Coffee House

Alistair Darling, braveheart.

14 October 2012

14 October 2012

When the unionists were looking for a hero to fight Alex Salmond, no one really thought of grey old Alistair Darling. He was the human fire extinguisher, sent into blazing departments to make them so boring that no smoke – or anything else – ever emerged. But now, he is taking a torch to Salmond’s mutating, flaky case for independence. Salmond and David Cameron are expected to sign a deal on Scottish referendum tomorrow, and Darling is itching to get his “yes to the union” campaign started.

On the BBC’s Sunday Politics, he said he is  looking forward to cutting through Salmond’s “bluster and the nonsense.” I always suspected Salmond was angling for a compromise, knowing his independence daydream was not shared by those who would have to live with the consequences. This now won’t happen. There will be just one question, which Darling wants set by the Electoral Commission. The wording is crucial: Lord Ashcroft has conducted polling that shows how it changes the answer:-

  • “Do you agree Scotland should be an independent country?” Agree 41%, Disagree 59%
  • “Do you agree or disagree that Scotland should become an independent country?” Agree 39%, Disagree 61%
  • “Should Scotland become an independent country, or should it remain part of the United Kingdom?” Independent 33%, Part of the UK 67%

Darling’s leadership is crucial for two reasons. He fights Salmond’s bluster with cool-headed, non-nonsense logic. Scotland has a tragically long list of problems (especially with inner-city poverty) and Darling can ask: which of these problem would independence solve? His  bank manager demeanour is also perfect: it’s hard to argue that Scotland will end up richer when the English subsidy is cut off. Unionists have perhaps relied too much on this argument, but it matters. Darling is a good advocate of this message, as he is perhaps the only finance minister in Europe to emerge from the financial crisis with his reputation enhanced.

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Money is a far bigger part of the Scottish question than you might expect. To Kelvin MacKenzie’s delight, kast year’s Scottish Social Attitudes Survey found people’s answers swung on whether they’d be better off – by as little as the price of an iPad. It found that:-

  • If independence made Scots on average £500 a year worse off, Scots would vote 21% for, 66% against
  • If it made Scots £500 a year better off, they’d vote 65% for, 24% against
  • If it left people the same, they’d vote 47% for, 32% against

But as Darling said, the latest polling shows Salmond is down to 28 per cent on even his chosen question. The Olympics, where Jessica Ennis was celebrated as much in Glasgow as in Gateshead, was a wonderful reminder of the power of Britishness. Hilariously, nationalist MPs like Pete Wishart – who used to say there were Scottish but felt no sense of Britishness – are now declaring they are British too. It’s just that they want their government in Edinburgh.

Britishness – and its vast appeal – is an enemy to which the SNP has no answer. This will be a long campaign but the unionists have, in Darling, found just the man to lead it.

 


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Show comments
  • Steerage

    Is this the same Alastair Darling who gave the collapsed Icelandic banks £6 billion against formal Treasury advice?
    This meant every hot money gangster with over £50,000 got a full refund in clean cashy only though some were too nervous to apply.

  • HooksLaw

    Darling is an idiot, but more importantly if his ‘image’ is one of an honest broker then he may do a suitable job as a front man.

  • OskarMatzerath

    You know, so long as you lot down there keep referencing a bloody awful 1990s action movie to inform an issue which could have colossal consequences, not just for people of the UK, but also for Spain, Belgium, Italy and a host of others, you’ll lose.

    Keep patronising. Continue condescending. As a tactic intended to win support, it’s always a great move.

  • OskarMatzerath

    You know, so long as you lot down there keep referencing a bloody awful 1990s action movie to inform an issue which could have colossal consequences, not just for people of the UK, but also for Spain, Belgium, Italy and a host of others, you’ll lose.

    Keep patronising. Continue condescending. As a tactic intended to win support, it’s always a great move.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Iain-Hill/100000917822376 Iain Hill

    Come off it Fraser, what has the Yookay managed to do so far about poverty in Scotland? Darling is nothing but a party hack, prepared to sell Scotland down the river for personal and party advantage. He would be better devoting his efforts to trying to resuscitate Scottish Labour.

    This is the man who once told me he was considering abolishing the state pension for better off people like me , apparently ignorant that I had paid for it all my life.

  • John

    It will be funny watching the Scots vote to stay in the union. Despite all the endless, boring William Wallace crap we have to put up with from a minority, they will vote to hang on to nanny’s apron strings. I did enjoy the Australians’ vote to keep the queen, in the face of many Australians I met in London constantly whining about “Poms” etc. I expect this one to be similarly amusing for us…

    • Daniel Maris

      Will they once they realise how utterly humiliating a pro-union vote will be? Who can ever take them seriously again as a free nation? Won’t they become the mad old Aunt locked up in the devolution attic, gibbering about all the fine young lovers she once had?

