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David Cameron ducks a debate with Alex Salmond. This makes sense but is still depressing.

27 September 2013

3:07 PM

27 September 2013

3:07 PM

A novice poker player quickly learns – or had better quickly learn – that strength often connotes weakness and weakness is a reliable indicator of strength. But as the stakes increase and the level of play becomes more sophisticated such elementary tells can be misleading. They are false friends in the land of the double and triple bluff.

So a novice poker player might conclude that David Cameron’s refusal to debate against Alex Salmond is a sign of weakness. A slightly more experienced player would think this weakness too obvious to be true and conclude that Cameron is holding better cards than he is indicating. And it is true: with the polls indicating a No vote Cameron has little need to risk a debate the outcome of which must be uncertain. He is, if you like, the chip leader and need only play occasionally and when he thinks he’s on a sure thing.

But a still more experienced player might look at Cameron’s prior history in debating (not so good!) and use that information to conclude that Cameron really is holding weak cards. Press him and he will fold. As, in fact, he has.

Of course it is also an iron law of politics that the party or candidate asking for a debate is the party or candidate in a hole. Otherwise, why risk this kind of encounter?

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It is true that Salmond believes he’d run rings around Cameron. He should. After all, this is the argument he’s been having since he was a student at St Andrews University. Cameron, by contrast, is a novice in these matters. Which, doubtless, also explains why Cameron is disinclined to take part. What’s in it for him?

There is ego here too. Salmond does not wish to debate Alistair Darling – the head of the Better Together campaign – because doing so is beneath him. Why should Salmond – First Minister of Scotland – be expected to debate a mere opposition backbencher? The very notion is contemptible!

So, as Salmond says, Cameron is feart. Perhaps he is. But there is logic to Cameron’s retreat that rests upon something greater than his chances in a one-on-one dust-up with Il Tartanissimo. As the Prime Minister put it:

“You want the independence debate to be an argument between you and me; the Scottish Government and UK Government; the SNP and Conservative Party – in fact anything rather than what it really is about. Nor is your argument with the rest of the United Kingdom, it is with the people in Scotland.”

This is true and it is part of the nationalist strategy to a) elevate Salmond’s position and b) make it seem as though the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a foreigner in his own country. Which is a cute trick to pull off. It’s also the case that Salmond has repeatedly criticised Cameron for interfering in Scottish politics. This time, however, he’d like a little more interference because he counts on Scottish Labour voters deserting the Union rather than ally themselves with David Cameron and his merry band of grouse-shooting, bedroom-taxing Tories. (It is no secret, I think, that Darling is worried this really could happen. It seems likely he has suggested Cameron keep a low profile.)

Comparisons with the Canadian precedent do not quite work. Pierre Trudeau (1980) and Jean Chretien (1995) both debated in Quebec’s independence referendums but, of course, they were both Quebeckers making the case for the Canadian federation. If Gordon Brown were still PM I’d fancy he’d have been content to debate Salmond. Anyway, neither Trudeau nor Chretien could credibly be lampooned as some kind of alien bastard lacking standing of any sort. Cameron can. And is.

And yet, there is still something feeble about all this. In the first place Cameron has been bullied off the pitch. Discretion may be the better part of valour and all that jazz but it’s still mildly ignoble and unsatisfactory.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom has, effectively, been barred from one part of the United Kingdom and he seems content to accept this. In all the small or tactical details, logic and prudence may be on Cameron’s side but, viewed from a broader perspective, there is still something humiliating about this. And if the Prime Minster of the United Kingdom will not make the case for the United Kingdom then who the hell will?

 

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Show comments
  • Guest

    Breaking News UKPM union pty leader won’t debate as Nats do Tory hatchet job
    for them

  • http://www.unionlovetrain.org/ unionlovetrain.org

    Breaking News UKPM union party leader won’t debate as Nats do Tory hatchet
    job for them.

  • scotcanadien

    “Of course it is also an iron law of politics that the party or candidate
    asking for a debate is the party or candidate in a hole. Otherwise, why
    risk this kind of encounter?”

    Except that the YES campaign is not in a hole except in the wishful thinking minds of the Metropollyanna Land scribblers. You are believing your own lies now. That is an imprudent thing to do.

  • scotcanadien

    “Il Tartanissimo”???? You have just nullified your whole piece by the use of a disgraceful smear.

  • scotcanadien

    The following scornful children’s words describe Cameron and his courage perfectly:
    “cowardy cowardy custard cannot cut the mustard”

  • Bill Cruickshank

    Mr.Cameron’s UK Government has been issuing anti-independence White Papers on a monthly basis for the past year. He has stated that he “will fight for the union with every fibre of his being”. He is the leader of the Conservative and UNIONIST Party. He is the Prime Minister of the UNITED Kingdom. It is his duty to defend the Treaty of Union. If he refuses to debate with Mr. Salmond, he is guilty of hypocrisy, cowardice and a dereliction of duty.

  • e2toe4

    Crikey Captain..it’s journalism- but not as we know it–

    ( Darling is worried this really could happen, he has suggested Cameron keep a low profile) — is journalism.

    Whatever the extract below is, science has yet no name for….

    (It is no secret, I think, that Darling is worried this really could happen. It seems likely he has suggested Cameron keep a low profile.)

    • allymax bruce

      e2toe4, you’re absolutely correct; the standard of journalism, all across the MSM, (and I mean the tv coverage as well as the newspapers), has fallen to such a degenerate level, we, the readers, are subject to op-ed, (opinion edited thoughts, without investigative primary & secondary reference), journo-ism, instead of good traditional investigative journalism.
      Just look at the Marr show on Sunday morning, all the introduction guests were pathetic op-ed journos! Even Sky, and BBC do it; they use journos to ‘evaluate’ the political discourse in the UK; and it’s extremely deleterious & degenerating. These journos, like Massie, only attract the lowest level of political discourse, and the debate is mired in pathetic playground realpolitix; mirroring the ‘worth’ of the so-called article. Scotland is the same, pathetic journos/articles ruin everything that should be discussed; not one tactile/internet newspaper are worth reading, nor commenting on. If it’s not cringeworthy, the comments soon make it so!

  • allymax bruce

    Massie, glad you’re gossiping for The Spectator!
    The death of a true good political magazine.
    Risible writing, contemptable column, and a purely pathetic effort.
    I always look forward to your ‘tv appearances’ on STV gossip tonight! Gies me a laugh.

    • terregles2

      I have only seen him on TV once I didn’t realise it was a regular occurence.

  • Crefishgyn

    We’ve had Red Ed, now we have Yellow Dave.
    Yellow Dave is an outrider to the end of a British union with which less than a third of Scots, Welsh and English now identify as their primary national identity.
    Roll on Independence for all of us! Scotland gets to go first.

  • Robert Taggart

    Guessing Cameo knows how an English ‘Con’ would go down on the wrong side of the border ?
    DAMMIT – that be blow to ‘our’ chances of independence !

    • terregles2

      ” that be a blow to ‘our’ chances. What a quaint turn of phrase. The panto season seems to have arrived early.

  • John Williamson

    One thing I thought strange about David Camerons view was that he said Alex Salmond couldn’t pick the team Captains, but the Captain of the YES campaign is Nicola Sturgeon, not Alex Salmond, Salmond was wanting a debate between the FM and the PM. Not bthe head of the campaigns, I don’t think Cameron realises who the head of the YES campaign is. Most odd.

    • Dave_Coull

      You are correct in stating that David Cameron doesn’t know who the head of the YES Campaign is. Unfortunately, you are confused about this yourself. The Chairman of the YES Campaign is Dennis Canavan. His counterpart is Alastair Darling, the Chairman of Better Together.These two former Labour Party colleagues should debate with each other. Dennis has said repeatedly that he is willing to debate with Alastair. It is Alastair who is running away from debate with Dennis. The Campaign Director of the YES Campaign is Blair Jenkins. His counterpart is Blair Macdougall, Campaign Director of Better Together. The Head of the Scottish Government which favours a “yes” vote is Alex Salmond. His counterpart is the Head of the British Government which favours a “no” vote, David Cameron. Nicola Sturgeon is Deputy First MInister and heading the SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY’s drive for a “yes” vote. But that is purely a party political appointment, she has no role in the cross-party and non-party YES Campaign. Her counterparts are Nick Clegg (Deputy Prime MInister) and Michael Moore (Secretary of State for Scotland).

  • Dave_Coull

    David Cameron is a bunker P.M., happy to stay in his deep hole in London, dictating strategy to Osborne, Moore, and Alexander, dispensing instructions to each and every department of state to devise schemes for defeating independence, but, when asked to step outside, delegates his mate Darling to stand in for him, while he holds the jackets.

    • Wessex Man

      do grow up he’s trying to emulate Blair and Brown and save the middle east by bringing them his sort of democracy if they want it or not.

      I can’t stand the man but it is a puerly a Scottish debate and should be debated by Scots!

      • terregles2

        Is it really a Scottish only debate. Are you here as Referee.?

        • Wessex Man

          If you want me to be! mind I wouldn’t allow you to interrupt with inane comments all the time!

    • terregles2

      Many of us are just relieved that Cameron is only in charge of the WW1 commemorations. Can you imagine being in a trench in WW1 with a man in charge who can’t face a debate never mind the fighting.

      • Dave_Coull

        Oh, but he’s a General, you see. Field Marshal, even. That means he just has to send OTHER PEOPLE over the top. It is vital that he himself stays at HQ.

        • Wessex Man

          ditto to you.

      • Wessex Man

        now that is really insulting and rude! You previously brought me up for far less than that nasty little comment!

        • terregles2

          Not too insulting really. He organises a WW1 commemoration but is too scared to debate the future of the UK.
          Think many of us would be glad he is only organising a commemoration and would not have been organising anyone during the actual war that he is so keen to commemorate.
          I am sure that you are not really too upset on Mr Cameron’s behalf.

  • ButcombeMan

    This is a very poor analysis.

    The issue is for the Scottish people to decide.

    Salmond is doing a rather obvious and well known trick because he is in a hole and is himself feart he will lose.

    The team building trick is to create an external enemy to rally one’s own side.

    Cameron should have nothing to do with such a debate with Salmond. What is more Salmond knew full well that Cameron would refuse.

    Salmond’s King of Scotland campaign is coming apart, his nasty racist rhetoric obvious to anyone with any brains in Scotland.

