The commentators 12-09-14
...on the Scottish referendum
If you travel beyond Britain’s shores, the persistent question you hear is the simplest one. Why? How can one of the world’s most successful multinational states contemplate such a wilful act of self-harm? These overseas observers – American diplomats, European politicians, Chinese scholars – do not see a phoenix rising from the ashes of the old. They see a Scotland toying with a future of obscure irrelevance and a fractured Britain rushing to embrace decline.
- Philip Stephens, Financial Times
The English, Welsh and Northern Irish have become voteless and voiceless in this debate about the survival of their country. The idea that they may want a say, and that they might care deeply, was seen as bizarre by most of those I spoke to yesterday: surely, they said, it’s a vote about Scotland’s future? How could it affect anyone else? This is perhaps Alex Salmond’s greatest achievement: to persuade Scots that they can create a new country without also destroying an old one.
- Fraser Nelson, Daily Telegraph
It is time to study how we might make the best of what would be a profoundly disappointing outcome of the Scottish referendum, a victory for the Yes campaign. The pro-independence movement could easily move forward again, and on Thursday next week produce a majority in favour of leaving the United Kingdom. The major difficulty would be that a discredited political class would still command the Westminster Parliament.
- Andreas Whittam Smith, The Independent
Salmond has ludicrously compared the idea of Scottish independence with the end of apartheid in South Africa and made the future of the NHS the centrepiece of his message. If Scots vote No it will apparently be privatised which will come as news to Labour and indeed the Conservatives. As for oil he appears to pluck figures from the air regarding the remaining North Sea reserves. Yet with every passing day it looks as if once again his opponents have under estimated Alex Salmond
- Stephen Pollard, Daily Express
Religion has long been a potent force in Scottish politics — much more so than south of the border — and the shift of Catholic voters from backing the Union to backing statehood is another sign of Scotland’s evolution as a non-partisan society ready to take its place in the world.
- Tom Devine, The Times
That was a strange tactic of the English party leaders, to try and convince Scotland not to vote for independence from England, by sending up all the English people they dislike the most, who have made them consider independence in the first place. If that doesn’t work maybe Cameron will dig up Thatcher and send her to the middle of Glasgow as well.
- Mark Steel, The Independent
Nothing is going back in its box. Anxiety and excitement abound in equal measure, which is what happens when uncertainty takes over almost everything. Only one thing seems clear: politics as usual suddenly seems so lost as to look completely absurd.
- John Harris, The Guardian
There is a reason why the unionist case in Scotland has campaigned in prose rather than poetry. That is because there is no poetic case for the Union and, in truth, the loss of Scotland from Great Britain would matter too little to most of the people whose synthetic passion is now on display. The break-up of Britain would be a fiscal crisis, a political crisis, a constitutional crisis and an economic crisis. It would not, however, be an identity crisis.
- Philip Collins, The Times
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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