Alex Salmond’s Independence Project Isn’t Running Well. Expect Him To Pull Off More Stunts And Gimmicks
Hamish MacLeod writes from Edinburgh: Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, has announced that the BBC will be broken up if Scotland goes independent. Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Salmond declared that ‘Scottish viewers and TV production talent were being short changed’ by Westminster. Scotland, he said, has a proud television heritage, reminding everyone that John Logie Baird invented television and Lord Reith pioneered public service broadcasting.
Scottish Radio and TV is supposed to recruit most of its staff from the existing BBC Scotland. Salmond was asked afterwards by a concerned fan of Eastenders if it would still be shown in Scotland after independence. Salmond assured everyone that the new broadcaster would consider the needs and interests of the local population.
So Eastenders would be safe, I suppose.
It is inevitable that Salmond will seek to end the dominance of the BBC in Scotland if independence were to happen. The Scottish National Party (SNP) is a relentless centraliser of decision making. So control of the narrative would be important. Salmond’s claim that it would remain independent can be taken with a pinch of salt. He would appoint the head of Scottish TV and radio and the government would be assured of a friendly coverage.
A vote on independence is pencilled in for 2014 but those who are in favour and those who are against cannot agree on the question that should be put to the electorate. Those who want Scotland to remain within the United Kingdom want a simple: are you in favour of independence for Scotland? The SNP knows that a majority would vote ‘no’ so the question has to be much more vague.
Gordon Brown has weighed in by warning the Scots that their pensions and benefits would be in jeopardy if independence dawned. This is also the central platform of Alastair Darling’s argument. He is leading the ‘no’ campaign. Think twice because you will end up poorer. Appeal to the pocket and not the mind is a good line.
The Olympics were a disaster for Salmond and the SNP. Before it he proclaimed that TeamGB did not appear on his radar. He then had to bite his lip and watch Chris Hoy and Andy Murray wrap themselves in the Union Jack instead of the Saltire after winning gold.
There are more rumblings of discontent. Islanders in Orkney and Shetland have declared that if Scotland goes independent, they want to remain within the United Kingdom. If you visit Lerwick, the capital of the Shetland Islands, looking for a kilt you will be disappointed. They have never worn it up there. And Scots Gaelic was and is not spoken there. So it is a message of Hands Off to Edinburgh. By the way, the SNP only polled 1.9 per cent in elections to the island council last year. So why do the locals see themselves as a people apart?
The islands were part of Norway until the 15th century and half the population has Viking blood in their veins. Another pertinent reason is oil and gas. Sullum Voe oil terminal contributes a lot to the local economy. So North Sea oil is not Scottish but ours, claim the lslanders.
Salmond is supposed to be one of the most astute politicians in the UK at present. He wants Scotland to become independent and thereby make himself the uncrowned King of Scotland. The Labour Party and the Tories will do all in their power to frustrate him. Will he find a rabbit to pull out of the hat and win? Expect the First Minister to opt for more stunts and gimmicks to make his voice heard.