    • terregles2

      You cannot give any example of Salmond’s nasty racist rhetoric simply because there has never been any. Just because you are on a website does not mean that you can make false accusations.

      • ButcombeMan

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scotland/scottish-politics/9632629/Police-asked-to-investigate-Alex-Salmonds-anti-English-jibes.html

        Just one example. Now have a look yourself.

        I have watched his words for months and concluded his anti-English rhetoric IS racist. I am perfectly entitled to so conclude. I am plainly not alone in so concluding. I am offended by his anti-English rhetoric. He intends it to offend, he intends it to foment anti-English feeling.

        • terregles2

          Thank you for confirming that Alex Salmond has never made an anti English comment in his life. He criticised Westminster government and it is strange that this publication found the Lord Snooty tag offensive when it was this publication that used the term themselves on 4th December 2009.

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk › Comment › Columnists › Charles Moore
          Salmond has English people within the SNP and is in no way anti English people. There is not one shred of evidence to suggest otherwise.

          A week is a long time in politics. It would seem that 3 years in the world of the Telegraph brings on amnesia.
          If the link does not come up just google Charles Moore Lord Snooty

          • terregles2

            Try doing a google search under Charles Moore Lord Snooty if the link does not come up.

        • terregles2

          Why Lord Snooty is the ideal role model for David Cameron …
          http://www.telegraph.co.uk › Comment › Columnists › Charles Moore‎
          Similar
          4 Dec 2009 – … Tory leader has to show that he’s the right kind of posh, says Charles Moore. … In 1990, however, Lord Snooty was dropped by the Beano.

        • Richard Aitken

          So comparing a group of politicians to a character in the beano is somehow anti-English racism? Please explain how.

          • ButcombeMan

            Read Cranmer and get a grip. It is all part of a pattern of his behaviour.

            http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/alex-salmonds-anglophobic-racism.html

            • terregles2

              You print a blog and expect anyone to take you seriously. What a joke.
              Your desperation is embarrassing. You can find no evidence of any anti English remarks by Salmond because there are none. Keep going you increase the YES vote with your nonsense.

              • ButcombeMan

                Although I will be saddened if the Scots leave, I have Scottish heritahge on one side of my family, I also have many friends there I believe the question is one for people living in Scotland now. They are entitled to self determination.

                The blog I quoted you should actually read. The blogger is one of the best and most commented on, political blogs.

                I gave it to you to show I am far from alone in my analysis.

                • terregles2

                  It is because I read the blog that I identified it as offensive rubbish. I could not believe that i encountered an odiuos image of a member of the ville repugnant BNP.
                  Alex Salmond has never ever made any anti English remark.You can never find one so you dredge up rubbish written by some intellectual pygmy.
                  If I were Salmond’s lawyer I would be taking action on that blog.

        • Jeanne Tomlin

          Accusing Cameron of being posh, which he did, is hardly racist unless you are saying that only the English can be posh, which is a racist assumption on your part. So don’t blame Salmond for your own racism.

    • Dave_Coull

      You will be totally unable to give even one single example of “his nasty racist rhetoric”. You will be unable to do so because there has never been any. It’s just something you made up. Or, in other words, a lie.

      • terregles2

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk › Comment › Columnists › Charles Moore

        Dave the above was published in December 2009. I think all the YES voters should be heartened by the paucity of the argument put forward by the no campain especially the London media.
        if the link does not come up just google Charles Moore Lord Snooty.

      • terregles2

        Google search Charles Moore Lord Snooty.

        • Dave_Coull

          When I was a wee laddie I used to get the Beano and the Dandy every week and I used to read about the exploits of Lord Snooty. The thing I remember about Lord Snooty is that he was POSH. He was rich, he had servants, etc. Now, there are, of course, plenty of Scottish aristocrats who are POSH, and rich, and have lots of servants. Calling somebody a Lord Snooty is assigning a CLASS identity to them. Not a racial one.

    • allymax bruce

      Calling someone racist, when they are clearly not, rather, justifiably expressing an opinion of social polity, is actually racist itself! GuruMurphy got caught with that one last week when he called UKIP racist for not having any ‘coloured’ faces in the picture that adorns the UKIP manifesto. I’ve experienced it myself; being called racist, by ignoramus that don’t know what they’re talking about, but the slur actually reverts back to the accuser being proved to be racist their self!
      It’s too easy, and ‘convenient’ for nasty hateful people, to go around accusing people with slurs of racist, bigot, homophobic, etc; these people are the nastiest people of all, and they shouldn’t be allowed to comment on public forums. Especially this one! The Spectator!

  • Graeme McAllan

    The signatories of the Edinburgh Agreement should be the only ones debating 😉

  • justejudexultionis

    In fact, the main reason that Cameron has refused to debate Salmond is that he cannot place Scotland on a map..

  • Dave_Coull

    I have an utterly brilliant idea. There are several hundred thousand English folk living quite happily in Scotland. Many of them plan to vote YES to independence. Several of the founders and several of the full time workers of the YES Campaign are English. And one tenth, that’s right, one person in every ten, of the members of the SNP, are English. Several SNP members of the Scottish Parliament, and a couple of members of the SNP government, were born in England. If David Cameron is so worried that any debate with Alex Salmond could turn into a Scottish versus English thing, I have a solution. He could offer to debate with an English person instead! If both of them are English, then it can’t possibly turn into a Scottish versus English thing! If Cameron makes this offer, it would then be up to the Scottish government to decide which prominent English advocate of independence they nominate to debate with David Cameron.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Problem then is Scots Yes men (and women and pre-op transgendering) would explode with anger as their future is being debated by the Southern Oppressors.

      I’ve got a better idea. Give Northumbrian and Cumbrian residents a vote and we will deliver independence for El Gordo.

      • Cumberland

        I agree, why should Scotish nationalists take access to half of my heritage from me.

        • terregles2

          What would they be taking away ?. They choose to govern themselves just like almost every other country in the world.
          Why should Scots having self government take anything away from you. If you are half Scottish now you would still be half Scottish after independence. I have Irish ancestry Irish independence did not take that away.
          What access do you mean.?

      • terregles2

        We don’t have southern oppressors. We are fortunate enough to have many English people living in Scotland who are working hard with everyone else in the YES campaign. Many of them would be happy to debate with Cameron any time.

    • terregles2

      Excellent idea our English friends here in Scotland have contributed so much to the YES campaign. They would debate very well with Cameron or anyone else.

  • http://peterabell.blogspot.co.uk/ Peter A Bell

    On the face of it, this looks like a rather unedifying bout of playground politics. But look a bit more closely and you see that Salmond has actually been doing grown-up politics in a way that few others can, and has seriously outsmarted his opponents yet again.

    What we note when we watch Salmond in action is that he regularly manages to turn seemingly somewhat trivial disputes into win/win situations that serve his larger political agenda. He knew when he issued the challenge that Cameron was highly unlikely to agree to a TV debate. He knew too just how damaging Cameron’s refusal would be to his standing and the whole anti-independence campaign. Cameron has now effectively discounted his own participation in that campaign. Every time he speaks on the matter we will be reminded that he chose not to defend his views against his opposite number in the referendum debate.

    More significantly, every time the UK Government issues another gobbet of unionist propaganda thinly disguised as an impartial “report”, it will be pointed out that the leader of that government is not prepared to defend the content in response to a direct challenge from the leader of the Scottish Government.

    Furthermore, by forcing Cameron to make such a highly public abrogation of his role as defender of the union, Salmond has contrived to emphasise the fact that a British Labour back-bencher, Alistair Darling, is the Conservative Prime Minister’s appointed spokesperson on all matters relating to the constitutional debate. As Alex Massies suggests, it is not difficult to imagine how that will go down with “traditional” Labour voters in Scotland.

    For Salmond, challenging Cameron to meet head-to-head was a risk-free gambit. He knew that he would be more than a match for the Bullingdon boy in any TV debate. We can be sure that Cameron knew that too. We can also be sure that, even if bravado had got the better of good sense, Cameron’s advisers would have urged him not to allow Salmond such a high-profile platform to put the case for independence. To do so would go against the Project Fear strategy of denying the Yes campaign opportunities to get their message across as far as this might be possible.

    Salmond no doubt also reckoned that forcing Cameron to make such a humiliating retreat would ensure that whatever debate did subsequently take place would be intriguingly billed as as being between himself and whoever had to take Cameron’s place because he was not up to the task. He would not be denied his high-profile platform after all. There was no “ego” involved in putting off a debate with Darling. Merely a coldly calculated preparation of the ground.

    Love him or loathe him, you cannot deny that Salmond is the master of his craft.

  • JAMES MORRISEY

    Darling should debate with his opposite number Dennis Canavan , the offer was made to Project Fear with a venue supplied and paid for. It’s really quite simple.

    Cameron represents Project Feart.

    In the first debate on STV [youtube] the DFM Nicola Sturgeon wiped the floor with the Scots Sec Michael Moore leaving him looking like a scared rabbit caught in a cars headlights. For the next STV debate with the DFM none of the senior Britnat Politicians were willing to be made to look foolish at the hands of the diminutive but very savvy and quick thinking DFM so they sent in their patsy Anas Sawar who spent the entire time shouting down the DFM, refusing to answer any questions, using stunts like waving fake documents that Project Fear had stamped “Top Secret” and just telling big porkies.
    The fact is that there is no case for the union and Cameron knows it and this is why he refuses to debate with the FM, all the rest about not debating because of the Tories being toxic in Scotland is dressing, if they had a case for the union it should be able to stand on it’s own merits and Cameron who stated that he “would “defend the union with every fibre of my being” should present it.
    Again, there is no case for the union and Cameron is not willing to attend a gunfight armed only with a plastic knife

  • Fernando5

    What has this to do with Cameron? The Scots have to decide whether they want to stay in a union with the rest of the UK. Whatever they decide will happen. Some English people want them to go; others want them to stay. Cameron has stated his view, but it is for the Scots to determine their future. This is a conversation between
    Scotsmen. It is that simple.

    • terregles2

      It is a conversation between all the people who live and vote in Scotland whether Scottish or otherwise, a conversation between them and the UK government.

      The UK Prime Minister could be English,Scots,Welsh or Nothern Irish. The fact that he is English is beside the point. He speaks for everyone in the UK and he should be happy to debate with Salmond to try and save the union.

