The commentators 09-09-14
...on the Scottish referendum
Every nightmarish international conflict from this dark summer arises from disputes over rigid boundaries. In Ukraine, Gaza and Iraq people are being killed partly over territorial disputes. In the UK, for all its flaws, we live without boundaries while allowing for distinctiveness. As part of the distinctiveness Scotland escapes most of the public-service reforms wreaking havoc in England. Such border-free diversity should be a cause for some celebration. But it might be too late, and this small island will acquire a troublesome boundary too – one that would change everything for those living on either side
- Steve Richards, The Independent
If a 300-year-old union is on the edge of oblivion, this cannot be explained by “messaging” and “tone”. It is one of the vanities of the political class to overrate the importance of campaigns. Electoral outcomes are driven by fundamentals, and the cold truth about the union is that the fundamentals binding it were weakening before Douglas Alexander was born 46 years ago.
- Janan Ganesh, Financial Times
Alex Salmond is playing on negative emotions at least as much as he is cultivating positive enthusiasm. Behind the swirling saltires and rolling moors, his campaign rails against the “shackles” of the current long-term relationship every bit as much as it promotes the benefits of separation. As the referendum nears, the SNP is exploiting, with ruthless efficiency, hostility to the London political establishment that is widespread across the country, but particularly intense in Scotland.
- Rachel Sylvester, The Times
Scotland and England, those twin kingdoms who snarl and snap at each other throughout Munro’s trilogy of history plays, deserve better than to lose their mutual sense of responsibility for each other. Too much has been achieved by it – and may yet be achieved in the future. That is why, when they go to the polls next week, he hopes that the Scottish people will vote not to reimpose a border where, for more than 300 years now, there has been none.
- Tom Holland, The Guardian
The pro-independence campaign is a toxic confection of mendacity, intimidation and anti-English racism. Alex Salmond and his supporters have lied through their teeth, especially about the ‘Tory privatisation’ of the NHS. The health service in Scotland is wholly run by the Scottish government, propped up with English taxes. The Tories couldn’t ‘privatise’ it even if they wanted to. Salmond is a classic example of a man who exercises power without responsibility. Everything wrong with Scotland is blamed on England, even in areas where the Parliament in Westminster has no jurisdiction
- Richard Littlejohn, Daily Mail
George Osborne throwing in sweeteners is akin to trying to cancel your mobile contract and suddenly being offered free texts and an upgrade. If I had a vote and was undecided, observing this newly desperate passion would certainly help me make up my mind. It’s not head v heart. What a patronising way to think about the accountability of governance. Indeed, after all this love-bombing, England, if you love Scotland so much, let her go
- Suzanne Moore, The Guardian
The most likely long-term effect of a Scottish Yes vote is a swing to an English nationalist government in the rest of the United Kingdom, a government determined to drive a hard bargain with Scotland in the post-independence negotiations under the tight timetable that Mr Salmond proposes – precisely the opposite to the prospectus the separatists are offering. And there is a Chinese saying to the effect that the man with the tightest timetable also needs the deepest pocket.
- Vernon Bogdanor, Daily Telegraph
Apart from the twelve referendum splashes of the past two days, the subject has made a front-page lead on only five occasions this year:Yes, it's been busy with Iraq, Gaza, Ukraine, the rise of Ukip, sex scandals, the hacking trial, Mr Cameron's holidays, floods and heatwaves. But one would still expect the potential break-up of the UK - or the liberation of Scotland, depending on your point of view - to be able to put up a better fight against the 30 house price splashes, the 25 on migrants and the 26 on Madeleine McCann. I stopped counting when I got to 60 soap opera and "reality TV" offerings.
- Wake us up before they go-go
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