      • John

        Of course they will vote to stay in it.

      • John

        Of course they will vote to stay in it.

  • ellubo

    Badgers, sheep, rattlesnakes what about wanker?

  • ellubo

    Badgers, sheep, rattlesnakes what about wanker?

  • RolftheGanger

    Cognitive dissonance in evidence.
    Sir William Wallace championed the cause of Scottish Independence.
    Darling opposes it.

    Against all the better instincts of the Labour support for self government movements around the world. Scotland is somehow the exception.

    I suggest General Charles (Chinese) Gordon, doing the defiant last ditch defence of the Khartoum against the insurgent fuzzy-wuzzies, as the apposite image.

    Copping the spears, on behalf of a distant, uncaring Westminster establishment.

    • Clavers

      “An’ ‘ere’s ~to~ you, Fuzzy-Wuzzy, with your ‘ayrick ‘ead of ‘air —
      You big black boundin’ beggar — for you broke a British square!”
      I think you do the Fuzzy-Wuzzy a disservice.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001245655477 James McLeary

    Ignorant at least, offensive at most can only be used to describe your article. There is nothing Brave about Darling, and you’d have been better using a British Empire figure as his comparison, certainly not Wallace.

    Darling like his Tory friends on the Better Together campaign offer nothing for Scotlands future. Their arguement circles around negativity and scare mongering.

    Roll on 2014, roll on a YES vote to Independence, roll on finally letting Scotland’s potential shine in the World and silence all the dinosaur naysayers of the Unionist parties

  • dalai guevara

    I believe we need to to make a case for or against the Union on fact based analysis:

    1- who gains monetary advantage if things stay as they are?
    2- what changes exactly if Scotland adjusts its position to the UK in the same way as some in the UK wish to adjust our position to Europe?

    But we want it both ways, you say. Make your case.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    When has Alastair Darling ever been brave? When has he ever demonstrated ‘heart’?

    Calling out a buffoon like Salmond just doesn’t cut it.

    A rusted weather vane standing against a malodorous fart does not a debate make.

    • dalai guevara

      Not sending your best men to Europe will result in…defeat.
      Not sending your best men to defend the union will result in…defeat.

  • Daniel Maris

    Pride comes before a fall, but I think in this case the fall in the polls comes before pride kicks in.

    Pennies and pride are of equal importance to the canny folk north of the border. But I think as the debate intensifies pride will come to the fore.

    • dalai guevara

      Agreed. You have inadvertently given the answer as to why Darling and Ashcroft chose to sit in the same boat. Pennies for Westminster.

  • Wilhem

    ” His bank manager demeanour is also perfect.”

    Anyone with 2 brain cells knows that Darling is the epitome of a careerist, opportunist, apparatchik who will say or do anything to climb the greasy pole to power. No convictions what so ever, a fence sitter all his life. He’s got the integrity of a rattlesnake.

  • Wilhem

    Darling went to a very posh private school, Lorretto just outside Edinburgh. He has omitted this from his Who’s Who entry.

    Hmm, What’s he ashamed of ? seems like a shifty character.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Loretto, old sport, and not as posh as Tony Blair’s Fettes.

      • Daniel Maris

        Sounds like an ice cream firm. Shome mishtake surely?

  • Austin Barry

    “His bank manager demeanour is also perfect”.

    Eh?

    A bank manager from what era? 1950’s bowler hatted prudence? 1990’s croupier salesman or 2012 credit denying sniveller?

    I suspect you’re being ironic. Well, at least I hope you are.

  • http://twitter.com/1514ali 1514ali

    Darling? Fraser, you are delusional……..

  • IRISHBOY

    Does Fraser have any graphs handy to show one way or the other exactly how a population of 4 millions whose GDP depends 80% or so on Government spending will actually function? Are we still going to have to pay for this in the way that 20% of my Council Tax here in SE London goes to prop up other walking-dead socialist enclaves in other parts of England? Well I hope they do secede because people need reminding, yet again, that socialism doesn’t work, can’t work and never has worked, and perhaps for the first time in history socialists, if they can utilize what little intellectual prowess they possess, will finally work out that it has been and is the very people they love to castigate that has kept their insupportable fiction alive for so long.

    • John

      irishboy, the scots – or perhaps I should call them jocks – are out and ‘negging’ in force, today.

      • IRISHBOY

        Indeed so! I’m amazed they haven’t been asking if we’ve ” got any spare change” while they’re here!

  • Wilhelm

    The Spectator seems to be infested with labour plants, gushing how wondrous Darling is.

    • dalai guevara

      You have got to ask yourself this: what is the name of the vessel in which both Darling and Ashcroft jointly sit? Why are they jointly sitting in it? Would they be jointly sitting in it if there was nothing to lose?