      • Cumberland

        You see this as being an important issue, in Scotland it probably is, but in England it doesn’t even register on the scale, indeed the whole question of Scottish withdrawal from the union is of little concern to the vast majority of the English, I sit on the border, of joint English/Scottish heritage and even to me it is more a issue of the heart than a genuine concern.

        • terregles2

          I quite agree with you Cumberland. Most people in England have more to worry them than Scottish independence. I have never thought that Scotland is of much importance to Westminster politicians that is why I want to be governed from Edinburgh rather than Westminster.
          I know my friends and family in England are more worried about their standard of living and unemployment etc. Some of them have said to me that they envy people in Scotland having the opportunity to get rid of the Wesminster government as they are not happy with how parliament is run there. They would love the chance to have a fresh start.
          Hopefully after Scottish independence there will be some changes made to the Westminster parliament that will improve things for the English/Welsh and Northern Irish people.
          I hope all countries in the UK soon get better government goodness knows all four UK countries have put up with bad government for long enough.

          • Fergus Pickering

            All four? What about Cornwall? What about the Isles that the Norwegian King was Lord of? Who speaks for Northumbria, Mercia, Wessex and the Men of Kent. Four?

      • Fernando5

        No, it’s not a conversation between the Scots and the UK government. It’s for the Scots to decide their future and whether they want to go it alone. It’s not inconceivable that a UK prime minister might want you to go and might express that opinion, but it is still your decision.
        When they have a similar vote in Northern Ireland it is for the people there to decide and the UK PM is a bystander. The Labour position was always that Ireland should be re-united but the role of a Labour PM would be as a bystander, as well.
        Why can’t you decide for yourselves. Why involve someone who doesn’t come from Scotland, someone who might value the Union, but just wants you to get on with it and make up your minds.

    • Brian Forrest

      If it were indeed that simple, it would be all over by now. I refer you to many of the answers given above.

      • Fernando5

        I’m sorry but it is that simple. In Northern Ireland they have infrequent refererndums on whether to stay in the UK. It is for them to decide. I don’t expect to see the UK PM debating with Gerry Adams.

        • terregles2

          You are hardly comparing like with like. He would not express an opinion on Ireland ever as it is far too sensitive a topic for reasons we are all very aware of.
          No British Prime Minister can now at this point in history come out in public on any issue concerning Irish unity.
          With respect I think that point you made was a bit of a cheap shot and a bit insensitive to the history of Ireland.

          • Wessex Man

            oh my word, so now you are speaking on behalf of Ireland as well, I hear that Natel needs someone to negotiate on their behalf!

    • Dave_Coull

      But Cameron’s government churns out tons of propaganda “reports” advocating a NO vote, and all paid for by our taxes. He IS involved in the debate, he just refuses to debate face to face.

      • Fernando5

        He is not party to the decision. I don’t think he has a vote. Why doesn’t Salmond debate with someone like Gordon Brown, a former PM and therefore sufficiently senior to assuage his sense of status but (and this is key) he has a vote and will be directly affected by the outcome.

        • Dave_Coull

          David Cameron takes part in the debate. He takes part through churning out tons of British government propaganda paid for by my taxes. The issue is not whether he “should” take part. He does, as do his colleagues. The issue is that, since he DOES take part, he ought to be prepared to debate face to face with his opposite number. There certainly would have been a Gordon Brown v Alex Salmond debate if Nick Clegg had done a deal with Labour instead of the Tories, but he didn’t. It has been suggested the reason for refusing a debate with Salmond is that it might turn into a Scottish versus English thing. Well, I have an utterly brilliant idea. There are several hundred thousand English folk living quite happily in Scotland. Many of them plan to vote YES to independence. Some of the founders and some of the full time workers of the YES Campaign are English. And approximately one tenth, that’s right, about one person in every ten, of the membership of the SNP, are English. Several SNP members of the Scottish Parliament, and a couple of members of the SNP government, were born in England. If David Cameron is so worried that any debate with Alex Salmond could turn into a Scottish versus English thing, I have a solution. He could debate with an English person instead! If both of them are English, then it can’t possibly turn into a Scottish versus English thing! It would be up to the Scottish government to decide which English person, living in Scotland and advocating independence, they nominate to debate with David Cameron. The Prime Minister can either debate with Alex or with an English person representing Alex. His choice. If he refuses both then what we are dealing with really is sheer cowardice.

  • Jeanne Tomlin

    David Mundell, Tory MP, stated on Newsnight that, “David Cameron is the Prime Minister of Scotland and he will have a significant part to play in the campaign to keep Scotland in Britain.”

    Apparently Dave missed the Prime Minister of Scotland part and thinks he is only the Prime Minister of England and Wales.

    • Andy

      ‘David Cameron is the Prime Minister of Scotland’.

      There is no such office, nor has there ever been.

      • Jeanne Tomlin

        Oh, you mean Scotland is not part of the UK and has no Prime Minister. Well THAT is a relief. No need for the referendum after all since it will save a lot of bother.

        However, you might want to mention that “fact” to Tory MP David Mundell who seems to think otherwise.

        • Wessex Man

          That’s not what he means at all and you know it, Alex Salmond is the First Minister of Scotland a part of the United Kingdom of which David Cameron is the Prime Minister and the uinited Kingdom Government is the supreme power.

          Until you obtain Independence after the Scottish Referendeum your country is part of the United Kingdom just as England, Wales and Northern Ireland are. Do try to keep up!

          • Jeanne Tomlin

            Not too good with sarcasm, are you? LOL

            • Wessex Man

              It’ll do for you, do try to keep up! LOL!

              • Jeanne Tomlin

                The problem is that I keep up from ahead of you. 😉

                • Wessex Man

                  and what is that meant to mean ‘I keep up from ahead of you’

                  do learn to express yourself in English! LOL!

                • Jeanne Tomlin

                  I do, my dear. You just don’t read sarcasm, yet again.

                • Wessex Man

                  I think I do better than you will ever be able to express it!

                • Jeanne Tomlin

                  Then go back and read your comment and my reply. LOL

          • terregles2

            That is the point we are making. Until we have independence David Cameron is our Prime Minister and as our Prime Minister he should present the case for the union.
            Unionists like Andy deserve to have their argument put forward by the top unionist in the UK.

            • Andy

              I want independence for England.

              • terregles2

                Did you not say previously that you were a Scottish person who was in favour of the union?

                • Andy

                  Kindly tell me where I have said this.

                • terregles2

                  I did not say you were a Scottish person supporting the union. I asked if you previously said that you were. That is why I put a question mark. I was asking a question.

              • Brian Forrest

                So do we… 😉

              • Dave_Coull

                Campaign for it, form a political party dedicated to it, get that political party to promise a referendum on it, get that political party elected to government, and make sure you hold them to their manifesto promise. Of course, this may take you a few years, as it did in our case; and by the time you get your referendum, Scotland will long have been independent, so your referendum will be about England becoming independent from Northern Ireland and Wales..

              • Crefishgyn

                So do most Scots and Welsh. The English problem is holding the rest of us back.

                • Wessex Man

                  Then why don’t you start a movement and stop taking the Barnett Formula which is more than the entire Welsh product? I remember a Question time edition from Cardiff form quite a long time ago in which a strident Welsh Nationalist woman on the panel demanding independence and the Labour Leader of the Welsh Assembly slapping her down with the fact that “Wales needs are 4% of the UK spend and Welsh generation wealth is 2% therefore we can’t afford to go independent.” If we are the problem, I dread to think of what your solution is!

                  I would rather like to find out though, so go for it and we’ll see how you do!

                • Jambo25

                  We’re not Welsh. Next.

                • HenBroon

                  Dear David

                  http://bit.ly/18BNHi0

                  Re Wales you like Paxman are living the Ukanian imperialist dream built on sand.

                  http://bit.ly/137Q4mU

                • terregles2

                  There is a movement it is called the YES Scoltand Campaign. Surprisingly some people who claim to want Scottish independencee keep making disparaging remarks about it.

              • Jambo25

                We are in complete agreement then. My apologies for calling you a “Unionist”. You’re obviously just a poor wee English person who thinks they’re being ‘dissed’ by those hate filled Scottish persons.

          • Jambo25

            Congratulations. You cottoned on to the point Mr. Massie had already made in the last paragraph.

        • Andy

          Technically there was no such office. The person termed ‘Prime Minister’ is actually ‘First Lord of the Treasury’, formed when the office of the Lord High Treasurer was put into commission (that was an English office). After the death of Queen Elizabeth I the office of Lord High Treasurer was frequently put into commission (it never had been by her) and after 1714 it has continuously been so. The first mention of ‘Prime Minister’ appear in 1917 regarding the Chequers Estate.

          • Brian Forrest

            “Technically”…there was no Queen Elizabeth 1 in Scotland…until now…and “technically”, Queen Elizabeth is Queen of Scots, not of Scotland.

            • Andy

              Technically you should read the Proclamation of 1953.

              • Brian Forrest

                Typical of Westminster…what they “decree” is not necessarily correct.

                • Andy

                  I’ll leave you to your bigotry and hate.

                • Brian Forrest

                  Soon as I find some, I’ll send you an invitation… 😉

                • Jambo25

                  Super. Claims of “bigotry and hate”. Not the “last refuge of the scoundrel” but the last refuge of the Unionist.

            • justejudexultionis

              And she is Elizabeth I of Scotland, not Elizabeth II.

              • Brian Forrest

                Elizabeth, like Mary, should be styled Queen of Scots…not of Scotland.

          • justejudexultionis

            Don’t confuse us with facts and evidence-based research! Here we rely on instinct and prejudice!

        • Fergus Pickering

          David Cameron is the Prime Minister of Yorkshire, a much more important place than Scotland. And the Prime Minister of London.

      • terregles2

        Oh Scotland is not part of the UK and we have never had a Prime Minister. ???
        There really is not any answer to that claim.

      • Dave_Coull

        You mean Scotland’s one and only Tory MP is WRONG?????!!!!!

      • Cumberland

        We considered Gordo as being the PM of England.

      • justejudexultionis

        But there will be, God willing.

        SAOR ALBA.

  • Malcolm McCandless

    So the Tory organ grinder prefers his pet Labour monkey to speak for him. Not very brave nor smart because both Cameron and Darling have now been effectively sidelined from the debate. Cameron will be remembered as the new Johnny Cope, whilst Darling will simply be ignored.

