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The power of the past

June 8, 2014

The Scottish Independence debate was brought once again to the frontier on today’s Andrew Marr show. Alex Salmond appeared relaxed, confidence and dare I say – almost cheery.

He reiterated his stance on trident, the currency and devolution powers.  Nothing new. Nothing that interesting. The debate dwindles on towards September.

What was interesting was how the Thatcher years have come to symbolise a view of Westminster politics. This shouldn’t be a suprise – for many people, particularly in Scotland they were horrendous and left communities in such a way that they cannot yet be forgotten. What did make me sit up and pay attention was when Salmond used the 1979 Scottish vote (in which powers were promised to Scotland) to represent how promises would be broken today. He stated that what the Scottish people has gotten was ’18 years of Thatcher’. This is true but is it still relevant today?

Today’s Conservative Government is not cut from the same mustard of that in the 70s/80s but you may disagree with me on that. The polices are not as radical, there is u-turn after u-turn and the party cannot afford to isolate a large proportion of typically labour supporters for the next election.

Moreover, the humbleness and attractiveness with which Salmond promised to still serve the Scottish people even if he loses the referendum is remarkable. The PR people for the SNP thought this interview through! To the Scottish people he represents the opposite of the harsh images left behind by the Thatcher Government. He is like the people, he talks like them, he shares their need for devolution and for the needs of the Scottish people to be properly understood.

I don’t get a vote in the Scottish referendum, I’m technically English. But I feel a strong connection to Scotland; I don’t want them to leave the United Kingdom even if for wholly selfish reasons. But if  I was Scottish I can see how Alex Salmond is convincing. He is. He might not have every answer to what would happen after the referendum but no politician ever does. A large part of this is guess work and the other half is having faith in the public to determine their own future.

The prospect of having another 18 years of a Thatcheresqe Government is daunting and will resonate with ordinary people across the United Kingdom who fear this. As much as I dislike the past being used to scare monger, it is a tactic that works.

For now it looks like Salmond has the upper hand on this debate but as we have seen there will be a response to what he has said and the ping pong game of plans, figures and statistics will carry on.

All I have to say on this matter is -Scotland, please don’t leave and if you do – take the North with you!

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