  • http://www.facebook.com/calum.crichton1 Calum Crichton

    Really happy with Alistair Darling leading the Better Together campaign. He is logical and definitely the best man for the job. I will be voting to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom. I think we do quite well in the UK and I think the UK does quite well with Scotland as a partner.

    • RolftheGanger

      However, Scotland does not do well as a partner in the UK.

      It will do better as a partner with the rUK.

  • Wilhelm

    ” One contemporary recalls Darling also had ‘an ideological hatred of cars that
    cost Edinburgh millions of pounds’ (an ideology that is not apparent as
    the Chancellor these days steps into his ministerial limousine). ”

    ”After the 1997 New Labour triumph, Darling shaved off his beard and
    presented himself, in accordance with party instructions, as
    clean-shaven.”

    ”Alistair’s problem is that he takes his opinion
    from whoever’s his boss,’ says Thompson. ‘In the early Eighties, it was
    John Mulvey (his Lothian council boss), then it was Tony Blair and now
    it’s Gordon Brown. He’s a man with no opinion of his own. But he’s done
    well for himself, I’ll give him that.”

    • IRISHBOY

      Wilhelm, you are a godsend.

  • Wilhelm

    ” the politically ambitious Darling became a councillor that
    Bob Thompson, another former chairman of the Scottish Labour Party, met
    him. ‘He was a Trotskyist and played the part with his backside sticking
    out of his jeans and sandals on bare feet, long hair and a beard,’ says
    Thompson, a lifelong trades unionist. ”

    ”He had little charisma and was no orator. But he was
    a fixer, a plotter, a manipulator .”

    ” He was in the thick of it and certainly caught the eye of Labour’s then leader Neil Kinnock, who visited the council , he remarked about one particular figure: ‘I never want to see that bearded Trot becoming an MP.’ He was referring to Darling. ”

    • Fergus Pickering

      Anyone that weasel bastard Kinnock didn’t like is OK by me.

  • Lyle

    I’m English I want English Independence from the moaning minnies of Scotland, the facts are we would be far better off financially without them especially in the English regions.

  • Wilhelm

    Darling looks like a dead badger. Before joining the Labour Party at the age of 23 in 1977, Darling was a supporter of the International Marxist Group, the British section of the Trotskyist Fourth International. No wonder Nelson likes the creep.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1078636/The-time-Darling-wanted-nationalise-banks–ALL-them.html

  • RKing

    “………grey old Alistair Darling.”

    I thought he would be more concerned about the Badger cull.

  • EnglishWarlord

    When the Scottish people find out that Gordon Browns attempt to call an election in 2007 was deliberately thwarted by the British state security apparatus in what could only be described as coup, i am sure the people of Scotland will see the Union for what it is. Anybody wish to ‘engage’ ?

    • Aghast Bystander

      Eh? Citations, please.

      • EnglishWarlord

        Alan Johnson, Adam Boulton and Andrew Rawnsley for starters.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Good Heavens, with men of that stature saying it, how can it not be true?

  • Nick

    As an English man, I just so hope the Scots get their independence. One day we might get a vote for independence of our own country which would clearly thrive without the hangers-on.

    • http://twitter.com/JLRoaming James Roaming

      We will be more than happy to leave you wallowing in your ignorance and falsehoods, whilst you read The Sun, scratching you arse, as your ‘government’ screws you all, at each & every opportunity it creates.

    • http://twitter.com/JLRoaming James Roaming

      We will be more than happy to leave you wallowing in your ignorance and falsehoods, whilst you read The Sun, scratching you arse, as your ‘government’ screws you all, at each & every opportunity it creates.

  • Ronnza

    What polls cannot predict is the number of “sleeping”socialists in Scotland. Should Salmond manage to convinse us of a voice in the new Scotland, we shall rally to the tartan tory.

  • alexsandr

    where is the English referendum on whether the union should be broken?

    • dalai guevara

      I could think of other referenda generating more deserved interest, and most importantly, should Britain be allowed to abscond if…..the EU says no?

  • http://twitter.com/JLRoaming James Roaming

    As for the polling results: Lord Ashcroft is such a harbinger of truth, honesty and integrity. NOT!

  • http://twitter.com/JLRoaming James Roaming

    Not sure who or what is the bigger joke, here. a) This article? b) The author of this article? c) The idea of Darling as some kind of nationalist saviour!

  • anyfool

    It can still go either way and Darling is vulnerable to character assassination because regardless he is still viewed as part of the disastrous Labour filleting of the economy.
    I the economy improves it will help him, if it tanks what will Scotland have to lose, Salmond will trample all over Darling by equating him with the results, insinuating he is a Tory lapdog, everyone should at least realise Salmond is a smarter operator than Darling will ever be.

  • wee eck…

    HA HA HA!!…..Darling,with the Lady Grecian dyed eyebrows..cmon yea canny be serious…pmsl

  • telemachus

    But where do you stand Fraser?
    Show your Scottish colours

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