  • Jeanne Tomlin

    Comments such as calling Alex Salmond “Il Tartanissimo”, a not too hidden attempt to compare him to a dictator and Mussolini, SHOULD be below the standards of The Spectator. Apparently they aren’t. This was a fairly balanced article until that point at which absurdity, I stopped reading. Apparently democracy only counts when the party that the Spectator supports wins.

    • terregles2

      Nasty and distasteful but unfortunately it seems now that attempts are made to hide poor journalism with nastiness and sneering.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Oh come. I know Scots don’t have much sense of humour where things Scottish are concerned, but nobody thinks wee Eck is at all like Mussolini except in terms of girth. It’s a joke, a pleasantry.

      • jelliedeels

        then why do englishmen whine about The jocks dont like us ,its anti English ,—its only a joke

      • Jeanne Tomlin

        Since when is comparing someone to a murderous dictator a “pleasantry”? Was it also a “pleasantry” when Lord George Foulkes made the same comparison in parliament? Or when Jeremy Paxman compared Salmond to Robert Mugabe in the middle of an interview? You are quite right that Scots do not find such supposed “pleasantries” humourous.

      • Jeanne Tomlin

        Since when is being compared to a murderous dictator a pleasantry? And was it also a pleasantry when Lord George Foulkes made exactly the same comparison in parliament? And when Jeremy Paxman compared Salmond to Mugabe in an interview? Funny what a theme those “pleasantries” have that somehow Scots are incapable of “doing” democracy. Or not funny, any more than the comparison is a joke or a pleasantry.

  • http://logicsrock.blogspot.co.uk/ Roddy Macdonald

    Well squirmed, Alex. Though your poker analogy was getting a bit tortuous. Reading other comments, why do the unionist side always try to turn the indyref into a Scotland – England match?

    There are 2 polities competing for the governance of Scotland: The Scottish Government and the UK Government, who other than their respective leaders should debate in a head-to-head?

    As to those why shy from an Englishman debating Salmond, I would remind them that his name is Cameron even though, to use Derek Bateman’s excellent Hx3 phrase, the heid, hairt and hingers do seem to have been bred out of him in surprisingly few generations.

    • Wessex Man

      This gets more amusing by the minute, when I pointed out to the Scot Nationalists on these pages that Cameron had said “I am proud of the Scottish blood that pounds through my veins” you all disowned him and scolded me for repeating what he had said!

      “There are 2 polities competing for the governance of Scotland: The Scottish Government and the UK Government, who other than their respective leaders should debate in an head-to-head.”

      There is certainly not it is the Yes Campaign led by a Scot, Salmond and the No Campaign lead by a Scot, Darling, just get on with it and stop trying to expand the debate south of the border, we the English are not allowed to vote so why on earth should a man you insist is English become involved?

      • terregles2

        Nobody is insisting that an Englishman become involved they are saying that the Prime Minister of the UK should become involved. The fact that he is English is irrelevant. There have been Scottish UK Prime Ministers in the past as we are frequently reminded.
        The Prime Minister of the UK has a duty to speak for everyone in the UK it is his duty.

        • Wessex Man

          absolutely not, you can’t have it both ways, either it’s a Scotland only debate or it’s open to all the UK, do make your mind up!

          • terregles2

            You are so obsessed on whether people are classed as English or Scottish or otherwise. How on earth does it matter what country anyone was born in. I would rather consider whether or not people were decent kind human beings rather than where their parents happened to give birth.

            • Wessex Man

              I do worry for you some times, why on earth would I be obsessed on whether people are classed as English or Scottish? You are resulting to the language of the gutter trying to make me a racist because I don’t like the way you Scottish Nationalists are constantly trying to make it a Scottish verus English debate, get on with your campaign and stop trying to portray anyone who doesn’t like to tone of your comments anti-Scottish!

    • Fernando5

      “There are 2 polities competing for the governance of Scotland: The Scottish Government and the UK Government”.
      No, there aren’t, Roddy. The UK government doesn’t compete to govern Scotland. It is for the Scots to decide whether they wish to remain in a Union with England and Wales and Northern Ireland.
      Personally, I’d be disappointed if you separated. But it is entirely up to you.

      • terregles2

        If it does not compete to govern Scotland why has it launched the Better Together campaign, This campaign is led by Blair McDougall who was a chief advisor to the Tony Blair government.
        It is Scottish people who front the Better Together campaign but they are mostly members of British unionist parties who follow the party line from the Westminster government. They are in effect the voice of Westminster government both Labour and Tory.

        • Wessex Man

          oh dear!

  • Greenslime

    My antecedents are Jock. My family are from the part where they don’t speak English as a first language. And not posh Jocks either, proper crofter stock.

    What McSalmon wants is a posh Englishman on Scottish TV screens who he can sneer at. That will always impress the anti-English streak which runs through significant parts of the country.

    Debating a fellow Scot makes it very difficult for Salmon to play that racist card. Nope, he needs English people, preferably plummy voiced ones to give him that little extra twist.

    This is a Scottish decision. If they want to leave the Union, it is their choice. Throwing a posh Englishman from Oxfordshire into a debate with Salmon on Scottish TV just plays into his hands. He will attempt to make hay with the ‘too scared to show’ line but he won’t get so much mileage out of it as he would from the rough and tumble of a TV debate.

    I hope they don’t decide to leave, by the way.

    • DougDaniel

      “I hope they don’t decide to leave, by the way.”

      Aye, I imagine it’ll be pretty embarrassing when rUK has to admit they’ve been relying on us “Jocks” to keep the UK afloat for the past 30 years.

      Still, with such heart-warming comments like yours, why on earth would we want to leave…?

    • terregles2

      I don’t know what debate you have been following but anti English sentiment is not part of it. People want Scottish independence as they want to govern their own country just as almost every other country in the world does.
      It is about people living in Scotland managing their own affairs and the SNP has Englsh members. You may be prejudiced against English people and posh people but do not say that the rest of the Scottish nation share your narrow views.
      This is 2013 for heavens sake sneering at people because they are well educated and happen to have been born in another country is really so backward and narrow minded.

      • HJ777

        Here we go again.

        Your opponents are ‘narrow minded’. Saves debating honestly, I suppose.

        • Jeanne Tomlin

          Well, it might if the head of the Union (the one that Cameron swore he would defend with every fibre of his being) wanted to debate. It’s a moot point.

    • Jeanne Tomlin

      What does Scots wanting to run their own affairs have to do with being “anti-English” except for the assumption that everything must revolve around the English–made not by Scots, but by the English themselves.

      Cameron put himself firmly into the debate. He said: “I will defend the Union with every fibre of my being”. Apparently, he meant every fibre except any that involved debating Alex Samond one-on-one.

      • HJ777

        Rather clumsy and revealing making trying to make a point about not being motivated by being anti-English by making an anti-English comment, don’t you think?

        • Jeanne Tomlin

          You are welcome to come up with another explanation for the obsession that somehow the Scottish desire to be independent has nothing to do with Scotland and everything to do with England. Was the same argument brought against India? Australia? New Zealand? Canada? They were only anti-English and didn’t really care about being independent? Nope. I didn’t think so (although they received their share of insults). Only Scots don’t REALLY want to run their own affairs and are just in a tiff with the all-important England.

          But you just proved my point. Any defence made by the Scots is of course “anti-English”.

          • Andy

            I have a good friend who is Scottish. She is actually far more Scottish than Salmond. But she speaks with a plumy English accent. The amount of anti-English racism she has been subjected too would make even you think twice. I want independence for England. I want we English to be able to govern our own affairs without interference. We don’t have that at present.

            • Maidmarrion

              Gee! How does she manage to be more Scots than Mr Salmond?
              And don’t give us this made up friend drivel.

              • Andy

                The only drivel around here is from you. Idiot.

                • terregles2

                  Are you always so boorish Andy.?

                • Wessex Man

                  Like you he is free to make any comment he likes, the fact that he has a Scottish friend is no more ‘made up drivel’ than your English friends!

                • terregles2

                  Of course he is free to make a comment but rudeness is never necessary nor welcome.

                • Wessex Man

                  Really!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve just read your comment about Cameron in First World War tranches!

                • Jambo25

                  Still haven’t answered the Question. How is she far more Scottish than Salmond? Does she have a suspension of raw haggis and malt whisky in her veins rather than blood?

              • Fergus Pickering

                My Scottish stepmother had a plummy accent. So did Jo Grimond. Lots of Scots do.

                • allymax bruce

                  Poor journo-ism always attracts the cringe fringe.

            • jelliedeels

              As ever with the chip on the shoulder englishman it all comes down to “you doNt like me “–poor didum

          • HJ777

            No, you just proved my point.

            • Wessex Man

              Perhaps Jeanne Tomlin and terregles2 would like to expand on the views of the Scottish Independence Convention’s Vice Convener, Kevin Williamson who said that – An Independent Scotland sound conduct an social audit of all government officals and public employees to discover their “demographic” and who they speak for.

              Getting a bit close to the National Socialists of Germany and their views on race there which caused the Second World War!

              Or alan Bissett from the Scottish National collective who said that Scotland has been imperially controlled by London for a thousand years.

              Or James Kelman “Scotland is the victim of supernacist ideology. To be properly British is to submit to English hierarchy and to reconise and assert the glory of it’s value system.”

              All reported in a Scottish Sunday paper last sunday.

              • terregles2

                Which newspaper was that.?

                • Wessex Man

                  Scotland on Sunday!

            • terregles2

              Talking of Scots vs English I don’t think Fergus Pickering is Scottish.

              • HJ777

                Rather more Scottish than you, I suspect.

                • terregles2

                  Do you think I am English?

                • Wessex Man

                  oh Lord I hope not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                • terregles2

                  There you go again introducing unfriendliness. H777 implied I was not Scottish. I asked him if he thought I was English and you cannot pass the chance to be rude.

          • terregles2

            The trolls are out in force tonight Jeanne. Best ignored.

            • Jeanne Tomlin

              True.

              • Wessex Man

                ditto!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            • Wessex Man

              Classic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • terregles2

        We know Jeanne the truth is that many people living in Scotland including many English people here would prefer to be governed from Edinburgh rather than London. Rather than have a debate into the merits or otherwise of that, some unionists berate us for being anti English.
        Those of us who matter know that is not true but it wont stop unionists making that accusation.

