I watched the Darling/Salmond debate on Monday. It made grim and repetitious watching. According to the polls and pundits Mr Salmond “won”. He did so by failing to answer some questions, and by taking a very passive or conservative line on the things that matter.
Would this brave heart champion of Scottish independence like his new country to have its own currency? No
Would this independence seeker want Scotland to have its own Central Bank? Certainly not.
Would he like Scotland to be free of the all entangling laws and directives of Brussels? Perish the thought.
Did he want to say good bye to all Royal Navy ships and shipbuilding as they became the navy of a different country? Of course not.
Would he pay for and build Scotland’s own naval fleet? There was no wish to spend much money on that.
Would he continue with the same non Scottish Queen as the English? Not even worth asking.
Would he keep the NHS as developed in Westminster? Yes, in every last historic detail. One of the main aims of “independence” is apparently to stop change in the NHS inherited from the UK.
Would he keep the welfare system developed by Westminster? Yes, in every detail, reversing a few recent cuts.
How will he pay the pensions as North Sea revenues disappear? He sees no diminution in North revenues, and ignores the decline in North Sea output from 4.5 m barrels a day to 1.5 million and falling.
To me he came over as a tired old politician seeking to reassure many voters who are alarmed by change that “independence” would not change much, and would certainly not mean independence in many important respects. How can you claim to be an independent state if you use the currency of your powerful neighbour and have to join the EU on terms which will entail considerable sacrifice of decision taking? What will be exciting and different about Salmond’s Scotland if the NHS and the welfare system have to be left just as they were circa 2010? How does that make Scotland a more equal society?