Monday, 18 August 2014
Would we be "diminished" by independence?
The full interview can be found here. I won't repeat it in full, but the principal points he made are as follows:
“Like millions of people in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland I would be desperately sad if the UK broke up,”
“I believe that our campaign has the momentum now – we are winning the argument."
“I hope that it will motivate people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as in Scotland to have their say. One of the things that we have got to get across to people is that this is a decision that is irreversible.”
“If Sunday Telegraph readers want to pick up the phone or send emails to their friends, family, colleagues workmates, I think that can only add to the quality of the debate...people should express their views and if they have got friends, family, relatives in Scotland then they having those conversations is also important.”
“Those 300 years of shared history, those bonds of family and friendship and economic bonds are something that are important to everyone in the UK and whichever part of the UK you live in, we would all be diminished by independence.”
It's hard to feel that Alexander has not missed an opportunity here. This interview is suggestive of desperation on his part, when he could have made a strong case for the Union and, indeed, the Liberal Democrat position for post-referendum Scotland. Why appeal to non Scottish British residents when (as a Scot) he should presumably know how we react to the suggestion that we should be told how to behave by English people - and especially the kind of people who are likely to read the Daily Telegraph!
The assertion that Better Together is winning the argument is open to question, and certainly the most recent polls would suggest that the momentum is not necessarily with the "no" camp. The fact that polls show a lead for "no" should not be taken as an indication of the effectiveness of Better Together, and certainly not its arguments. Actually, the quality of “the argument” itself has been poor, being generally obscured by media obsession with polls and personalities, and characterised by the unnecessary and undignified spat over currency union. Dismissing the claims made for independence by Yes Scotland do not in themselves amount to a robust case in support of the Union either.