    • Jambo25

      “posh Jocks”, “Mc Salmon”, “sneer”, “anti-English streak”, “play the racist card”. You just can’t help yourself: can you? I bet it’s just ‘banter’ though.

    • terregles2

      It is not just a Scottish decision. It is a decision for all the people living in Scotland many of whom are not Scottish. They will decide the future of the country they have settled in and that is as it should be,

      • Greenslime

        I agree. So why does Salmond so badly want to have David Cameron debate him? Salmond can make his point to the people of Scotland and they can make their choice. If anyone needs to debate him, it should be a resident of Scotland who disagrees with his proposition. As the meerkat says, “seemples!”.

        No need for any English politicians to get involved. But you can’t remove their interest because the decision, whatever it is, will effect every single resident of England. And Wales, and Northern Ireland too.

        • terregles2

          Salmond wants a debate becasue he believes that Scotland would benefit from self government. Cameron has said that self government will be bad for Scotland. Let them publicly state their reasons for that argument.
          A debate is something that neither of them should be afraid of. If you believe in someting you should be happy to say why.

          • JAMES MORRISEY

            Actually Cameron said that an Independent Scotland would be a successful country.
            Maybe that’s why he is too Project Feart to have a debate with the F.M.

            • terregles2

              That is true James. In the debate we are bomarded with negative claims against Scottish independence in spite of the GERS figures and in spite of Cameron admitting that Scotland would do well with independence.
              Ask the question why is Scotland being governed from Westminster the best thing for Scotland and the silence is deafening.

          • Greenslime

            You contradict yourself. If it is a Scottish decision to be made by the population of Scotland, then the debate should be between them. The extension you propose, because Cameron has a view, by your own argument is, surely, nugatory.

            This is either a UK debate, when everyone should take part (and vote) or it is a Scottish debate in which the Scots should participate.

            The reason that Salmond wants Cameron to debate him, I believe, is that he calculates that a posh Englishman imploring the Scots to stay within the Union will work to his favour. This can never be proven, but I suspect that if Gordon Brown were still in Downing Street, Salmond would not have been nearly as keen to debate with him.

            • terregles2

              Surely you cannot be advocating that all Scottish people should be disenfranchised.
              Are you saying that if a majority in Scotland vote YES all the other large majority of people living elsewher in the UK can cancel out that vote. Hardly a democratic argument.
              YES voters are asking for a debate with Cameron not because he is English but because he is UK Prime Minister and says he believes in the union but refuses to put forward his reasons in public.

              We would ask for a debate with the UK Prime Minister whether he was English Scots Welsh or Northern Irish. It has nothing to do with nationality it is to do with his position which is not a nugatory one.

              • Wessex Man

                amazing Greenslime has said nothing of the sort, show me where he’s said that, you really need to get a grip!

                • terregles2

                  He said that everyone in the UK should take part in the debate ( and vote).
                  Which would mean ( If they voted) that the 60 million UK majority would cancel out the 5 million people living in Scotland which would mean Scots would be disenfranchised.
                  Which part of that statement do you need explained.?

                • Wessex Man

                  That should cheer you up on end as the many more of the English population want you to have Independence than the Scottish population!

      • Redneck

        Jambo25 & terregles2

        I am genuinely surprised that, in your social circles, you have not come across a significant element of anti-English (specifically SE English) sentiment from your more ardent “yes” voting friends.

        Similarly, I can honestly say that I know none of my English-, Welsh- or Northern Irish-British friends, neighbours or friends, living in Scotland who intend to vote yes. Not one.
        They, by-and-large like the freedom to easily inhabit any part of the UK and, like me, like being British and express some concerns over the future direction of Scotland, should Independence come to pass. This is definitely more prevalent amongst those of English descent, many of whom have had “bigoted” comments made towards them.

        We seem to be inhabiting different countries?

        • terregles2

          Redneck you have never seen me post any anti English insults. Some of my most ardent YES voting friends are English people who moved here from the south east of England. YES campaigners are against Westminster government they are not against English people. Why would we be. Most of us have English friends and family and none of that will change after independence.
          You talk about bigoted comments have you read some of the anti Scottish nastiness posted here, the latest comment from Fergus is just one example.
          None of your friends in Scotland intend to vote YES well that is up to them we will all choose what we think is best for Scotland. If your friends are all no voters they must be disappointed that Cameron will not come up and publicly put forward their point of view.
          I have friends and family in the south of Ireland. They are an independent country but we all feel quite at home when we visit them and they are free to come and go and live anywhere they like in the UK. Just as anyone in the UK can go and live there. It will be the same for Scotland after independence.
          Almost every country in the world has self government and to suggest Scotland should not have the same is illogical.

          I have friends who are voting NO and friends who are voting YES. We have lots of debates on the subject but I can assure you anti English insults are not on the agenda.
          .

          • Redneck

            terregles2

            I apologise if you think I meant you personally had been using insulting language, that is not what I was meaning at all: you seem very polite.

            Similarly, I was not really referring to comments in blogs which don’t really equate to conversations between family, friends or colleagues.

            I was simply relating that I find it odd that with those family members etc, with whom I speak, there is definitely a degree of anti-English sentiment amongst those who intend to vote “Yes”. This is clearly, diametrically opposed to your experience and I am curious as to why we have very different personal encounters.

            In a similar vein, don’t you find it odd that our non-Scottish-British compatriots plan to vote so differently? I work in Lothian and must have >50 colleagues & acquaintances who are non-Scottish-British and not one wants Scotland to drop the UK.

            It was simply an observation that we clearly have wildly different experiences.

            • terregles2

              Thanks for your apology I am glad that you accept that I have never insulted English people and quite honestly I cannot understand anyone who does. Equally I know the few trolls who post insults about Scots on this forum do not speak for the English people.
              I honestly do not know anyone who is voting YES who has any resentment towards the English they want people living in Scotland to govern Scotland no more no less.. I have friends who are YES voters some of them are NO and a few are still undecided. Some of the most enthusiastic YES ones are those who moved here from England. I have listened to debates where it is the English who are telling the Scots no voters that they think they should go for independence.
              Your question is interesting and I have asked the English people living here if they have encountered any anti English sentiment and they have told me no. I think the difference may be that some people believe that having a separate government means we will be shutting out our English neighbours and dropping the UK. I don’t think it will be like that after independence. I feel quite at home when I visit Dublin and just as close to my Irish relatives as I do to my English relatives. I don’t think it is governments that unite us it is friendship and family.

            • Fergus Pickering

              I grew up in Scotland and there was plenty of anti-English feeling. I did not suffer from it because I very rapidly aped the accent. I still can. At the drop of a bloody hat, man.

              • terregles2

                Main thing is Fergus it never left you bitter.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Many of my best friends are Scots. I just pretend I agree with their ridiculous views.

        • terregles2

          Redneck many YES campaigners are English people living in Scotland, If some of your friends are voting no well they are entitled to do that we are all voting for what we think is best for Scotland. After independence we will all be moving freely around the UK just as our friends in the south of Ireland do now. YES campaigners are against Westminster government not English people.

    • Dave_Coull

      “This is a Scottish decision”? WRONG. It is a decision for the people of Scotland. Folk who consider themselves very Scottish but who live in the USA, or Australia, or Canada, or England, have no part to play in the decision. Folk who do not feel particularly Scottish, but who live in Scotland, do.

      I have an utterly brilliant idea. There are several hundred thousand English folk living quite happily in Scotland. Many of them plan to vote YES to independence. Some of the founders and some of the full time workers of the YES Campaign are English. And approximately one tenth, that’s right, about one person in every ten, of the membership of the SNP, are English. Several SNP members of the Scottish Parliament, and a couple of members of the SNP government, were born in England. If David Cameron is so worried that any debate with Alex Salmond could turn into a Scottish versus English thing, I have a solution. He could debate with an English person instead! If both of them are English, then it can’t possibly turn into a Scottish versus English thing! It would be up to the Scottish government to decide which English person, living in Scotland and advocating independence, they nominate to debate with David Cameron. The Prime Minister can either debate with Alex or with an English person representing Alex. His choice. If he refuses both then what we are dealing with really is just cowardice.

  • terregles2

    Mr Cameron vowed to stop the break up of the United Kingdom and to ” fight Scottish independence with every single fibre that I have “. Mmmm… the unionists must be really relieved that their leader and biggest defender of the union did not state that he would take a back seat on the issue.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      The only thing Cameron would fight for is the direction a bottle of port went round a table.

      The Yessers must’ve choked on their Tunnocks when they heard that.

  • CornishExile

    I expect to see Salmond explain the shape of the future government if the vote is ‘Yes’, but equally Cameron to make binding commitments on the future of Scotland in the Union in return for a ‘No’ vote.

    Darling may be head of the NO campaign, but neither he nor Jenkins as head of the Yes campaign can actually make any commitments about the future of Scotland.They are, in fact, campaigners only.

    Will, can, Darling commit the UK on policy such as the Barnett formula, review the Airline Passenger Tax if England gets the a huge HS2 travel subsidy, and of course make devolution unbreakable? Even if he does, what is his authority? Has the UK parliament delegated him to speak on its behalf?

    In short, I want promises from both sides. Darling cannot make any promises that I can believe will bind the UK government.

    • Greenslime

      No-one should be giving any commitments as part of this debate. If it comes down to that, the independence issue will just be a big blackmail expedition. Scotland shouldn’t get any more or less than other parts of the Union.

      • CornishExile

        It’s a bit more than a debate… I could wake up in a different nation.

        I’m not asking for favours, I’m asking for the NO people to put up someone with authority and make some basic commitments to a Scotland continuing as part of the UK. Darling has no parliamentary authority to talk for the UK, he was chosen by political parties.

    • terregles2

      Of course you are right. If Westminster are telling the people living in Scotland not to vote for independence because of certain consequences then they should also tell the people living in Scotland what the consequences of voting no will be.
      Darling has no power over future governments and it is the unionists who have to spell out the no vote consequences. SNP have clearly stated what they will do if they are elected to government after independence.
      It would have been really good to see a debate between Salmond and Cameron but unfortunately that does not now look likely to happen.

      • MichtyMe

        I would feel a bit sorry of Cameron, having to argue for dependency and against self reliance, determination and national sovereignty.

