David Bowie can be excused, as he’s earned the right to be mad. He could have sent a macaw to collect his Brit Award, and squawk “Stay with us Scotland, or you’ll run out of Domestos”, and his reputation would be unharmed.
But at the risk of seeming controversial, I’m not sure there’s the same universal affection for George Osborne and Danny Alexander. So when Osborne insisted that an independent Scotland would be a disaster as it wouldn’t be allowed to keep the pound, it swung the polls six per cent towards independence.
This may be because it comes across as slightly arrogant to tell a country that if it votes for independence it won’t be allowed to keep its currency or share the old one or use another currency or stay in Europe or join Europe or go to the bank.
The next part of Osborne’s plan is probably to announce that if Scotland becomes independent, it won’t be allowed to keep its zoos, so the day after the vote it’ll have to release tigers and bears and crocodiles into the streets of Edinburgh. But it won’t be able to ask for help because it won’t be allowed to use our language, or any of our letters, so they’ll have to communicate by barking.
Nor will Scotland be allowed to share our orbit round the sun, and Osborne has it on good authority that NASA won’t let it join another one so it’ll have to find a different solar system but if that’s what Scotland wants, it’s up to them.
This strategy would be an improvement on the statement by Alexander that independence would cause Scottish mortgages to go up by £5,200. Surely he’s understating the case, as the Scots wouldn’t be allowed to share our tectonic plates, causing subsidence on such a scale that Inverness would float to Norway, and property would be so worthless that Ancient Romans would buy Scotland for a penny and force everyone to be a galley slave.
And voters take notice of Danny Alexander, because if you can’t believe the election promise of a Liberal Democrat who CAN you believe?
Alexander’s statement may have backfired, because the calculation with a Lib-Dem promise is that a pledge to abolish something results in it being trebled, so a promise to raise mortgages by £5,200 works out at all payments being abolished, so the Scots must think that if they vote Yes all houses will become free.
In any case, it won’t matter if the Scots all have to pay £5,200 more as they won’t be allowed to use the pound anyway. So they can ring the bank every month and say, “No payment again I’m afraid. George Osborne said I’m not allowed to touch the currency”.
As well as the arrogance, what the No campaign doesn’t appear to have grasped is that comments from people like George Osborne aren’t likely to win over many people, as the Conservatives aren’t all that popular in Scotland. There are small clues that show this, such as the fact that of 59 Scottish MPs, only one is Conservative, but obviously you can’t expect busy politicians to study statistics that thoroughly.
This may explain why every time a leading Tory makes an announcement on the horrors of independence, the support for independence goes up.
At one point, for a change, the No campaign got bankers to tell the Scots they were being silly to think they could be independent as well, because there’s no one your average Glaswegian likes to please more than an English banker.
But the No campaign seems to think that the answer is to send more disliked people to be even ruder. Next week Eric Pickles will walk round Paisley naked with a tattoo of Edward II on each buttock, telling voters “you’ll get no more of this if you leave England you know”.
It’s a sign of how daft some people think the Scottish are that they assume David Bowie’s comment will make a difference. Similarly the Daily Telegraph reported that Emma Thompson said she hopes Scotland stays in the UK, which is a “blow to Alex Salmond”. How big a blow, I wonder? Does he thump the table at campaign meetings shouting, “Get me Keith Harris and Orville – NOW. And what’s the point of keeping all that oil if we haven’t won over Emily Bishop from Coronation Street?”
The best hope for the No campaign might be that the Yes campaign doesn’t appear to understand what’s happening either. Because the rise in support for independence over the past 30 years may not be so much an expression of nationalism as a sign of disgruntlement at Britain being handed over to bankers and big business.
The SNP has been at its most popular when it’s opposed this trend, then wobbled when Alex Salmond has courted friendships with characters like Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch. As if this is the spirit of Braveheart, who inspired his troops by crying, “No longer will our fate be ruled by England. Instead we will fight fearlessly to be ruled by News International and a maniac in a wig. That, my friends, is a freedom for which we must be prepared to die”.
So the most likely outcome is that both campaigns make such idiots of themselves that the Scots vote for neither and demand to become a province of somewhere new like Morocco instead.