So - as ever on this blog - we start with the basics, who is Alex Salmond?
|This is he.|
He's the current leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland. Before getting involved with politics he studied Economics & History and St Andrews University. He's been an economist at the old Scottish Office (in agriculture) and at the Bank of Scotland (in oil.) He was born in Linlithgow, supports heart of Midlothian and enjoys a curry. He's been an elected politician in various roles at Westminster and Holyrood since 1987.
It is not my intention to defend Alex Salmond, anyone who's heard him talk will know he's well able to do that himself. Nor am I going to blindly agree with everything he says (although many a unionist protagonist would have you believe all supporters of independence do.) I'm just going to suggest he's not as terrible as the press and unionist supporters would have you believe.
Breaking it down, what is it he's offering next year? Putting all the presumption, assertion and conjecture to one side - what he and the SNP are offering is choice. Currently, your Westminster vote counts for nothing (unless you happen to vote the same way the South of England do.)
|Two examples among many.|
If we can suspend our disdain (and in some cases hatred) for Alex Salmond for just a moment, how can a politician offering choice, democracy and fairness be the target of such hostility? Its simple, the hostility comes from the media and the media are predominantly behind the retention of the status quo.
I know you're thinking, 'I just don't like him' or 'he's so smug' etc, you can continue to believe those things (and worse,) but you're not voting for him in the referendum - you're voting for proper representation. If you decide to vote no, you won't be saying no to Alex Salmond, you'll be saying no to having a voice in the way you are governed.
Voting no because you don't like Alex Salmond personally or the SNP's policy on the EU (for example) is a bit like voting no to cooked breakfasts because you don't like a cooked tomato - its the ultimate in self-defeat. (As is voting no because you don't like Alex Salmond.)
|A cooked breakfast.|
Even the press - nominally quite keen on a Better Together soundbite - are beginning to hesitate when it comes to reporting daft negativity. It seems now they are turning their attention more fully on to Salmond, which isn't to say they haven't had a go in the past. The Daily Record stepped in to the breach with this:
The FM has written to a number of successful Scottish sportspeople over time congratulating them on their various respective successes and the Record thinks this is a bit sad and desperate. According to the article, the 'news paper' engaged in a six month FOI battle to get copies of the letters - none which has been answered by any of the sporty ingrates. Of course, that it was a 'six month battle' is part of the same article in which the Daily Record assumed a reply was expected. The letters basically said 'well done' which is a statement, not a question in need of a reply.
Alex Salmond was also criticised for unfurling a Saltire at Wimbledon, about which an independent councillor from Inverness South has lodged an official complaint. At this time, no complaint is forthcoming over David Cameron waving a Union Flag while in the crowd at the Olympic Games or Boris Johnson grimly flapping Union Flags while stuck on a zip wire during Olympic celebrations - both took place in, or in Boris' case, above London.
Personally, I don't mind Alex Salmond. While I don't agree with all of his politics I completely agree with the notion of self-determination and no other political leader is offering that to the people of Scotland. What I do mind is being manipulated by papers like the Record, I mind even more that a moronic tabloid thinks it could.
So by all means, dislike Alex Salmond but don't let it cloud your judgement over the independence referendum, if for no other reason than you'd be falling for an obvious red herring at the behest of the gutter press.
And yes @A_DarlingMP, there will be cooked breakfasts in a separate Scotland.