    • Jeanne Tomlin

      Just a FYI: Jenkins is not the head of the YesScotland campaign although he is sometimes referred to as such. The Chair of the YesScotland campaign in Dennis Canavan.

      • CornishExile

        Thanks for the correction, Jeanne.

        In the absence of Cameron, I’m making do with reading up on Gladstone -v- Lord Salisbury, circa 1888, when Home Rule for Scotland was first debated and the Scottish Home Rule Society formed. It’s odd how little the NO arguments have changed in 130 years.

        Incidentally the Spectator was pro Home Rule then, if that means anything?

    • Fernando5

      I don’t think Cameron could give you those commitments either. They could all change with another PM or a different House of Commons. Salmond’s view of what a future Scottish government might do would only be relevant to the next set of elections.
      Whether you vote to end the Union should not be dependent on such short-term considerations.

  • Cumberland

    This is for the Scots to decide. Placing an Englishman, even though he is the PM of the United Kingdom, into an opposing position to the First Minister of Scotland will give The First Minister a definite advantage,surely the PM realises this.

    • terregles2

      You make a fair point but surely the PM at the moment is PM of all the UK. He has stated his complete commitment to stopping Scottish independence. If he has a commitment to putting forward the case against Independence does he not owe it to the Scottish unionists to argue their case for them in public with Alex.

      • DougDaniel

        Indeed. If it’s not the PM’s place to debate these issues, then by the same token it’s not the place of Whitehall to be churning out propaganda against independence either. Will we stop seeing George Osborne coming up here to tell us we can’t keep our own currency? Will Phillip Hammond stop telling us we can’t afford to defend ourselves while cutting Scottish troops and bases? Will Theresa May stop speaking guff about border posts etc? Nae likely. But none of them have a vote in the referendum, so Cameron’s excuse applies equally.

      • HJ777

        If Alex Salmond has a commitment to putting forwards the case for Scottish independence, then does he not owe it to the Scottish separatists to argue his case in public with Scottish unionists?

        • Dave_Coull

          Which ones? Gordon Brown perhaps? He very nearly was the continuing prime minister. When the results of the 2010 election came in, and it was clear nobody had won, the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and the Ulster Unionists were all prepared for him to continue in government; so, if Nick Clegg had done a deal with Labour instead of with the Tories, he might still be PM. And Gordon definitely wouldn’t be running away from a debate. But it was not to be. David Cameron is the Prime Minister, he has said he will fight for the Union with every fibre of his being, so it is up to him to show that was not just an idle boast.

        • Brian Forrest

          Alex Salmond argues his case in public every day, in particular in full view of the cameras every week at First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood, where he regularly demolishes their often puerile contentions. QED.

          • HJ777

            Well, obviously, if you question Alex Salmond, you are making ‘puerile contentions’.

            Whereas people like you are all grown up.

            • Brian Forrest

              I think the manner of your statement answers itself…

              • Wessex Man

                Well said HJ777!

      • Cumberland

        It would be better for the unionist side that a Scot argues their case, after all it is Scots who will decide, An Englishman arguing against a Scottish First Minster on this subject is not a good move.

        • terregles2

          There are constant debates in Scotland between Scots unionists and Scots YES campaigners. We have plenty of Scottish people arguing both sides. I think it is slightly disrespectful to say that our First Minister should debate with any old unionist who happens along whatever their political status.
          I do not like the policies of Cameron but his position should be respected we would not expect him to debate with a junior politician. Why would we expect Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister to do so.

          • Andy

            And you would be the first to jump up and down with rage at Cameron interfering in Scottish politics, just as Salmond has done when it suited him. Cameron cannot win whatever he does on this issue.

            • terregles2

              I have never jumped up and down with rage over anything in my life
              All the people living in Scotland are debating Scottish independence. i am voting YES and therefore I am not particularly interested in anything Cameron has to say. I have never voted for him as I disagree with his policies on almost everything..
              The point I was making was that some people in Scotland are unionists. They intend to vote no in 2014. They are the people Cameron has let down. At the moment they are UK citizens and Cameron is their Prime Minister. If he cannot put forward the argument for the union and speak up fot them then he is treating them in a shabby way.
              There is nobody properly defending the Scottish unionists now. Cameron has let them down badly.

              • Andy

                But YOU are not interested in anything Mr Cameron has to say on this topic or any other for that matter. Actually quite a lot of people in Scotland want to keep the Union – we actually have two Unions, so were are talking the Union of Parliaments and Governments. Cameron is English, not Scottish, and sits for an English Seat in the Commons. People such as yourself would be only too quick to point out that Cameron is messing in Scottish politics. As I said he can’t win eitherway as your comments make clear.

                • Wessex Man

                  You’ve hit the nail on the head there Andy, this is the usual sort of offering we normally get from terregles2, who doesn’t see the irony of demanding a debate between Salmond and Cameron and in the same comment says she isn’t particulary interested in anything he has to say, remarkable.

                  So what she really wants is Cameron to turn up, say nothing and be a punchbag for Salmond- some democracy that!

                • terregles2

                  Why would Cameron be a punchbag for Salmond ?. Cameron believes in the union. He should be prepared to argue that case and tell us why the union is good for Scotland.
                  I don’t want him to do it for me as I am a YES voter and he would not persuade me to change my mind.
                  He should do it for the people in Scotland who want to keep the union. He is their Prime Minister if he can’t speak up for them who can?
                  You see how upset Andy is at the thought of Scottish independence. Cameron is turning his back on the Scottish unionists like Andy and they all deserve better from the Prime Minister of their country.

                • Wessex Man

                  Please tell just what it is that Salmond has to debate with someone you have been calling an Englishman about an internal Scottish debate, you have your leaders from both sides just get on with it!

                • terregles2

                  Lots of English people voice an opinion on Scottish independence including yourself.
                  That is welcome all debate and communication are good.
                  What we need from all the no campaigners are a list of reasons why Scotland should continue to be governed from Westminster. That has never been presented.
                  There are no voters in Scotland and also quite a lot of undecided. Cameron should put forward the case for the no camp and also try and help the undecided make up their minds. He is the Prime Minister and if he does not step up to the plate some people might think he does not have a convincing argument.

                • Dave_Coull

                  The Better Together campaign is being orchestrated from Downing Street/Whitehall/Westminster. Alastair Darling was not elected Chairman of Better Together by anybody, not even by the 29 percent of the electorate of the Edinburgh West constituency who voted for him at the last election, he was appointed by Downing Street/Whitehall/Westminster. Still, he does hold the position of Chairman of Better Together; and his exact equivalent on the other side is Dennis Canavan, Chairman of the YES Campaign. Alastair should stop running away from debate with his former Labour colleague. I’m sure Dennis will go easy on him, for old time’s sake.

                  As for David Cameron, he has stated he will fight for the Union with every fibre of his being. He is the head of a government which is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of our money on churning out endless propaganda “reports” advocating a NO vote. He should stop running away from debate with the First Minister.

                • jelliedeels

                  you have your leaders from both sides
                  ======
                  indeed Daring and Canavan –let them debate

                • Wessex Man

                  I don’t have any leaders on either side and don’t really care whether it’s Darling-Canavan or Darling- Salmond, I keep telling you it’s up to Scots to debate because it’s about Scotland only!

                • terregles2

                  You are right Andy I agree with you .There are many Scottish people who want to keep the union that is why I believe Cameron should speak up for them.
                  I do not agree with Cameron’s policies but he is the Prime Minister of the UK that is one of the reasons why I want independence. I am not interested in his arguments because after reading the McCrone report I have no trust in the
                  Westminster government and I don’t believe they have policies that are best for Scotland nor indeed do they give an honest deal.

                  I would feel let down if Salmond refused to debate with Cameron. If I were a no voter I would feel let down by Cameron. We should never be frightened by debate. We should welcome it.

                • Brian Forrest

                  The reason he can’t win is because he has no ammunition, no supportable arguments to defend the indefensible, only tired old, many-times disproved sound bites. Scotland is looking to the future…one set free from all the shackles, fiscal and political with which the Union has plundered our resources for centuries. It’s the same old story…if Westminster had, in fact, “played the game” fairly, and given Scots the parity and respect deserving of an equal partnership, perhaps the Union could, and perhaps even should, have proved an acceptable invention for the benefit of both countries. Instead, of course, as evidenced so many times historically, Perfidious Albion sailed sublimely on, assuming undebated the mantle of great, undisputed, leader until even the people of Scotland actually believed, for the most part, that being gradually subsumed into Greater England and her all-conquering Empire was to be desired. The scales have been dropping from our eyes for many years now, as they were bound to do, and the genie is well and truly out of the bottle. Sooner or later, it is my fervent hope and belief that the politics of today will ensure that Scotland will once again take her rightful place in the world, responsibly and maturely making her own decisions and contributions. If we are such a drain on England and her people as they would have us believe, surely they would wish us well, without rancour or animosity…? If not, one would be entitled to ask why not.

                • Wessex Man

                  ” The reason he can’t win is because he has no ammunition, no supportable arguements to defend the indefensible only tired old many-times disproved sound bites.”

                  So if you think that why on earth do you want him to debate with Salmond?

                • Brian Forrest

                  Not me issuing challenges…merely observing the reasons why Cameron would inevitably lose…

                • Jambo25

                  Perhaps, to make the position clear to others.

                • jelliedeels

                  is that the level of your logic skills –teenage stuff

                • Wessex Man

                  If you think my comment is teenage stuff compared to the Brian Forrest’s blatantly racist comment above mine, you obviously approve of such statements and are as racist sa him, sad really sad!

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Dear me. Do you have to go on so? Try writing all this in a hundred words or so.

                • Brian Forrest

                  Why…? Would it be more “digestible” to you…? Or perhaps as acceptable as the paltry 130 words which Cameron deigned to offer in defence of the Union when requested to by a National broadsheet…?

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Because you are boring. Nobody reads anything this long except your mates.

                • Jambo25

                  Cameron is PM of that Union. Why cannot he make the case; any case for it?

                • jelliedeels

                  your being childish –where ever camerons constituency is he as Prime minister controls Scotlands block grant ,foreign policy ,welfare policies and should be made to justify that in a tv debate

            • Jambo25

              Cameron interferes in Scottish politics and economics, foreign affairs etc etc time and time again by virtue of his positon as PM of the UK. That is the whole point of this discussion.

