A day at the movies

When it comes to movies, Alex Salmond would probably prefer A Day at the Races to A Night at the Opera - although he occasionally displays the mischievous grin of an Otis B. Driftwood, replete with two hard-boiled eggs.

Mr Salmond's cinematic choice arose at Holyrood because, as Labour's Johann Lamont noted, he is set for a "big day out at the pictures" tomorrow.

The campaign for a Yes vote in the independence referendum will indeed be launched in an Edinburgh picture house.

Or, more accurately, in a movie multiplex, doubtless to reflect the multi-faceted nature of the campaign.

Does the venue signal that Scotland's most famous movie star will be there?

No, not Greyfriars Bobby - take that heckler's name. Sir Sean, of course. In person? On screen?

That, apparently, is secret intelligence. Need to know, that sort of thing.

Anyway, it's the premiere for the Yes campaign. An early launch, admittedly, but explicable in that it is intended to instigate a nationwide popular groundswell.

Part of a process, in short, not a stand-alone event.

When it comes to movies, Johann Lamont seems to be planning a rerun of Primal Fear.

She raised the subject of the Euro crisis primarily in order to remind voters that Scotland's banks had been rescued by the UK - "the kind of action the Greeks and the Irish can only dream about."

The economic message appeared to be that wee Scotland had required big Britain, that tiny was troublesome.

Perhaps wisely, Ms Lamont did not extend her European litany to mention the financial woes currently being experienced by sizeable Spain.

To eschew drollery for a moment, this was a return to a key theme which will undoubtedly be deployed by the No camp when they get fully going: that of fear.

It will not be said that Scotland cannot be independent - but that she should not.

That Scots should be concerned: worried about jobs, worried about money, worried, worried.

The SNP knows that is a potent force: indeed, Alex Salmond has long held the view that independence is most probable not in flight from London but in search of a new future, underpinned by economic, social and cultural confidence.

'Roman epic'

Ruth Davidson, for the Tories, was also dismissive of the Yes camp's choice of venue. She noted with asperity that Dark Shadows and The Dictator were currently playing at the same multiplex.

The Tory leader and the FM then each disclosed that they had formerly been treated at the sick kids hospital in Edinburgh.

This discovery of a common bond did not dissuade them from arguing angrily over delayed proposals for a new hospital.

Get it done now, yelled Ms Davidson.

With what, responded Mr Salmond, given that your UK Government has slashed capital budgets.

Eventually, like a senator in a Roman epic, the FM intoned: "It shall be done". But it would take more time to arrange a non-profit capital funding model.

There were substantive exchanges too with Willie Rennie of the Liberal Democrats who wanted a public inquiry into Lockerbie.

It was right, he said, to inquire not only into the facts of the case but the handling of events by the Crown Office.

Mr Salmond said he had no particular reason to defend Crown Office decisions taken before he entered office.

But he insisted the core issue remained guilt and innocence: matters rightly determined before a court. It remained open to Megrahi's family to seek to prompt a further appeal.

And that was it. Just time to nip off to catch the matinee.

Since the Yes camp is apparently to feature celebrities fighting the cause, perhaps we should opt for "Star Wars". And for the No camp? "The Empire Strikes Back"?