party that is British politics?

Still, it remains true that any politician who disregards 45 per cent and rising or tries to manoeuvre it into a flimsy deal will truly create the social division the po-faced Unionists tried to impose on Yes. There is now in Scotland a fervour that could easily organise into civil disobedience if its aspiration is flouted. Someone somewhere in the self-serving British machine has to take account of a latent anger out there and that means our old friend the BBC will need a more journalistically credible effort that the item I saw last night in which Brown was allowed to prattle and preen without a single question on the sense of the disbelief and fury his intervention has generated.

It is the broadcaster’s job to reflect public feeling in its approach to responsible public figures and sitting chatting in his garden allowing him to demur about his heroic role in ‘saving the Union’ does not cut it. Part of the job is to imagine what a cross section of voters would want to ask him, not shrink into his shadow and butter him up. You promised guaranteed powers, now you want a petition to ask for those same powers? Are you serious? This is the future of Scotland were talking about…

It has seemed for the last month or so that Brown has command of the BBC, that he calls up and without question the organisation that has sacked journalists and camera crews can still jump to and provide full uninterrupted coverage. Was the BBC tipped off about Brown’s role and if so, by whom? We are back in the same British state undergrowth flailing around.

If Brown had been appointed to speak on behalf of the British government and the Unionist campaign, the BBC has a duty to tell us what it knew. The campaign is over. It is surely time for the BBC to issue a report on its coverage and decision-making which caused so much controversy and explain its stance, to open up to live questioning from the licence-fee payers on specific issues and attempt to save something of its reputation. Of course, they’ll do no such thing as much of their journalism was either poor – with honourable exceptions – or simply indefensible and the word is that Ken McQuarrie may depart later this month so, although he’s the man responsible, he’d escape before the trouble starts. I’m writing to the Holyrood Culture and Sport Committee to ask for an inquiry into the BBC’s campaign behaviour and that should in turn feed into the demands for broadcasting to be fully devolved.

(Thanks to all of you expressing wishes of success for our new venture and offering direct professional help. We are working as quickly as we can towards launch and hope many of your who have subscribed to me or to Newsnet will stay with us. We aim to make it worth it. To those who want to help, you can email me at derekbateman@yahoo.com and I’ll get round to answering soon. If I miss you out, hit me again)

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