            • JPJ2

              Andy
              As has been pointed out, Cameron IS interfering in Scottish politics-he is always talking about how he wants Scotland to remain in the union and he uses the UK civil service to provide anti-independence propaganda
              However, he is simply too afraid to debate the issue with Salmond. He should debate Salmond or shut up!.

              • terregles2

                Cameron has not grasped the basics. He has the power but runs away from the responsibilty. He was really embarrassing on the Andrew Marr show this morning.
                His feeble excuse for not debating with Salmond was that Salmond wants to do anything but debate independence ?.
                The reply that Salmond sent to Cameron is published on wingsoverscotland website.
                I think that when Mr Cameron reads it he will be more than glad that he ran away.
                Cameron is keen to celebrate WW1 think most of us would be relieved that we never found ourselves in a trench in WW1 with him as leader.

          • Cumberland

            Debating a junior politician is exactly what you are suggesting.

            • terregles2

              That reply is why the YES vote is rising

              • Wessex Man

                It’s not moving and that’s why you are desperate for a debate, don’t quote to me the Panelbase Opinion Poll that said it was, they closed new entries when they realised that Scot Nats had invaded their membership to push up the Nat argument, sad!

        • jelliedeels

          “It would be better for the unionist side that a Scot argues their case, after all it is Scots who will decide,”
          ================
          not so all residents of scotland will have a vote including people from England —-ethnicity has nothing to do with it
          .It follows that the prime minister who contols Scotland `s block grant and reserved powers should put forward his case for doing so regardless of his ethnicity

    • allymax bruce

      Cumberland, it’s purposeful; you could almost say Cameron has allowed Alex’ Salmond a free-run into the Scottish Referendum next year, hoping Scotland votes Yes. I mean, The Conservatives wouldn’t have to be ‘troubled’ with 50+ Labour MP’s leeching off Westminster, punching Tory-Toffs, and generally making an ignorant nuisance of themselves, pushing up Labour’s tally! But, like I say, I posted this comment 2 days ago, but Fagins urchin Seb Payne took it down because I criticised the poor journo-ism of Massie. Andrew Neil, The Spectator needs a clearout! Massie could easily journo for any internet newspaper in Scotland!

  • DougDaniel

    “You want the independence debate to be an argument between you and me; the Scottish Government and UK Government; the SNP and Conservative Party – in fact anything rather than what it really is about. Nor is your argument with the rest of the United Kingdom, it is with the people in Scotland.”

    “This is true and it is part of the nationalist strategy to a) elevate Salmond’s position and b) make it seem as though the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is a foreigner in his own country.”

    No, he’s wrong, Alex. This is about where Scotland wants the powers and responsibilities of government to lie – Westminster or Holyrood. If we vote No, powers over things like taxation, welfare and defence will continue to be held by the parliament led by the Prime Minister. If we vote Yes, they will be transferred to the parliament led by the First Minister.

    If Alex Salmond is to be the man to put forward the arguments for why Holyrood should take control of all the reserved powers, then David Cameron should be the man to put forward the arguments for why Westminster should retain control of them.

    This debate is ultimately about who the head of government of Scotland should be – the First Minister or the Prime Minister. How could the main televised debate be between anyone else?

    • Greenslime

      Did Mr Salmon write this tripe for you?

      • DougDaniel

        What a witty riposte! You, sir, are clearly an intellectual giant.

        • terregles2

          Greenslime reacts as many of the unionists do. They can’t put forward a proper debate against independence and resort to rudeness and insults instead. Rather like the reponse we had today from Mr Cameron.

          • HJ777

            Rather more like your post, I’d say.

            • Jambo25

              terregles’ post was pretty to the point and seemed quite moderate to me

              • HJ777

                Yes, the “anyone who disagrees with me is guilty of rudeness and insults” line would seem moderate to you.

        • Wessex Man

          He certainly is, You are I persume a supporter of Scottish Independence, so why on earth would you want a better debate from a stronger man than Darling? You want Salmond to win don’t you? If this is a purely Scottish question why on earth do you Scots want a wobbly chinned Old Etonian, whey faced English Tory debating with Salmond?

          I believe it’s all part of campaign to say look at this English buffon (which he is) trying to control us. Rather than of course, getting on and winning the Campaign, which sadly you are not doing at the moment!

          • Fergus Pickering

            It really is silly to call Cameron a buffoon (I take it that is what you meant). He may be many things but he is not stupid. Red Ed is rather stupid. That’s what a buffoon look like. Or John Prescott. That’s what a fat buffoon looks like.

            • Wessex Man

              Why thank you for correcting my appalling English, now if only we could teach you not to be a racist we might get on, then again if we disagree as to whether Cameron is stupid we would not.

          • terregles2

            If you go to the http://www.wingsoverscotland website and read a copy of the letter that Salmond sent to Cameron in response to Mr Cameron’s refusal to debate. It states clearly why Cameron should debate. Cameron should realise that with power comes responsibility.
            With respect I think that the future of the UK should be decided on rather more than whether any political leader has a wobbly chin or whether or not they went to Eton.
            I went to a Scottish Comprehensive School and even I learned that what people say and do is more important than how they look.
            Tony Blair was not overweight nor was he really dreadful looking and look where that left us.

            • Wessex Man

              Why on earth would I want to go to wingsoverscotland? Why on earth would I want to read what Salmond replied to Cameron’s refusal to debate with him.

              As fo r you trying to score points off of me regarding Cameron’s education, I really don’t care what think of my comments. As to Tony Blair, if you were ever fooled by him, people should feel sorry for you!

              • terregles2

                Where did I say I was ever taken in by Blair? I thought he was a chancer from the first.
                I was trying to point out that a politician’s appearance is not important it is what they do that matters not how they look. You obviously go more for the looks than the substance.
                Well if you don’t intend to read Salmond’s response to Cameron how can you take part in the debate if you don’t have all the facts.?

    • HJ777

      So if there was a referendum to decide whether the UK remained part of the EU, then any TV debate should be between the UK Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission?

      Come off it.

      And cut out the faux outrage.

      • DougDaniel

        No, because the EU isn’t sovereign, and the UK is an independent state. Scotland is being asked who should be its government. The EU doesn’t govern the UK.

        • Wessex Man

          oh dear that’s your worse one on this subject, HJ777 is quite correct you, terregles2 and others are always looking for anything that you think may be minutely offensive, or only offensive only to people with chips on their shoulds as wide as the Clyde to slap anuone who disagrees with you Scottish or English.

          The comments from the Nationalists then descend lower and lower. I find myself uinder attack quite frequently from the madder elements here and I actually support Scottish Independence!

          Just get on with it, every second you spend here- why you could be spending on the doorsteps of Scotland campaigning.

      • Brian Forrest

        “faux outrage”…oooh, get you…witty and obtuse concurrently…swoon

      • allymax bruce

        ‘faux outrage’; you’ve hit the nail on the head, HJ777; I posted a similar comment, up on this pathetic article by Massie, but Fagins urchin, Seb Payne took it down because I slated the risible standard of journo-ism from a few of The Spectator journos.

  • Paris Gourtsoyannis

    I was 9 in 1995, so obviously my personal recollections of either referendum are hazy/non-existent, but I’m fairly sure neither Trudeau nor Chretien debated the respective Parti Quebecois provincial premiers on the subject of the referendum.

    • Wessex Man

      Unfortunately I’m considerably older than you but you are quite correct, the only reason Alex Salmond wants a debate with Desperate Dave is that the Yes campaign is flagging so he wants a posh English Eton Tory boy up against him to mock his Englishness to score points off of him.

      No representation no debate, we English are not allowed to vote on the referendum why debate with us? If Salmond is not happy with a Scottish opponent who signed The Scottish Claim of Right, to put the interests of Scotland above all others then it rather shows his own weakness!

      • terregles2

        Mr Cameron did not just refuse to debate he answered the invitation with quite a few derogatory remarks about the ability of the Scottish people to govern an independent country.
        English people are allowed to vote in the debate. The English people living in Scotland along with other nationalities living in Scotland are all voting in 2014.
        You should not really insult Cameron by calling him a posh English Tory boy. We may disagree with him politically but that is no reason to disrespect him. You also should not use the word English in a negative way. Many no voters both English and Scottish here in Scotland are disappointed by Cameron’s decision as they feel that as some of them are staunch unionists Cameron has let them down by not arguing their case in public with Alex. They feel that as they are UK voters and supporters their PM should be right up there trying to tell Scots why they should stick with the union.
        Cameron did say at the beginning of the no campaign that he would fight with every fibre of his being to save the union. Not much evidence of that so far.
        It is hardly surprising that the YES campaign continues to grow if the UK PM refuses to debate in public.

        • HJ777

          It didn’t take you long to fabricate the “Cameron is being derogatory about all Scots” line again while I am defending a posh Englishman, did it?

          Pathetically predictable.

          And wholly fake, of course.

          • terregles2

            I actually said that Cameron made derogatory remarks about the ability of the Scottish people to govern themselves. If you take time to read his letter that is indeed what he did.
            Once again you have no logical adult comments to contribute so resort to juvenile insults. If you cannot contribute to an adult debate in a sensible manner it is probably better not to say anything at all.

            • HJ777

              Cameron made no such remarks – they are purely a figment of your imagination.

              Then why do you say anything at all since your ability to behave like an adult is clearly woefully lacking?

              • Wessex Man

                We know her so well from our previous encounters!

                • HJ777

                  Yes, she’s tediously transparent, isn’t she?

                  She imagines slights against Scots and Scotland in anything anyone English says (she just can’t provide any evidence).

          • Jambo25

            I think you’ve just made terregles 2’s point that Unionist’s resort to insults rather than debating. Congratulations.

            • HJ777

              “Unionists resort to insults rather than debating”.

              And that isn’t a blanket insult then?

              Grow up.

      • Jambo25

        “why debate with us?” Well, in the case of Cameron ; it’s because he’s PM of the United Kingdom.

  • Jambo25

    Why should Salmond debate with a discredited ex cabinet minister and current back bencher who holds no official government position except back bench MP?

    • HJ777

      Because he wants the debate and Cameron is under no obligation to debate with him.

      If he doesn’t want to debate with whoever the opposing side choose to put up against him, then you have to ask yourself what he is afraid of and why he wanted the debate in the first place.

