Political passion-killers: 'No' campaigners just turn me off

The Let's Stay Together campaign has to be the least sexy thing ever to happen in British politics
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The Independent Online

It's Al Green I feel sorry for. His beautiful, emotive, sexy-as-hell soul classic has been appropriated to serve the needs of the Scottish Independence debate, and ruined for generations to come. Delete it immediately from your "Getting in the Mood" Spotify playlist. (Don't pretend you don't have a "Getting in the Mood" Spotify playlist.)

Let's Stay Together – the campaign group, not the song – has to be the least sexy thing ever to happen in British politics. And remember, British politics gave us Nick Clegg's shag list, Katie Hopkins' crush on Michael Gove and Ed Miliband's bacon sandwich. As we begin counting down the weeks until the referendum on 18 September, the England-based branch of the No campaign seems to have fallen victim to an unfortunate erotomaniac delusion. The video in which Ross Kemp makes puppy dog eyes and pleads "Don't leave us" was cringy enough, and now they've released an open letter addressed to "Voters of Scotland". All that lovey-dovey stuff – it's just not British, is it?

The letter uses phrases straight out of a marriage counsellor's guidebook, such as "we value our bonds", and is signed by more than 200 celebrities and public figures. It's a veritable panto cast of names – Sir Cliff Richard, Barbara Windsor, George Galloway and Kriss Akabusi among them. The rag-tag bunch are seemingly united only by their two loves: a united Britain and classic Seventies soul. There's reason to doubt the sincerity of this latter passion, at least. The Let's Stay Together signatories have forgotten the all important opening lines of their theme song. It goes like this: "I'm so in love with you / Whatever you wanna do / is alright with me-ee-ee-eee…"

Scotland, whatever you wanna do on 18 September is alright with me-ee-ee-eee, because surely the whole point of a referendum is to demonstrate trust in the electorate's ability to decide for themselves what's best. I'm not from Scotland, have never lived there and don't own a single share in a scotch whisky import business, so I'll refrain from offering an opinion on what that might be. On another matter, however, our joint course is clear. The Yes campaign, the No campaign and the Sorry, No Idea At All campaign must unite to devise a more useful analogy than this romantic one. Scotland isn't like the lover you're begging to reconsider and come home. And if she was, she'd find your home-made video and public letter very creepy indeed.

Perhaps Scotland is like the older sibling whose departure for university the younger siblings (England, Wales) are dreading, because it means one less ally against their bullying parents (Westminster government). Or is the United Kingdom without Scotland as pointless as fish without chips? Perhaps Scotland is like the friend who wants to ditch their well-paid, fulfilling job on a whim and run away with the yoga instructor. All of these are copyright free and completely available. Just, please, let Al Green have his song back.

Sleepless in the Matrix

Which of these would most improve your quality of life: a) Getting to the next level on Candy Crush Saga; b) watching that "hilarious" clip recommended by a stranger on Twitter; or c) an extra hour in bed every day? Most people would go with option c, and the scientific evidence backs them up. A good night's sleep makes us happier, healthier and more productive. Yet, according to the results of Ofcom's latest survey, British adults are now choosing technology time over rest. Our average eight hours and 21 minutes of sleep per day is now less than the eight hours and 41 minutes we spend hooked up to the matrix.

Some of this tech time will be taken up by work, but answering emails in bed is no real evidence of having your priorities straight. Even when we do eventually put down our gadgets, the blue light they emit can mess with our body clock and make sleep even more elusive.

We stood aside when technology stole our ability to concentrate at work. We rejoiced when our social lives were digitised out of existence. But now that gadgets are invading the bedroom, it's time to draw the line. Sleep is important. In lives that are increasingly full of distraction, it is the only time we are truly alone with our thoughts. So how should busy people go about prioritising sleep? Don't tell me – there's an app for that.

Unoriginal plagiarism claim

Plagiarism detection is big game hunting for internet bods, and last week they claimed to have shot down a whopper: Nic Pizzolatto, the writer of HBO's hit series True Detective.

It's a rather unoriginal little case, having none of the audacity of Quentin Rowan, the Brooklyn bookstore owner who forged a spy novel with passages lifted from other Bond knock-offs. Nor does it have the long-term implications of the famous New York Times plagiarist Jayson Blair. Instead Pizzolatto has been accused of taking ideas expressed by the writer Thomas Ligotti in Conspiracy Against the Human Race and putting them in the mouth of his character Rust Cohle.

There are no word-for-word lifts listed on the accusers' website, and Pizzolatto's defence that "the philosophical thoughts expressed by Rust Cohle do not represent any thought or idea unique to any one author" makes sense. Only someone who'd been initially drawn in by Rust Cohle's depressed sixth-former philosophy would be surprised to discover these thoughts are unoriginal.

Google Book Search has made exposure easier, but it's not so much plagiarism that is being exposed; it's the wilful naivety of fans when it comes to the derivative nature of art. What is originality but undetected plagiarism? That's a line I stole from William Ralph Inge, by the way.

This story's got legs

On Wednesday, the fire service was called to a house fire in Bridgend, Wales, which started when a man tried to kill a spider by setting it alight. He's not the first, either. Similar incidents have been reported in Seattle and Kansas in the past two months.

At this time of year we're all generals defending our homes against insect invaders, but clearly this tactic is wrong-headed. Spiders eat flies and ants, so, as Henry Kissinger would tell you, my enemy's enemy is my friend. "Scorched earth" warfare isn't for spiders. Try Realpolitik instead.