      • DougDaniel

        Oh the irony. Alistair Darling spent months avoiding debates with Blair Jenkins, because he can’t debate against non-politicians. In fact, I don’t know if he’s debated him at all yet.

        And don’t mention Dennis Canavan, because Alistair will make a run for it!

        • terregles2

          Darling would be out of depth with most politicians but I don’t think anyone would ever expect him to debate with a politician of integrity such as Canavan.
          If I were a no campaigner I think I would be depressed at the lack of talent and reluctance to debate within the no campaign supporters. It seems that a lack of a coherent argument has resulted in a flurry of insults and silly scare stories from the unionists..
          .
          People can agree or disagree with Jenkins, Salmond and the other YES campaigners but they never run scared of a debate with anyone. Even those who do not vote for them respect that.

        • Dave_Coull

          Actually, there is a valid reason for Alastair Darling not debating Blair Jenkins. The reason is that their positions are different.

          Blair Jenkins is the Campaign Director of the YES Campaign. His exact opposite is Blair Macdougall, the Campaign Director of Better Together.

          Dennis Canavan is the Chairman of the YES Campaign. Alastair Darling is the Chairman of Better Together. These two former Labour colleagues, who hold the exact equivalent positions in the rival campaigns, should debate with each other. Dennis Canavan has said repeatedly that he is ready to debate with Alastair Darling. Although the media has failed to report him saying so, I was present on one of the occasions when he said this, and heard him with my own ears.

          Both David Cameron and Alastair Darling have been running away from debate with their equivalents on the other side of the issue. They should both stop running away. In Darling’s case, I’m sure his former Labour colleague will go easy on him, for old time’s sake.

      • Jambo25

        Have a look at Mr. Massie’s last paragraph. That’s where the killer comments lie. Cameron is so disliked north of the border he dare not debate with Salmond. So we now have a situation where nobody in government, at Westminster seems willing to make the case for the Union. As for Salmond: why should he debate with a back bencher. There’s nothing in it for him.

        • Wessex Man

          Get your blinkers off, Salmond is the leader of the Yes Campaign, Darling is the leader of the No Campaign, they are both Scottish. David Cameron is not allowed to vote in the Scottish Referendum and only reason you want him debating is that this is the last desperate throw of the Yes Campaign, the only thing Salmond would be “debating” would be taking the Michael out of Cameron about being a Posh, Rich, old Etonian and trying to show the more impressionable Scots what a modern day Braveheart he is!

          You’ve got your wish of a referendum of the Scots only on Independence, it’s being held next year, just get on with it without the Fat Controller trying to involve Cameron!

          • terregles2

            You really should stop insulting wealthy people who have money and are well educated. There is nothing wrong with an Etonian education. Bitterness is never an attractive quality.
            I believe I should have said Eton education. If I had enjoyed one I would have known that.

            • Wessex Man

              You are beyond parody!

          • Jambo25

            See Mr. Massie’s article. Cameron is PM of the UK but is, essentially, so unpopular in Scotland that he is frightened to debate with Salmond. He is PM of the UK but cannot be bothered to join a debate about it’s continuance and give reasons, if he can think of any, why it should continue.

            Why should Salmond join a debate with Darling. A back bencher and pressure group activist.?

            Incidentally, I see you are upholding that grand old Unioniist tradition of employing personal abuse and innuendo when you cannot think of valid arguments.

            • HJ777

              What “personal abuse and innuendo”?

              You really are an expert at making stuff up and then getting all offended and self-righteous about it.

              • Fergus Pickering

                Self-righteousness and the taking of offence are every Scot’s birthright. There are also sanctimoniouness.and drunkenness.

                • HJ777

                  This bunch of Scots Nats fanatics that swarm all over the Spectator on this (but no other) subject certainly are the most self-righteous and offence-taking bunch I have ever come across.

                  Theirs is a slur on most Scots when they pretend that they represent most Scots. They represent nobody except themselves. If there was a referendum in Scotland on whether to expel this lot, they’d be homeless.

                • terregles2

                  What a horrible nasty remark. The majority of English people would hate to be associated with any English person making such a nasty viscious comment.
                  You should stick to some guidelines. Never write anything online that you would be ashamed or not brave enough to say face to face to the people that you are denigrating.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Well of course I wouldn’t say it face to gace. Scots are also given to violence. I lost a tooth up there. For no reason at all.And I know of what I speak. I went to school in Edinburgh. Oh, and I think the word you want is vicious.

                • terregles2

                  Oh I slipped up with my spelling of vicious….. I can live with that…. I would find it harder to live with being a vicious and nasty person

                • allymax bruce

                  Fergus, you make me laugh; and that’s a good thing, so I like you.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Why thank you, sir. And I like you. Just two crazy scots together!

                • scotcanadien

                  Another Coward like Cameron. I’ll bet you Fergus Pickering isn’t his real name either.

                • allymax bruce

                  You got that right. There’s more cringe in Scotland’s internet journo-ism, than a bucket of sick!

                • scotcanadien

                  Well that is better than the English whose birthright is to lie in a drunken stupour in the vomit filled gutters of his town centre streets every weekend, and to steal and thieve at every chance he gets.

          • Brian Forrest

            Your argument falls at the first hurdle. Alex Salmond is NOT leader of the Yes Campaign…he IS leader of the Scottish Government, and it is entirely reasonable that he should debate Scotland’s position, in or out of the UK, with the leader of the UK Government.Cameron’s attitude smacks of the old patrician who “can’t be bothered” with the minutiae which will lead to him presiding over Scotland’s return to its proper Independent status. If he believes that his case is so just, so robust, he should be defending it “with every fibre” of his being…to coin a phrase…the fact that he won’t, or can’t, speaks volumes.

          • Dave_Coull

            Alex Salmond is most certainly NOT “the leader of the Yes Campaign”. I am actively involved in the Yes Campaign, and I most certainly do not recognise him as MY “leader” !!!!!

            Alex Salmond actually holds no official position whatsoever in the YES Campaign. He is, however, the leader of a government advocating a YES vote. David Cameron holds no official position whatsoever in the Better Together campaign. He is, however, the leader of a government which is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of our money on churning out “reports” advocating a NO vote. These two should debate with each other.

            Dennis Canavan is the Chairman of the YES Campaign. Alastair Darling is the Chairman of the Better Together campaign. These two former Labour colleagues, who hold the exact equivalent positions in the rival campaigns, should debate with each other. Dennis Canavan has said repeatedly that he is ready to debate with Alastair Darling. Although the media has failed to report him saying so, I was present on one of the occasions when he said this, and heard him with my own ears.

            Both David Cameron and Alastair Darling have been running away from debate with their equivalents on the other side of the issue. They should both stop running away. In Darling’s case, I’m sure his former Labour colleague will go easy on him, for old time’s sake.

          • Crefishgyn

            Salmond is not the leader of the Yes campaign. He is the First Minister of Scotland.

            • Wessex Man

              So what is Cameron you silly person, the last time I looked the leader of the No Campaign is Darling, do keep up.

          • scotcanadien

            Use of “Fat Controller” immediately nullifies anything he says.

        • Crefishgyn

          He can expose the confusion and weakness in the unionist case. Darling is a desperate choice to send out to bat when the team captain has gone to hide in the toilets.

          • Wessex Man

            if that’s the case then wouldn’t it be better to have the debates with Darling who would lose and Salmond would romp to victory, you nationalists are very confused!

      • Dave_Coull

        Alex Salmond actually holds no official position whatsoever in the YES Campaign. He is, however, the leader of a government advocating a YES vote. David Cameron holds no official position whatsoever in the Better Together campaign. He is, however, the leader of a government which is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of our money on churning out “reports” advocating a NO vote. These two should debate with each other.

        Dennis Canavan is the Chairman of the YES Campaign. Alastair Darling is the Chairman of the Better Together campaign. These two former Labour colleagues, who hold the exact equivalent positions in the rival campaigns, should debate with each other. Dennis Canavan has said repeatedly that he is ready to debate with Alastair Darling. Although the media has failed to report him saying so, I was present on one of the occasions when he said this, and heard him with my own ears.

        Both David Cameron and Alastair Darling have been running away from debate with their equivalents on the other side of the issue. They should both stop running away. In Darling’s case, I’m sure his former Labour colleague will go easy on him, for old time’s sake.

        • HJ777

          Remind me who is leader of the party that initiated the referendum.

          • Dave_Coull

            In September 2004, I was involved in discussions over forming a group to campaign on a single-issue, non-party-political basis, for a referendum on independence for Scotland. At the start of 2005 we held the inaugural meeting of that group. To begin with we called it Independence First, the Campaign for a Referendum on Independence for Scotland. The “independence first” bit meant we settle the question of independence first of all, then, later on, we could have referendums on other issues, like the EU, and like the monarchy. In 2005 we petitioned the Scottish Parliament for a referendum. The Labour/LibDem Coalition led by Jack McConnell rejected our petition. Then some of us demonstrated outside the Scottish Parliament in September 2007, on Alex Salmond’s first day as First Minister, demanding that a referendum on independence be held without delay. Salmond and the SNP did not agree to our demand. In fact, we are still waiting. But on the 18th of September 2014, ten years after we started campaigning, we will finally get what we have pressured reluctant politicians into.

          • terregles2

            The Scottish people initiated the referendum by voting for the SNP. If the SNP had not kept winning more seats there would have been no referendum

            • Wessex Man

              so you are a SNP member now?

              • terregles2

                You put words in my mouth, Where did I say I vote SNP. I said it was because many people voted SNP that the referendum will happen in 2014. That is what I said nothing else.

              • terregles2

                Did I say I was an SNP member. You just make it up as you go along. I said that there is a referendum because Scottish people were voting SNP. I did not say I had done so.

      • terregles2

        Cameron gave his reason for not debating when he was on the Andrew Marr show this morning. Oh dear he was abysmal. Glad that he is just in charge of a government and not a British battalion in any war.
        Wingsoverscotland have printed the reply that Salmond sent to Cameron after Cameron refused to debate. Bet Cameron was relieved that he declined to take part.

  • commentor

    “There is ego here too.”

    Actually I don’t think so; this isn’t a driving force in objecting to a Salmond Darling pairing.

    BT want to put up a Scottish backbencher because they want to present a fantasy UK where Scots are in their own little bubble. Having the PM of the UK – you know, the guy who is in charge of reserved matters in Scotland – join the debate would pop that bubble.

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